Hours: Breakfast (carryout only): Saturday-Sunday; lunch, dinner: seven days
Open late: Saturday till 3, other nights till 2
Always-packed taco shack from Paul Kahan and One Off Hospitality. Cash only.
Paul Kahan and company's Big Star is a surefire, low-cost, high-value good time. If you're not in the mood for a well-engineered cocktail, you can slum it with a one-buck Schlitz shorty. If you can't decide between a mixed drink and beer, try a Michelada: Tecate in a salt-rimmed glass, with lime and house-made salsa. Either way, pop for a platter of guacamole with chips and drop an extra buck for chiles toreados, a small bowl of flavorful peppers. The high-quality pork belly, lamb, and al pastor tacos are served on fresh house-made mini tortillas that make the big flavors seem almost dainty. The only downside: the few tables are reserved for parties of four or more, so smaller groups are left hovering and pouncing on just-vacated bar stools. (The utilitarian patio is likewise always packed.) But ordering from the carryout window is always an option.
No matter the time of day, a wait is practically guaranteed at this U-shaped bar manned by bartenders who spin classic country and honky-tonk on vinyl. Here are well-engineered cocktails alongside cheap domestic beers, and if you can't decide between them, there's always the delicious michelada: Tecate in a salt-rimmed glass, with lime and house-made salsa. Bourbons are aplenty too. Cash only. —David Hammond