The first food-related thought that pops up in our minds when we hear Chennai's name, is of idli, dosa, uttapam, and filter coffee. Starting off this piece of writing with the thought of these food items, shows how intrinsic they are to the food culture of Chennai (at least for us novices). With places serving absolutely any flavours of dosas, one finds it difficult to think of any other place to define Chennai's food culture. However, with the passing time, Chennai, like the other hubs of India, is embracing a different food culture. A young Chennai (or anybody looking for a different variety of food for that matter), is embracing a different culture, that of the new swanky cafés.
While there is a whole new variety of cafés coming up in Chennai, we have listed 12 cafes in Chennai:
The 'Café' Cafés!
The other day I was just wondering how the difference between restaurants and cafés have really narrowed down. Initially, at least for the Americans, cafés came up as places which specialized in serving coffee, and not proper food. In fact, the word 'Café' comes from coffee (obviously). While the concept is still similar, the food variety has massively increased in these cafés. So here I start off with some proper 'Café' cafés, which specialize in all things coffee (and tea of course).
1. The Brew Room
This place is just heavenly for people who prefer an outdoor sitting arrangement in eateries. Especially on a nice, pleasant morning (really fresh), or a breezy evening (extremely romantic), this is the 'it' place to get away from the hustle - bustle of the city life. Touted as one of the best cafes in Chennai, The Brew Room is located in the gardens of The Savera Hotel which is an ideal spot for a Sunday brunch. The Hot Chocolate and Brownies served at this café, top the favourites chart.
Location: The Savera Hotel, 146, R.K. Salai, Mylapore Average Cost for Two: INR 1100 Timings: 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM
2. Tryst Café
The Tryst Café is the typical café which specializes in food items like Chicken Sandwich, Pizzas, Apple Strudel, coffee, Fajita, and bread. Yes. Bread. Located in the Gatsby Village, one just has to try the bakery section right at the entrance of this café. Initially, bread was sourced from Pondicherry for this great café. This practice soon ended as they started baking a whole new interesting section of bread. So, if you are craving a nice cafe in Chennai with some strong European vibes, head to this café! Oh, and do not forget to gorge on their signature bread, the Kraftkorn.
Location: Tryst Café, Gatsby Village 359, East Coast Road, Neelankarai Average Cost for Two: INR 900 Timings: 9:30 AM to 10:00 PM
3. Chamiers Café
Chamiers happens to be the absolute example of a classy, tastefully furnished, English café. The décor and the ambience are absolutely breathtaking. And in such a soothing décor, one can hardly resist their delectable menu comprising of coffee, chocolate drinks, and pancakes and waffles. While their coffee section is an ingrained part of the establishment, the café specializes in quick bites, the favourites being Risotto, Bruschetta Platter, and their salads. Head out to this beautiful Chennai cafe for some peace of mind!
Location: 106, Chamiers Road, Opposite Adyar Park Gate, RA Puram Average Cost for Two: INR 1000 Timings: 8:00 AM to 11:30 PM
The 'In' Cafés!
While visiting a place, it becomes a must for some of us, to tick off some of the 'must-visit-in-a-lifetime' places that travel books rave about. So here are two of the popular Cafés in Chennai that have the crowd going bonkers.
4. Amethyst Café
What started off as a fashion and accessories store has now become a beautiful venture known as 'Amethyst', which comprises of a flower shop, fashion and accessories shop, and a café, which is currently hugely popular amongst the masses. If you are café hopping in Chennai, it would just be foolish to miss out on this one. You can choose a favourable sitting arrangement in the enclosed area, or the garden or verandah. While the beverage section obviously draws the crowd constantly (especially their coffee), the main highlight is the availability of their amazing breakfast section 24/7. Oh, and, this is THE place to head to if you are looking for a romantic dinner out!
Location - Amethyst, next to Corporation Bank, Whites Road, Royapettah Average Cost for Two - INR 1400 Timings - 10:00 AM to 11:30 PM
5. House #22 Café
With the color 'yellow' at its best, this café is a creative genius, remodelled out in a 150 - year old mansion. The factor that sets it apart from the other cafés in Chennai is that it stands for interaction and food. A lot of interactive sessions are held at this quaint place, which stands beside a boutique, for people (especially budding artists). It truly stands as the abode of the best possible ambience.
Location: 1/38, North Parade Road, Near Kathipara Junction, St. Thoman Mount Average Cost for Two: INR 1000 Timings: 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM
6. Shiraz Art Café
If you find yourself daydreaming about having a nice meal, overlooking a beach, this is the place to be at! This café is also considered a restaurant, and the meals are absolutely worth the title. Specializing in the Persian cuisine, one must try their Brinjal Curry and Saffron Rice. Later, head out to this peaceful beach for a nice long walk!
Location: 27, Beach Road, Kapleshwar Nagar, Neelangarai Average Cost for Two: INR 1100 Timings: 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM; 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM
The 'Quirky' Ones!
The beautifully designed spaces somehow hide the quaint ones. In an attempt to look for something different, these unique cafés sprang up. So, if you want to do away with the 'tried and tested', maybe, you should march off to these little cafés!
