The first Indian restaurant to open up in the area was the colorful BYOB spot, Spice Room in March of 2017, gracing the community with its scrumptious Tikka Masala, Dal Makhani, and warm hospitality.
Looking back, I cannot imagine what my life was like before Spice Room. I realistically eat there at least every other week, whether it’s through dine-in or take out because I have come to love their Gobi Manchurian, Dal Makhani, and Paneer Butter Masala (there are so many other dishes that I could mention but you can read my review of the restaurant for more meal goodness). Rangoli (which the Spice Room owners were affiliated with) in Humboldt Park was the closest Indian restaurant without having to go all the way to Devon Avenue.
The South Asian Restaurant Scene in Chicago
Even outside of Logan Square there has been an explosion of South Asian cuisine ranging from more casual spots downtown and in River North such as Tikka n Curry and Moti Café, which are going for the “Chipotle” vibe with Indian and Nepalese cuisine for on the go eaters. They provide such playful and approachable ways for people to try Indian cuisine, yet are a staple for those of us who know and adore Indian food.
For something more upscale, Vajra (West Town) and Rooh (West Loop) have taken the crown for being some of the most innovative and memorable Indian food in the city. They are pricier, but they have such distinct dishes that you cannot find at other restaurants and provide elevated interpretations of Indian classics.
Cultural Authenticity vs. Appropriation
Given Chicago’s rich and vast international restaurant scene, there is a rising concern within Chicago’s culinary community of white chefs “appropriating” non-European cultures and then profiting from their upscale “fusion” restaurants. The South Asian restaurant scene in Logan Square though is led by chefs and restaurateurs who are of South Asian and Asian descent. These chefs are showcasing genuine recipes from geographical regions that they themselves have a relationship with or have learned through their parents and grandparents. As someone who is second-generation myself, I am inspired and thrilled to see the brilliance and success of these chefs in an industry that has proven to be quite Eurocentric.
While Logan Square itself is a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, there is still a space and cultivation for authentic cuisine. Don’t get me wrong, many traditional taquerias and panaderias have recently closed down (which has changed the longtime authentic cuisines in the neighborhood and is a loss); I am solely referring to the South Asian restaurant scene here.
One of Logan Square’s newer Indian restaurants, Superkhana occupies an interesting space given how they feature innovative twists on Bombay classics such as their Dhokla & Corn or Chicken Tikka Masala Calzone. They aren’t quite casual but they also aren’t upscale. They are a bit more expensive to go to than a traditional Indian restaurant, but they have very casual food that also makes Indian cuisine feel more approachable to individuals who may feel overwhelmed at more “traditional” Indian spots.
Need a South Asian restaurant recap? Check out my reviews of each restaurant to be prepared when you visit next—or for the first time!
Featured photo: Spicy goodness at the Spice Room/Shanti Chu