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Where To Eat Indian Food In Chicago

From white-tablecloth places to counter-service spots, these are our favorite restaurants for Indian food in the city.

There are so many options for Indian food in Chicago that committing to one can feel as daunting as picking a new mattress. That’s why we made this guide. On it, you'll find the 16 best spots in the city to eat dal, tandoori meats, South Indian stews, puri, and more. They include everything from upscale tasting menu spots to old-school places on Devon that have been around for years.

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THE SPOTS

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Basant review image
8.0

Basant

$$$$

If you’re in the market for a favorite Indian spot, Basant might be it. This North Center restaurant has a menu full of hits, from starters like mushroom kulcha and tamarind-glazed sweet potato chaat, to creamy lamb gustaba and smoky eggplant bharta. Not only is the food really good, but this place works well for a bunch of situations. They make great cocktails (with Happy Hour from 4pm-6pm Tuesday through Friday) and the big, bright dining room is great for both group dinners and casual date nights. Oh, and there’s a covered sidewalk patio. So unless you just don’t like eating delicious things, there are very few scenarios where Basant isn’t a good option.


Vajra is one of our favorite Indian restaurants in Chicago, and its comforting food was recently voted “most likely to help us forget Elon Musk bought Twitter”. You’ll find small plates like a samosa chaat topped with pomegranate seeds, fluffy naan, along with incredibly good curries like the madras, shahi korma (we like pairing the sweet gravy with shrimp) and the cashew tikka masala. Right now they’re only available for carryout and delivery, but luckily they package their carryout wonderfully— nothing gets cold or soggy, and they keep the garlic naan separate.


If the dining room at Adda in Little Italy feels familiar, that’s because this Indian spot took over the Francesca space in 2020. And while the leather booths and white tablecloths are still here, we much prefer the food coming out of the kitchen at Adda. The menu is long, with dishes like tender lamb vindaloo in a spicy vinegary sauce, mahi-mahi in a coconut curry with kokum and red chilies for heat, and a tandoor section where the smoky, spicy meat tastes like it’s been marinated for days. Come here with three friends when you’re in the mood to share a bunch of curry and biryani.


The food at this BYOB spot is consistently great, and you never need to worry about them getting rid of your favorite dishes, since the Spice Room’s long menu doesn’t change. You can’t go wrong sharing the pav bhaji, chicken tikka masala, and malai kofta. Everything has tons of flavor, so even the really spicy dishes don’t get overshadowed by the heat. Like the lamb vindaloo that has a perfect balance of chile and vinegar, or the complex (and very spicy) pav bhaji. Just make sure to order the kashmiri naan. Itssweetness complements the heat perfectly.


The people who own the Spice Room used to work at Rangoli, so the menu is almost identical though the food isn’t quite as spicy. But either of the Rangoli locations (in Wicker or Lincoln Park) is a good alternative if everyone at the Spice Room is starting to recognize you, or it’s Tuesday when The Spice Room is closed.


Luzzat, a small, casual spot underneath the Jarvis Red Line in Rogers Park, focuses on food from Northern India. And this place doesn’t have naan on the menu—we repeat, doesn’t have naan. But it does have excellent housemade paratha, and phulka with ghee. It also has our favorite bhindi masala in the city, and some of the flakiest samosas we’ve ever eaten. You’ll inevitably have leftovers you can save for lunch the next day, so it’s a great weeknight option.


This casual South Asian restaurant in Wicker Park is incredible. The short menu focuses on street food, and the Indian dishes are some of our favorites in Chicago. The paneer-filled kulcha is topped with truffles and served with a rich, sweet compound date butter that’s making our eyes roll into the back of our head as we type this. The mushroom korma is rich and savory (and also vegan, a fact we didn’t realize until our server told us after we finished) and the chettinad masala has the perfect amount of heat and unbelievably tender pieces of chicken. Wazwan is dark, small, and feels like a dive bar, but in a shocking plot twist, is actually BYOB.


