LTH Home

Indian lunch: one shot

Indian lunch: one shot
  • Forum HomePost Reply BackTop
  • Indian lunch: one shot

    Post #1 - July 28th, 2006, 12:32 am
    Post #1 - July 28th, 2006, 12:32 am Post #1 - July 28th, 2006, 12:32 am
    I would rather use my first LTH post to offer, say, an in-depth review of some newly discovered gem. Instead, I'm asking a potentially tedious question.

    Here's the situation: a good friend from college is coming to the city this weekend for a music festival. For lunch on Saturday I want to treat him to an Indian meal. He currently lives in Indiana, where apparently Indian eateries are scarce; but he's actually lived in India, so he craves the cuisine and appreciates the real deal. This is going to be the very rare weekend when he leaves his little one behind with the s.o. and dines as he sees fit, and Indian fits. The challenge is this: he's not famililiar with Chicago, and I'm relatively new to the city, and we unfortunately don't have time to explore. And while I will eventually make time to explore, for the foreseeable future he has only this one chance to get it right.

    By right I mostly mean authentic and delicious. I realize India is an enormous country with distinct regional cuisines. We're not looking for food from one specific region; any region potentially could work. I also realize that the options include everything from relatively upscale to cab stands. We only care about the food; the atmosphere can be whatever it happens to be (i.e. he speaks Hindi and I regularly take my lunch at Carniceria Leon on Ashland -- speaking of which, thanks for that revelatory May 6 post, G Wiv, from the bottom of my increasingly al pastor-soaked heart; hot damn those tacos are good). Additionally, I've read LTH regularly enough to know that a common response to a question like this reads (why do I always hear a slighly disgruntled veteran LTH sigh at this :roll: juncture?), "This has been discussed extensively. Look here, and here, and here." The problem is precisely that Indian food HAS been discussed so variously and extensively on this board that it's proving difficult to distill the information I need. So yes, I'll admit it: to a certain extent I'm shortcutting (actually, I need to finish 2 final papers for grad school in the next 24 hrs, but that's a different story). And finally I'll say this: I've been to Tiffin, and that is decidedly not the thing for which we're searching. It was relatively good, and is certainly the perfect spot for Indian novices, but it was a tad on the bland side. For me.

    So, for all you Indian afficianados, intrepid Devon explorers, and Chicago culinary veterans: if you were in my shoes and had one shot to take your Indian-food-craving friend to an any-atmosphere-goes, high-noon Indian lunch anywhere in the city, where would you go?

    Thanks in advance, and I will deliver a full report.[/i]
  • Post #2 - July 28th, 2006, 5:53 am
    Post #2 - July 28th, 2006, 5:53 am Post #2 - July 28th, 2006, 5:53 am
    I keep returning to Hema's Kitchen for her delicious homestyle cooking. It's fun to take out-of-towners to Hema's; they all agree it's some of the best Indian food they've eaten in the States. Other Indian restaurants here tend to be hit-or-miss; Hema's is consistently excellent. Her flavors and spicing are assertive, and everything is carefully prepared.

    Hema herself runs the outpost on Clark St. in Lincoln Park. Her daughter and son-in-law operate the original (my preference) just off Devon.


    Hema's Kitchen
    6406 N. Oakley Ave.
    773-338-1627

    Hema's Kitchen II
    2411 N. Clark St.
    773-529-1705
  • Post #3 - July 28th, 2006, 7:13 am
    Post #3 - July 28th, 2006, 7:13 am Post #3 - July 28th, 2006, 7:13 am
    Hema's is great (the one on Oakley, just north of Devon, is the one I've been to), but the Indian restaurant I really love is Essence of India, in Lincoln Square. The food is very high-quality, and the thing I appreciate the most is that they don't just use the same spice mixture for everything. Their saag is not my husband's favorite, but I have no quarrel with it - everything I've had from them has been wonderful - from the samosas to the aloo ghobi to the chicken biryani (their biryanis are the best I've had in a very long while).

    In addition, the setting is nice - it's a white-tablecloth place, unlike Hema's, which is cute, but not as comfortable. Here's a link to a Metromix review with all the info (please note the limited hours at lunchtime): http://metromix.chicagotribune.com/dini ... 3296.venue
  • Post #4 - July 28th, 2006, 8:19 am
    Post #4 - July 28th, 2006, 8:19 am Post #4 - July 28th, 2006, 8:19 am
    I would second the vote for Hema's Kitchen (the Devon location). It will be a bit of a trek from the Pitchfork fest, but is well worth the trip.
    I have taken many out of towners here and everyone loves it. Prices are very reasonable and it is BYOB. Plus it is in a neighborhood where if you don't like the way Hema's looks, you have about 90 other indian places to choose from.
    Jamie
  • Post #5 - July 28th, 2006, 8:29 am
    Post #5 - July 28th, 2006, 8:29 am Post #5 - July 28th, 2006, 8:29 am
    I like Hema's. Sometimes i find the wait a little mind numbing. It isn't exactly a place to go when you are in a rush. Also, last time I went to Hema's, they did not have a tandoori oven.

