If you like trying different cuisine, then Chicago is a fantastic city in which to live or visit as there are restaurants serving almost every type of cuisine. Although Chicago is best known for American and Italian cuisine, Asian food is also popular in this city. One of the most popular Asian cuisines in Chicago is Indian food. Restaurants serving this cuisine vary from casual eateries serving affordable meals to fine dining restaurants for special occasions that cost a little more. There is a vast array of Indian restaurants in Chicago from which you can choose, but the following are the top 20 Indian restaurants in Chicago to try.
20. Pakiza Restaurant
The fact that this restaurant is so popular among the locals is a testimony to the standard of the food served. It is a humble establishment located just around the corner from Cabrini-Green. Pakiza Restaurant serves huge portions that attract many people who are working in the area, and the dishes on offer are influenced by both Indian and Pakistani cuisine. There are plenty of options to choose between, and everything is made to order. The restaurant has built a strong clientele of returning customers who love the unique flavors.
This North Indian restaurant is located in Humboldt Park. It is a small and trendy BYOB venue that is well known to locals but often missed by tourists and those from other neighborhoods in Chicago. Rangoli has become known for its delicious keema samosas, which are a stuffed and fried appetizer. However, you will find plenty more North Indian dishes to try at this restaurant. Seating is limited at this restaurant, so get there early or book a table in advance.
18. The Long Room/ The Biscuit Man/ Bombay Breakdown
Chicago Eater recommends this rather unusual option for those who love Indian cuisine. The Long Room is actually a craft beer bar, but they serve food in their lounge which is made by Zeeshan Shah, who is known as The Biscuit Man. Shah creates food from breakfast through to lucnch, and all the dishes are inspired by Asian flavors. His specialty is naan rolls filled with roasted lamb served with vegetable rice bowls. Shah has also partnered with Yoshi Yamada to start a pop-up restaurant called Bombay Breakdown. The duo are also planning to open their own restaurant.
17. India House Restaurant
If your preference is for an Indian buffet-style restaurant, then one of the top offerings in Chicago is India House Restaurant. Dining here is a fantastic way to sample many dishes and new flavors without worrying about ordering a meal you have never tried before and then wishing you had ordered your usual choice. Some people worry that buffet-style restaurants leave their food out under heat lamps that cause the food to become dry, but that is not the case at India House Restaurant. The staff is constantly bringing out hot new dishes, and the naan bread and tandoori dishes are served piping hot directly to the table. This is a great place to take children so that they can accustom themselves to the different flavors of Indian cuisine and discover which dishes they enjoy.
16. Chicago Curry House
A popular spot amongst the locals is the Chicago Curry House in Printers Row. This is predominantly because of the vast selection of dishes on offer. Chicago Curry House serves both Indian and Nepalese dishes and combines the usual offerings you would expect to find along with some more unusual offerings. One of the chef’s specials is the lamb tikka masala, which is flavored with yogurt, garlic, and ginger, and served with a warming spicy sauce. However, there is something for everyone on this menu regardless of the level of spice they prefer when dining out in an Indian restaurant. This restaurant also offers a takeout service if you prefer to enjoy their food in the comfort of your own home.
15. Mysore Woodlands
The massive portions served at Mysore Woodlands mean that you should only visit this restaurant with an empty stomach. The South Indian vegetarian dishes are packed with flavor, which you will discover if you start your meal with the spicy rasam soup. The vast array of bread and chutneys are fantastic accompaniments to your meal as they allow you to sample a wide array of flavors. Don't let the vegetarian-only options deter you from dining here if you are a meat lover, as the food is divine.
With a trendy Randolph Street location, Jaipur stands out from its neighbors because of its more traditional appearance. Don’t dismiss this restaurant in favor of one of its trendier competitors though, as you should not miss out on sampling the delicious food on offer. The spice-laden dishes are diverse in the flavors they deliver. The meals are so well spiced that you should probably end your meal with the palate-cooling mango lassi.
13. Udupi Palace
A completely vegetarian menu is offered at this South Indian restaurant in West Ridge. Some people worry that vegetarian food is bland and boring, but this Indian restaurant manages to put an end to this theory. Big flavors are what you can expect from almost every dish on the menu, and some of the highlights include the Madras-style okra curry and their famous dosa, which is a crepe filled with potatoes, cumin, onion, rice, and lentils.
Time Out recommends a meal at Uru-Swati, which you will find on Devon Street. Although this is a vegetarian restaurant, you don’t need to worry about limited options on the menu. The creative menu is vast, and it is a fantastic opportunity to try some flavorsome, vegetable-based dishes that you might otherwise overlook at a traditional Indian restaurant. In addition to the usual vegetarian options that you might find as side dishes at other restaurants, you can choose from some of the restaurant's unique culinary inventions.
