If you’re a Chicagoan who loves Indian food, you’re probably pretty familiar with the “Desi Street” section of Devon Avenue downtown, known for its restaurants and vibrant South Asian community. But you may have missed a hidden gem nestled between a tanning salon and a sushi bar in Lincoln Park. A bright red awning marks Paprika restaurant, a cozy and delicious alternative to Devon Ave. Drinks are BYOB.
Paprika is a homey and somewhat quirky place where chef/owner Shah Kabir also serves as host, waiter, and busboy. A native of Darjeeling, India, Kabir prides himself on knowing what his guests like and preparing everything to order. That means you can ask for your dish to be made mild or spicy— but don’t ask for spicy unless you mean it!
Because of the attention Kabir gives each guest, service can be bit slow here when it gets busy. But most guests find it is well worth the wait, and online reviewers rave about the food. Favorites include the fresh-made Indian breads, particularly the cheese naan (flatbread) and papadums (crispy wafers made from lentils.) For entrees, many guests recommend the chicken tikka masala (bits of chicken in a spicy yogurt sauce) or the coconut curry chicken.
Cover photo: chicagoalphabetsoup via Instagram.