Desi Chaat House Comes to Center City Bringing Glorious, Crunchy, Yogurt Messes

Way back in the day, after reading about a type of Indian food I had never heard of on the original Midtown NYC Midtown Lunch, I checked it out for myself and was hooked. Chaat means Indian “snack”, and  usually refers to a unique combo of crunchy dough things topped with a yogurt and tamarind sauce.  In Philly, I had assumed that the only place to get some without hoping on a bus back to NYC was all the way in University City. I just found out that the UCity Desi Chaat House opened up a location in the food court of The Bellevue this past winter. I hopped on those escalator stairs immediately with chaat on the brain.

I tried the veggie pakoras which were not served warm and just were not good. Not recommended.

I made a mistake on my first trip there, I got there too late. The chaat had all been sold out.  Also, the online menu is much more extensive than what is actually available, so be warned. Instead I dipped into the mixed curry platter. Of everything I tried, the butter chicken was by far the most delicious. My spinach had chickpeas instead of paneer, the daal tasted a little bitter, and the rice was dry. Also, nothing is made spicy, they can give you hot sauce or you can sprinkle on some of the dry spices on the counter.

Since I am so dedicated, I was back the next day- early this time. I chose the lamb chaat, which cost $6. While the curry all set up in a steam table on the counter, our chaat was prepared in the back. We were told that everything is made fresh by handful of chefs. Like other Indian dishes, chaat is not much of a looker. She doesn’t photograph well, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time to get to know her. The requisite papri and bhel (the crunchy bits) were covered in the requisite sauces; my chaat craving is satisfied for now. There is something satisfying about the mess of textures and flavors. And it was spicier than anything we had on our curry platters. I even liked the lamb pieces in my order and, while atypically un-spicy, the cut up bits of the home made samosa in my friend’s chaat were great. I would order the samosa over the pakora next time as an appetizer.  The chaats would have benefited from  cut up fresh tomato and cilantro. I do understand, this might not be everybody’s cup of chai, my friend likened it to eating freetos with sauce… but it works for me, and millions of Indian people. At the very least, it is worth trying to know what its all about.

The + (What someone who likes this place would say)

  • I want my chaat fix without going to UCity
  • Cheap and homemade

The – (What someone who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • They may run out of what came for
  • I like my curries spicy
  • Weak pakora

Desi Chaat House, Bellevue Food Court 200 S. Broad St (@ Walnut St)



  • Chaat in CC = winning :)

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    The best chaat i’ve had in philly so far is at minar! Definitely check it out! My favorite is the samosa chaat, though they have chaat with chickpeas, papri, and some other stuff that I have yet to try. The samosas seem to be somewhat freshly fried as they retain their crispness even though soaked by all the yogurty goodness. The samosa filling was nicely spiced and all vegetarian (potatoes, peas, and carrots if I remember correctly). All for under 6 bucks! (cash only though)

  • @spiky- great tip!! I think I once was aware that Minar did that but it had totally slipped my mind. A return trip is therefore due. thanks!!!

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    Last week I was at Desi Chaat house in bellevue food court I ate a platter that was chicken rice with mixed vegetable and chicken curry dude let me tell you that was the best chicken I have ever ate in my entire life you should try and the people were so kind and friendly I will be back for more .

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