It’s the second week of 2024 and I think it’s the right time to ask “How many of you are still sticking to your New Year resolution?” 😉 While New Years are great time for resolutions, I think one can have them whenever they want and it can be anything. For instance, I have these resolutions for every trip that I take to try local food and explore the place on food. Going by that, my first international trip to Chicago was no different.
I had vowed not to eat Indian food in Chicago. However, fate had different plans. Thanks to my team, I found myself scouting for Indian restaurants in the windy city. Yes, Maharaj ate Indian food in the Windy City. But to my defence, it was my team who took me here.
I explored the Indian restaurants in Chicago and was surprised that there was a good demand for desi food. In my previous blog post, I talked about vegetarian restaurants in Chicago that you must visit. In this blog post, I’ll talk about 3 Indian restaurants that I visited and you should too for Indian food.
Indian Food In Chicago
Indians are everywhere and this city is no different. There’s a lively Indian community in areas like Devon Street, Little India where you’ll find a lot of Indian restaurants in Chicago. Annapoorna, Udupi, Hema’s Kitchen are some of the popular eateries in the area. I too was suggested to visit the area, but due to time constraints, I couldn’t.
Nonetheless, I’m sure there are Indian restaurants in other parts of the city too, however, I could visit these 3 of them during my week-long stay. Further, since I didn’t want to eat Indian food, I didn’t explore much. But if you’re looking for desi food in Chicago, these three restaurants are a good place to try.
Overlooking the Merchandise Mart is a food court on West Wacker Street. The food court houses multiple eateries and Cumin Club is one of them. It’s a typical outlet that you’d see in a mall in India serving bowls and wraps. While they have a limited menu, they’ve put it in an interesting way. For instance, they have Makhni, masala, and creamy gravies that you can choose from. Choose a protein Chicken or Paneer and choose a type of rice for the bowl. And that’s it.
I tried the Paneer Makhni Bowl, and I won’t deny this was pretty good. Much better than a few Indian restaurants in India as well. You can have the same thing in a warp too without the rice.
Apart from that they have some Indian small plates like Pav Bhaji, Missal Pav, Samosa along with some desserts as well as drinks. A couple of folks who work here are Maharashtrian and I had a good time talking in broken Marathi with them. Overall this is a very good place for Indian flavours in Chicago. Affordable, delicious and filling. Recommended.
If you’re looking for a proper sit-down type of Indian restaurant in the city, Adda is the place to be. Located near the University of Illinois next to Arrigo Park is Adda. Located at a crossroads, this is a small restaurant with a decent setup. We were 30 folks who were here and there was chaos as they weren’t expecting such a large group to visit at once. Further, the place got extremely crowded by the time we left, indicating that this is a local-favourite for desi food.
The menu is typical desi and we have starters, soups, mains and desserts. We started with Chilly Paneer and Paneer Tikka and these were pretty nicely done. The Chilly Paneer lacked the punch, but I guess that’s how they like it there. We also had some Kofta, and Kadhai Paneer along with Biryani and rotis. Everyone enjoyed the Biryani. The curries surely reminded me of India and they were nicely done. Biryani was nice, but again you can’t compare it to what we get here in Hyderabad. Slightly on the expensive side, but worth a try.
Along with the Indian community, there are plenty of folks from Pakistan, Nepal and other surrounding areas. We had cab drivers from Karachi and Nepal. One of them suggested trying Nepal House. Located in South Michigan Avenue, it’s at a walking distance from Roosevelt metro station and Molly’s Cup Cakes. Though it’s a Nepalese restaurant, the menu has a lot of desi items on their menu. We were again about 10-12 people here and had a large order.
We had momos, and noodles along with Paneer Butter Masala, Jeera Rice and Aloo Ra Seemi Lo Tarkari (Potato, Beans and Peas curry). The food overall was pretty good. The Tarkari tasted like a home-cooked subzi which had a very balanced taste. Jeera Rice and Paneer actually tasted very good. It’s a popular restaurant and can get a good footfall and the service can take a hit at peak hours. But overall a good option for Indian food in Chicago.
While I was aware that the Indian community in the windy city is pretty lively, I didn’t expect this abundance of Indian food in Chicago. I’m sure that had I visited Devon Street, Little India, I’m sure I would have gotten some really good Indian food. Having said that, these 3 Indian restaurants in Chicago that I visited were pretty good. If I had to pick up, I’d pick Cumin Club. While it lacks the variety of Adda/Nepal House, it’s affordable and quick.
Unlike other blog posts about Indian food in Chicago, I visited all of these so you can be sure that these are Maharaj verified 😉 If you or anyone you know is visiting Chicago and want to try Indian food, share this blog post. I’m sure you’ll not complain. That’s about it for this blog post.