Amid colorful Indian art and handicrafts, the dining room at India House Restaurant fills with the aromas of more than 250 eclectic dishes. Chefs draw on regional cuisines from Delhi to Bombay, fusing flavors with techniques borrowed from street fare and homestyle tandoori cooking. Besides dousing chicken, lamb, and seafood in flavorful sauces, they also craft healthful vegetarian dishes so that those eschewing meat don’t have to size up nearby houseplants for their palatability.
Jagadish "Jack" Bhandari, owner of Taste of Himalayas, takes taste buds on culinary expeditions through India and Nepal with the help of his epicurean family and an arsenal of natural ingredients. Beneath exposed-brick walls, a menu pushes 15–20 favorite options forward onto a white-tablecloth-draped buffet. In the powerful heat of the tandoori clay oven, Jagadish's nephew preps dishes such as chicken tikka, tandoori shrimp, and freshly baked naan bread. Chef Krishna, Jagadish's cousin, relies on years' worth of experience as a kitchen maestro on a Carnival cruise ship to prepare elaborate dishes and predict sand castle property values.
The epicurean alchemists at India House, winner of Chicago magazine's Best Indian Buffet designation, draw inspiration from the cuisine of Bombay and Delhi as well as Indian street fare and homestyle tandoori cooking. The menu's more than 250 items please vegetarian and meat-eating palates alike with curries, kebabs, and grilled saris that utilize 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 that the fiery "Hyderabadi-style mahi-mahi … is a must." Midday lunchers can dig into a buffet whose myriad options beget multiple trips and consultation with a pack of tarot cards before deciding which delicious curries should be ladled over naan and rice.
Pita & Kabobz draws primarily from the rich flavors of Indian, Pakistani, and Afghani cuisines to create scrumptious skewer-style fare and more. Send taste buds sojourning through the Eastern hemisphere without enrolling them in the Merchant Marines with first courses such as grape leaves ($2.99) or creamy hummus ($2–$4.50), sided with fresh-baked naan bread.
Taking its name from a style of Indian dance, Thumka Indian Bar and Grill strives to capture the vibrant spirit and flavors of the South Asian subcontinent. The intermingling aromas of saffron, cumin, mint chutney, ginger, fenugreek, coriander, and green chilies fill the dining room, providing a brief overview of a menu that manages to highlight the regional culinary traditions of virtually every corner of the country.
The chefs embrace the northern tradition of roasting skewered chicken, lamb chops, and vegetables inside a geothermally-heated tandoor oven; they also create crepe-like dosas, which traditionally hail from India's southern regions. A selection of fried rice entrees and Szechuan-inspired dishes even demonstrates the chefs' versatility in creating Indo-Chinese cuisine. A la carte dining is also available.
With its simple wooden tables, tiled floors, and burgundy-hued booths, Thumka Indian Bar and Grill's dining room embraces a cozy, homespun spirit. Ornate lamps hang from the ceiling, casting their light across mustard-yellow walls, which are adorned with bronze sculptures and colonial-style windows. The warm ambiance makes the dining space an ideal place for birthday celebrations or hosting catered events.
For a decade, the chefs at Udupi Palace have guided guests through the Desi culinary waters with vegetarian and meat dishes from the vast regions of India. Their uthappams, a lentil-and-rice pancake served with a traditional lentil soup and coconut chutney, and their more than 10 kinds of dosai, a southern-Indian crepe, let tongues savor the country’s herbs and spices. The chefs also season tandoori kebabs with garlic or ginger for patrons who lounge amid potted palms and count the grains of basmati rice in a biryani dish to ensure there’s an odd number.