Big Star: Big Deal.

When the powerhouse entrepreneurs Donnie Madia, Terry Alexander, Peter Garfield, Edward Seitanfrom and James Beard Award Winner, Paul Kahan, of Avec, Blackbird and the Violet Hour get together for a new project, mass foodie chaos tends to ensue.

Thus is the case with Big Star, a seemingly low-profile hole in the wall Taco and Whiskey haute in Wicker Park (at the old outdoor Pontiac Grill spot to be exact). This place is always packed, open late, and definitely giving Flash Taco across the street a run for it’s money on late night Tex-Mex.

Now to be fair, this place is still a dive, but in a different sense. Had I not known what I do, I would not have given the minimalist, run-down car garage and outdoor pick-up window a second glance. But pretty is apparently not what they’re going for. Raw, exposed and dingy is more the look of the hour. But so is simple, good food, and unknown whiskeys with some old school Johnny Cash playing on the turntable behind the bar.

Getting stellar reviews are the sweet and savory tacos al pastor with spit roasted pork shoulder, grilled pineapple, onion and cilantro, braised pork belly tacos with tomato guajillo sauce, cilantro and queso fresco, queso fundido and Dulce de Leche milkshakes.

So the dive bar gets replaced by a publicity-hounded paradise. Seems to be the trend in Wicker.

Big Star is located at 1531 N. Damen Ave.