London’s Chapati Club Is a One-of-a-Kind Indian Queer Restaurant

Credit: Chapati Club

At London’s Chapati Club, owners Resh Sonchhatla and Heena Varambia have created a restaurant that not just showcases their Indian and Kenyan heritage, but also offers up a safe space for the LGBTQ community. 

Coming from cultural backgrounds that aren’t as accepting of the queer community, it was important for the couple to have a restaurant where others like them always found a welcome refuge. Five years after its opening, Chapati Club is one of the only openly queer-identifying Indian restaurants in London, and part of a small, but growing group of LGBTQ restaurants across the city and the U.S., that aren’t bars or clubs. 

“Our true passion is to create a place where you can be whoever you want with zero judgement,” Resh says. 

In light of Pride month, the Ealing restaurant has been featuring LGBTQ artists including local musician Kitty during its regular music nights—Chapati Club’s  Spotify playlist is a cult favourite among diners. They crafted a special playlist in June, and nights at the restaurant have frequently turned into dance parties this month with drinks flowing freely through the evening.  In addition, the restaurant regularly hosts LGBTQ meetups to foster a sense of community.

“Pride is taking pleasure in living in your truth and allowing everyone else to live in theirs,” Resh says.

Chapati Club

Credit: Chapati Club

Since Chapati Club’s debut in 2017, customers have returned consistently for the Indian home-style cooking, food that Resh and Heena grew up eating. Think dishes like the chicken 61, a curry with a tomato base that’s inspired by Resh’s mom’s recipe. The chicken G, featuring ginger, garlic, and supergreens, is inspired by Heena’s dad’s recipe and was a favourite at their home. The action railway lamb is a nod to the lamb curry that’s served on several Indian trains. 

Chapati Club restaurant London

Credit: Chapati Club

Just as Chapati Club’s food is distinct in the London restaurant scene, so too is its ethos. The restaurant wasn’t always an openly queer establishment. Resh hadn’t come out to her family until she met Heena more than a decade ago, and it took a while for the families to warm up to the idea of them being a couple. At the restaurant, Resh was initially hesitant to hang up a rainbow flag in the window that Heena had procured at a Pride event, but then she realised how valuable it was to showcase their identity. As a youngster, having an Indian-owned queer space would have been transformative for her, she told MyLondon in 2021. 

“If you have to hide a part of yourself, then that’s not true success,” Resh says. “We want our customers to know us for who we are, which provides a real sense of ease”. 

Visit OpenTable to book a table at Chapati Club.