7. The 90's Café
As the name suggests, this café will instantly take you back to the 90s (hopefully you were born then and have a box full of memories). It happens to be an extremely small café, and it would be advisable to look out for it with an attentive eye, as it is slightly difficult to find. However, once you get here, just dive into the memories of the beautiful decade of the 90s!
Location: AB 137, 4th Avenue, Shanti Colony, Anna Nagar East Average Cost for Two: INR 600 Timings: 12:30 PM to 11:00 PM
8. Dialogue In The Dark
This happens to be an extremely different concept. You basically have to lock all of your belongings in a locker, and then prepare yourself for a 'sensory' experience, excluding vision. One has to eat in complete darkness and just enjoy the experience differently through their other senses like touch and smell. While the food has had some mixed reviews, the experience in itself is a
calling factor for this most unique café in Chennai.
Location: Express Avenue, S30, Third Floor, Express Mall, Whites Road, Royapettah Average Cost for Two: INR 800 Timings: 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM
9. Ciclo Café
'Ciclo' (as the name suggests), happens to be an extremely popular (EXTREMELY POPULAR, I repeat) cycling café in Chennai. In fact, it happens to be the first ever one in India. It's a dream come true for all of the bicycle enthusiasts, as it is much more than a décor based café. It happens to be fully equipped with all of the necessary equipment and is home to the top international brands. You even get to wash your own bicycle. Imagine. It is another experience altogether. And yes, coming to food, this café is extremely popular for its quick bites, like pasta, pizza, and pies.
Location: 47, Gandhi Mandapam Road, Kotturpuram Average Cost for Two: INR 1100 Timings: 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM
The Romantic Ones!
Yes, this is a like a safety pin pricking everywhere for all of the single bees. But for the rest of the population, here are a few options listed (you can go on a date alone too!).
10. Kipling Café
So this café/restaurant is one of the most beautiful places with a perfect outdoor setting. The ambience is perfect with all of the lush greenery that it has to offer. This place is artistically designed with tones of white, with greenery in the background, and a beach nearby. This place is also ideal for cocktail lovers, given their large selection of drinks. It would be advisable to have a prior booking as this place is constantly buzzing with people.
Location: 16, L Jey Avenue, East Coast Road, Akkarai Average Cost for Two: INR 2400 Timings: 12:00 PM to 11:00 PM
11. Azzuri Bay
This place has an ideal rooftop setting for a romantic date. One can enjoy from a wide variety of both south and north Indian dishes. They absolutely stand out because of their seafood. So don't give it a miss!
Location: 13, 1st Crescent Road, Gandhinagar, Adyar Average Cost for Two: INR 1000 Timings: 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM; 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM
12. Café Mercara Express
Now, if you are looking forward to spending on a proper luxury coffee house, this is the place to be. Located in the hotel ITC Grand Chola, this café specializes in providing a variety of coffee (and that too in clay pots!). Apart from coffee, their menu comprising of numerous quick bites is absolutely scrumptious. Their signature dishes happen to be Chennai Chowder, Madras Mulligatawny soup, and Madras Fried Chicken. Location: ITC Grand Chola, 63, Mount Road, Guindy Average Cost for Two: INR 2000 Timings: 24 hours
13. Higginbothams Writer's cafe
With a western menu surrounded by books, Higginbothams Writers cafe holds a special place in the heart of literature enthusiasts. This place is popular for the neat, classy and charming ambience, Spaciousness and the walk thru bookstore which is the star of the show. The food has a consistently great western taste in both the branches and garners a lot of appreciation.
Location: #127, Peters Rd, Gopalapuram, Chennai & #1, CSIR Road, MGR Nagar, Taramani, Chennai Cost for Two: INR 900 (Approx) Timings: 9 AM to 10:30 PM
14. That Madras Place
Situated on a quiet street in Chennai, this cafe offers a small cosy place to hang out with friends. The Cafe has a wide variety in its menu getting the conversations interesting over what to order. The taste and portion of food served by the cafe are much revered by food lovers all the time.
Location: 2nd Main Road, Kasthuri Bai Nagar, Adyar, Chennai Cost for two: 1200 Timings: 12 Noon to 9:30 PM
15. Lloyd's Tea House
As the name suggests, Lloyd's Tea House is a British inspired Bohemian cafe that serves a variety of Italian, European and Asian dishes and of course a wide range of Tea to choose from. The pleasant music in the background gives the place a classic vibe bringing the old cafe style alive. The place is famous for its Rainbow Cake too and attracts a classy crowd.
Location: Lloyds Road, Opp Groceteria, Gopalapuram, Chennai Cost for two: INR 800 (Approx) Timings: 12:00 PM to 11:00 PM
The ambience that these cafes in Chennai offer, will take you back to the 'British era' that was there in the city. While some of these cafés are extremely modern and fresh with their concept, a few of the others have a colonial touch to them. So, if you have been embroiled in the thoughts of gorging only on the traditional dishes of Chennai, think again. These new cafés just happen to take you to a different past of the Chennai (the 'Madras' past). At the same time, they will show you exactly what the crowd of Chennai favours these days.
So, take out a few sinful days, and dash out to these places. Feel free to hop on to as many cafés as you can explore!