11. Indian Clay Pot
Located at Lakeview, Chef Sai is at the helm of Indian Clay Pot. This chef studied Indian cuisine in India. The majority of the dishes on the menu are served in authentic Indian clay pots that give the dishes a traditional feel that enhances the dining experience. Both meat-eaters and vegetarians are well catered for at this eatery, thanks to the large menu. The masala dishes are a particular highlight of the menu.
10. JK Kebab House
If you want to enjoy a meal in a casual environment, then JK Kebab house is one of the best in the city. You will find it on Rockwell Street in Little India, just off Devon Avenue. A combination of Indian and Pakistani cuisine is served, and it is particularly well known for its delicious kebabs which are made to order. There are plenty of other options if kebabs are not your thing.
9. Sabri Nihari Indian Restaurant
This is an award-winning restaurant as it won the Michelin Bib Gourmand Award in 2016 and was awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence the year before. A Little India establishment, Sabri Nihari serves both Indian and Pakistani dishes. Despite the fact that the food is freshly prepared using amazing ingredients that are perfectly spices, this is one of the most affordable options in Chicago with many entrees costing around the $15 mark.
8. The Spice Room
For a traditional Indian experience, try The Spice Room. This restaurant divides its menu into vegetarian and non-vegetarian sections, and each of the flavorsome dishes aims to make spice accessible. Some of the highlights of the menu are the biryanis, mango chicken, Bargara lamb, and saag paneer. You can enhance your true Indian experience further by choosing accompaniments from the large list of bread and rice options.
7. Pub Royale
Pub Royale takes a hip approach to Indian cuisine, says Elite Traveler. This lively restaurant creates Anglo-Indian fusion food along with many traditional Indian dishes, including eggplant curry from the vegetarian options and the very popular butter chicken. This venue is also well known for its extensive list of beers and cocktails. Although it is a restaurant, the décor and bar area give it a pub vibe.
Cumin’s menu consists of rich dishes that use exotic spices and that are influenced by both traditional Indian and modern Nepalese cuisine. The menu is split into separate sections for the two types of cuisine, and it is recommended that you sample entrees from both countries. Some of the highlights of the Indian section of the menu include chicken vindaloo, paneer aalu gobhi, and chicken tikka masala. From the Nepalese section of the menu, some dishes to sample include manche bazako sekuwa, aalu tama ra bodi, and gorkhali khasi.
5. Gaylord Fine Indian Cuisine
There are two Gaylord Fine Indian Cuisine locations in Chicago, one in downtown Chicago and the other in Schaumburg. Diners can expect to enjoy authentic Indian dishes in a sophisticated setting. Most of the dishes on the menu are influenced by Northern Indian cuisine. Therefore, you will have plenty of clay-oven cooked tandoori dishes from which you can choose. Regardless of whether you prefer seafood, chicken, lamb, or vegetarian dishes, there are plenty of options.
According to Elite Traveler, Vermilion is one of the best Indian restaurants in Chicago.Their menu consists of unusual Latin-Indian fusion dishes. There are several ways to dine at this restaurant. You can choose tapas, fusion-style entrees, or the four-course tasting menus. Those who choose the latter will have four options available to them; Seared: Meats, The Deep: Seafood. Green: Vegetarian, and, Premium: Omnivore. Unlike many Indian restaurants, Vermilion has a decent selection of desserts. They also have a signature range of cocktails that use herbs and spices.
3. Tiffin The Indian Kitchen
Located in Little India, this is a great restaurant to visit if you are treating yourself or celebrating as it has a fancier vibe than many other Indian restaurants in Chicago. They offer an extensive menu that includes meat, seafood, and vegetarian options. One section of the menu contains Indian-Chinese fusion dishes. Many people opt for naan bread to accompany their Indian meal, but you can try some of the many other traditional Indian bread at this restaurant as there is a long list of bread options. Tiffin The Indian Kitchen is located on West Devon Avenue.
A restaurant does not necessarily need to offer a fine dining experience to become one of the best restaurants in an area. Sometimes, it is all about the flavors. The perfect example of this is Naansense, which has two locations; one on Wells Street and the other on Clinton Street. This stands out from other Indian restaurants in the area because diners build their own meal by selecting a base, a protein, vegetables, and a sauce. While this has a fast-food feel, the food is freshly prepared each day and is inspired by Indian street food. If you dine at certain times, there is also a special street food menu available that includes dishes such as samosa chaat and naan pizza.
1. Mango Pickle
When checking out lists of the best Indian restaurants in Chicago, Mango Pickle is a name that keeps cropping up, including on the recommendations from The Culture Trip. Located in Edgewater, the head chef at this highly rated Indian restaurant is Marisa Paolillo, who spent 10 years studying Indian cuisine traveling around the subcontinent. A diverse range of Indian fare is served at this restaurant, and the options extend further than the typical dishes you expect to find at an Indian restaurant. Some of the unique options include lamb khichda, feni beef stir-fry, and the cashew rice cake.
Written by Liz Flynn
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