A honky tonk taqueria focusing on tequila, mezcal and house-selected barrels of whiskey, located in the heart of Wicker Park.


January 29, 2014

3 Floyds-One Off Beer Dinner

In October of 2012, chefs from nearly all of our properties, including Chef Paul Kahan, partnered with 3 Floyds Brewing Company to craft a blended beer specifically designed for their restaurants. To celebrate the fruits of their labor, Chef Paul and chefs from Blackbird, avec, The Publican and Big Star will be hosting a six-course paired dinner at The Publican on February 17th at 6:15pm.

The project was inspired by a trip Big Star and 3 Floyds took to Kentucky in search of bourbon barrels, most of which were used in the brewing process. By developing both the brew and complementing dish, each chef had far greater creative control over their pairing. This unique approach to brewing and barrel aging goes far beyond the scope and involvement of normal chef-collaborative small batch beers.

The six-course paired beer dinner, inclusive of a beer on entry and dessert pairing, is $135 per person, plus tax and gratuity. A portion of the proceeds will go to Pilot Light, a nonprofit organization empowering children to make healthy choices by integrating culinary education with school standards, curriculum and culture. Contact melissa@thepublicanrestaurant.com to reserve a spot.

The following is a bit more information about each brew:
·  avec- Saison with bitter orange peel aged in an Evan Williams Single  barrel
 ·  Paul Kahan- Saison with harvested spruce tips aged in a chardonnay  barrel with brett
·  Blackbird – Zombie Dust (pale ale) with chamomile and sumac in a Four Roses barrel
·  The Publican - Robert The Bruce (Scotch ale) blended with a little bit of  The Publican Lambic, with plums in a Templeton Rye barrel
· Big Star - Alpha King (hoppy pale ale) in an Elijah Craig barrel with vanilla beans, cherries and kola nuts

January 6, 2014

Revolution Brewing Beer Dinner

For Chef Cary Taylor’s first foray into Big Star’s infamous beer dinners, he has teamed up with local beer heroes Revolution Brewing for a five-course paired evening on Tuesday, January 21. Each course will be paired with a different Revolution Brewing selection, plus a welcome beer on entry. The excitement doesn’t stop there: brewers from Revolution will be on-hand to field questions, and walk guests through the brewing process. Two seatings are available at 7:00pm and 9:00pm. The five-course beer paired menu is $50 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Contact events@bigstarchicago.com to reserve a spot.

Welcome Beer: Workingman Mild- English-style mild ale

Morcilla Sausage- platano macho, watercress, apple
Pairing: Local Hero- India pale ale

Grilled Lobster-citrus mojo de ajo, papas molidos, vanilla
Pairing: A Little Crazy- Belgian American pale ale 

Raw Oyster-cucumber water gelee, shaved jalapeno, cilantro
Pairing: Cross Of Gold- golden ale

Crispy Belly- membrillo, pickled carrot, brussels sprouts, cumin
Pairing: Double Fist-double pale ale

Dark Chocolate- bourbon, chile guajillo, rice krispie
Pairing: Deth's Tar- Bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout


November 27, 2013

Christmas Trees at Big Star

It's the most wonderful time of the year, Christmas trees are back at Big Star. Bundle up and indulge in a warm treat from the to-go window while perusing trees Saturday and Sunday mornings from 9:00am to 11:30am. City Tree Delivery will be selling Fraser Firs, garland, wreaths and the like from the Big Star lot beginning Friday, November 29 through Christmas Eve.

· Big Star Hot Chocolate-Mexican dark chocolate with guajillo-cinnamon spice
· Warm Apple Cider
· Sweet Corn Tamales- Steamed masa stuffed with sweet creamed corn

Trees can be ordered online with the promo code "BigStar10" for $10 off any tree, delivery and removal are available as well.

Christmas Tree Hours:
Monday-Thursday: 4:00pm to 9:00pm
Friday: 12:00pm to 9:00pm
Saturday and Sunday: 9:00am to 9:00pm 

November 26, 2013

Turkey Day

In celebration of Thanksgiving, Big Star will be closed on Thursday, November 28. Be sure to stop by Wednesday night to start your long weekend off right! Normal service resumes Friday. 

November 12, 2013

Master Cooking Classes

Just in time for the holiday season, we are happy to announce the 2014 Master Cooking Class lineup. Each class offers the rare opportunity to learn directly from the pros, all with a drink in hand. Classes begin at 7:00pm and space is limited to 12 pupils per evening, making for a truly intimate affair. Contact Deanna Devries at 312.496.0012, or deanna@publicanqualitymeats.com to reserve your spot. 

