Chai Pani literally means “tea and water.” It’s slang in India for going out for a cup of tea, a tasty bite, a snack, or “a little something.” In Downtown Asheville and Downtown Decatur (Atlanta), it means groundbreaking, fun, affordable, and “mindblasting” Indian street food that’s changing the perception of Indian cuisine in America. it means innovative, fun, affordable and delicious Indian cuisine. We’d go so far as to say it’s “mindblasting.”
Some of the best food of any country is its street food, and Chai Pani features chaat – crunchy, spicy, sweet, tangy, brightly flavored Indian street snacks. And because there’s nothing more comforting and delicious in any culture than a home cooked meal, Chai Pani also brings you thalis – traditional family meals highlighting India’s amazing culinary diversity.
In 2009, Chef Meherwan Irani (who grew up in Ahmednagar, in the midwestern state of Maharashtra in India) opened Chai Pani with his wife and business partner, Molly. It was the bottom of the great recession, but they had a crystal clear vision of what Chai Pani could be: They’d serve street food and home-cooked meals — the most underrepresented Indian foods in Western culture — by way of the unparalleled hospitality modeled to Meherwan as a child in his parents’ bed & breakfast. Chai Pani has since been recognized as sparking a revolution in Indian cuisine in America.
From Bombay to Asheville and Atlanta, Chai Pani has extended our love of food, hospitality, and storytelling to the south’s most essential culinary cities. In 2021, The New York Times included Chai Pani in their prestigious list of America’s Favorite Restaurants. And in 2022, 13 years after we opened our doors and ran out of food midday, Chai Pani Asheville was named Outstanding Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation.