Maddy, I am eternally in debt to you for introducing me to Ghareeb Nawaz and showing me what real, authentic Indian food tastes like.
Located a 20-minute drive south of campus on Devon Avenue, towards the east end of Chicago’s Little India, this plain-looking but straightforwardly traditional restaurant is now my new inspiration for Indian cuisine.
It’s open 24/7, it’s extremely inexpensive and it’s goddamn delicious!
(ATTENTION: It’s also cash-only. If you go, plan accordingly!)
When you walk in, there’s a large picture menu on the wall to your right, showing pictures of very traditional Indian & Pakistani dishes. You’ll find biryani, kababs, curry dishes and a bunch of other menu items that cost around $4-$5 each. And the portions? HUUUUUGE.
Luckily, my friends had been there before, so they knew how much to order. Our meal for 3 rang up at a little over $11.
It’s ridiculous. It’s unheard of in a town like Evanston. Our Uber to Devon Avenue cost more per person than our meal did.
When you’re ready to order, wait your turn in line at the front of the counter. This place is quite popular, especially during our visit there on a Saturday evening. But don’t worry, the line moves quickly.
Your food arrives in a matter of minutes, and suddenly, you’re overstimulated by the bright colors, interesting textures and strong flavors.
Our chicken biryani ($4) was served on a large, metal tray with yogurt and chopped onions. The chicken, marinated with many spices, was also so moist and easy to chew off the bone.
The sauce, which clung well to the basmati rice, was slightly spicy, but the yogurt helped cool things down.
We also ordered 3 huge pieces of naan for $.75 each, which were flat and chewy, but also nicely charred and crispy in some parts. It tasted less processed, more hearty than what I normally get at my local grocery store.
Along with the biryani, Maddy recommended the Palak Paneer ($4), which was a fragrant dish of pureed spinach cooked in oils, spices, chili and garlic. It was also mixed with some cubes of fried cottage cheese, which tasted like firm tofu – non-offensive and neutral but somehow not bland – and complemented the texture of the spinach.
All in all, you should strongly consider Ghareeb Nawaz, especially if you’re not a huge fan of Indian food, which I wasn’t before I visited. This is the meal that showed me the light.
It’s close to campus, a 20-minute drive out to West Rogers Park, straight down Asbury Road. What a short distance, especially if you or a friend has a car, but it’s also just a 40-minute trip out by public transit.
I will be back, soon. I need to explore the rest of Devon Avenue as well.
Ghareeb Nawaz | 2032 W. Devon Ave, Chicago, IL 60659 | 773-761-5300