January 26, 2014- Publican Quality Meats: Chef de Cuisine Chris Kuziemko 
February 23, 2014- Blackbird: Chef de Cuisine David Posey
March 30, 2014- One Off Hospitality: Executive Chef Paul Kahan
May 4, 2014- Big Star: Chef de Cuisine Cary Taylor 
June 22, 2014- Publican: Chef de Cuisine Brian Huston 
August 24, 2014- avec : Chef de Cuisine Perry Hendrix 
October 19, 2014- Nico Osteria: Chef de Cuisine Erling Wu-Bower 
November 16, 2014- One Off Hospitality: Ladies of Pastry- Dana Cree (Blackbird & avec), Anna Shovers (The Publican & Publican Quality Meats), Amanda Rockman (Nico Osteria) 
December 7, 2014- One Off Hospitality: Executive Chef Paul Kahan 

$175- 1/26; 2/23, 5/4; 6/22; 8/24; 10/19; 11/16
$300- 3/30; 12/7

October 17, 2013

Big Star Breakfast Burritos

Sadly, summer has come to a close. The only upside is that bikini season is over, and to celebrate Big Star has brought back its infamous Breakfast Burrito. An excuse to bring out the fat pants, the burrito features eggs, chorizo, bean dip, Chihuahua cheese, hot sauce, romaine lettuce, crema and crunchy tortilla strips all rolled up in a flour tortilla. The Breakfast Burrito is available on Sundays, until we sell out.

August 12, 2013

Tuesday, September 3rd Hours

Big Star will close at 3:00pm on Tuesday, September 3rd. We apologize for any inconvenience. Normal hours resume on the 4th. 

August 6, 2013

One Off Tumblr

Check out our One Off Hospitality Tumblr! Photos, recipes and more from Blackbird, avec, The Publican, The Violet Hour, Big Star, Publican Quality Meats and Nico.

June 6, 2013

Lowell Fulson ... in a Heavy Bag!

Lowell Fulson "recorded every shade of blues imaginable." He pierced the charts a plenty and was always experimenting. We've been after the "In a Heavy Bag" LP for a bit, and it finally landed in our office today! With the Muscle Shoals rhythm section behind him, he cut a damn fine blues-rock LP. Here's a cut!

May 23, 2013

Bin Tangs!

A few crates into recently searching for some new 45s led us to these guys. Steeped in the blues and some serious Rolling Stones love, the Bintangs made progressively more rocking albums throughout the 70s. Doesn't hurt that this 1969 single basically sounds like the Flamin' Groovies with a flute.

May 13, 2013


We couldn't be more flattered! Huge thanks to Nico and WBEZ. 



5 Ways Big Star Shows Why Chicago is America's 'Best Food City'


March 19, 2013


Tell it, Amos. We've all been there. 

February 18, 2013

Torn and Frayed Part 10

A long overdue post about an incredibly groovy Southern boogie'n' soul cut. Thomas Jefferson Kaye wrote for many (Gene Clark, Loudon Wainwright III, Link Wray) and Steely Dan themselves had a direct hand (production and guest appearances) in the brilliance that are the two LP gems he cut for Dunhill in the early 70s. Seeped in what can only be described as gospel blues with a heep of funk. Dr John, Delaney and Bramlett ... along those lines. Check this one out. We've had it on the decks since we got it. Happy early spring!

December 31, 2012

Torn and Frayed Part 9

In 1970, Little Richard, very arguably one of the kings of rock'n'roll, released a fantastic album. The critics loved "Rill Thing" -- the fans had moved on, to a degree. Shame, shame, shame. Memphis horns, Muscle Shoals swamp groove, country twang, soul, grit and POWER. It's all here. We're kicking off New Year's Eve and welcoming 2013 with a boogie'n'soul stomper from a creative genius. Get into it!

December 13, 2012

Torn and Frayed Part 8

David Allan Coe is misunderstood by many; though his shifting musical personas are partially liable. At the every least, he's much more complex, talented and deep than one hit and a brilliant cover would suggest. Many write about a life of hardship, turmoil and resilience. So to speak, he's the real deal. His work is life's ups and downs, sin and piety, life really lived, good AND evil. Here's a killer cut from 1974 about rising when the blows bring you down.   

December 9, 2012



It's true. They're back. Full Van Wnikle line at La Estrella Grande. Come get some. 

December 6, 2012

NYE At Big Star!

