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. These are the best Indian restaurants in Chicago.
The Spice Room rightly declares that “spice doesn’t always mean hot.” It’s about exciting flavors with fresh ingredients – that’s why diners are invited to choose the heat of their dishes. The chefs are proud of their simple but tasty fare like bagara lamb with peanuts, sesame, coconut and spices, or vegetarian paneer butter masala with cottage cheese, onions and bell peppers in a tomato and cream-based sauce. Check out this healthy northern Indian cuisine in Logan Square. It’s BYOB, too, so make a night of it!
Superkhana in Logan Square isn’t just about the food, but the experience, too. Friendly staff will help you choose the best range of dishes, whether collecting from the walk-up-window or dining in the chic, buzzing restaurant. There are the usual goodies plus more adventurous dishes like butter chicken calzone and coconut brisket. Share and try it all with a group, finishing with a cocktail or local cider.
Indian Garden on Downtown Ontario Street promises a “culinary voyage of discovery” from Bombay to Delhi to Goa. The beautifully presented dishes are explosively flavorsome. Start with paneer pakora, deep-fried soft Indian cheese battered in mashed garbanzo beans. Mains are the likes of adraki chaamp – ginger-flavored lamb chops – rogan josh with cardamom, and gosht cooked in the hot kadhai (iron wok). Check out their dine-in only express lunch with six elements including starters and dessert.
Tandoor Char House presents Indian-Pakistani fusion, run by brothers who are inspired by their parents’ cooking. Each plateful is made with passion at the Lincoln Park and River North restaurants, from the signature mix grill platter to house speciality beef nahari, where cuts of sirloin are simmered in sauce and topped with jalapeños and ginger. The award-winning lamb tikka masala tacos are exciting, while vegetarians should try the palak paneer (cheese and spinach stewed in creamy tomato sauce). Choose from six flavors of lassi to end your feast.
The food at Mango Pickle, in the northern neighborhood of Edgewater, is whipped up by head chef and Chicago native Marisa Paolillo, who spent 10 years studying cooking all over India. This restaurant 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; try the cashew rice cake, feni beef stir-fry and lamb khichda.
This Little India establishment 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). What makes this restaurant even more appealing is its reasonable prices.
This casual Wicker Park pub is the perfect spot to enjoy delicious samosas or naans while sipping a craft beer or cocktail. Pub Royale has a long list of drink options as well as an option for a 4oz (125ml) 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 serves up kebabs, which are slow-cooked and made to order. If kebabs aren’t your thing, the restaurant also offers a host of other dishes, like its paneer kathi roll (a mix of vegetables and paneer wrapped in chapati) and frontier chicken, which is sautéed and mixed with onion and tomatoes.
Cumin has won the Michelin Bib Gourmand Award year after year for its modern Indian-Nepalese cuisine, which is both delicious and affordable. Visit Cumin to enjoy its crispy veggie or lamb samosas, its shrimp masala or chicken tandoori, and its rich, creamy palak paneer. 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 adds an even more authentic taste of the country’s cuisine. The restaurant boasts a large menu, with tons of options for both vegetarians and meat eaters – think masala-based entrées, including mushroom masala, herb vegetable masala and paneer tikka masala, plus 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 take-out option. Their classic Indian fare is delicious – especially the chicken tikka masala and garlic naan – and it’s 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.
Kim Gregory contributed additional reporting to this article.