Chicago’s famed Devon Avenue (aka Little India) has long been one of the best stretches for incredible Indian cuisine in the city. But Devon isn’t the only place, and thanks to DoorDash and Caviar, you can tear into dosas from Lakeview, slurp pumpkin curry from Logan Square, and more. Here are some of the best spots, including old favorites that have been around for decades and new options offering modern takes on traditional dishes (looking at you, EggHolic mashed-potato-loaded sandwich).
The Spice Room
Since opening in 2017, this Logan Square spot has become the kind of neighborhood Indian restaurant every neighborhood wishes it had. It executes familiar Indian dishes that are consistent and consistently fresh, like stew-like lamb vindaloo; malai kofta, vegetable dumplings with a cashew-onion sauce; and pav bhaji, complete with bread rolls for sopping up that spicy, veg-forward gravy.
At this Michelin-Bib-Gourmand-recognized restaurant in Wicker Park, Himalayan classics share menu space with Indian comfort foods. Start with the Chicken Momo Chili Fry, steamed chicken dumplings sauteed with Nepalese spices, before moving on to more substantial Nepalese dishes like gorkhali khasi, hunks of goat meat braised with tomatoes and onions. As for Indian dishes, you can’t go wrong with any of the biryani options or the tandoor-baked flatbreads.
When Rangoli first opened in West Town back in 2012, it brought a Rolodex of Indian dishes to a part of the city without many options. Then in 2019, it expanded to Lincoln Park, further broadening access to the restaurant’s much-loved North Indian and Punjabi classics. The menu covers a lot of ground, but don’t overlook the Gobi Manchurian, a spicy Indo-Chinese dish of fried cauliflower sautéed with garlic, ginger, and spring onions and tossed in a sweet and spicy housemade sauce.
This Devon Avenue stalwart has been serving South Indian vegetarian dishes at reasonable prices for decades. Chef and owner Hansa Chhabria, whose mantra is “healing through food,” relies on Indian spices used in Ayurvedic medicine for her comforting, delicious dishes. Street foods like uttapam, savory lentil-and-rice pancakes, and dosas are the stars of the menu here — specifically the two-foot-long paper masala dosa, filled with spiced potatoes.
You can’t talk about South Indian cuisine in Chicago without mentioning this Devon Avenue institution. For the past 30 years, Udupi Palace has been crafting a 100-percent vegetarian menu of seasonally driven classics made with local ingredients. You can taste that effort in the overstuffed dosas, which come in about a dozen varieties, and the ever popular iddly, savory rice and lentil patties, and medu vada, doughnut-shaped lentil fritters.
At this highly acclaimed modern Indian restaurant along Chicago’s Restaurant Row, classic Indian dishes are reimagined through a fine-dining lens. Think kulcha with Tillamook cheddar and shishito peppers folded into the flatbread, and sweet potato chaat alongside kale tempura and yogurt mousse.
Chiya Chai Cafe
Come for the chai, stay for some of the best Indian food in the city. On the Logan Square spot’s small but mighty menu, you’ll find a variety of Nepali- and Indian-influenced curry bowls along with the famous hot curry wings — locally sourced chicken doused in a curry-and-hot-pepper-laden sauce.
Mild 2 Spicy
You can find a little bit of everything on the menu of this Lakeview restaurant, but don’t miss the dosas. There are more than a dozen versions, ranging from the spinach- and cheese-stuffed one to the Mysore masala dosa, layered with chutney, curried potatoes, and onions. If you want to kick up the spice level, look no further than the housemade sambar.
This Indian street food mini-chain specializes in — you guessed it — eggs. You’ll find hard-boiled eggs, egg curries, egg sandwiches, omelets, and so much more. But real ones know that one of the best dishes here is egg-free: the Amdavadi Touch, a mashed potato sandwich that’s the definition of being more than the sum of its parts.
The original location of this Indian Pakistani spot has been a favorite on Devon since it first opened in the early ’90s. Today, Ghareeb Nawaz has multiple locations in the Chicagoland area that all serve up huge portions of Indian specialties at low prices (most items are under $10). Get the chili chicken and goat biryani — and join the bandwagon.
Sabri Nihari Restaurant
This Devon institution has been racking up Michelin Bib Gourmand nods for its Indian and Pakistani bangers for the past three decades. Our go-to is the namesake Sabri Nihari, a tender beef medallion bathing in a spiced gravy-like stew. Other specialties include the yogurt-marinated-then-barbecued chicken boti; dal ghosht enriched with goat, and spicy karahi chicken.
Tandoor Char House
Fahim and Faraz Sardharia — the Indian Pakistani brothers behind this beloved Lincoln Park restaurant — have built their reputation on exceptional tandoori meats and curries. More recently, they’ve added whimsical Indian-inspired dishes like chaat fries, tamarind wings, and masala ceviche to the menu, making Tandoor Char House an even more popular destination. No order is complete without a side of the famous housemade achar.