This year, we will be ringing in the New Year with our brothers-in-arms, Three Floyds! There will be a full tap takeover, with some perennial favorites (Gumball Head, etc) as well as some rare beers from their vaults (barrel aged Black Sun Stout, Rye Da Tiger, etc). Expect amazing food specials from our kitchen, cocktail & shot special, and the most kick-assingest soundtrack you've ever heard. Free to get in, as always at Big Star. We hope you come party with us. High-five. 

November 28, 2012

Torn and Frayed Part 7

The weather is getting mighty chilly here in Chicago. You'd think uptempo classic rockers would keep at bay the winter blues. But on colder days, the warmth of pedal steel, a delicate harmonica line and a hook-laden beat with a lazy shuffle ... that warms the bones. Texan cowboy B.W. Stevenson died in 1988 at the age of 38, with a VERY well-known hit under his belt, but much, much more that went under-appreciated. Up on deck today are two delicious slices of B.W's countrified Americana. 

Off the self-titled LP from 1972: 

And two years later, the hit that reached the world but sadly missed the country charts:

October 30, 2012

Torn and Frayed Part 6

October 26, 2012


Remember this? When we turned the patio into a Christmas tree lot last year? Well it's coming once again. Starting the day after Thanksgiving and going until December 23rd, we're partnering up with City Tree Delivery, a sustainable / eco-friendly supplier of Christmas trees who deliver, pick-up and will eventually recycle all trees. Stay tuned for more details! 

October 25, 2012

Torn and Frayed Part 5

October 16, 2012

Torn and Frayed Part 4

It's not always the front and center stars that make a record amazing and transcendent. Sometimes, it's the sideman. Austin, TX, journeyman Marc Benno's guitar contributions to the Doors "LA Woman," several colabs with Leon Russell and other major artists, are subtle. But once you focus on his licks and buttery tenor, it's apparent certain songs wouldn't be the same without him. From the late 60s on, he cut several personal and beautiful roots rock masterpieces. And because everyone played on each other’s records back then, like much of the LA country rock output at the time, these albums feature a large ensemble of big talent. Enjoy the down low, slinky blues rock vibe of this cut, off 1972’s “Minnows.”

October 8, 2012

Torn and Frayed Part 3

Countless bands worked the Southern California country-rock and rootsy folk circles in the mid to late 60s--many were prodigious in musical ability, but few were able to reach a wider audience. They had a love for traditional country music and history, but strove to work outside what at the time seemed like fairly rigid rules in contemporary country circles. Many groups worked around killer vocal harmonies. But Swampwater's were seriously soaring. They eventually became Linda Ronstadt's backing band, and key members went on to play with The Flying Burrito Brothers, etc. there are two Swampwater LPs, and they are killer--impassioned and lyrically grounded in Louisiana culture. 

September 24, 2012


A few times a year, a group of us heads down to Kentucky to check out the history and production methods of America's finest spirit. (We occasionally drink some of it, too. In moderation). It's always a great time, the distilleries we work with are more than hospitable to us, and we love Lousiville more each time we go down. Here are a few shots of our most recent trip. 

The Weller line are some of our favorite wheated whiskies. And if you've been to the bar on Thursdays and gotten a shot special, you have ingested some of the fantastic Weller Special Reserve.

 An experimental pot / column hybrid still at the Bufflao Trace Distillery. We could explain what all these things do, but that would require a lot of science. Just marvel at how cool that thing is. 

Speaking of cool stills, check out Willett's patented pot still! Only one like it in existence. And for fans of the Willett Pot Still Bourbon, you'll recognize that they modeled the distinctive bottle shape after this lil' guy. 

Sampling bourbon straight out of the barrel. When we do our barrel selections, the stick a whiskey thief (essentially a giant copper straw) straight into the barrel, pull a little out, bits of char and all, and put it straight into tasting glasses. Safe to say that this is the best part of our day. 

Ever wondered what an abandoned distillery looks like? This was the Old Taylor Distillery, founded by EH Taylor, one of the most important figures in the hisotry of bourbon. It's technically illegal to go on the grounds.....so we of course OBEYED THE LAW AND STAYED OUT. (But sources tell us that the broekn down beauty and magnitude of this place is unbelieveable). 


Stay tuned for more whiskey adventures. 

September 24, 2012

Torn and Frayed Part 2

Hoyt Axton is an incredibly influential songwriter, who in his artistry from 1963 onward managed to seemlessly blend blues, country, folk etc. Remember that first time you heard Steppenwolf's "Pusher," and thought ... "damn, this is so killer." Well, it was Hoyt. From Three Dog Night to Waylon Jennings -- they all paid interpretive respect. Allmusic.com puts it best: "his gravelly baritone and wry, earthy songs projected an uncommon wit, warmth, and optimism, yielding a consistently engaging body of work extending across four decades." Joy To The World features a slew of oft-covered freak flag rock and Americana classics. Here's a highlight. Seek this out, ya'll. It's super good.  