    If your friend used to live in Southern India, then I would suggest Udupi Palace which has a different style of food than you will find @ Hema's.

    I've also become a fan (like everyone else) of Khan's BBQ for meats and something a little closer to Pakastani cuisine.

    Good luck on your food quest!
  • Post #6 - July 28th, 2006, 8:42 am
    Post #6 - July 28th, 2006, 8:42 am Post #6 - July 28th, 2006, 8:42 am
    I'm hoping c8w, zim, VI, etc will chime in with some more varied suggestions. I think if you weren't a fan of Tiffin you might not be a fan of Hema's.

    If your friend from Indiana is a meat eater, I'd strongly consider Khan BBQ at the corner of Western and Devon.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #7 - July 28th, 2006, 9:02 am
    Post #7 - July 28th, 2006, 9:02 am Post #7 - July 28th, 2006, 9:02 am
    First off, you must go out on Devon. Also, if Tiffin's not your bag, I'd respectfully submit that most of the suggestions thus far are similarly gussied-up, safe bets (ie, not for you (me either)). Khan is a very good choice.

    Regards,

    JeffB (as in C. Leon :wink: )
  • Post #8 - July 28th, 2006, 9:34 am
    Post #8 - July 28th, 2006, 9:34 am Post #8 - July 28th, 2006, 9:34 am
    nooteboom wrote:one shot to take your Indian-food-craving friend to an any-atmosphere-goes, high-noon Indian lunch anywhere in the city, where would you go?[/i]

    Nooteboom,

    Given the fact you love the al pastor at Leon my strong suggestion is Khan BBQ for, among other dishes, Chicken Boti. Odd as it may sound there's a similarity of sensibility between Leon's al pastor and Khan's chicken boti. Crisp charred edges outlining moist savory flesh, full flavored, with chicken boti leaning toward spicy, al pastor in a warm tortilla, boti scooped up hot from the tandori naan.

    There are many other good dishes at Khan, bihari kabab, biryani, any of the veggies and, lately, I've been leaning toward frontier chicken rice, which is made on the grill and ever so slightly oily (in a good way), but the key, for me, is always chicken boti.

    I'm also a fan of Sabri Nehari's Charga Chicken, nehari, overall vibe, food etc.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Khan BBQ
    2401 W Devon
    Chicago, IL 60659
    773-274-8600

    Sabri Nehari
    2511 W Devon Ave
    Chicago, IL 60659
    773-465-3272
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #9 - July 28th, 2006, 10:50 am
    Post #9 - July 28th, 2006, 10:50 am Post #9 - July 28th, 2006, 10:50 am
    G Wiv did *discover* Carneceria Leon, didn't he? :twisted:
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie
  • Post #10 - July 28th, 2006, 11:13 am
    Post #10 - July 28th, 2006, 11:13 am Post #10 - July 28th, 2006, 11:13 am
    If you're looking for a good selection of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes Hemmas is a good choice (one of my favorites overall) although the spice level is a bit reserved for some. I don't really like their nan (too dry) but paratha are good and they have excellent poori which you can get any time (unlike many places which serve these for breakfast only). On the Pakastani/carnivoirecentric side of the street, Sabri Nehari (great for Nehari/chenga chicken/frontier chicken chicken boti and butter chicken) is always good. Khan BBQ (don't overlook the broasted chicken...this is Paki soul food at it's finest) and Usmania "fine dining" (good chicken boti/usmania chicken and khadai ghost) is also excellent (good nan too) and a nice place to dine ( also has a small parking lot tho this is often full). Vegetarian selections at the Pakistani places will be limited tho. I also really like Bismillah on Ridge but this is a little funky place and seemingly not as popular with others on this board however, their frontier chicken. chicken shashlik and aloo paratha are great. Enjoy.
  • Post #11 - July 28th, 2006, 11:22 am
    Post #11 - July 28th, 2006, 11:22 am Post #11 - July 28th, 2006, 11:22 am
    Christopher Gordon wrote:G Wiv did *discover* Carneceria Leon, didn't he? :twisted:


    He revealed it, in the words of the OP. A picture is worth a thousand words. 8)

    But my point was sort of Gary's point as regards the C Leon connection to where to eat on Devon. If the OP cites CL as a favorite, I'm thinking Khan or even Hyderabad House would resonate in a way that Trixie-safe (but good, don't get me wrong) places won't.
  • Post #12 - July 28th, 2006, 11:34 am
    Post #12 - July 28th, 2006, 11:34 am Post #12 - July 28th, 2006, 11:34 am
    JeffB wrote:
    Christopher Gordon wrote:G Wiv did *discover* Carneceria Leon, didn't he? :twisted:


    He revealed it, in the words of the OP. A picture is worth a thousand words. 8)

    But my point was sort of Gary's point as regards the C Leon connection to where to eat on Devon. If the OP cites CL as a favorite, I'm thinking Khan or even Hyderabad House would resonate in a way that Trixie-safe (but good, don't get me wrong) places won't.


