Chicago may not be as famous for its Indian food as it is for its pizza, yet delicious Indian eateries can be found all over the city. Many of them are in what is known as Little India, a stretch along Devon Avenue. Beyond this area, though, there are many other great places to choose from. Here are the top 10 Indian restaurants in Chicago.
The Spice Room Chicago
Restaurant, Indian, $$$
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The Spice Room is a casual BYOB restaurant in Logan Square serving food from the north of India. This restaurant creates new menus every day and is devoted to serving fresh, healthy, flavorful cuisine. “Spicy doesn’t always mean hot,” the website emphasizes, but rather rich and full of flavor. As such, customers at the Spice Room are given the opportunity to choose how spicy they want their food to be. The restaurant is loved for its delicious food and for its wonderful service.
Naansense sells Indian-inspired street food in a Chipotle-style restaurant that allows customers to build their own bowls. Select a base, protein, veggies and sauce and you’re good to go. While Naansense may have a fast-food feel, the food is handmade on-site every day. Naansense has two Chicago locations, one on Wells St and one on Clinton St. They also have a special street food menu that is available only at certain times. This menu includes naan pizza, poutine and a snack called samosa chaat, a potato samosa covered with chickpea noodles, tomatoes, rice puffs, onions, yogurt and other fresh, tasty ingredients. For a taste of these street treats, visit the Wells location between 4pm and 9pm on weekdays or between 11am and 8pm on Saturdays.
The food at Mango Pickle, located in the northern neighborhood of Edgewater, comes from head chef and Chicago native Marisa Paolillo. Paolillo spent 10 years studying cooking all over India, and Chicago is reaping the benefits. Mango Pickle is dedicated to serving a diverse range of Indian fare, so you won’t only see the items you’re used to on a typical Indian menu. Stop by to try the cashew rice cake, feni beef stir-fry and lamb khichda.
Tiffin is also located in Little India and is a great choice if you’re looking to have a fancier night out. Tiffin has a huge menu complete with a long list of vegetarian options, as well as a section devoted to Indian-Chinese fusion entrées. Try the golden fried baby corn or paneer chilis. And if you’re looking to expand your palate beyond naan, Tiffin also has an entire menu section devoted to different types of bread. For example, they offer poori, a deep-fried wheat bread, aloo paratha, a potato-stuffed wheat bread, and shahi paratha, a wheat bread stuffed with potatoes, cauliflower, cilantro and cheese.
This Little India establishment was awarded the 2015 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence and the 2016 Michelin Bib Gourmand Award. Sabri Nihari offers a wide range of classic Indian and Pakistani dishes, from karahi gosht, a mix of wok-cooked goat meat and vegetables, to haleem, a lentil stew with slow-cooked shredded beef, not forgetting the classic chicken tikka. What makes this restaurant even more appealing is its reasonable prices. Entrees hover around $15, and the most expensive is only $17.99.
This casual Wicker Park pub is the perfect spot to munch on delicious samosas or naans while enjoying a craft beer or cocktail. Pub Royale has a long list of drink options as well as an option for a 4-ounce (125-ml) pour, so you can try smaller samples to find out what you like best. It also serves brunch and has some great weeknight happy hours.
Also located in Little India – though just off Devon Avenue on Rockwell Street – JK Kabab House serves Indian and Pakistani cuisine in a casual environment. As its name suggests, the restaurant is known for its delicious kebabs, which are slow-cooked and made to order. If kebab’s aren’t your thing, though, the restaurant offers a host of other dishes. Try the paneer kathi roll, a mix of vegetables and paneer wrapped in chapati, or the frontier chicken, sautéed and mixed with onion and tomatoes.
Cumin has won the Michelin Bib Gourmand Award every year since 2011. Its modern Indian–Nepalese cuisine is both delicious and affordable. Visit Cumin to enjoy its crispy veggie or lamb samosas, its shrimp masala or chicken tandoori, or its rich, creamy palak paneer. Even the plain rice at Cumin is delicious. And if there’s room at the end of your meal, you can top it off with homemade pistachio or mango ice cream. From Tuesday to Sunday, there is a fantastic all-you-can-eat lunch buffet as well.
The food at this Lakeview locale is cooked by Chef Sai, who studied cooking in India. Chef Sai prepares a large proportion of the restaurant’s entrées in authentic Indian clay pots, which gives customers an even more authentic taste of the country’s cuisine. Indian Clay Pot boasts a large menu, with tons of options for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Vegetarians, for example, can enjoy a wide range of masala-based entrées, including mushroom masala, herb vegetable masala and paneer tikka masala. Meat lovers can enjoy butter chicken, lamb vindaloo and Kerala shrimp curry.
You can dine in at this casual Uptown spot, but if you’re looking to enjoy some delectable Indian food from the comfort of your own home, Royal Indian Grill is the perfect takeout option. The classic Indian fare is delicious, especially the chicken tikka masala and garlic naan, and is always delivered promptly and piping hot. Other popular dishes include the daal and the chicken makhani, which involves a mix of lentils or chicken and tomato sauce.