Little India – An Insider’s Guide to Chicago’s Devon Ave.
When in Chicago it’s hard to miss out on one of the most prominent and iconic streets of its metropolitan area. If you’ve ever been to the windy city you know all too well that Devon ave. is a staple of culture, giving the city character and personality while holding a significant piece of its history with it. A lot of Devon Ave’s settlers are constantly on the street, working hard to deliver the best their cultures have to offer. The street-side market stalls, fruit markets, grocery shops, and traditional tailors of this section of Chicago all offer products that you won’t find in your local store or Walmart. The avenue infuses the city with the spirit of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and other South Asian cultures that come together to create a hotspot of activity. Devon avenue is a prime example of what happens when a vast, diverse collection of hard-working immigrants settle in one area and begin to redefine it with the best their cultures have to offer.
One particular part of this street however, a nicely tucked area nestled between Ravenswood and California avenue called the Desi corridor, holds the title for busiest outdoor marketplace in North America. Being one of the most famous tourist attractions in Chicago, the Desi is an amalgamation of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi cultures – If there were ever an India outside of India, this would be it. Its very sidewalks are stained with baan leaves that waft off a constant, soothing aroma as its busy inhabitants go about their business. One step inside the corridor and you’ll be immersed to an incredibly vivid culture; the sari stores, jewelry dealers, spice peddlers and plethora of restaurants will stimulate your brain with the most beautiful and iconic parts of Indian and South Asian culture and way of life. A trip to here won’t be complete without bagging some exotic spices or herbs for yourself, or even just some kewra, paneer, ghee or perhaps some chimichuri or chevda to sate your appetite.
There is a plethora of restaurants on this avenue that bring out the best of Indian and South Asian cuisine. A trip down here won’t be complete without visiting the famous Sabri Nihari Restaurant, an iconic locale on 2502 W Devon Ave that specializes in late night comfort Pakistani dishes that will introduce you to a brand new array of flavors. If you prefer to treat your pallet to the wide spectrum of Indian flavors, then you’ll want to go down to Ghareeb Nawaz Restaurant on 2032 W Devon Ave. The fine people that operate this locale work hard to bring you the best of the best when it comes to Indian cuisine, including biryani, butter chicken, naan, paratha and so on. Vegetarians would love to head on down to Udupi Palace on 2543 W Devon, which is hailed for being one of the best Indian restaurants in the area specializing in vegetarian food. Or if you want a quick bite in a more street, low-key place then Uru-Swati at 2629 W Devon is your destination – this restaurant is particularly known for serving the best Thandai in the whole neighborhood.
Chicago has a slew of things to offer and there’s a whole lot more to it than Chicago-style hot dogs and deep dish pizza. If you’re looking to be immersed in authentic culture and witness thousand-year old traditions take place before your very eyes then Devon Avenue and its Desi quarter are where you ought to be. One step inside this area will make you feel like you’re in another country. If you truly like to take new experiences in and value authenticity then forget the mainstream comfort zone approach to tourism and step out on the street in one of the most diverse sections of Chicago and the US. Devon Ave has been, is and always will be the epicenter of diverse cultures in Chicago and will certainly leave a lasting impression on any visitor.