Chai Pani, an Indian restaurant in North Carolina, has been voted the best restaurant in the United States. It has made a name for itself in the country for the affordable Indian street food it serves. The restaurant won its award on Monday in Chicago at the James Beard Foundation Awards.
It is the first time the honors have been presented in two years after being canceled twice due to the pandemic. The owner of the restaurant is Meherwan Irani, five times chef appointed by James Beard. The menu includes chaat items such as Bhel Puri, Dahi Puri and Thalis, all at affordable prices.
Founder Meherwan Irani said, “From Bombay to Buncombe and Asheville to Atlanta, Chai Pani has extended our love of food, dining experience and storytelling to the Southeast. The day we opened CHAI PANI ASHEVILLE in 2009 was a testimony of willpower, love and friendship. We ran out of food at noon. As they say, the rest is history….”
Mashama Bailey of The Grey, located in Savannah, Georgia, was awarded the title of Outstanding Chef. At the same time, the Owamni Native American restaurant in Minneapolis was the top new restaurant, whose staff make up 75% of the native population.
Meherwan Irani took to Instagram after the win to say, “This little restaurant with a big heart never ceases to amaze us – powered by chaat, a love of food and service, and a team that cares for each other. from others and giving it our all. @chaipanimom and I are thrilled with the @beardfoundation nomination for Outstanding Restaurant. Thank you to everyone who works here, everyone who eats here and everyone who supports us,”
The restaurant’s first outlet was opened in 2009 in Asheville.