New Can-Indian Grab-and-Go 

Story and photos by Sidney Ulakovic 

You’ll have to think past butter chicken when you’re checking out one of the city’s newest Can-Indian fusion restaurants, Desi Chatko, where founder Pratik Patel is serving up authentic Indian street food with a twist.

Pratik Patel, founder of Desi Chatko

Patel moved to Thunder Bay from India in 2017 and brought with him a passion for cooking and serving food, having assisted his father with the family restaurant growing up and eventually running his own for two years. His latest culinary endeavour, Desi Chatko, is a combination of his experience both owning a restaurant in India and working in fast food in Canada, where he was inspired by the quick turnaround standards for the time it should take for a customer to get their meal from the moment they order it. “I liked that concept,” Patel says of North American fast food service. “I wanted to bring that for Indian [food].” 

Cheese masala bun burger

Looking at Desi Chatko’s menu, there’s certainly a classic fast-food feel with the inclusion of items like burgers and milkshakes (and prices to match), but once you receive your order you’ll see it’s unmistakably Indian inspired—think burgers made of Amul cheese and coated in masala sauce or club sandwiches spread with vibrant homemade chutneys. The menu differs from traditional fast food in that every item is vegetarian and is based on authentic Indian dishes, only reimagined with Patel’s spin. One of the most popular items is the basket chaat: a helping of what is essentially bite-sized open-face samosas, topped with a sweet and savoury tamarind date sauce, presented with an eye catching pomegranate and cilantro garnish, and assembled fresh for every order with drive-thru speed.

DC Special club sandwich

As Patel settles into the new space, he hopes to expand the menu and looks forward to sharing his heritage with the community through food. “Desi is from [our] culture. It’s how we live in the Indian community,” Patel says with a smile. “Chatko means ‘if you eat one time, you will come again.’”

Desi Chatko is located at 635 Arthur Street West. You can also find them on Skip The Dishes and Uber Eats.