Chicago is a fascinating city, a true melting pot. And it’s always a shame to me if someone doesn’t experience the diversity of its neighborhoods and local hangouts. I used to conduct neighborhood tours all over the city, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t share some of the true gems. Today: Devon Avenue, sometimes known as Little India.
Devon Avenue is long and diverse: At points you’ll see strong Indian, Orthodox Jewish, Russian and Assyrian populations. Come hungry and check out all of the food and shopping options you won’t see anyplace else nearby.
Viceroy of India (2520 W Devon). I always make this a first-stop on my tours. Indian food is complex and sometimes daunting, with many different regional flavors. With a $12 lunch buffet, you can sample it all, and still have cash for sweets.
Resham’s (2540 W Devon). I love the colors, sumptuous fabrics and unique Indian wares you won’t find at your local Pier One. The amazing selection will keep you looking, and helpful staff will narrow your choices.
Sukhadia‘s (2559 W Devon). Indian candy is a revelation: Unique flavors like cardamom, mango, pistachio and cashew will delight your tastebuds and, you may not want to share. Don’t bypass the chickpea candy: It’s so yummy and MUST count as a vegetable, no? (Photo above.)
Patel Brothers Market (2610 W Devon). The produce may overwhelm those used to the local market’s dim selections. I actually am a huge fan of the frozen Indian pizzas, and the huge packets of rice and seasonings may make your eyes bigger than your stomach.
Sahiba Boutique (2614 W Devon). Window shop or create a movie montage trying on every last gorgeous sari, kurta (collarless shirt) and kameez salwar (loosely cut top and bottom). Check out the gold jewelry that would be Harry Winston to shame. It’s Bollywood glamour at your fingertips.
Kamdar Plaza (2646 W Devon). More ingredients, teas, incense and fresh-made samosas than you can imagine in this light, bright store.
Deeba Beauty Salon (2752 W Devon). Still going? Get your eyebrows waxed by Deeba, for just $5. Or try authentic henna for a short-lasting souvenir.
Shop ‘N Help (2756 W Devon). Just lovely! Handmade Pakistani jewelry and clothing, benefiting the charity Helping Hand for Relief and Development. It’s a quiet, unassuming storefront with treasures galore.
Argo Georgian Bakery (2312 W. Devon). Try a hachapuri, or Georgian cheese bread (drooling yet?) and many more tasty authentic pastries. Check the hours, as they are not always open.
TED’S FRUIT MARKET (2840 W Devon). Yet another ethnic grocer, with many more nationalities represented. You may find that mysterious Latvian jelly you love or the best hot sauce your foodie friends haven’t yet trued.
THREE SISTER’S DELI (2854 W. Devon). For more Russian delicacies and epic pastries! Again, check the hours.
Have any favorites you must share? Please do!