Get us in your inbox

Search
Sauce being poured over a dish
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

The 22 best Indian restaurants in Chicago

Feast on biryanis, spicy curries, and veg-forward dishes at the finest South Asian kitchens in town.

Jeffy Mai
Edited by
Jeffy Mai
Advertising

When the craving for Indian cuisine hits, there are countless spots to order soulful curries, flaky paratha and a bevy of vegetarian-friendly dishes. Devon Avenue has long been one of the best stretches in the city for South Asian cooking—home to restaurants that have existed for ages—but great options can be found elsewhere as well. Modern newcomers, like Indienne and Thattu, are putting fresh spins on classic recipes while old favorites continue to churn out delicious and dependable dishes. And there’s something for every budget, from fine dining tasting menus to terrific cheap eats at Ghareeb Nawaz. The food also holds up well during transport, making the following places excellent for delivery or carryout. So check out our guide to the best Indian restaurants in Chicago for your fill of veggie-stuffed momos, enormous dosas and more.

RECOMMENDED: Discover more of the best Chicago restaurants

Time Out Market Chicago
  • Restaurants
  • West Loop

Owners Manish and Rina Mallick bring the flavors of coastal Indian state Goa to Chicago with a variety of dishes, like Goan chicken curry and samosa chaat, that just happen to pair nicely with a cold beer or a refreshing cocktail.

Best Indian restaurants in Chicago

  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • River North
  • price 3 of 4

There’s no shortage of Indian restaurants in town but until 2022, none had been as ambitious as Indienne. Chef-owner Sujan Surkar, who also helped open Rooh, reimagines traditional South Asian recipes through a modern lens. He presents two degustation menus, as well as an a la carte selection, filled with inventive plates like jackfruit katsu with lemon sour cream and dum ki gravy. It’s a fine dining Indian experience set in a stylish industrial-chic space, and the results are mighty impressive.

https://media.timeout.com/images/105925010/image.jpg
Jeffy Mai
Editor, Time Out Chicago
  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Wicker Park
  • price 2 of 4

Chef Zubair Mohajir, whose previous experiences included working at world-renowned Gaggan in Bangkok, has opened a new concept with Arami’s Ty Fujimura and Kimski chef Won Kim. Lilac Tiger features bites that explore the street food culture of South Asia, such as vada pav—potato croquette sliders—and kati rolls with tandoori chicken, as well as a stellar tandoori honey fried chicken sandwich. But the coach house located behind Lilac Tiger is where Mohajir really showcases his talents with a dazzling tasting menu. You’ll be treated to refined pleasures like duck numidian, a spin on an ancient recipe, and uni-topped parippu vada in coconut mint chutney.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • West Loop

Indian cuisine gets the upscale treatment at ROOH. The West Loop restaurant offers creative takes on classic Indian fare, like butter chicken with whole thighs and red pepper makhani, cashews and cilantro. There's plenty here for vegetarians, too, with options such as jackfruit cutlet and avocado and green chickpea bhel.

  • Restaurants
  • Wicker Park

Named for a mythical weapon used by the Hindu God of Thunder, Vajra illuminates the diminutive yet diverse country of Nepal. Do yourself a favor and spring for the dishes you may not recognize, like the dilliwala aalu tikka, a duo of crispy mashed potato cakes that are stuffed with spiced lentils. Leave room for gaajar ka halva, a dessert of grated carrots simmered in milk and ghee.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Avondale
  • price 2 of 4

Chef Margaret Pak takes diners on a culinary journey to Kerala—a southwestern state in India that’s also the homeland of her husband Vinod Kalathil—at this buzzy Avondale newcomer. It comes on the heels of a brief, yet critically acclaimed, run at Politan Row food hall, where Thattu was a James Beard semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant. Expect comforting recipes like pork chop peralan, which stars a big hunk of meat resting atop a yucca cake alongside coconut-braised collard greens, and black chickpea-filled kadala curry with roasted coconut gravy. The lunch menu yields a delightful Kerala fried chicken sandwich dressed with spicy pickles and curry leaf aioli.

https://media.timeout.com/images/105925010/image.jpg
Jeffy Mai
Editor, Time Out Chicago
  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Logan Square

Let's get something out of the way up front: Superkhana International is not your typical, by-the-books Indian restaurant. Though chefs Yoshi Yamada and Zeeshan Shah pull from traditional recipes and preparations, the menu is void of potato-packed samosas and saucy chicken tikka masala. Instead, the star of the show is a butter chicken calzone, a savory pastry pocket stuffed with chicken swimming in a spiced tomato sauce. Toss in an order of chili-cheese naan for good measure. The booze offerings are just as interesting, with a collection of cocktails that includes an old fashioned made with ghee-washed bourbon.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Wicker Park
  • price 2 of 4

The tiny dining room at this West Town favorite is packed every night and for good reason. Spice fiends must order the bagara baingan, which finds tender young eggplant swimming in a wonderfully nutty gravy that's teeming with whole red chilis. A bite of the butter naan will temper your palate before you reach for a bite of the tarka dal, a dish that comprises hearty yellow lentils stewed with tomatoes and curry leaves.

  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • North Center

Father-son duo Manmohan and Jeet Singh teamed up to bring North Center this modern Indian restaurant in 2020. The menu marries traditional recipes from different regions of India with French technique and local ingredients. The dish lineup changes seasonally but the namesake fish basant is one mainstay we keep coming back to—delicate salmon with perfectly crisped skin is cooked in creamy coconut milk and served in a spicy tomato-based sauce.

https://media.timeout.com/images/105925010/image.jpg
Jeffy Mai
Editor, Time Out Chicago
Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Wicker Park
  • price 2 of 4

This Wicker Park favorite highlights Nepalese cooking with dishes such as chicken choila, grilled chicken that's been marinated in a variety of South Asian spices and herbs. The kitchen doesn't slack when it comes to Indian cuisine either (the peppery biryani is very solid), but ignoring the Nepalese dishes here is like going to a beer bar and ordering wine.

