Despite the other meaning of the word, a “mess” is referring to a mess hall where food is served. Originally established as an area where military personnel socialize and eat, the mess hall has been adopted by smaller establishments around the world as somewhere to just come and eat a meal. In Chennai, a mess is very often a one-room restaurant of sorts with tables where you’d share a space with someone you don’t know while you eat either a set meal (vegetarian or non-vegetarian) or eat what is called “tiffin items” like dosas and idlis. It’s a fast moving process, and there’s no room to sit around and chat with friends once you’ve finished your meal. You’re there to eat really good local food and then get back to your life as always.
If you’ve never been to a mess in Chennai, but you’re still looking for somewhere to go and get great local food, then you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a quick guide to where you can get meals and properly experience a mess meal.
One of the most legendary restaurants in the city, Nair Mess is also one of the most popular places that locals and visitors go to if they’re looking for great food. Most food bloggers have visited the Mess at least once and have so much to say about it. They have both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options and their meals are one-of-a-kind!
Location: Triplicane | Cost for two: Rs.200
Another legendary restaurant, Rayar’s is also a very popular spot in the city. Unlike Nair’s Mess, they serve only vegetarian food and on top of that also have a Jain menu, giving food lovers in the area a chance to enjoy something different. Plus, they have a delicious breakfast menu to help you get your day started!
Location: Mylapore | Cost for two: Rs.100
Maybe not as well known as the other two, Akbar is a popular spot for biryanis, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. So if you’re looking for delicious biryani at great prices, then this is where you need to be.
Location: Park Town | Cost for two: Rs.200
Starting with breakfast, you get to experience the Thanjavur food in the city. Whether it’s tiffin items or a meal, there’s something for everyone.
Location: West Mambalam | Cost for two: Rs. 200
If you’re looking for a very authentic South Indian food experience, then this is clearly where you need to go. It’s a place unlike any other and after 20 years of being in Chennai, they’re still quite popular.
Location: Triplicane | Cost for two: Rs.150
Another Triplicane joint, this restaurant specialises in what one reviewer calls “Kizhakarai style preparation” and is pretty well known for that reason alone. Starting with lunch, they’re open all the way till 11pm every day.
Location: Triplicane | Cost for two: Rs. 150
Tired of the same old Tamilian food that you get everywhere? This spot specialises in Andhra and Chettinad food. They’ve got some place to sit, but not a lot, however they do have home delivery so you can enjoy all of this in the comfort of your own home.
Location: Choolaimedu | Cost for two: Rs. 250
Another popular spot for these kind of eateries is Mylapore and this place is quite well known and popular for food lovers. They’ve got biryani and parotta combinations and options for tiffin as well!
Location: Mylapore | Cost for two: Rs.300