One of my favorite things about having a food blog is that people are always giving me unsolicited restaurant recommendations! I have discovered some truly great places as a result.
BIG & little’s was a recommendation from one of my classmates in my Food & Travel Writing class at StoryStudio Chicago (Do you like writing? Are you cool? Then StoryStudio is for you! Great place!) Since I’ve been on my gourmet fast food kick lately, I was excited to try it!
Vivian and I had an hour to kill downtown one Saturday afternoon before attending a BBQ. I knew that BIG & little’s was nearby, so we went over for a quick “snack”, which for Vivian and I translates to “ordering one of everything”.
We ordered a fish taco, a squid taco and a shrimp taco. The fish and squid tacos come with a big, beautiful bed of purple cabbage on top. The shrimp taco isn’t nearly as pretty. Viv and I agreed that the fish taco was the best. Flavorful fish, not too fried, with a chili mayo sauce and the clean crunch from the cabbage. I was expecting the shrimp to be fried, but they were grilled instead, and perfectly grilled at that! I can’t stand overcooked shrimp. I absolutely LOVE the Jarritos grapefruit soda they have here! Perfect for washing down a couple of tacos.
Of course I had to get an order of the foie gras & fries. Everything is cooked to order, and we watched as the chef prepared our foie gras and sauteed it up! They really don’t skimp on the foie gras – there were a couple nice-sized pieces on top of the fries, and he even poured all the rendered fat over the fries. I asked him if anyone has ever dropped dead of a heart attack in their establishment. Surprisingly, no one had. The foie was good, but I thought it was just a tad overcooked. I’m not gonna complain though, because there is still something yummy about a crispy and caramelized piece of foie gras. MMM. In my mind, this has become the definition of gourmet fast food.
The chef heard Vivian and I foodgasming over the foie & fries, and told us that so much fat renders off the foie gras that you can fry an egg in it. Then he said, “Actually, do you guys want a fried egg, on the house?” What were we gonna say, no? We happily accepted his offer. He brought us a gorgeous fried egg, with lil bits of foie still stuck to it. A bite of egg with a hunk of foie and some fries - I could eat that for breakfast in a (artery-clogged) heartbeat! Sooo good!
We also ordered a side of beet and pineapple salad, which was a unique but yummy combination! Other items on their totally craveworthy menu include fish n’ chips and a fried egg burger. The crab tostada and the chili bowl with fritos also sound interesting.
Vivian and I were there during a slow time, around 3:30, so we were pretty much the only people there. Only 1 or 2 other customers came in during our stay. Being the gregarious whores that we are, we started talking to the chef/owners who are both really great. One of the owners, Tony (aka little) was a contestant on Hell’s Kitchen, so we chatted about what Gordon Ramsay is REALLY like, the restaurant biz, etc. I love being able to talk to the chefs or the owners at restaurants, it really makes the whole experience much more personal. Then Tony even gave us some free dessert – Little Debbie oatmeal creme pies! YUMMO, haven’t had one of those in years! Vivian had never had one before, tsk! They always remind me of that scene in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids when the shrunken kids find the giant oatmeal creme pie in the backyard.
BIG & little’s is in kind of a weird area, between the Chicago and Sedgwick stops on the Brown Line. This strip of Orleans seems to be mostly populated by taxi driver hangouts, which, incidentally, usually have AWESOME food! This is a great place with friendly, personal service and quality food. I say make the trip to BIG & little’s – you won’t be disappointed.939 N Orleans
(between Walton St & Oak St)
Chicago, IL 60610
Neighborhood: Near North Side (312) 943-0000