  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Logan Square
  • price 2 of 4

When you need excellent Indian food delivered straight to your door in an hour or less, The Spice Room never disappoints. Rife with classics, the menu covers a lot of ground—from veg korma and lamb-stuffed samosas to haryali chicken with green chilis. The vegetarian options are commendable, too, with both okra and mushroom masala as well as a stellar aloo gobi, an amber-hued dish that finds cauliflower and potatoes coated in rich spices. For dessert, the gulab jamun are not to be missed—golfball-sized balls of fried dough are saturated in sugary syrup.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • West Ridge
  • price 1 of 4

When we close our eyes, we can almost picture the metal trays loaded with huge portions of biryani and naan at this Indo-Pak spot on Devon Avenue (with additional locations in University Village, Lincoln Park and Lombard). The soothing dal gosht lentil is loaded with bay leaves and chili peppers, and the chili chicken is fiery and fragrant. No matter what you order, you’ll get your money’s worth—most menu items ring up well under $10.

  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Lincoln Square
  • price 2 of 4

Himalayan Sherpa Kitchen dives deeper into Nepalese regional specialties than any other place in Chicago, with options ranging from sephaley—Tibetan empanadas stuffed with minced chicken and peas—to chicken soup teeming with hand-shaved noodles (thentuk). Of course, if you just want some butter chicken and palak paneer, those are available, too.

https://media.timeout.com/images/105925010/image.jpg
Jeffy Mai
Editor, Time Out Chicago
Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Lake View
  • price 2 of 4

You don’t have to go to Devon Avenue to get your dosa fix. Mild 2 Spicy in Lakeview will satisfy your craving with more than a dozen versions stuffed with cheese, omelet, seasoned potatoes and more. The menu is also packed with a host of classic Indian dishes, most of which can be tailored to your desired level of heat.

https://media.timeout.com/images/105925010/image.jpg
Jeffy Mai
Editor, Time Out Chicago
  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • West Ridge
  • price 1 of 4

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.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Logan Square

Love chai? There are few better places to sip the aromatic, spice-infused beverage than Chiya Chai: get yours flavored with chocolate, turmeric, or blueberry lavender—the possibilities are nearly endless. On the food front, the Nepali and Indian-influenced eats are hearty and cozy. The masala chicken pie is bursting with curry, and the pani puri is served with an addictive tamarind sauce. But no order is complete without a gaggle of veggie momos stuffed with red and yellow peppers, mushrooms, kale and onions.

  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Little Italy, UIC
  • price 2 of 4

True to its name, this counter-service spot near UIC specializes in all kinds of steamed and fried dumplings. They’re filled with chicken, pork, fish, veggies or cottage cheese, and you can also try them coated in a bevy of sauces like butter masala and creamy alfredo. Craving other Indian staples? The menu offers samosas, curry bowls and biryanis as well.

https://media.timeout.com/images/105925010/image.jpg
Jeffy Mai
Editor, Time Out Chicago
Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Barbecue
  • West Ridge
  • price 1 of 4

Never a place for a romantic rendezvous, Khan has always divulged its specialty in its name: “B.B.Q.,” specifically marinated, charred-edge, tandoor-cooked chicken chunks (boti) and juicy sausage-shaped ground-beef patties (seekh kebab). Simple sides like soupy lentils flavored with fenugreek or creamy spinach with potato chunks are great (and cheap), proving that consistency brings loyalty more than frills.

  • Restaurants
  • South Asian
  • West Ridge
  • price 1 of 4

Be warned that the namesake dish, nihari, a spicy Pakistani pot roast, will induce cravings so strong you’ll consider relocating to Devon. First-timers should know that the half-inch oil slick atop the gingery gravy is supposed to be there; it’s ghee (clarified butter) and should be stirred in before ladling the comfort food onto fluffy rice. For a complete meal, order the frontier chicken and use garlicky nan to sop up the cumin- and chili-laced yellow dal.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • West Ridge
  • price 1 of 4

Carnivores seem to think that without meat on their plate they’d starve. But this 100 percent 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 over 10 varieties. Another good bet is the iddly, steamed rice and lentil patties that regulars swear by.

  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Loop
  • price 1 of 4

The name may be cutesy, but at Naansense, a group of experienced chefs are serving fun, delicious takes on Indian cuisine. Led by chefs Hiran Patel (Veerasway, Lafayette) and Sahil Singh (Veerasway), the fast-casual lunch spot offers naan sandwiches and salads. It's a different take on Indian, to be sure, but the spicy, flavorful sauces and warm, pliant naan are as great as those you'd find at any top Indian spot in town.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Fusion
  • River North
  • price 3 of 4

Before you get to know this bright and modern River North restaurant, you must first meet its owner, Rohini Dey, a former economist and consultant who doubles as a women's activist. The kitchen blends Indian and Chinese cuisines to create wow-worthy dishes, like Not Your KFC—a mashup of Chongqing fried chicken and chicken 65—and char siu pepper lamb.

  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • River West/West Town
  • price 2 of 4

The name suggests you’ll be sitting down to omelets and scrambles, but this River West spot actually specializes in India’s egg-centric street fare. Instead of butter chicken, the menu offers dishes like egg rice, egg curry, anda masala sandwiches and surti gotalo—shredded boiled eggs mixed with a spicy tomato-based gravy and topped with sunny-side up eggs.

https://media.timeout.com/images/105925010/image.jpg
Jeffy Mai
Editor, Time Out Chicago

Find the best cheap eats in Chicago

Recommended
    You may also like
    You may also like
    Advertising