Best Indian restaurants in Chicago

From Devon Ave. to Wicker Park, Chicago's best Indian restaurants feature samosas, curry, vindaloo and more

Photograph: Martha Williams
Cumin, one of Chicago's best Indian restaurants, also offers Nepalese food.

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, 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.

RECOMMENDED: Full list of the best Chicago restaurants

Best Indian restaurants in Chicago

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.

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Wicker Park

Ghareeb Nawaz

The large crowd at the counter of this bare-bones Indo-Pak spot seems chaotic, but the diners are really just waiting for their postmeal chai. So push your way through, and order a bowl of delicious dal, loaded with bay leaves and chili peppers. Ask for the chili chicken and spoon the greasy, delicious, fiery red chunks onto the dense paratha bread. No matter what you order, you’ll get your money’s worth; most things here cost only about four bucks.

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Devon Avenue

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.

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West Rogers Park

Tiffin

The meat-loving sibling of Udupi Palace, this spot is one of the classier restaurants on the block, so entrées are at least a buck more than elsewhere. Try the crispy vegetable pakoras, massive rounds of bubbly nan, a great bhindi masala (okra sautéed with onions and tomatoes) and a chicken tikka masala dripping in sauce that’s predictably tame (the tablecloths are a dead giveaway) but fiery upon request. Indian beer is tempting, but nothing’s going to cool your mouth like a creamy mango lassi.

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Devon Avenue

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.

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West Loop

Uru-Swati

Critics' pick

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.

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Devon Avenue

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