The Best South Asian Restaurants In Chicago guide image


The Best South Asian Restaurants 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 our favorite spots in the city to eat dosas, momos, biryani, and of course, chicken tikka masala, plus restaurants with interesting takes on classic Indian dishes. Whether you’re interested in upscale tasting menus, snack shops, or a reliable spot for takeout, check out one of these 15 places.

And, before you yell at us, we’re fully aware that Devon is Chicago’s epicenter for South Asian food. Check out our dedicated guide to all the best spots on Devon.

New additions as of 7/19/2023: Thattu


The Momo World

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. 

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 (there’s an optional wine and cocktail pairing, too), and has a playlist filled with South Asian pop and hip hop. It’s only open Thursdays through Saturdays (but the schedule changes regularly), so you will need to book in advance.


Indienne in River North definitely falls into the fine dining category. Its large dining room is full of white tablecloths and staff bustling around in crisp jackets, and the menu’s dishes are plated artistically. Most of the food has some kind of French twist, so you’ll find things like eclair canapes filled with goat cheese and chutney, malai tikka formed into a terrine and sauced tableside, and a cute little potato pave accompanying the perfectly medium rare lamb chop. Right now Indienne offers a six-course tasting menu for $110-$120 and a separate a la carte menu.

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 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.

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 jackfruit cutlets, to pork belly vindaloo tonkatsu and spice-rubbed seared lamb chops. Not only is the food really good, but this place works well for a bunch of situations. They make great cocktails 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.

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.

Annapurna, a counter-service cafe in Rogers Park, has the best dosas on Devon, and probably in the city. We repeat: The best dosas in the city. The small dining space fills up quickly during lunchtime, with people who must also be obsessed with their dosas and the other South Indian, Gujarati, and vegetarian dishes on the menu. Skip the samosas and go for one of the other 9,372,505 different types of chaats. Or grab a Thumbs Up and some cassata ice cream from Annapurna’s little grocery section, and sit on the brightly colored patio for some fun people-watching.

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 casual BYOB spot in Wicker has a long menu that focuses on North and South Indian dishes, and Indian Paradise doesn’t shy away from spice. The lamb vindaloo has all the vinegary heat you’re hoping for, and the sweet malai kofta has just enough kick to make you glad you ordered extra naan. They have biryanis and a variety of rice sides, like kashmiri, turmeric, or peas pulao. Just know that rice doesn’t come with your meal, so you’ll need to order that separately.

Himalayan Restaurant is a small, casual spot in the South Loop, with a menu highlighting food from Nepal and North India. There’s plenty to choose from, including big and flaky samosas packed with spicy potato filling, and some of the best biryani in the city outside of Devon. Many of their curries use ground cashews as a thickener, which calls for an order of naan (pillowy soft with just the right amount of char) to sop up the creamy gravy. Leftovers are inevitable, so Himalayan is a great weeknight option. And since most of their business is takeout, there’s almost always seating available in the low-key space.

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 has 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.

Bar Goa is a clubby cocktail bar/restaurant in River North from the folks behind Rooh. The food is Indian with Portuguese influences, and includes tasty bites like butter chicken croquettes,  fried chicken xacuti wings, and a delicious Goan chicken curry. They also have a fun cocktail menu, solid happy hour deals, and on weekends, brunch is always a scene. Come here if you're in the mood for a club-lite kind of night or when you want a bottomless brunch with spicy, flavorful food, and a subwoofer.

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 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, Amul cheese, and green chile pickle. Plus, there’s a cute courtyard that’s ideal for an outdoor date night.

We’re big fans of this little counter-service Indian street food and pizza spot in River North. The menu is short—they have some build-your-own bowls and wraps, plus dishes like pav bhaji and biryani. But the best things at Moti are their snacks, particularly the samosa chaat and momos, and the masala pizzas. The chicken tikka and palak paneer versions of the pizza are the perfect balance of creamy, tangy, and spicy, and the personal sizes come on a wonderfully crisp slab of naan. Moti is a great option for a quick, affordable meal before you decide to go spend $80 on a pair of socks (or anytime, really).

Thattu has had a few iterations, from stall to pop-up, to (now) a casual sit-down restaurant in Avondale serving comfort food from Kerala. And comfort is exactly what you’ll feel throughout your meal at this South Indian spot. The bright space radiates warmth—from the friendly greeting when you enter to your last sip of frothy kaapi served in the same steel cups you’ll find in Indian homes. The menu is short, but that just means you can get one of everything, like the crispy masala-dusted chaatertots accompanied by beet ketchup, and thick and fragrant curries with a fluffy, coconutty appam.

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photo credit: Kim Kovacik

The Best South Asian Restaurants In Chicago guide image