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Belly Up & Head To The Most Iconic Restaurants Of Chennai

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I think we can all agree that we love our idly and filter coffee as much as we love experimenting with different cuisines from around the world. But with so many places to check out, how do we know which ones are the best, especially, if you're new to the city or are suddenly feeling touristy and want to explore. It's ok, friend! Don't sweat. Just so you can spend more time eating and less time researching, we have compiled a list of some of our most favourite eateries, which are also considered to be iconic by most Chennaiites. Read on!

Psst.. this in no way an exhaustive list, so if you think we've missed out on something, do let us know in the comments section below. 

Disclaimer: If you're opting for home delivery, check for the timings on food delivery apps like Zomato and Swiggy beforehand. Also, opt for cashless payment and contactless deliveries. If you're doing takeaways or dining in, please follow all social distancing rules, wear masks and carry sanitisers while you are at the outlets. 


If you’ve lived in Chennai long enough, you’ve been to Eden. The restaurant has retained its status as the ultimate destination for family outings, friends’ gatherings, or a simple, quiet meal even as fancier, newer places bloom in the city. Whether it’s their baked Italian dishes or tandoori delights, Eden continues to keep its loyalists lured. Paneer dishes, Garden-Style Vegetable Bake, Lasagne, and Au gratin are its specialties. 

Price for two: INR 800

Seena Bhai 1977 Dosa Centre

What started as a pushcart selling idlies and oothapams is now a household name! While their South Indian is still pretty good, Seena Bhai 1977 Dosa Centre also offers all kinds of yummy sandwiches and shakes now. They even have kathi rolls and pizzas, but their podi idly and oothappams with onion-mint chutney still makes people drool. You can find it on N.S.C Bose Road and Kellys. 

Price for two: INR 200

Dindugal Thalappakkatti

Dindugal Thalappakkatti has gone on to become one of Chennai’s most favourite biryani joints over the years. Started in 1956 in Dindugal, Thalappakkati, the biryani spot, now operates over 40 outlets spread across Tamil Nadu and even in countries like France and UAE. It operates in most of the popular areas of Chennai like Besant Nagar, Nungambakkam, and more, and is one of the biggest trendsetters amongst biryani outlets due to its legacy. The mutton biryani is Thalappakkatti’s most celebrated dish but we also love their mutton pepper fry and chicken curry. To know more about the best biryanis in town, click here.

Price for two: inr 650 

Southern Spice

If you are looking for a fancy South Indian dining experience, then look no further than Southern Spice at The Taj Coromandel in Nungambakkam. The restaurant does everything from the Kerala Kareemeen Polichadhu (pearl spot and shallots wrapped in banana leaf and grilled) to Kori Ghee Roast, a Bunt community speciality spicy chicken dish doused in loads of ghee. Southern Spice’s lunch thalis are a must-try, especially their Light Meals (vegetarian, meat, and fish options available). They serve alcohol as well!

Price for two: INR 3000

Nair Mess

One of the most celebrated non-vegetarian joints in Chennai, Nair Mess in Triplicane has created a name for itself in Chennai’s foodscape. Known for its thalis and seafood, it is popular amongst locals and travellers. The food here is so good that when the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, MG Ramachandran was in power, he used to visit this joint often. Their most popular dish is the Vanjaram fish fry. The mess also has a very humble ambience and gives us old Madras vibes. To know more about iconic messes in the city, click here.

Price For Two - INR 200


Moonrakers on ECR is known to serve fresh catches of the day due to its close proximity to the sea. Although it is a bit low on ambience, it has got Chennaiites driving down to Mahabalipuram just for one seafood-filled meal, all the way. The prices are quite competitive, and the quality is great. Their mixed grilled calamari and prawn curry come highly recommended. 

Price for two:  INR 700

For the best restaurants in ECR, click here.


Serving Pan-Asian, with a focus on Thai food, Benjarong has been around for quite a while now.  The decor of the place, although simple, is pretty authentically Thai. Although it is a bit heavy on the pocket, it is still surely one of the best places to go for Thai food in Chennai. Their specialty dishes include Goong Tod Samunpai (crispy fried prawns tossed with tamarind sauce) and Gai Hor Baitey (succulent morsels of chicken wrapped in pandanus leaves). 

Price for two: INR 2000


Do we really need to say anything about Sangeetha Restaurant? From their piping hot sambar to crunchy appalam, what's not to love at this iconic eatery? Oh, and the filter kaapi is simply divine! A hot favourite among locals for a Sunday breakfast, you can also tuck into delicious Indo-Chinese and North Indian food here. 

Price for two - INR 500

Murugan Idli Shop

Started almost half a century ago as a coffee and tiffin centre, Murugan Idli Shop has come a long way from that. As the name suggests, it specialises in idlies and may we say, it is one of the best in town. It might have started in Madhurai but Chennaiites love it equally. We recommend you try their podi idlis and podi dosa. Of course, you cannot go wrong with their steaming cup of filter coffee. They also serve jigarthanda. 

