Street Foods of Chennai: An Unparalleled Experience

Street Foods of Chennai: An Unparalleled Experience
Dosa : The other favorite along with Idlis, Pic Credit:
When I say street foods of Chennai I am not only talking about what is available in the thelas and the carts, in the open. Apart from those, I am also talking about some iconic places that my Dad, Appa, took us a few times. Here are some must-visits in Chennai.

Rayar’s Mess in Mylapore

Rayar’s mess was one of Appa’s favorites. It is a small, modest place that seats 16 people on a wooden bench but serves one of the best idlis we ever had. I recommend that you read The Rayar’s Feast an article written by Srinivasa Ramanujam published in The Hindu two years ago.
A Rayar Feast
What’s interesting: The place is run by one family and their children. The food here is so good that you can find long queues outside as early as 7 am. Unfailingly, they serve fresh, completely homemade food. Nothing commercial about it.          

Mylai Karpagambal Mess

Like Rayar’s mess, this place is a small, modest eatery that serves authentic South Indian fare. Unlike Rayar’s mess though, this place is slightly modern with air-conditioning. Located behind the famous Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore, the place serves traditional south Indian food at inexpensive rates. The decoction coffee here is to die for.
Mylai  Sri Karpagambal Mess main entrance
What’s interesting: The place serves homemade dishes like More Kozhambu ( loosely, a South Indian version of Kadhi) which are otherwise not available in restaurants. Their secret family recipes are unique.

Ratna Cafe, Triplicane

Ratna Café is a landmark in Triplicane. The place is delightfully famous for the “two idlis and a bucketful of sambhar”. They serve a generous helping of Sambhar even with just two idlis and add a dollop of ghee on top – mesmerizing taste, that is maintained till today. The taste of Sambhar here is nothing like what you ever get in Delhi or Ahmedabad or anywhere in the world.
The famous Ratna Cafe Idli Sambhar – Pic Credit:
The aroma of the sambhar is authentic and the taste is just out of this world.  Also, their coconut chutney to is to die for. Unlike other restaurants, they don’t add the roasted gram to make their coconut chutney. Its just coconut.  Idlis, a bucketful of Sambhar and fresh coconut chutney, and a dollop of ghee on top.. if this is not bliss, I don’t know what is! There is a branch that has been opened in T Nagar, but that is really a franchise. The original Ratna Café is what you see in Mylapore.

Best places to eat in Pondy Bazaar, T Nagar

The place I stayed was T Nagar – the heart of Chennai city, and also densely populated. Morning walks had to be on the streets alongside shops. I noticed something very unusual in the first few days I went for those morning walks. To my surprise at around five in the morning, the street-side food stalls used to be buzzing with customers relishing Idli, dosa, vada and filter coffee.

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