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A New Delivery-Only Restaurant Serves Indian Street Food in Pico-Union

Chai Wallah prepares vegetarian food from the Indian state of Gujarat

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Chai Wallah
Chai Wallah brunch
Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater Los Angeles and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. She has covered restaurants, dining, and food culture since 2016. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award.

A group of partners recently opened a Bombay and Gujarati-inspired restaurant in the Pico-Union neighborhood, in the same food preparation kitchen space as the healthy fast casual Everytable. Chai Wallah is a delivery-only service that launched in early January by a group that was simply looking to add more Indian options in Los Angeles.

According to co-chef and co-owner Sunil Lad, most of LA’s Indian restaurants serve Punjabi-style food which showcases meat, and familiar items like tandoori. But the Gujarati state is 100% vegetarian, with food that is notably savory and aromatic than the neighboring regions. Chai Wallah makes dishes like dhokla, a fermented snack derived from rice and split chickpeas. There’s also vada pav, a crisp masala potato fritter slider, and the vegetable curry dish pav bhaji. The chefs also make nan khatai, a sweet, buttery, shortbread cookie made with ghee, flour, sugar, and cardamom, which is probably best paired with one of Chai Wallah’s five chai drinks.

Lad founded Chai Wallah with Sheena Lad, chef Shuti Patel, and Joseph Koo. The crew hasn’t changed a thing when it comes to these traditional street food recipes, but use their culinary training to refine them. The business planned on being at Smorgasburg LA, but had to reschedule the start date because of a surge in catering orders.

Prices range from $2 to $12, and delivery goes through Postmates, Uber Eats, and Doordash. They have a five-mile delivery radius, so USC students plus residents in South LA, DTLA, Silver Lake, Beverly Hills, Los Feliz, and Koreatown are within reach.

Hours are a bit tricky, so pay attention. Chai Wallah is open from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Thursday through Sunday. They open Mondays at 10 a.m., but close from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m., then stays open until 10 p.m. Chai Wallah is closed Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.