CHICAGO, IL :: MEXICAN JUMPING BEAN // frontera grill, rick bayless, big star, tacos, salsas, martinis, guacamole, the bean

Big Star Tacos

Sorry friends, ever since I’ve returned from Chicago I’ve been hooked on a TV program called Game of Thrones (you may have heard about it).

So I’m back in writing gear and want to begin with the Mexican food scene and The Bean (Chicago’s Bean sculpture in Millennium Park).

Out of all of the cities I’ve traveled to, I didn’t expect Chicago to have a major Mexican presence. I thought of Chicago as a “meaty” city, but they have a lot of love for tacos… and something tells me it may have something to do with Chef Rick Bayless.

(PHOTO ABOVE: Somebody, please tell me what this even means!)

FIRST MEAL IN CHICAGO // FRONTERA GRILL (THE CASUAL SIDE): Being a Top Chef Master fan and all, I made a reservation at Frontera Grill as soon as the plane touched ground (Sidenote: I love how Rick Bayless is the automatic sound recording- love that personalization). Anyways, I ran past the Frontera Grill in the airport and headed straight to the original location on 445 N Clark St.

Considering the fact that Rick Bayless put two restaurants under one roof blows my mind. Frontera Grill is the casual side, Topolo is the fancier/dinner-only side. So my hopes were high for my first Rick Bayless experience, but the only thing that excited my palate was the $11.00 Martini.

OVERALL: I had a few issues with this experience. The guacamole was good, the food was fine, and the sauces were excellent, but the same two sauces were served with everything we ordered (as did the guac and the same banana leaf decorations). Maybe it had something to do with our 2:00pm arrival… nonetheless I left the restaurant on a happy note (and that happy note was my tequila martini).

FIRST LOCAL MEAL IN CHICAGO // BIG STAR: Every Chicago local (I know) gave me a list of restaurants to try and Big Star was their common denominator. Thanks to good friends and affordable prices, we made the trek from The Loop to Wicker Park and ordered every single taco on their menu (as well as the hot dog and their guac).

OVERALL: If you go to Big Star you’re going for drinks, quick eats, and great vibes (live DJ). Service was fast and I was very happy with the Pescado (Fish) and Al Pastor (Pork Shoulder) Tacos. As for the rest of the menu, it left me borderline content and/or disappointed (so if your waiter recommends the Hot Dog and/or Walking Taco, I assure you that there are better options on the menu).

FIRST AND LAST PHOTO IN FRONT OF THE BEAN: A visit to Chicago is not complete without a photo in front of “The Bean” sculpture in Millennium Park. It’s massive, it’s shiny, it’s reflective, it’s fun. Thanks to my yoga instructor, I played around with different shapes and had an absolute ball! Have you been to the bean? I would love to see your “BEAN” pics too so tag me @littlemisslocal on twitter or instagram to show me your “Bean” pics!

OVERALL: Very happy to have visited a Rick Bayless restaurant and a local taco joint with a fun, pub environment. I know both locations have a lot of fans so I’m really excited to hear about your dining experiences. Please feel free to let me know your favorites on Frontera’s or Big Star’s menu because I’m sure we all have our favorites. Looking forward to hearing from you while I post about the rest of my dining experiences (especially the restos on Randolph Street)! So far so good Chicago!


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