Price for two: INR 200

Anandam - Hotel Maris

Opened as a quaint corner in the 80s serving morning tiffins, Anandam in Hotel Maris has come a long way from that. Open from breakfast till dinner, the perfect way to start your day would be with their medhu vadas dunked in hot sambar and down it with a cup of coffee. Or if you are planning lunch, don't even think twice and just go for their meals. Along with unlimited rice, they give puris and rotis along with different vegetarian dishes. Best yet, their appalam is equal to the size of your plate! 

Price for two: INR 400


With their menu featuring all-you-can-eat options along with desserts, Mathsya is there to serve you Udupi food and has been a favourite among the locals for years. Go for their traditional masala dosa or rasam vada. They even have an unlimited thali option! If you are feeling adventurous, then we recommend you try their Rocket Masala Dosai which is 4 feet long! If you are searching for some toasts for kids, their chilli cheese toast is a must-try. Ooh, and steaming hot Mangalore buns at 5 pm - you will thank us later. 

Price for two: INR 800

Thambi Vilas

Take a ride back into the past with authentic southern flavours from Thambi Vilas. Started in 1964, this has gone on to become one of our favourites when it comes to Madras dum biryani and non-veg meals. They are known for their usage of fresh ingredients from local farm vendors. Be it Kothu parottas, podi idlis, or mutton and chicken roast, it will keep your satisfaction level up. End your meal with a sweet paan covered with chocolate!

Price for two:  INR 600

Vrindavan Restaurant

Being over 70 years old, Vrindavan Restaurant at New Woodlands in Mylapore takes you back in time to the early 90s with their flavoursome sambhar and interiors. They may be strictly vegetarian but their idlis, puffed up pooris, and Kerala-style parottas along with their sambhar and rasam will do magic in your mouth. We totally recommend you try out their poori masala paired up with a cup of coffee.

Price for two: INR 600

Ratna Cafe

Started in 1948 in Triplicane, one of the oldest parts of the city, Ratna Cafe has gone on to become one of the most renowned South Indian food joints of Chennai. Although it serves some great kothu parottas and filter coffee, the cafe is also known for the generous quantities of sambar it serves with hot and soft idlis. Although Ratna cafe has spread its wings to different parts of Chennai like Kilpauk and Velachery, the flagship location, Triplicane, continues to be our favourite.

Price for two: INR 500

Adyar Ananda Bhavan

One of the oldest chain of sweets and snacks joints in Chennai, Adyar Ananda Bhavan needs no introduction. Medhu vada, curd vada, rava kesari, ghee pongal - you can find the ultimate South Indian comfort food here. 

Price for two: INR 400

The National Lodge

Started in George Town, this vegetarian kitchen has been serving drool-worthy Andhra meals for years now. While the place looks like a run-of-the-mill mess, the flavours are simply on point. You can also order in on a Sunday and have a hearty meal in the comforts of your home or drop in there in the evenings for a plate of piping hot vadas. 

Price for two: INR 300

Welcome Hotel

Located on Purusawakkam High Road, this restaurant is most popular for its no-fuss sambhar and Pongal. The decor is far from fancy, but the food will have you coming back for more. Their desi Chinese is good too (if you don't mind the bright colours)! Whether you're in Purusawakkam for some shopping or are simply looking to have a good old South Indian meal, head to Welcome hotel. You won't be disappointed. 

Price for two: INR 300

For more iconic food finds in Purusawakkam, click here. 

Rayar's Mess

Rayar's Mess has been around since the pre-independence era and has seen a lot of famous footfalls over the years. Although serving only a limited vegetarian menu, they serve one of the best South Indian breakfasts in the city! A plate of idli or dosa would cost you hardly INR 40, and we swear by their Pongal, which comes at a mere INR 40. Wash it all down with a tumbler of filter coffee for just INR 20! 

Price for two: INR 100 

Mylai Karpagambal Mess

Another iconic mess, Mylai Karpagambal Mess has been around since 1953 and is close to the famous Kapaleeshwarar Temple!  Dotted with a few steel chairs and tables along with walls that are adorned with Hindu gods and goddesses, this place is perfect for quick service and big breakfasts. Podi dosai, kheera vadai and filter kaapi are their hot sellers.

Price for two: INR 200 

For a whole list of temples to visit in the city, click here. 

Saravana Bhavan

Saravana Bhavan started with a stand-alone store in 1981 in Chennai. Ever since then, there has been no looking back. It is now one of the largest vegetarian restaurant chains in the world. When people think South Indian, they think Saravana. Their ghee roast dosas and meals are to die for! Many other South Indian chains might have come up in Chennai later but this is truly the restaurant chain that has put South Indian cuisine on the world map. 

Price for two: INR 400


Buhari has been around for more than half a century. Apart from serving fragrant biryani, it has given India what buffalo wings are to America - the Chicken 65. It was even featured in the National Geographic for this iconic dish. Though the Mount Road branch is the most famous, newer restaurants like the ones in Chetpet and Egmore have better ambience. While Chicken 65 still remains the most beloved dish at the restaurant, you can always try out so much more.

Price for two: INR 800