September 22, 2012

Torn and Frayed Part 1

Put simply: music matters a great deal at Big Star. Our record player crapped out once, and we just about died. We've been stockpiling stacks of badass country, blues and roots rock, and we always dig for rare cuts and lesser heard classics. We want to start sharing those with you. The cuts here are referenced from vinyl we play at work, and if you like what you hear, we hope you treasure-hunt and find a copy! "Smokies" is a cut off Barefoot Jerry's 1971 album, Southern Delight. Everyone in Barefoot Jerry cut their studio and live teeth in a number of legendary Southern rock and country sessions, far too numerous to list here. Leader Wayne Moss's musical legacy (Blonde on Blonde!) is enough to teach a class on. Gorgeous country harmonies, a swinging boogie vibe and subtle hippie imagery. Perfect. This is not a hard find, and the whole record smokes. 

September 20, 2012


Johnny Paycheck at his darkest & finest. Big Star classic. 

September 7, 2012


Folks, don't forget about The Dust-Up tomorrow! Free to get in, come buy records from the some of the city's most esteemed record labels, knock a few cold beers back, and watch some of our favorite bands play. Check out Time Out Chicago's preview here

August 28, 2012

Tuesday, September 4th

Hello folks, just a quick note: we are going to be closed Tuesday September 4th in order to throw our employees an appreciation party for all the hard work they do for us. We are sorry for any inconvenience, and we'll re-open for normal business hours on Wednesday at 11:30am. See you then.

August 24, 2012

The Dust Up

We are super happy to announce the first installment of our annual concert series, The Dust Up, held in our parking lot on September 8th.

We’ll be doing this show at the end of every summer, a send-off to the season and a celebration of music and beer. We’ve teamed up with legendary Chicago music venue The Metro, and our most popular Mexican lager, Tecate, and we’re showcasing a slew of some of our favorite local bands this year.

Performing live this year are Disappears, Andre Williams, Old Baby, Quarter Mile Thunder and the Jeff Walroth Band. Plus, starting at noon, we’ll have a record fair with record from Bloodshot, the Numero Group, Kranky and more.

Beer & live DJs all day until the live music starts at 4. Keep it tuned here for more info, music / videos from the bands and more.

Hope you can come hang out with us.

August 21, 2012

Starting Thursday August 23rd, at noon!

Big Star is tapping Stone’s “Enjoy By 09.21.12” IPA."

To say we’re lucky to have this beer is an understatement. It’s only available in three states and for a month only!

Stone already puts out beers with shorter shelf life, to push the freshness and character of malt flavor and hops. This is their upped commitment to how amazing fresh beer can taste. This beer was packaged fast and sent out even faster, to reach only Southern California, Chicago and New Jersey. If it does well, ideally they’ll make more and we can revel in its taste past September — it’s a double IPA, so ome prepared for a hop wallop and a high alcohol count!
See you Thursday.

August 16, 2012


So check this out: one of our managers had his car broken into last night and among all the inexpensive things that these creeps stole was a bag of records which, in all likelihood, went into the trash. One of the records was by Jamul, a virtual unknown band of immense long-haired badassery. Never the one to let bad situations get him down, our manager soldiered on and is on his way back to collecting the missing pieces in his collection. In that spirit, the kicker off Jamul’s album, Ramblin’ Man, a dusty roadhouse blues-rock anthem if we ever heard one.

Check out the video here

August 16, 2012


Today would’ve been the 85th birthday of Charlie Louvin, one half of the gospel-country legends the Louvin Brothers. A long time favorite of ours at Big Star, their recordings for both Columbia and Decca cemented them as one of the top names in country music, with their incredible vocal harmonies and spiritual depth found in every note they sung. Their trademark album, Satan Is Real, is a necessity for country music fans. Charlie passed away in 2011, but today we are raising our glass to him.


1531 N Damen
Chicago, IL 60622

Sun-Fri 11:30am – 2:00am
Sat 11:30am – 3:00am

Kitchen & To-Go Window
Sun–Fri 11:30am – 1:30am
Sat 11:30am – 2:30am


  • Mon Old Grand Dad
  • Tue JW Dant
  • Wed Four Roses
  • Thu Weller Special Reserve
  • Fri Old Heaven Hill
  • Sat Old Fitzgerald
  • Sun Old Overholt
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