City Foodies Recommend 10 Places In Chennai For The Best Tiffin

When it comes to ‘tiffin’ food in Chennai, pretty much anything that can be eaten for breakfast or a light evening snack fall under the category. An assortment of savoury dishes, the tiffin meal that traces the origins of the name back to the Colonial rule, serves as an interlude between main meals of the day – lunch and dinner. As one would typically imagine, exploring the vast variety of foods that classify as tiffin meals is perceiving the culinary canvas of the city through the lens of these simple, delicious vegetarian options that are evocative of the geography’s produce and cultural influences.

Interestingly enough, what one would usually associate with the south – idlis, dosas, upma, pongal – along with local favourites like bajji, adai-avial and malli sevai, offer a curious eater all sorts of flavours and combinations to try out. Given the sheer number of places and the simplicity of South Indian tiffin food, it is almost difficult to single one place out of many, as what pulls most people towards these dishes or the places serving them, are the condiments and sides that come with the food. From podi, sambar, chutney, pickle and a tumbler of piping hot filter coffee to wash it all down, there are enough number of dishes for days on end to never get bored of.

We’ve rounded up a list of places, with a little help from foodies who grew up in the city, to have you find yourself the best tiffin experience; and for a quick bite, of course!

Jannal Kadai – Recommended by Priya Subramani (@hungrychennaifoodie)

A landmark establishment in Mylapore, the Jannal Kadai or window shop, as it translates to, is popular with locals as well as tourists. Priya recommends visiting this hole-in-the-wall place for a plate of freshly fried bajjis – more specifically the chilli bajjis that are stuffed with potato masala and onions. She says, “The outer layer of the bajjis is crispy with the right amount of spices, that will leave you wanting more.”

USP Dishes: Bajjis chutney

Address: 55/25, Near Kapaleeshwar Temple, South Mada Street, Mylapore

Timings: Daily, 9.00 am - 10.00 pm

Cost for two: Rs 100 (Budget)

Phone Number: 9841207677

Available Cuisine: South Indian

Type: Veg 

Meals Served: Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Snacks, Dinner

Murugan Idli Shop – Recommended by Srishti Prabhakar (@strokesandsoliloques)

A legendary eatery and an institution of tiffin food, the Murugan Idli shop is known for serving up the softest, fluffiest ghee podi idlis, along with an array of chutneys ranging from the usual coconut to coriander and tomato-peanut. What started off as a tiny place serving just idlis, the eatery has expanded to have multiple outlets across the city for hungry customers. Srishti recommends digging into the idlis, of course, and also trying out the pongal-sambar if you still have some space.

Address: 77-1/A, G.N. Chetty Road, T. Nagar

USP Dishes: Ghee Podi Idli, Pongal-Sambar

Timings: 7.00 am - 9.00 pm

Phone Number: 9597086501

Cost for two: Rs 100 (Budget)

Available Cuisine: South Indian

Type: Veg 

Meals Served: Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Snacks, Dinner

Sangeetha Veg Restaurant – Recommended by Kalyan Bharath (@bharath0812)

An establishment that dates back to the 1950’s, Sangeetha, much like Murugan, has expanded into a franchise. Known for its rava masala dosai and masala dosai, Sangeetha also serves up some excellent lemon sevai and coconut chutney, as well as a strong cup of filter coffee. If you’re in the mood to indulge your sweet tooth, don’t forget to get a portion of their sweet kuzhi paniyarams.

Phone Number: 044-24426792

USP Dishes: Lemon sevai, Rava masala dosa, filter coffee

Address: 7, Gandhi Nagar, 1st Main Road, Adyar

Timings: Daily, 7am-10.30pm.

Cost for two: Rs 850 (Budget) 

Available Cuisine: South Indian

Type: Veg 

Meals Served: Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Snacks, Dinner

Ratna Café – Recommended by Harish Bali (@visa2explore)

Established in 1948, Ratna Café in Triplicane is one of the best-kept local secrets. Famous for its delicious and lip-smacking idli-sambar, this restaurant is known to have one of the best sambars served up in a commercial joint. Food is served on banana leaves and made fresh, for customers to enjoy on a daily basis. With a simple menu and limited items on offer, Ratna Café is a must-visit on your next trip.

Phone number: 044-28487181

USP Dishes: Idli sambar, dosa, chappati kurma

Address: 255, High Road, Triplicane

Timings: 7.00 am - 10.00 pm

Cost for two: Rs 350 (Budget)

Available Cuisine: South Indian

Type: Veg 

Meals Served: Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Snacks, Dinner

Also Read: 

5 Best Pure Vegetarian Restaurants In Chennai

Patappas Catering – Recommended by Vrinda Tulasi (@vrindatulasi70) 

Known for their authentic Tamil Brahmin dishes, this popular catering service also has a newly-opened restaurant that serves up their top favourite dishes. If there is a single tiffin dish that everyone must try, it is their adai-avial, a multigrain dosa-like crepe served with mixed vegetables cooked in a coconut paste.

