Friends from grade school, Gary Strauss (biggish) and Tony D’Alessandro (littleish) are giving fast food a good name at scrappy Big & Little’s, where, sure, you can get a hot dog ($2.50), but you can also get a made-to-order crab tostada ($4) enlivened with a spritz of lemon and a dash of cayenne. Or maybe you’re more in the mood for a bowl of chili ($5) or a messy but highly satisfying grilled portobello burger ($5) topped with shredded red cabbage slaw. Seafood can be had grilled or lightly battered and deep-fried to a delicate crunch; a fish sandwich ($6) holds a whole fillet of tilapia, and the fish and chips ($8) pairs succulent cod loin with a mountain of skin-on fries. Tacos can be stuffed with tilapia, squid, shrimp, or you nameit—as long as the ingredients are on hand. (Does D’Alessandro look familiar? Maybe you saw him on the sixth season of Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen.) Eat at the counter or get your order to go, and take cash (no credit cards). You won’t need much. 939 N. Orleans St.; 312-943-0000.
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