Best Indian restaurants in Chicago: Curry, masala and more
From Devon Ave. to Wicker Park, Chicago's best Indian restaurants feature samosas, curry, vindaloo and more.
Whether it's curry or samosas you crave, Chicago's best Indian restaurants have the answer. While most of the top Indian food restaurants are located on Devon Ave., like South Indian Udupi Palace and vegetarian Mysore Woodlands, Andersonville has a contender in Marigold, while Wicker Park's Cumin emphasizes Nepalese cooking. And most offer delivery, too, so you won't even have to leave the house to try Chicago's best Indian food.
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Cumin Chef Min Thapa showcases Nepalese cooking with dishes such as paalungoko saag, where he takes whole spinach leaves, sautées them with caramelized garlic and coats them in a trinity of seeds (fenugreek, mustard and cumin). Another standout, the bhutuwa (goat), is flash-cooked with bell peppers, green chilies, onions and flattened rice. Thapa is no slouch when it comes to Indian cuisine either (the peppery biryani and lunch buffet are both solid), but ignoring the Nepalese dishes here is like going to a beer bar and ordering wine. 1414 N Milwaukee Ave (773-342-1414, cumin-chicago.com). Lunch (Tue–Sun), dinner. Average main course: $14.
Marigold A breakout hit in Uptown when it elevated Indian to a contemporary midscale dining experience, Marigold now resides in Andersonville, settling in nicely to a split-level space heavy on hues of saffron and chilies. Thankfully, the full-flavored food survived the move: complex vindaloo smothering fork-tender lamb shank, a warm disc of cheese-like yogurt atop lemon-dressed arugula and a sweat-inducing sauce of toasted chilies and cumin over impressively fresh sautéed shrimp and squid. Prices are more on par with Andersonville than what you’d find on Devon, but a solid booze selection and polished service ensure you get what you pay for. 5413 N Clark St (773-989-4300, marigoldrestaurant.com). Dinner (closed Mon). Average main course: $16.
Mysore Woodlands Come hungry to this South Indian vegetarian spot, where portion sizes are enormous. Start with rasam, a spicy cilantro-and-tamarind soup that’s hotter than a Bikram-yoga session (a few bites of rasa vada—lentil doughnuts with an array of chutneys—temper the heat). Delicious breads—including poori (think fluffy and fried) and a fantastically crispy dosa—complement the coconut chutney and various curries of the Royal Thali sampler. 2548 W Devon Ave (773-338-8160, mysorewoodlands.info). Lunch, dinner. Average main course: $9.
Udupi Palace Carnivores seem to think that without meat on their plate they’d starve. But this 100% vegetarian South Indian spot puts an end to that theory with its famous dosa—a gigantic cumin-, potato- and onion-filled rice and lentil crêpe that comes in a dozen varieties. Other good bets include vegetable pullav (a cardamom, clove and cinnamon-laced rice dish) and the “Madras-style” okra curry that regulars swear by. 2543 W Devon Ave (773-338-2152). Lunch, dinner. Average main course: $11.
Uru-Swati Not sure what to order at this Devon vegetarian standout? Try the crispy, two-foot long paper dosa filled with potatoes seasoned with mustard seed and cumin; order it “masala” and get a smear of tangy chutney. Then try the Swati samosa chaat, a smashed potato pocket drenched in silky yogurt, tamarind chutney and subtly spicy “salsa.” Not sold on those dishes? Order anything and you’re bound to get fresh, flavorful, meat-free eats for a good price. 2629 W Devon Ave (773-262-5280, uru-swati.net). Lunch, dinner (closed Tue). Average main course: $6.