Years ago, West Devon Avenue in West Rogers Park was a mainly Jewish community.
Today, this bustling neighborhood, known as “Little India” is a destination for South Asian families, tourists, and fans of Indian culture—and it’s all a short drive away.
Hungry? Little India has restaurants for almost any flavor of Indian food. Hema’s Kitchen is popular for its meaty Northern Indian dishes like Chicken Biryani or Lamb Vindaloo. If you’re new to Indian cuisine or like a little less spice, try Tiffin. Mysore Woodlands or Udupi Palace is great for the lentil-and-rice based cuisine of Southern India. Go for the dosas (crispy stuffed lentil-rice pancakes), or the stews, like Palaak Paneer. Cozy Uru-Swati specializes in small plates and Chaat, the vegetarian street snacks of Southern India.
Ghareeb Nawaaz is a hole-in-the-wall bargain, with huge portions of meals like Chili Chicken Biryani for under $5. Sher-a-Punjab or Arya Bhavan stand out for their buffets. Arya Bhavan specializes in a vegetarian, “vegan-friendy” Indian buffet. They also have gluten-free entrees.
Hit up Annapurna for chaat in a fun fast-food café with Bollywood videos playing on the TV. Try the samosas, Bhel Puri (puffed rice mixed with onions, topped with chutney) or Vada Pav, spiced potato patties in mini buns. Wash it down with bottled Indian sodas or cool Kulfi ice cream pops. For something sweet, go to King Sweets. Try Gulab Jamun (doughnut balls drenched in a rosewater /cardamom-spiced syrup), or Ras Malai, (cheese custard balls in a creamy cardamom-tinged sauce).
Haggling is the norm and even expected in Little India. But don’t worry, if you’re not comfortable with that, you will find fixed prices. If a price seems too high, offer a bargain.
Step into Raaz Boutique and discover the sumptuous couture South Asian formal wear hidden within. The brilliantly colored, embellished evening gowns and Salwaar Kameez are gorgeous for any formal wedding or charity ball. Sahiba Boutique sells exotic sparkle on the cheap. Check out the packs of glittery bangle bracelets in every color, sold in plastic-wrapped packs of 20-24 for $20.
Gaze upon the deeply toned 22-24 karat gold bracelets, elaborate necklaces and wedding bands at Regal Jewels or Np Jewelers. The jewelry is priced by weight; expect haggling. Yelp reviewers praise Np for their excellent customer service.
Fabric junkies can spend hours browsing the wall hangings, pillow covers, saris and bright kurta (tunic-shirts) in Resham’s, a welcoming shop with haggle-free prices. Sari merchants India Sari Palace and Taj Sari Palace sell a huge assortment of sari fabric, perfect for saris and home decorating.
India Book House/Atlantic Video sells Bollywood Movies, books and magazines from India/Pakistan, posters, and music from Bhangra to mediation. Patel Bros. Handicrafts & Utensils is a curious what-not shop crammed with flower garlands, devotional gear, cricket bats and cookware.
Complete your trip by stopping in one of these three grocers—Patel Bros, Kamdar Plaza, or Fresh Farms. All sell dry goods, spices and chutneys…all you need for making Indian cuisine. Fresh Farms is big on produce, from $10.99 boxes of mangoes to banana flowers to the stinky durian fruit. Stop by their fresh juice bar for a refreshing juice or freeze, like Berry-Coconut.
Explore Little India once, and you’ll find one trip is not enough to uncover the multicultural discoveries on this intriguing stretch of Devon.