Where to find authentic, awesome Indian food in Chicago



Chicago's Indian food is not only delicious, it's authentic. And it's also an excellent value. Heaping plates of basmati rice, naan (a pita-like bread), grilled meats, samosas, dosai (a thin crepe) and bean and vegetable dishes will guarantee you leave stuffed and happy. Have some water or a cold beer handy, because some of these foods  are spicy! When we're in the mood for Indian food in Chicago, we head to Indian Garden - a reader favorite - or we count on Udupi Palace's solid track record and consistently great dishes. You'll find these places - and the other restaurants on our list - to be fantastic options for Indian cuisine. If you're looking to concentrate your efforts, start along Devon Avenue, in the far north side West Rogers Park neighborhood. It's home to a mile-long stretch known as "Little India," and is also an international melting pot of Asian, Russian, Pakastani, and Orthodox Jewish residents.



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Locals love that this neighborhood Indian establishment delivers oversized portions and hosts a tasty lunch buffet. The dining room, accented by subdued lighting and a dramatic color scheme, adds a touch of class to the proceedings. Try mainstays like tandoori chicken, fish curry, and freshly baked naan, which is served warm. If you're feeling adventurous, choose something unusual from the menu's 145 items. Several traditional desserts, as well as a decent selection of Indian beers and wines, are additional enticements. Besides the downtown location, the restaurant also has a location in northwest suburban Hoffman Estates and does many banquet events.


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Indian fare and Nuevo Latino cusine collide at this hip and trendy restaurant in River North. The black and white decor includes modern lighting and paintings. And the food is eclectic and spicy. A signature entree is the Lobster Portuguese, which is lobster in a stewed Goan sauce with cloves, garlic, cardamom, mustard seeds and chiles. If you don't like spice, try the artichoke pakoras, made in a soft batter and with a sauce that blends eggplant chutney and coconut milk. They'll end the meal by bringing you a little Vermilion Hedonism - dark chocolate cake topped with raspberry sorbet and masala powdered orange.


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This eatery with the interesting name – it serves Indian and Nepalese cuisine – serves top-quality fare, and the lunch buffet provides great value with hot entrees, salads, and desserts. The menu features vegetarian selections, tandoori dishes, and lots of options centered around chicken, lamb, or seafood. The food is deliciously fragrant and the portions are large, so prepare to leave feeling stuffed. Drinks include Himalayan tea, wine, and a nice selection of imported Indian beers. If you're ordering spicy food, consider drinking a mango lassi, a mango-yogurt like drink that will cool down your mouth. The restaurant's interior gains interest with colorful Himalayan prints, and traditional Indian music played in the background adds to the ambiance.


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Ukranian Village
Pub Royale
Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of Martha Williams


 

This modern British-Indian pub is a Chicago standout, thanks to its outstanding beer and drink selection, its Indian food menu, and its eccentric decor (there's a motorcycle and peacock feathers on the wall, among other items). Located in Ukrainian Village, Pub Royale is a small, new and buzzed-about place. It's a mash-up of a British pub and an Indian restaurant, but it creates a quirky atmosphere that totally works. It's first-come, first-serve seating, so you might have to stand for your first drink or two. There's a wide range of beer and cider choices, or you can try drinks like the house shandygaff, which mixes Off Color Troublesome and limeade. Another popular option are the British favorite, Pimm's Cups. You'll need a drink to wash down the spicy Indian menu. Besides chicken tikka masala, lamb dumplings and cod- and potato-filled samosas. If you have a sweet tooth, try the Knickerbocker Glory, a sundae layered with fruit and ice cream.


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This elegant restaurant specializes in Northern Indian cuisine and is known for its tandoori cooking. Clay ovens powered by mesquite wood cook not only breads but fish, chicken, and lamb to perfection. The unobtrusive, attentive staff and tasteful interior create an upscale dining experience. A lunch buffet adds value, and curries are also an earthy, delicious treat. If you're out in the suburbs by Woodfield Mall, try their Schaumburg location, which is a just a block from the massive mall. the food is primarily from the northern regions, but utensils aren't always necessary. So go ahead and scoop up the flavorful chutneys and seasoned potatoes.


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This modern and newly opened Indian and Nepalese restaurant is not on Devon Avenue, but its food is just as authentic. This sleek restaurant in the hip Wicker Park neighborhood, so it draws more American diners than Indians. They come for the classic Indian dishes, like Shrimp Curry, Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken Tandoori and lamb kabobs. The large menu also features some of the less spicy Nepalese dishes - the Chicken Momo steamed dumplings are a favorite. And customers rave about the Biryanis (which is basmati rice cooked in Indian spices mixed with vegetables, meat or seafood). The bar also has a nice selection of cocktails.


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Viceroy of India


 

This relaxed restaurant serves truly authentic Indian food. The lunch buffet is a big draw thanks to a variety of options at reasonable prices. Popular choices are the vegetable samosa appetizer, and the tandori mixed grill. But you can't go wrong with any of the lamb, chicken, rice, vegetarian, or tandoori selections. Representative fare includes chicken vindaloo (cooked in a zesty tomato sauce and served with potatoes) and lamb curry (cooked in an onion and tomato sauce). Northern and southern dishes both make appearances, as do a range of flavorful breads and mild sweets. It's a nice place for a quick meal, or a romantic evening.


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Udupi Palace


 

A sister restaurant to Tiffin, this Indian establishment is more scaled down and not quite as elegant interior-wise. However, the food is just as tasty. Try the South Indian vegetarian cuisine that includes a range of options. Start off with the Sambar Vada, fried lentil donuts dipped in Sambar, or the Aloo Bonda, lentil dumplings topped with onion and potato. House specialty items include Malabar Adai, pancakes made with mixed lentils and vegetables, or the Pesarattu, moong dhal and rice crepe topped with onion and chilies. Since this place is about the food more than ambiance, it's a good place to get carry-out. You can also have your food delivered within a certain radius (no downtown delivery).


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Tiffin boasts an upscale interior and very qualified servers. Ceilings painted with blue clouds and walls with wood wainscoting define the interior. The authentic menu features specialties such as tandoori king prawns, chicken tikka masala (chicken in a tomato-cream sauce), lamb kabobs, and vegetable samosas. The menu includes a large selection of vegetarian items as well as scrumptious desserts. Try the gulab jamun – fried cheese balls doused in a honey syrup. Be sure to try one of the fresh Indian bread, served warm, like the Garlic Naan or the Aloo Paratha, a multi layered, pan-fried whole wheat bread stuffed with lightly spiced mashed potatoes.


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Warren Park
Hema's Kitchen


 

A friendly, family-run business with excellent (but sometimes very spicy) food, Hema's Kitchen is a standout among the Indian restaurants on Devon Avenue. You'll likely be greeted by Hema or one of her family members, who will be happy to answer any questions you have about the menu. One of the best dishes there are the samosas, like the 2 Kheema Samosa - a pastry shell stuffed with minced lamb, onions green peas and cilantro leaves for only $3.99 But you won't go wrong with anything on the menu - even the fluffy naan is delicious. But be warned, the vindaloo dishes are spicy!


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Meet Jamie Bartosch

Jamie Bartosch is a lifelong Chicagoan who thinks her hometown is the greatest city in the world. She is an award-winning newspaper reporter, a freelance travel writer, and the mother of two great kids.

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