When husband-and-wife team Ali and Falguni Dewjee opened Bombay Wraps in 2010, they wanted to share the street food they grew up eating in the city now known as Mumbai. That means flaky paratha enveloping fillings like chicken tikka, chickpea chana, and lamb curry. But you can try all that goodness in bowls and rolls too.
A pioneer in the industry since opening her River North restaurant in 2003, chef and owner Rohini Dey has earned national acclaim for her blend of Indian and Latin cuisines. She refreshed the menu a few years ago, but OG favorites like the pindi butter chicken and tandoori skirt steak still reign. Word to the wise: This is a place worth the splurge (read: be sure to order dessert and a cocktail or two).
The Indian Garden
This Streeterville spot is known for its extensive portfolio of familiar Indian dishes (butter chicken, garlicky naan) and hyper-regional Indian specialties (Bombay-style chaat like Chandni Chowk aloo tikki, chickpeas stuffed into mashed potatoes and topped with chutney). Specialties here include the chicken biryani, fragrant with saffron, and tandoori lobster that’s marinated in yogurt and cooked in a clay oven.
The suburbanite sister restaurant to The Indian Garden in Schiller Park crafts traditional Punjabi favorites (samosa, chana masala), plus a few modern takes on classics (mozzarella-stuffed naan!). We tend to gravitate towards the regional specialities: the Lucknowi chicken biryani, oniony lamb Peshawri, and ghee-roasted Mangalorean paneer.
Born and raised in New Delhi, chef Jagmohan Jayara opened this Schaumburg restaurant in 1993, shortly after immigrating to the U.S. Fast-forward to today, and India House has two outposts (Gold Coast and Hoffman Estates) and a large following of dedicated customers who keep coming back for well-executed staples like the cardamom-spiked lamb rogan josh and coconutty Goan fish curry.
Adda Indian Cuisine
After completing his culinary degree in Mumbai and cooking his way through India, chef Yogendra Dhawle opened this Near West Side restaurant as an homage to Indian culinary tradition. That dedication shows in the dum pukht biryani, layered with caramelized onions, saffron, and your protein of choice (chicken, vegetable, goat), and tandoori-kissed meat options.
Indian Clay Pot
Take a note from the restaurant name and go all in on the clay pot dishes at this North Center spot. The clay pots are imported directly from India and brimming with 100-percent halal ingredients. Our go-to clay pot is the gingery lamb, and don’t sleep on the chana masala and kofta makhani — cheese-cashew-and-raisin-stuffed dumplings.
Say it with us: chicken tikka pizza. During the pandemic, this River North restaurant began cranking out Indian-inspired pizzas — think smashed samosa with tamarind and mint chutney, paneer masala with elote-style corn — and they’re just one more reason why we love this place. Other reasons include the juicy momos and vada pav, spicy potato-filled sandwiches.
Gaylord Fine Indian Cuisine
Meet Chicago’s oldest Indian restaurant (established in 1972!). At both the original location in Schaumburg and Gold Coast outpost, the team prepares North Indian comfort foods with upscale flair. Get the one of the three dinner specials to try a little bit of everything, and cash in on the carbs (naan, paratha, roti, kulcha, and more).
Art of Dosa
This fast-casual vegan restaurant inside Revival Food Hall celebrates the humble dosa. Owner Ravi Nagubadi’s signature masala dosa is loaded with a potato curry speckled in a homemade gunpowder spice blend. In addition to offering traditional dosas, Nagubadi also riffs on the South Indian staple by serving them wrap-style and with ingredients like a vegan katsu and ramen noodles.
For the past 30 years, Hema Potla has been drawing diners to Devon with her homestyle Indian cooking powered by her signature spices (she roasts and grinds them in-house). You can’t go wrong with anything on the extensive menu, especially old reliables like the coconut-and-cilantro-forward haryali chicken, stewed dal dahkni, and lamb vindaloo. You can choose your spice level when ordering, but be honest with yourself — “spicy” is no joke.
Himalayan Sherpa Kitchen
Helmed by Nepali-born chef Bhim Rai, this Lincoln Square spot touches on not only Nepali and Himalayan food but also Newari, Tibetan, Sherpa, and Indian dishes. Given that range, it can be hard to know where to start with the menu. Our routine is to order the chicken Himalaya Sherpa special homemade dumplings and Himalayan-herb-laced base camp potatoes before moving on to ever-popular Indian entrées like the pumpkin curry and aloo gobhi tarkari, a potato and cauliflower curry.
Photo courtesy of Eggholic
Vermilion by Siege Photo