Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Star Bright: Taco Honky Tonk Channels Urban Hipster



Paul Kahan can do no wrong. Teaming up with night-spot meister Terry Alexander, the Pied Piper of savory meats transformed a former garage bar/parking lot beer garden into a den of hipness & good eats.

Casual, minimalist, sceney & surprisingly small, the restaurant emphasizes simple Mexican food with culinary flourishes such as spit-roasted al pastor minced with slivers of pineapple. The fish tostada and pork belly taco, while perhaps less evolved, are no less tasty.

Housed in the former location of Pontiac Cafe, Big Star offers a wee one-page menu that's short on selection, but big on flavor. Vegetarians beware: options are few, but equally tasty. (Interestingly, while food options are minimal, bourbon & tequila menus run pages.)

And the cocktails? Shaken, stirred, and mixed to perfection--and all are a bargain-priced $7. I'm a sucker for a fine Old Fashioned and the one served here is served neat and mixed with Old Weller House. Fine artisan beers such as Matilda on tap are as eagerly poured as cheap, nearly colorless swill from the Big Brewers.

A curious combination of high and low brow, the space is as minimalist as Blackbird, but custom designed, smooth and boxy booths channel urban sophistication--not anything remotely honky tonk.

Constantly crowded and more bar than restaurant, Big Star offers palate-pleasing, inexpensive food, expertly-mixed cocktails, and a pleasant scene.


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I write about food, travel & dining, as well as related topics. My first novel, The Gods of Venice, can be found on BarnesAndNoble.com & nearly everywhere else. My second novel, The Last American Buffalo, is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter or become a fan of The Gods of Venice on Facebook.
Alan J. Shannon Copyright © 2010