photo credit: Kim Kovacik

The Coach House review image
8.5

The Coach House

$$$$

You'll find this small tasting menu spot​ hidden in the courtyard behind Wazwan. The Coach House is from the same team, and serves a wonderful $150 eight-course meal with dishes like momos filled with crab kulambu in a spicy black garlic sauce, chewy fara dumplings swimming in clarified beet butter, and chettinad fish topped with eggplant and crispy shallots. Every dish has a story (like that the duck numidian was inspired from a cookbook titled “Recipes From Medieval Islam” the chef read during quarantine), or that the fara is an homage to the chef’s street-food-loving uncle. And while this place is expensive, it still feels relaxed. It’s casual, BYOB, and has a playlist filled with South Asian pop and hip hop. It’s only open Thursdays through Saturdays (with just two seatings a night), so you will need to book in advance.


photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Uru-Swati review image

Uru-Swati

$$$$
Perfect For:VegetariansVegans

This restaurant on Devon has been one of our favorite vegetarian spots for a long time. We really like their soft-in-the-middle and crispy-on-the-outside uttapam, the curried-potato-filled dosa is hearty and full of heat, and the rich malai kofta is sweet and comforting. Uri Swati’s dining room is very casual and relaxed, filled with TVs, families, and solo diners.


What makes this South Indian vegetarian spot in Little India special are its dosas, which make up a significant portion of the long menu. Udupi Palace’s dosas have delightfully crispy edges, and are served with a perfectly tangy sambar. You’ll find plain versions, ones filled with potatoes and onions or chutney and cheese, and varieties made with lentil flour instead of rice. The restaurant is quiet, and ideal for a low-key catch-up dinner with friends, or lunch by yourself.


Rooh is an upscale Indian restaurant in the West Loop that’s great for a casual business dinner or eating with family. You’ll find fine-dining versions of dishes like chili cheese kulcha, avocado bhel, and butter chicken. The large space has two levels and each has a different personality—the downstairs bar area is busy and loud, while the upstairs dining room is quiet and filled with comfortable velvet booths. It’s a little like a Choose Your Own Adventure, but with more curry.


This counter-service Nepali restaurant in University Village serves some great Indian dishes, like biryanis, samosas, and chana masala. But as the name suggests, you go to The Momo World for momos, and they have some wonderful Indian-fusion dumplings. Like the momo chaat, where fried momos are swimming in chana masala, and topped with tamarind and mint chutney, bhujia, papadi chips, and yogurt. It’s sweet, tangy, spicy, has all the textures you want in a chaat, and the dumplings stay crispy. 


The front part of this casual Indian and Nepali restaurant in Logan Square is a cafe where you can get some work done while eating chaats and savory pies with a perfectly flaky crust. While that’s our preferred way to hang out here, Chiya Chai also a small dining room in the back that’s open for dinner. That’s better for a casual meal with friends where you can share dishes like pork vindaloo, masala chicken, and an aromatic vegetable jalfrezi with bell peppers, cauliflower, and green beans.


Ajwaah Sweets is a great snack and sweets shop in Rogers Park. It has an assortment of desserts like gulab jamun and halwa, along with a menu full of chaats. They no longer have tables, so come here expecting takeout. Still, on a summer day it’s a great spot to pop in, order a sweet and spicy samosa chaat and some cham cham to-go, and stroll down Devon.


Superkhana International is an Indian restaurant in Logan Square with chaotically creative small plates (like a tower of french fries and a grilled cheese with about 17 ingredients) and an oddly relaxing bathroom that plays “Waterfalls” by TLC on repeat. This place does great fusion-y takes on Indian food, so you’ll find dishes like a butter-chicken-filled calzone, and a naan pizza made with mozzarella, spinach, and garam masala. Plus, there’s a cute courtyard that’s ideal for an outdoor date night.


Cumin in WIcker park is a combination Nepali and Indian restaurant. The menu is long, with everything from goat stew to samosas to chicken tikka masala to Indian staples ideal for vegetarians. There’s a lunch buffet if you want to go big during the day, and at dinnertime, it has a quiet environment perfect for date night. Plus, there’s a full bar and pretty much always tables available.

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