If you’re outside of Chicago's South Asian community, chances are you might not be familiar with the small stretch of Devon Avenue between California and Ravenswood avenues. Home to one of the biggest and best-known Desi communities in all of the United States, Devon Avenue boasts restaurants, shops and salons that cater to South Asian and Middle Eastern communities. Devon Avenue was settled by many immigrant groups including Indian Americans, Pakistani Americans and Bangladeshi Americans. Nicknamed Little India, there is no surprise that it is the best place in Chicago to find yummy South Asian cuisine, Indian garments and Bollywood movies all in the same place. So if you need a break from the Northwestern bubble, start your authentic journey into the South Asian experience with some places you won’t want to miss out on.
2502 W. Devon
One of the best-known Pakistani Restaurants on Devon Avenue, Sabri Nihari serves a wide variety of authentic Pakistani food. Its atmosphere is fancy enough for date night and casual enough for lunch with friends – think chandeliers with bright, open windows. The soft Pakistani music playing and free South Asian and Middle Eastern newspapers complete the experience. The best part: Nothing on the menu is more than $15.
2543 W. Devon
Named after the South Indian city of Udupi, this restaurant serves strictly vegetarian South Indian cuisine. Open seven days a week, the environment is warm and cozy, and all of its curries are easily sharable. If you like pancakes, you’ll love their most popular item, the Dosai – it has the same consistency as a pancake but is savory. If you’re over 21, you can also take advantage of the fact that Udupi Palace is BYOB.
2610 W. Devon
The biggest South Asian grocery store on Devon Avenue, Patel Brothers is the South Asian version of Jewel-Osco. You can find many exotic snacks and fruits in its aisles, all reasonably priced. It's open seven days a week and features a sample booth known as "The Corner Kitchen," where you can get a taste of some of these authentic snacks. Patel Brothers is extremely busy no matter what time you go, so make sure to set aside a good amount of time if you plan on heading there before catching the bus back home.
Roopkala Beauty Salon
2611 W. Devon
With extremely reasonable prices and an all-female staff, Roopkala offers a variety of salon services that cater to the needs and comfort of women. If you’re annoyed by how quickly your eyebrows grow back after waxing, try the eyebrow threading, which takes less than 10 minutes and is only $5. A threading lasts three weeks and is Roopkala’s specialty.
Sari Sapne Inc.
2623 W. Devon
If you adore Indian clothing and accessories but are on a budget, check out the year-round sales at Sari Sapne Inc. It sells saris, bindis and a variety of accessories. Bright, colorful scarves run you around $10. There are also bangles in every color imaginable at $6 per set, which is a steal compared to other shops on Devon Avenue. For those willing to spend more, Sahil is not cheap, but everything is designed personally. So you can rest assured that no one else will have the same outfit as you. Sahil's two stories of clothing options include churidars, salwar kameezs, saris and jewelry.