It didn’t happen like Ravi Nagubadi hoped two years ago, but Chicago’s first restaurant dedicated to dosa will finally open this week. Art of Dosa debuts Thursday inside Revival Food Hall in the Loop with options centered around South India’s iconic dish. It also gives the food hall its first all-vegan restaurant that’s gluten- and nut-free.
“I don’t think it will even hit me until it actually happens,” Nagubadi said.
He has been grinding throughout the last two years in preparation for this big debut, and worked toward building a brand all while educating Chicagoans. Nagubadi and his mother would work food festivals and explain what dosa was to those who were unfamiliar. His stand became one of the busiest at places like Riot Fest, Vegandale, and Tastemaker. He would later operate a delivery-only virtual restaurant. He had a lease for a restaurant two years ago, but plans fell through.
Other Chicago restaurants offer the dish, but Art of Dosa is the first to feature it front and center. Dosas are made from fermented lentil batter that’s crisped on a griddle and rolled. Sometimes it’s stuffed with ingredients like spiced potatoes. Others enjoy it smothered with sambar, a soupy stew made with vegetables and lentils.
Art of Dosa’s menu modernizes dosa with its wraps. Some are filled with a vegan version of chicken 65, an Indo-Chinese delicacy that’s sweet and savory. There’s also one stuffed with gluten-free ramen. Biryani (rice) and idlies (fluffy, round rice discs) round out the menu. Morning hours, with breakfast offerings including dosa scrambles (with vegan eggs and Beyond Meat choices) are also on their way. But there’s one more wrinkle.
“The most exciting thing is the ice cream,” Nagubadi said.
Art of Dosa will also serve vegan ice cream in crispy dosa cones. Instead of dairy, they use coconut milk. Westerners know about chai, but perhaps they’re not familiar with South Indian coffee which has more of a chicory flavor. Art of Dosa will sell a South Indian coffee ice cream, along with chai and fruity flavors including cherry, blueberry, and mango. The stall will also sell spicy ice cream with a gunpowder chili blend mixed with lime and orange.
Nagubadi plans to open more locations. But for now, he’s focusing on his new home at 16” on Center’s (Dusek’s, Longman & Eagle, Empty Bottle) downtown Chicago food hall. Even at Revival, Nagubadi ran into delays. Construction workers needed to ensure the dosa griddle fit under the ventilation hood. He’s put those delays behind him and is ready for the fun stuff — to be Chicago’s dosa ambassador. Check out his menu below.
Art of Dosa, inside Revival Food Hall, 125 S. Clark Street, the Loop, Scheduled to open December 26.