When Madonna, Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, and Roger Ebert have all dined at the same restaurant, and guests praise their attentive service and attention to detail Check, Please!, it says something. It speaks to the food's quality, the establishment's longevity, and the clientele's diversity. Newly redesigned after more than 30 years in business, Standard India Restaurant is one of the oldest Indian eateries in Chicago, one of the first in the country to offer thali-style dining, and one of the few independent restaurants anywhere that's fed more than one million guests since its inception.
Originally established on Devon Avenue by Pardip and Bimla Kamboj, Standard India has since changed locations and been passed to their son and daughter, who perpetuate Standard's success with the same traditional, freshly prepared North Indian fare. In addition to their popular all-you-can-eat grand buffet, Standard promotes an innovative and authentic thali experience, during which diners eat from frequently refilled sterling-silver tins that Denise brought back from New Delhi.
In the kitchen, chicken, lamb, and seafood sizzle in a handcrafted clay tandoor, and chefs expertly spice vegetarian- and vegan-friendly curries as well as gluten-free dishes. All meals can be paired with the guest's choice of beverage, as the eatery boasts a BYOB policy free from irksome corkage fees.
The chefs in Inchin's Bamboo Garden's kitchen use fresh ingredients to craft Asian-style specialties at the time they are ordered. Mustard- and crimson-colored walls and bamboo stalks accent the spacious dining room, and the restaurant’s signature red rickshaw sits parked in front, haplessly attempting to feed the meter with Chinese yuan coins.
Chicago is on the move?at least, its most popular cuisine is. A Taste of Chicago, a family-run food truck, travels across Schaumburg and Elk Grove Village on a singular mission: introduce authentic Chicago cuisine from various neighborhoods as well as Chicago classics to as many people as possible. The mobile chefs cook up italian beef sandwiches and Chicago-style hot dogs along with international food such as the Greektown Getdown gyro platter, jibarito sandwiches with rice, and breakfast burritos as well. On the comfort food side of things, they fix chicken and waffles, which science has recently proven won't actually explode if put together.
The Indian Harvest adorns white tablecloths with north Indian curries, pilafs, and kebabs distinguished by myriad spices such as pods of cardamom, cloves, cumin, and mustard seeds, and bowls of mint or pickle chutney. Over 20 vegetarian dishes showcase the versatility of eggplant, cauliflower, and peas, as well as their ability to harmonize with lentils and avoid getting redfaced when infused with whole chiles. A clay oven known as a tandoor sizzles lamb, chicken, and shrimp at a high temperature to seal in marinade and keep cholesterol down, and provides the bellows to puff up rounds of seasoned, leavened naan bread. Wood panels cut with floral designs screen sections of tables and booths in the dining room, whereas views of the lake open up the banquet hall.
The aroma of curry mingles with that of traditional Nepali spices inside Mt. Everest Restaurant's dining area, whose walls are shod with oil paintings of scenic mountains brushed by Nepali artists. Inside the kitchen, the head chef prepares Nepali entrees—including khasi ko masu (goat meat cooked on the bone) and aloo tama bodi (a popular dish of russet potatoes, bamboo shoots, and black-eye beans)—alongside Indian favorites such as chicken tikka masala garnished with ginger and cilantro and king-size prawns roasted in a clay oven. Each entree is prepared to order, whether diners prefer mild, spicy, or business-casual seasonings, and served with drinks ranging from imported and domestic beers and wines to mango lassis and Himalayan teas.
The epicurean alchemists at India House, winner of Chicago magazine's Best Indian Buffet designation, draw inspiration from many places: the cuisine of Bombay and Delhi, Indian street fare, and homestyle tandoori cooking. The menu's more than 250 items please vegetarian and meat-eating palates alike with curries and kebabs that use the flavors of fresh cilantro, chilies, and coconut. A reviewer for the Chicago Tribune praises the restaurant?s ?incredibly tender tandoori chicken,? and Chicago magazine says the fiery "Hyderabadi-style mahi-mahi ? is a must." Midday lunchers can dig into a buffet whose myriad options make it difficult to decide which delicious curries should be ladled over naan and rice.