Phone number: 9840184546

USP Dishes: Adai Avial, Laddoos

Address: No. 36, Car St, Narayana Krishnaraja Puram, Triplicane

Timings: 10.00 am - 8.00 pm

Cost for two: Rs 400 (Budget)

Available Cuisine: South Indian

Type: Veg 

Meals Served: Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Snacks, Dinner


Vishranthi – Recommended by Sreekanth Gurthi (@sreekanth_gurthi_)

Sreekanth claims that Vishranthi serves up the ‘best filter coffee’ in Chennai, the establishment is famous for its idiyappams – rice string hoppers and sweet pongal. For a traditional breakfast experience and starting the day on a fresh note, the restaurant also offers other delicious options from Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Phone number: 044-24462990

USP Dishes: Filter coffee, idiyappams, pongal

Address: 2 Avenue, TN Housing Board, Besant Nagar

Timings: 6.00 am - 10.00 pm

Cost for two: Rs 350 (Budget)

Available Cuisine: South Indian

Type: Veg 

Meals Served: Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Snacks, Dinner

Mami’s Tiffen Stall – Recommended by Lakshmi Sarath (@travelwithlakshmi)

Located next to the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Mylapore, Mami’s Tiffen Stall serves up a forgotten traditional dish known as thavala vadai – a deep-fried fritter made with lentils and rice, eaten as an evening snack. The mess also serves up delicious kozhukattais – rice flour dumplings stuffed with jaggery and coconut. Started by Vasantha mami, who hails from a small village called Alvarkurichi, the eatery is now flocked by locals for a quick bite.

Phone number: 044-24643525

USP Dishes: Kozhukattao, Thavala Vadai, Idiyappams

Address: 7, Pitchupillai Street, Near Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Mylapore

Timings: 7.00 am - 10.30 pm

Cost for two: Rs 300 (Budget)

Available Cuisine: South Indian, North Indian, Chinese

Type: Veg 

Meals Served: Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Snacks, Dinner

Mylai Karpagambal Mess – Recommended by Deepthi Praba (@deepthipraba)

Known to be one of the oldest messes in the city, the 1500-square foot space serves up some of the best tiffin offerings that Chennai has to offer. Deepthi suggests that it is mandatory to visit the mess after paying your respects at the famous Kapaleeshwar temple in Mylapore and dig into a portion of piping hot sambar-vadai. Other specialties also include their melt-in-the-mouth badam halwa, banana flower adai and keerai vadai.

Phone Number: 044-42112377

USP Dishes: Sambar Vadai, Idiyappams, Badam Halwa

Location: 20, East Mada Street, Mylapore

Timings: 7.00 am - 10.30 pm

Cost for two: Rs 200

Available Cuisine: South Indian

Type: Veg 

Meals Served: Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Snacks, Dinner

Rayar’s Mess – Recommended by Sathya (@sathyachinnu_foodie)

Sathya swears by the 70-year old mess that has continued to serve its unbeatable combination of idli-vadai-pongal, followed by a strong filter coffee. She says that it is an excellent place to visit for breakfast and suggests paying a visit to the place on weekdays, to avoid crowds that throng the restaurant for its top-notch food.

Phone number: 9940425551

USP Dishes: Idli, Vadai, Pongal, Filter Coffee

Address: 31, Arundale Street, Mylapore

Timings: 7.00 am - 10.00 am; 3.00 pm -8.00 pm

Cost for two: Rs 100 (Budget)

Available Cuisine: South Indian

Type: Veg 

Meals Served: Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Snacks, Dinner

Image Credits: Handful Of Recipes

Amildam’s Nature Restaurant – Recommended by Nivetha Sudhagar (@nivesfoodflavour)

This unique eatery that has a millet-based menu, combines health and taste to serve up some delicious creations like ragi adai, mullakati paruppu vadai (a deep-fried snack with leafy greens), served with an onion chutney and vadai curry. The restaurant located in the busy hub of Anna Nagar has something to suit all kinds of taste palettes.

Phone number: 9884494959

USP Dishes: Ragi Adai, mullakati paruppu vadai , Idiyappam

Address: 23, 5th Street, H Block, 12th Main Road, Anna Nagar West

Timings: 11.45 am - 10.30 pm

Cost for two: Rs 400 (Budget)

Available Cuisine: South Indian

Type: Veg 

Meals Served: Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Snacks, Dinner