Chennai is known for its diverse food culture and is definitely worth exploring when visiting the city. From the fragrance of filter coffee to flavorful fish and flaky parottas, Chennai's food scene is sure to make your day. And while just as good at innovation and fusion, Chennai has a variety of iconic food joints that are a must-visit.
Whether it is Burmese-inspired Atho, or Chicken 65 that was invented in the city, or Ambur biryani that famous celebs swear by, or your regular idli-vadai-dosai with filter coffee, Chennai has something for everyone, and quite honestly, exploring these gems, with years of culinary history, is just scratching the surface of all that Chennai offers.
Iconic eateries in Chennai that you should try on your next visit to the city
1. Dindigul Thalappakatti
Dindigul Thalappakatti is a renowned restaurant in Chennai that was established in the year 1965. They are known for their signature dish, which is the Dindigul Thalappakatti Biriyani prepared from freshly ground spices and marinated meat. A favourite eatery in Chennai, they also serve a variety of dishes, from curries to tandoori items. This restaurant has expanded to over 40 outlets in Tamil Nadu as well as abroad. Their Mutton Biryani is a must while here, however, their Chicken Curry is also worth trying.
Location: Multiple Outlets
Price for two: Rs 1000 (approx.)
2. Ratna Cafe
The 74-year-old eatery, Ratna Cafe was established in the year 1948 and is one of the most famous restaurants in Chennai. One of the best places to try authentic sambar and idli, they also serve traditional parottas, basudi, rasmalai, vadas, dosas and of course, filter coffee. One of the best places to try traditional South Indian delicacies, Ratna Cafe has different cooks for different dishes. Affordable and iconic, Ratna Cafe in Chennai is among our top recommendations.
Location: Multiple locations, Chennai
Price for two: Rs 350 (approx.)
3. Novelty Tea House
Novelty Tea House is a vintage restaurant in Chennai, which started out as a tea cart in the year 1958. This eatery began with serving tea and has now become a full-fledged multi-cuisine restaurant. Offering a variety of dishes, from pani puri, cheese rolls, and sandwiches to tawa pulav, dosa and falooda, this restaurant has surely grown in every way possible. With an extensive menu and great service, their pav bhaji is to savour. Their fresh orange-fruit ice cream is also a must-try. You should definitely visit this place when in Chennai.
Location: 175, Mint Street, Sowcarpet, Chennai
Price for two: Rs 300 (approx.)
Kollywood’s favourite go-to restaurant, everyone in Chennai knows where Samco is. Having made a number of appearances in movies and TV shows, this is Kamal Hasan’s favourite place to eat at, and he also inaugurated their space after its renovation in 2009. Despite gaining such popularity, Samco which was established in 1962 remains true to its original flavours, and the food tastes the same as it has seen all these years. Their biryani is among the most popular items here, however, their parottas, masala prawns and paya are among the top recommendations as well.
Location: 174, Eldams Road, Alwarpet, Chennai
Price for two: Rs 850 (approx.)
5. Thambi Vilas
Serving the finest South Indian cuisine, Thambi Vilas in Chennai dates back to 1964. This place is a favourite spot among biryani and non-veg lovers. They prepare their food with the finest and the freshest ingredients. This place has such popularity, that it becomes difficult to get a seat here in the very first instance because of the crowd that this place is always flooded with. However, the wait is always worth it as the meal offers you the ultimate satisfaction. From Kothu parottas, idlis and chicken roast, this place is sure to become your favourite as well.
Location: C-43, 2nd Avenue, Anna Nagar West, Chennai
Price for two: Rs 700 (approx.)
One of the first eateries to open post-independence, Buhari was established in the year 1951. Known to be the place of creation for the iconic Chicken 65, this place is brimmed with people at all times. Popular in offering their classic flavours of Chennai, their biryani, egg parotta and masala fried fish are some of the items popular among foodies. Their Idiyappam Biryani is a unique preparation, where they have given it a twist by using noodles instead of rice. One of the only eateries in Chennai with a jukebox in the 1950s, Buhari is surely iconic.
Location: Multiple outlets, Chennai
Price for two: Rs 1000 (approx.)