Big Star is coming to West Town, but with a twist. One Off Hospitality Group, the company behind Avec and the Publican, is unveiling a spinoff of its honky-tonk taco spot, known for lively patios and a large bourbon selection. In West Town, Big Star Mariscos will spotlight new seafood items with a planned opening this fall at a parcel that housed bars like Mahoney’s and 551 Live.
One Off is planning a patio with room for 60 people, in addition to 120 indoor seats. A pickup window and curbside service is also in the works. The triangular plot is unique, bordered by Ogden, Racine, and Ohio. For months, workers have been gutting the interiors of the 6,000-square-foot space at 551 N. Ogden Avenue. Permits revealed One Off’s principals were backing the project, but the company declined to comment until now.
One Off co-founder Paul Kahan and Big Star culinary director Chris Miller are working on the menu that will include aguachile, ceviche, and whole fish taking inspiration from Mexico’s coastal regions including Baja, Ensenada, Vera Cruz, and Yucatan. They’re also tweaking Big Star’s tortillas, working with Pilsen’s El Popocatepetl. A news release said the new version is coarser than the masa version Big Star’s used for 13 years.
Chicago-based Present Future Architects is designing the space (previous iterations were from New York’s Design Bureaux) and plans to bring a new energy with a blue color palette and oversized retro-style sign meant to differentiate the West Town location from the original in Wicker Park and the outpost across from Wrigley Field, according to a news release.
Big Star opened 13 years ago in Wicker Park in the former Pontiac Cafe, with One Off inspired by Bakersfield, California. Kahan said the town’s migrant worker community and music culture made for a “great opportunity where whiskey and tequila sort of smash into each other.” While Avec and Blackbird were what Michelin inspectors focused on, Big Star brought One Off a fast-casual option, one where diners could eat regularly and more affordably. A Wrigleyville location in opened 2018.
Big Star also opened a location inside the United Center in 2015, but the space was ceded to Stephanie Izard in 2019. The West Town location is a five-minute drive from the UC, meaning ticket holders will once again have access to Big Star tacos around the time hockey and basketball seasons start. Look for more more information when updates become available. Take a look at the renderings below.
Big Star Mariscos, 551 N. Ogden Avenue, scheduled for a fall opening.