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The Best Restaurants In Chennai, India

Tandoori chicken | © stu_spivack/Flickr
Tandoori chicken | © stu_spivack/Flickr
Picture of Stephanie Chang Avila
Updated: 9 February 2017
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Chennai, formerly known as Madras, is the capital of India’s southernmost state, Tamil Nadu. Known for its rich cultural heritage in classical dance, art, architecture and literature; the Tamil-speaking metropolis boasts of an eclectic dining scene that melds classic South Indian food with regional and international cuisine. From the best vegetarian dives and budget buffets to the top five-star restaurants, we explore Chennai’s culinary variety.
Kapaleeshwarar Temple
© ravas51/Flickr

High-End

Pan Asian

Pan Asian at the luxurious ITC Grand Chola is one of the city’s most exciting restaurants with a pan Asian focus. The restaurant has quickly become the go-to spot for Asian fusion foodsi. Diners who visit Pan Asian are treated to a five-star meal in a tastefully designed space that is grand, spacious and airy. Pan Asian is headed up by Chef Vikramjit Roy, one of India’s rising stars who spent years honing his skills in kitchens from Tokyo to Delhi as well as at the renowned Wasabi by Masaharu Morimoto. Chef Roy brings this culinary expertise to Pan Asian, creating East Asian dishes that integrate the rich spices and ingredients of the subcontinent.

Pan Asian
© Pan Asian, Courtesy of ITC Grand Chola

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Madras Pavilion

A sister restaurant to Pan Asian at the palatial ITC Grand Chola in Chennai, Madras Pavilion serves an eclectic array of dishes with both Western and Eastern roots. Widely considered Chennai’s best fine dining buffet restaurant, the Madras Pavilion offers a huge selection without compromising the quality of dishes. Madras Pavilion provides a top-notch dining experience with excellent service in a refined setting.

Madras Pavilion
© Courtesy of Madras Pavilion, ITC Grand Chola

Southern Spice at Taj Coromandel Hotel

Southern Spice at the Taj Coromandel Hotel offers a perfect introduction to south Indian food, featuring the classic dishes from south India’s four states: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and, of course, Tamil Nadu. The dining space integrates traditional Indian decorative elements with a contemporary vibe, its carved pillars and mural paintings evoke dynastic temple architecture, drawing on Tamil Nadu’s rich cultural heritage, whilst the high ceilings and modern setting evokes the coming of age of cosmopolitan Chennai. The traditional thali meal begins with appetisers and amuse-bouche, with papads and chutneys (the coconut chutney has been proclaimed the ‘best in the world’), appams and dosai (rice-based pancakes) giving diners a delectable start to the meal. These are followed by various stews, meat dishes and curries, as well as sweets including payasam with rasam, which is served as a drink, throughout the meal. Whilst Southern Spice is on the high-end of Chennai dining with prices to match, its flavourful dishes present the best of south Indian cuisine.

Southern Spice
© Courtesy of Southern Spice, Taj Hotels

Dakshin

As India’s ‘Gateway to the South’, Chennai is at the crossroads of southern India’s great culinary traditions, from the tastes of Kerala to the fiery, spiced foods characteristic of Chettinad cuisine which is considered by many to be to be the most aromatic and flavourful, packed with spices. For diners craving simple, authentic south Indian food with hints of Chettinad influence, Dakshin at the Park Sheraton in Chennai is the perfect option. Diners can opt for the traditional thali or order from the menu. Southern dishes including rasam, dosai, chutneys, spicy Andhra style chicken and more feature. The classical south Indian fare is complemented by the traditional ambiance, which features Tanjore paintings as well as live classical Karnatic Indian music.

Chettinad cuisine
© yashima/Flickr

Italia at The Park Pod, Chennai

Whilst Italian cuisine isn’t the first that comes to mind when you think of Chennai, Italia at The Park Pod hotel in Chennai has garnered rave reviews from locals and visitors alike for its classy Italian-inspired dishes. Airy and spacious with an outdoor courtyard lounge area and a glass-encased patio, Italia is an ideal dining space for anyone seeking a respite from the scorching Chennai summer and a perfect evening dining setting. Visitors can get a taste of Italy with thin crust pizzas, mushroom risotto, lasagnas and other Italian classics.

Mozzarella Pizza
© Yoshihide Nomura/Flickr

Mid-Range

Annalakshmi Chennai

Annalakshmi in Chennai is among the best places to satisfy the urge for delicious Tamil Nadu vegetarian food at an affordable price, transforming vegetarian dining into a cultural experience. Such is the popularity of Annalakshmi that it now has branches in four countries, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia. The vegetarian thali is a popular dining option with rich and varied dishes ending with payasam and ice cream; Annalakshmi Chennai also offers a varied à la carte menu. A popular dining location, booking in advance is highly recommended.

Annalakshmi Chennai
© Courtesy of Annalakshmi Chennai

Barbeque Nation

Crowds flock to Barbeque Nation every night of the week for its infamous kababs, considered some of the best in Chennai. Indeed, one can easily fill up on starters at Barbeque Nation with both vegetarian and non-vegetarian grilled options, including paneer tikka, chicken, mutton and fish. Kababs are grilled at the table, providing a wonderful communal dining experience with a contemporary ambiance that is both tasty and fun.

Address: Barbeque Nation, 2nd Floor, 100 Feet Road, # 1, Amman Koil Street, S Perumal Koil St, Vadapalani, Chennai, TN 600026, India; Ground Floor,Shri Devi Park Hotel,No.1,North Usman Road, Hanumanthan St, Parthasarathy Puram, T. Nagar, Chennai, TN 600017, India.

Barbeque Nation
© Ming-yen Hsu/Flickr

Budget

Murugan Idli Shop

Murugan Idli Shop in Chennai originated in Madurai in Tamil Nadu with multiple locations in Chennai, Madurai and Singapore and, as its name suggests, it specialises in idli. Traditionally served as a traditional south Indian breakfast food, idli is a savoury cake made with fermented black lentils and rice. Murugan Idli Shop is famed for its idli, with milagai podi (chili powder), chutney and sambar, and its dosai.

The Fruit Shop on Greams Road

Another favourite amongst students that brings back fond memories, The Fruit Shop on Greams Road is one of the best-loved restaurants in Chennai. The Fruit Shop on Greams Road is also arguably the best way to stave off the summer heat in Chennai; it offers fresh fruit juices, fruit shakes, yoghurt shakes, milkshakes as well as a selection of desserts, all of which come with no artificial additives.

Milkshakes
© Kurman Communications, Inc./Flickr

Balaji Sandwich Stall

This humble street side stall is a favourite amongst the lunchtime crowds in Egmore. Serving its beloved sandwiches at a budget price, the Balaji Sandwich Stall is a favourite amongst Chennai’s student population. Local Chennaites love its egg and cheese sandwiches, masala sandwich, chilli cheese sandwich and its extremely spicy green chutney.

Address: 149, Montieth Road, Egmore, Chennai, TN, India.

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