Due to their tendency to rain from the sky every time India invents a new color, marigolds have long been a symbol of celebration and festivity in Indian culture. Today’s deal gives you just as good a reason to celebrate: for $20, you get $45 worth of flavorful Indian cuisine and drinks at Marigold Restaurant. This Uptown restaurant has won Best New Restaurant and garnered praise from a variety of press, blogs, and the gabby wishing well on Foster. Christopher ColumbusLooking For: A faster route to IndiaFound: America, plus an island near Haiti composed of a sentient gas cloud filled with evil mirrors
Snarling facemasks painted in rainbow colors hover above diners at Yak Thai Cuisine. Like the BYOB restaurant's name, these masks are a nod to the ogres, or yaks, of Thai folklore and are juxtaposed elegantly against the contemporary space's chocolate-brown color scheme. This contrast of old and new can also be found in the menu, which features traditional Thai dishes infused with modern culinary techniques and ingredients. An appetizer of smoked salmon is brought to life with a sprinkling of lime dressing, whereas spaghetti noodles are paired with kaffir-lime leaves and deep-fried soft-shell crab with chu chee curry sauce. Hot and cold teas offer a brief moment of thirst-quenching relief from spicy curries before diners dive into a dessert, such as homemade chocolate lava cake oozing with authentic magma.
The chefs at The Little India, which has earned a feature as One of the Best in the Chicago Tribune, populate an expansive menu of Indian cuisine. Along with cooking up a vast array of vegan and vegetarian dishes, the chefs pack meaty entrees with only zabiha halal meat. Amid warm wood hues and floor-to-ceiling front windows, waiters unload starters of golden fried samosas and insulate homemade bread with succulent chicken, lamb, and fresh veggies. Sweet teeth sink into savory desserts such as sweet-potato custard, and the restaurant's BYOB policy encourages patrons to sip glasses poured from their own bottles of wine or jugs filled with bathtub moonshine.
The ingredient-smiths at Masala Indian & Mediterranean Cuisine construct an extensive menu of noodles, curries, and vegetarian specialties that blend Indian and Thai culinary staples. A clay oven fires flavored naan breads, as well as lamb, chicken, and seafood dishes augmented with piquant indian spices. Chefs prepare vegetarian options to appease meat-free maws, and a swath of Thai dishes combines rice noodles with meat, tofu, or veggies. Plates of fiery delicacies rest atop royal-blue tablecloths, surrounded by wood-lined walls and posters of famous curries autographed by the spices themselves.
Much of the decor at Essence of India is imported directly from India, from the framed artwork and tapestries right down to the dinnerware. The cuisine is a direct transplant, too, specifically from North India. A tandoori oven cooks jumbo shrimp that have been marinated in caraway seeds and flavored yogurt, and Indian spices lend heat to the goan fish curry, though the chef can tailor the curries' spice level to the diner's preference. The warm-weather months are a particularly appealing time to visit, since diners can sip an Indian beer on the restaurant's outdoor patio without having to light their shoes on fire to keep warm.
Ingredient smiths at Chopal bake fresh bread and marinate goat, lamb, and salmon in fresh herbs to spice up kebabs and curries. The Pakistani eatery, which was featured on ABC 7 Chicago for its authentic tastes and inauthentic jackalope waitstaff, spotlights tender meats and vegetables that chefs sear over open flames and roast in the natural fats of olive oil and butter. Eclectic fabrics and lights intertwine above ornate lounges and intricate sittables wrought from wood and iron, and guests dine amid a mélange of colors and textures that meld into a unique pastiche of Pakistani décor. Chopal also boasts a free parking lot, ensuring that patrons become engrossed in gastronomic exploits instead of nagging regrets about leaving their cars leashed to a nearby fire hydrant.