    Funny thing as per my recent Devon adventure. We were looking for Khan's, but only found a shuttered storefront next to the Pan place. Had I not already been so dazzled I might've remembered the chicken boti thread and new location. :)
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie
  • Post #13 - July 28th, 2006, 11:49 am
    Post #13 - July 28th, 2006, 11:49 am Post #13 - July 28th, 2006, 11:49 am
    gleam wrote:I'm hoping c8w, zim, VI, etc will chime in with some more varied suggestions. I think if you weren't a fan of Tiffin you might not be a fan of Hema's.

    If your friend from Indiana is a meat eater, I'd strongly consider Khan BBQ at the corner of Western and Devon.


    I'll chime in but not with anything I haven't said a few times before:

    Though I haven't eaten at the new khan's yet, I've more than once mentioned the chicken boti there, which is a particular favorite. I'm not as crazy about their veggie offerings, though hopefully with the new space they might be better assuming they have a fuller kitchen and more ability to do the sort of long-cooking some of the veggie dishes require.

    Another place where you can good meat as well as veg, is chopal, though I wouldn't recommend the whole menu, but specific items: goat champs, chili chicken, sarson ka saag are excellent.

    What I would highly recommend doing for your friend from indiana is calling malabar catering on saturday morning and seeing if they have some food for him to take back with him - that may well be the best indian food in town - and picking that up in addition to your visit to devon.

    This is a strategy my family has done ourselves a few times.
  • Post #14 - July 28th, 2006, 3:36 pm
    Post #14 - July 28th, 2006, 3:36 pm Post #14 - July 28th, 2006, 3:36 pm
    Much obliged for y'alls input. Khan BBQ is sounding spot on, but I'm going to let my friend read through your suggestions and offer his own opinion. And I'm going to file away whatever we don't choose under my own personal "must try" heading.

    p.s.
    C.G.: aplologies; sure didn't mean to steal your thunder over that CL "discovery." I just happened to encounter G Wiv's post first; but if you had something to do with spreading the good word, then by god give yourself three pats on the back and accept my belated thanks.
  • Post #15 - July 28th, 2006, 3:45 pm
    Post #15 - July 28th, 2006, 3:45 pm Post #15 - July 28th, 2006, 3:45 pm
    For ever so long I was a fan of Hema's on Oakley - until the Mexican women in the kitchen started to take over and Hema wasn't often seen in the place. The food quality suffered and the service was not good. I don't go there anymore, and I don't recommend the place to others. I've been past the other location at Fullerton/Clark, but find no reason to patronize the place.

    Chopal on Devon might be a good place to take an out-of-town guest - the food is solid (not all Indian, though), the decor sets the mood, and it's very reasonably priced. There's no liquor, though. Another place for first-timers might be Tiffin, one of the other places on Devon I like for a nice occassion. I haven't been to the new Khan's location yet, but I prefer Chopal to Khan's (at least as compared to the old location/menu/ambiance).[/b]
  • Post #16 - July 28th, 2006, 3:46 pm
    Post #16 - July 28th, 2006, 3:46 pm Post #16 - July 28th, 2006, 3:46 pm
    nooteboom wrote:Much obliged for y'alls input. Khan BBQ is sounding spot on, but I'm going to let my friend read through your suggestions and offer his own opinion. And I'm going to file away whatever we don't choose under my own personal "must try" heading.

    p.s.
    C.G.: aplologies; sure didn't mean to steal your thunder over that CL "discovery." I just happened to encounter G Wiv's post first; but if you had something to do with spreading the good word, then by god give yourself three pats on the back and accept my belated thanks.


    I do love me some Carneceria Leon. I have the feeling someone searching for CL in the future will be nonplussed finding chicken boti info instead of al pastor and carne asada. :roll:
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie
  • Post #17 - August 2nd, 2006, 9:06 am
    Post #17 - August 2nd, 2006, 9:06 am Post #17 - August 2nd, 2006, 9:06 am
    Christopher Gordon wrote:
    I do love me some Carneceria Leon. I have the feeling someone searching for CL in the future will be nonplussed finding chicken boti info instead of al pastor and carne asada. :roll:


    as they might be in looking for guidance on indian food and finding discussion of who should get credit for first eating al pastor
  • Post #18 - August 2nd, 2006, 9:10 am
    Post #18 - August 2nd, 2006, 9:10 am Post #18 - August 2nd, 2006, 9:10 am
    zim wrote:
    Christopher Gordon wrote:
    I do love me some Carneceria Leon. I have the feeling someone searching for CL in the future will be nonplussed finding chicken boti info instead of al pastor and carne asada. :roll:


    as they might be in looking for guidance on indian food and finding discussion of who should get credit for first eating al pastor


    ...and this is what makes the search function such a wonderful tool :twisted:
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie

Contact

About

Team

Advertize

Close

Chat

Articles

Guide

Events

more