The path to tandoor greatness started with fast food: When owner Amjad Khan arrived in Chicago in 1984, he hadn't cooked a day in his life. His first job was at Ali's Submarines at State and 51st near the Robert Taylor Homes. Over the next 12 years, Khan worked his way through a series of Indian and Pakistani restaurants near Devon, including Sultan's Palace, and finally opened Khan BBQ in 1996. Khan says he "tries to make the food taste like my mother's."
The restaurant has freshly painted salmon-hued walls, a stainless palace of an open kitchen, and a crystal chandelier rimmed in gold that would be at home in the Taj Mahal.
The chicken boti, with flakes of char from the natural-wood-charcoal-fired tandoor and neon green streaks from crushed peppers, is crispy and succulent. The too-often-dry seekh kababs, skewered round cylinders of ground beef, onion and coriander, are crunchy outside and moist inside. Karai gosht, a thick brown curry of braised lamb shank is bathed in a rich ghee, the traditional brown clarified butter used in Punjabi cuisine. Take your pick of the above for a rock-bottom $6.50, and tack on some daal, $3.50, a creamy concoction of spicy golden lentils that ooze on the plate. The naan, a blistered carmelized pillow of chewy interior and crunchy crust, prove the perfect vehicle to sop up every last morsel.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Michael Nagrant