Any taco shop that opens within a mile of the intersection of Milwaukee, North and Damen will be subject to thequestion: Is it as good as Big Star? Is it as cheap? Most important, is it worth potentially missing out on a seat on Big Star’s patio?
To maximize the pleasure Antique Taco is capable of providing, ignore all these questions. It’s not that Antique can’t compete with Big Star—it can. But why pit the two against each other? Wicker Park, it turns out, is big enough for both.
So on nights that call for shots of whiskey and boys with mustaches, keep going to Big Star. And on the quieter, reflective nights of summer, head to Antique. The vibe is cute and vintage (and some of those vintage items are for sale), but the space is uncluttered enough that you can relax. And the tacos, more composed than most, feel like meals in miniature: Light and crispy battered fish is topped with smoky cabbage; sumptuous carnitas carry a considerable kick from an adobo rub. A corn salad is a decadent mixture of kernels, onions, beans and mayonnaise—it is probably one of the only mayo-based salads you’ll eat and yet still find sophisticated. And the hefty meatball slider is given a proper sauce: a smooth mole poblano.
Could you sit on the sidewalk patio with a glass jug of the rosemary margaritas (good, but hard to find the rosemary) in an attempt to re-create the other taco joint in the ’hood? You could. But Antique works best inside, with the happy staff, the adorable interior and the windows that shield you from the chaotic traffic of Milwaukee Avenue. In short, this is an indoor taco spot. And that, it turns out, is a very pleasurable thing.