Type: Tex-Mex Tacos
If you live in Chicago, you know it has no shortage of taco joints. Just like the food truck, cocktail, and mustache explosions of the last 5 years, tacos have become quite trendy for city dwellers. So when I heard about the Big State opening up thanks to DNAinfo.com, I knew I had to try this place. A Texan taco joint? Who do they think they are, bringing Tex Mex to Chicago? Do they think their Mexicans are better than our Mexicans? As if!
After driving down Ashland past Chicago ave, I almost didn’t see it. Like many new businesses, they had a banner put up with their name instead of an actual sign, which is pretty common. When I entered I saw the restaurant was completely empty. The ambiance was that of the most boring classroom you can remember from school. There was also a weird statue of a naked bald man who appears to be sodomizing a conquistador’s foot on a horse, but I could be misinterpreting that. It doesn’t matter, if the food is good, I can enjoy a taco pretty much anywhere. They had a chalkboard menu behind the register, with 5 tacos available: Steak, chicken, al pastor, fish, and pork belly (Panza). So naturally I wanted to order them all, but I wasn’t really feeling like fish, so sorry tilapia! Go back to California, or Texas, or wherever grilled tilapia tacos babies come from. (The Taco Stork?)
After paying, I sat down and waited for my tacos. The cashier doubled as my server and brought out some chips and salsa. She was pleasant and friendly. The homemade roasted Tomatillo and Salsa Roja was absolutely heavenly. One of the salsas was pretty spicy from what I recall, but I don’t remember which one, so there’s a little game for you to play. Both were excellent and somewhat chunky.
After about a 5 minute wait, she brings out my beautifully laid out tacos. And let me tell you something folks, these tacos were nothing to scoff at. They spared no expense, as these babies were rather large. Big ol’ chunks of meat, if you like that sort of thing. But what really sold me was the flavor. Perfectly seasoned and marinated, a bite of each of these tacos were like I died and went to taco heaven. Let me make this perfectly clear: These tacos were Taco-tastic. Taco-noon delight. Taco-riffic. Even though the steak and chicken tacos came with tomato and lettuce in addition to onions and cilantro, it didn’t even bother me, because I was so blown away by the flavor of it all. Everything cooked perfectly and made to order, not reheated garbage many places do. And the pastor marinade? Done just right, with plenty of pineapple. Unfortunately, no amount of descriptors can really do these tacos justice, it’s best you go and check them out for yourself.
Metered parking is pretty easy on Ashland. The tacos were around (give or take) $2.75 each. There is a $10 credit card minimum, so plan on eating big or bring some cash. Plus there’s always leftovers, which is the only way I rationalize my over-ordering problem. And while you’re there, tell them Chicago Taco Talk sent you. They will probably have no idea what you are talking about.
I give The Big State 4.5 out 5 chiles.