Nola Chic in Chicago: Big & little’s Restaurant Review

As you all know I have been craving New Orleans cuisine, well let’s just say I been wanting some good food with lots of flavors here in Chicago. My sister and I decided to go into the city for an early dinner and in a Google search, we found an urban restaurant with Nola inspired offerings, Big & little’s located in what was the Cabrini Green project neighborhood, home of Candyman and gangsters. I was excited to find Groupon deal ($20 for $12) and to hear that guy fiery featured the restaurant on Diners. Not only would I save money, but get my seafood fix and see the sites of South River.

The mouth-watering menu was filled with many fun and delicious items such as foie gras fries, truffle fries, Ahi Tuna Poke crunch wrap and soft-shelled crab. I knew I wanted the soft-shelled crab before we made it there. The restaurant is located on the corner of the door on the street is closed and you have to enter through a side parking lot. Go through the blue doors into the classic “hole in the wall” restaurant. 

I ordered a soft-shelled crab “poboy” (fried soft shell crab, lettuce, special sauce, lime juice) it’s a hoagie, not poboy and the samurai special (fried whitefish, pickled jalapeños, lettuce, special sauce, samurai sauce, lime juice, sesame seeds). Before I go on let me say, I wish restaurants outside of New Orleans would stop tarnishing New Orleans food for the sake of attracting customers to their restaurants. If anything calls it a New Orleans style or inspired. Please stop calling a hoagie a poboy especially if you do not have the correct French bread or serve it dressed.

The softshell crab was tasty, but very small and should not have been served on this type of bread. A smaller bun would have justified the size of the crab which was no bigger than the palm of your hand. I ate the body in three bites and only ate the larger flavorless legs.

The cook recommended the samurai taco stating Guy ordered it and loved it. When it was handed to me I had to fish for the fish, it was literally covered in lettuce, sauce jalapenos. The fish was, flaky and soft on the inside but was completely lacking in the crunch. What I did enjoy was the truffle fries but they weren’t crispy. The bread was good, toasted on the griddle, but I refused to waste calories and room in my belly on it. The same for the tortilla because it was heavily plastered with special sauce and samurai sauce.

My sister ordered the shrimp po’boy six nice size shrimp fried‎ shrimp fried in the same batter as the crab, so they look larger and crispy. Like a New Orleans po’boy, it was ”dressed” with lettuce and tomatoes, as well as special sauce, cocktail sauce, and lime juice. I all for innovation, but cocktail sauce… The soft tempura batter separated from the shrimp as she bit into her opened faced sandwich. She felt it was too much bread as well, but she said the shrimp taste fresh.

My niece had a bacon cheeseburger with Cajun fries; french fries sprinkled with cajun seasoning. Now had I known how good the burgers were I would have ordered one for myself. My niece damn near screamed when I pulled in for another nibble. But the cheeseburger was really good and the juicy beef hung off the soft bun and it was covered thick slices of crispy bacon. Now that’s eating.


I’m sorry to say that the food was below expectations, but the staff made up for the flavor I was in need of. The guy who cooked my order was very friendly and gave us the rundown of the restaurant and the menu. I’m unsure if the potions, ratios to bread to meat and food quality has changed since Diner, Drive In’s and Dives aired or if my Groupon deal affected my food but I love the menu offerings and I can see why one would be excited to patronize but my Nola palate was not wowed, to say the least.

Overall, the food was good, but I am a New Orleanian and my food expectations are very high. Let’s just say our culture has me spoiled, but the vibe and urban style of the restaurant and the neighborhood which looks fun and inviting.

I’m a NOLA foodie 😋⚜️🙌🏾

A native of New Orleans, who left her beloved New Orleans to spend twenty years of living in the land of Minnesota Not So Nice. Minnesota was full of opportunities but would learn that the soul of the state and the people who made it was just as icy cold as the temperatures. After the years and my 40th birthday flew by, I decided it was time to pack up my youngest child and come back to my roots, my birthplace the city that not only birthed me but gave me life. I would not be who I am without my New Orleans beginnings. I am all things that would challenge the belief of growing up in New Orleans. I was a 16yr old teen mother of a premature baby born with a severe medical disability. And only With the help of my mother, was it possible for me to BE! I was able to endure and survive the obstacles laid before my child and me. In a city that was built by my family, but did not allow for us to reap the benefits I overcame. Charity Hospital was my second home — a building filled with miracle workers who made it possible for my daughter to have life. I have lived a life of rainy days with peeks of sunshine, that are my children, including those not of my womb. I'm the proud mother of three and a grandmother of three. My dream was to live the life of the nursery rhyme of ”The Old Lady Who lived in a shoe,” and for the most part, I did. I cared for several children over the years as a special needs foster parent. I would learn that my love was not enough for some children, but I loved them through their pain. I'm not sure if I ever had a case of true love or came close to what love looks like on television, but I had my share of men and the mirage of love. I survived two abusive marriages. Though I longed to return to New Orleans on a daily bases, I must admit my move was one of the best decisions made for me. I am a college graduate; I was a successful entrepreneur. I coowned a soul food restaurant and catering company in Minnesota for 12 years. I developed the talent of creating custom cakes after the murder of my beloved cousin Melvin Paul. He survived Katrina only to go to Minneapolis six months later to be murdered over a parking spot dispute. But with the challenge of creating a simple wedding cake, I was able to find healing. I created the House of Cakes in honor of him. Minnesota life had me pretty materialistic. I worked to the point I do not remember much, but work and handing my children love money. I thought by having the big house on the hill, a husband, having a family, the ultimate provider and being involved in all things that matter, plus having the funds to match would cure me of what I was told was a generational curse of lack of everything from money, love to even self-love. But for the most part, that life poisoned my heart and soul. I was blinded by visions fed to me by the media. I was told I wasn't anything unless I was better than the Jones's. I lived being ok with a broken, bleeding heart. Life like this did not exist in my family while living in New Orleans from what I viewed with my eyes and soul. We may not have had all the things I acquired over the years, but we were happy, we were together. Family outside of New Orleans wasn't family anymore. We lived separate lives and had awkward moments when we bumped into each other in public. I hated living in Minnesota even though life their helped me in so many ways. I felt deep down the only way to repair it was to get back to my roots, my soul, my home, myself, my New Orleans. I'm here, and I love it. Even being in the so-called Blighted Area of New Orleans and not having all the financial and material security, I'm happy. I am determined that She, yes, New Orleans is a woman is just like me; together, we will overcome and will rise from all that tried to kill our spirit. Nothing like starting from the bottom and making your way back up!. I just know in my heart that New Orleans will provide for me. There's a bank account with funds in it owed to me by way of back pay for my ancestors. And I will receive my inheritance, and I will continue the traditions and customs of the old to keep the heartbeat of New Orleans beating. I'm down in the boot, living the life that feels right to me awaiting my destiny...

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