Chicago’s first restaurant dedicated to dosa has hit a snag downtown, as the Art of Dosa will not be opening its first restaurant at 39 N. Wells Street as previously reported. Founder Ravi Nagubadi signed a lease for the space, but unspecified problems came up and the parties dissolved their agreement. Nagubadi and his crew have spent their summer searching for a new location.
It’s not particularly heartbreaking for Nagubadi. His business has grown in popularity in the last year as he establishes a brand. While looking for a new home, they’ll focus on festivals and pop-ups. Art of Dosa will be at the Tastemaker festival on Friday and Saturday and Nagubadi said they’re going to be part of Chicago Gourmet.
“That’s actually what we wanted to do,” Nagubadi said. “It turned out this is the best to do it.”
Nagubadi debuted the Art of Dosa as a festival vendor and found a niche among vegetarians and vegans. But Chicago Gourmet and other festivals gave them a chance to break into the mainstream.
“Let’s make Chicago nuts for dosa,” Nagubadi said. “That’s my goal.”
Dosa gets routinely compared to crepes or pancakes by Westerners. That’s a description that riles Nagubadi, who wants his passion and culture to stand alone on its own merits. Dosa is a rolled up and crispy flatbread made of fermented rice and lentils. It can be stuffed with fillings including spiced potatoes. It’s a routine part of the South Indian diet.
Chicagoans can find plenty of South Indian vegetarian restaurants that feature dosa, but the city does not have a restaurant dedicated to the dish. Nagubadi hopes to be the first, as dosa stalls are popular in South Asia.
Nagubadi is in talks with food hall managers, so it’s a good bet that his restaurant could debut in a food court situation before it’s open as a brick and mortar. He’s taking his time finding the right space. Nagubadi hopes to open a restaurant early next year, but in the meantime, Art of Dosa may pop-up at a Chicago food hall.