6 Best South Indian Thali Places To Visit While In Chennai
Image Credit: Paati Veedu

A South Indian thali is not just a meal but an experience. Whether it is vegetarian or non-vegetarian, a festive Sadhya platter or a regular one, an authentic South Indian thali has a medley of dishes with varying textures and flavours, each capturing the essence of South Indian cuisine. Traditionally served on a large leaf of banana, each dish on a South Indian thali is thoughtfully arranged around a mound of rice to showcase a variety of lentils, pappadum, curries, and chutneys that satisfy every sense.

When experiencing a classic South Indian thali, one should anticipate a selection of staples that serve as the foundation for this delectable dish. The staples include steaming rice, sambhar, rasam, papadum, paruppu, curd, and a sweet dish like payasam or halwa. Snacks such as medu vada, mirchi bajji, vegetable bonda, or deep-fried poori can also be added to the experience if people are looking for a little more indulgence. 

One of the best places in the country where you can relish an authentic South Indian thali is Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu and a brilliant city for foodies to visit. Here are some of the best South Indian thali places in Chennai.

Video Credit: YouTube/Chef Ranveer Brar

1. Ponnusamy

The iconic Bahubali thali challenge is the reason for the fame of Chennai's Ponnusamy restaurant. People receive a free thali from Monday to Friday, along with a Bahubali flag to commemorate their victory, if they can finish this large thali in an hour. With an amazing 50 components, this Bahubali thali is a non-vegetarian delight. It has an amazing selection of dishes that include various kinds of biryanis, chicken and mutton dishes, fish fry, prawns fry, boiled egg, fried rice, omelettes, parottas, and pappads; it also has salad, chapati, butter naan, noodles, and a variety of non-vegetarian curries and gravies. All of these dishes are accompanied by the necessary sides of sambhar, sabzi, rasam, curd, jamun, kesari, and more.

Address: 55/1, Gowdia Mutt Road, Royapettah, Chennai

Time: 12 pm to 4 pm, 7 pm to 11 pm

Must-try: Bahubali Thali

Price: Rs. 3,200 approx. for 2

2. Paati Veedu (Grandma’s House)

The idea of Paati Veedu is to bring the atmosphere and tastes of a grandmother's kitchen to diners. The whole restaurant is infused with the essence of homeliness. Their signature thali dish, Poorna Bhakshana, is a seven-course meal that slowly unfolds over an hour and offers a mouthwatering voyage of flavours and textures. The meal starts with welcome drinks and continues with paniyaram and chutney appetisers. A beautiful array of vegetarian foods, such as tamarind rice, dal, kovakka poriyal, and poori with masala, are included in the main course. It's important to note that although the experience is outstanding, this comprehensive dinner may be a bit expensive. This thali is available for lunches on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. 

Address: 2, Bhagirathi Ammal St, Rama Kamath Puram, T. Nagar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600017

Time: Monday, Wednesday to Sunday- 12 pm to 3:30 pm, 7 pm to 10 pm

Sunday- 11:30 am to 3:30 pm, 7 pm to 11 pm (Closed on Tuesday)

Must-try: Poorna Bhakshana 

Price: Rs. 2, 700 approx. for 2

3. Rajabhogam

Rajabhogam extends an invitation to guests to experience fine dining. They believe that everyone can feel like a king or queen after a sumptuous dinner. Their Rajabhogam kari virundhu thali has delicious dishes that are presented on a single leaf. In addition to a large selection of rice and biryani dishes and bread and naan, this enormous spread offers a variety of proteins such as mutton, chicken, egg, fish, seafood, paneer tikka, kebabs, malai, and more. This feast is a visual feast as well as a palate-pleaser. They also have a large veg thali known as the Rajabhogam kai kari virundhu. It consists of six vegetarian starters, along with a spread of veg gravies served with rice, parotta, and biryani. The eatery also has smaller sizes of these thalis with lesser items.

Address: Plot No.388/10A, Sunambu Kolathur,200 ft Pallavaram Thorapakkam Radial road, Chennai-600129.

Time: 12 pm to 4 pm, 7 pm to 11 pm

Must-try: Raja Bhogam kari virundhu thali and Raja Bhogam kai kari virundhu thali

Price: Rs. 1000 approx. for 2

4. Annalaxmi Restaurant

'Atithi Devo Bhava' is the foundation of the Anna Lakshmi restaurant, where patrons are treated with the highest respect. The setting is warm and welcoming, which improves the whole eating experience. A wide variety of regional Indian cuisines, such as North Indian, South Indian, Gujarati, Jain, and Maharashtrian meals, are available on the menu at Annalaxmi. Vegetarian food is highly regarded for its high quality, bold flavours, and remarkable diversity. It includes everything from nutritious salads and ajwain paratha to classic dishes like veppam-poo, manathakkali, and vatha-kuzhambu, as well as a selection of chutneys, thokku, and a filling rasam. It also ends with delicious payasam and ice cream. The names of their thalis are also very innovative like the Mahalaxmi preethi bhojan. This thali is a combination of North and South Indian dishes.

Address: No 6 Mayor Ramanathan Salai, Spur Tank road, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600031

Time: Tue to Sun- 12 pm to 2:30 pm, 7 pm to 9 pm

Must-try: Mahalaxmi preethi bhojan, aroghya ahar, sampoorna, and kadambari.

Price: Rs. 2000 approx. for 2

5. Amaravathi

Amaravathi is a sanctuary for anyone who like non-vegetarian meals and is well-known for its Andhra cuisine. Their Andhra-style food is just delicious. Perfectly cooked meat is presented with aromatic masalas. The spices are strong and very hot. The vegetarian alternatives at Amaravathi are also appealing. People of any age can enjoy these flavours because they are mild but perfectly balanced. Their thalis, which are served on banana leaves, will take people back in time.

Address: 1, Cathedral Rd., opp. Music Academy, Parthasarathypuram, Mylapore

Time: 12 pm to 4 pm, 7 pm to 11 pm

Price: Rs 500 approx. for 2

Image Credit: Manjal

6. Manjal 

Manjal makes delicious thalis, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. It contains every component of a traditional South Indian thali, including regional flavours and a variety of meats. Their unique selling point is that they provide people with a large tray filled with individual servings of roughly 15 appetisers, after which they can have the thali. Some of the appetisers consist of crab curry, boneless Nandu, brain fry, mutton chops, kollanurundai, fish fry, prawn fry, chicken fry, vanjaram fry.

Address: 6/9, Kasthuri Estate, 3rd St., Poes Garden

Time: 12:30 pm to 4 pm, 7 pm to 11 pm

Must-Try: Vegetarian thali and non-vegetarian thali

Price: Rs. 650 approx for 2

South Indian thalis symbolise a well-rounded meal experience. They represent a cultural and culinary concept that values balance, variety, and regional variation, going beyond just a simple assortment of foods. Whether one is looking for a taste of tradition or a contemporary culinary adventure, this diversity guarantees that there is a thali experience for every palette.