The Best Indian Restaurants in Chicago

Fulton Market is one of many top places in Chicago for Indian food
Fulton Market is one of many top places in Chicago for Indian food | © Antwon McMullen / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Molly Sprayregen
3 March 2021

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.

Ghareeb Nawaz

Restaurant, Indian, Pakistani, Vegetarian
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Happy customers pack into this family-owned restaurant, tucking into feasts from the extensive, affordable menu. Since 1993, Ghareeb Nawaz has served everything from breakfast specials like aloo paratha (potato curry with bread) to chili chicken biryani with yogurt and fragrant rice. There are 23 types of paratha sandwiches, while their veggie thali includes four types of curry to try out with chapati. There’s a restaurant in Devon and a Lombard branch with a smaller menu. Both are cash only.

The Spice Room

Restaurant, Indian, $$$
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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

Restaurant, Indian, $$$
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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 Restaurant

Restaurant, Indian, $$$
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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

Restaurant, Indian, $$$
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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.

Naansense, North Wells Street

Restaurant, Indian
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Build your own bowl at Naansense, a Chipotle-style restaurant known for its Indian-inspired street food that’s freshly made on-site every day. Select a base, protein, veggies and sauce, and you’re good to go. Naansense has two Chicago locations – one on Wells St. and one on Clinton St. – and they have a special street food menu that’s only available at certain times, featuring naan pizza and samosa chaat.

Mango Pickle, Indian Restaurant, Chicago

Restaurant, Indian, $$$
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Mango Pickle, Chicago
Courtesy of Mango Pickle / Shannon Steele

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.

Tiffin, Chicago

Restaurant, Indian, $$$
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Tiffin, in Little India, 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, like 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, including aloo paratha (wheat flower and potatoes).

Sabri Nihari, Indian Restaurant, Chicago

Restaurant, Indian, $$$
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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.

Pub Royale, Chicago

Pub, Indian, $$$
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Pub Royale, Chicago
Courtesy of Pub Royale / Reilly Drew

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.

JK Kabab House, Chicago

Restaurant, Indian, $$$
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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, Indian Restaurant, Chicago

Restaurant, Indian
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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.

Indian Clay Pot, Chicago

Restaurant, Indian
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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.

Royal Indian Grill, Chicago

Restaurant, Indian, $$$
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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.

These recommendations were updated on March 3, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.