Since time immemorial Chennai has been known as the land of idli, vada, sambar and brewed-to-perfection filter kapi, so much so the eating habits of Chennaiite even provided ample silage for Chetan Bhagat's 2009 bestseller '2 States' ! But Chennai gastronomic history and culture transcend steamed rice cakes and seasoned lentil stew. The bon viviant Tamilian's refined taste makes him take umbrage at being reffered to as a rice-rasam specimen. And why shouldn't he, given that the region's fare through authentically traditional has adapted to the changing times?

Despite being ruled by various dynasties and by foreign rulers, the food culture of Tamil Nadu is deeply rooted in its tradition, yet simultaneously has opened its gourmet boundaries to Chinese, Continental, Oriental restaurants that contribute to its cosmopolitan facade. The Tamil cuisine's popularity is highlighted by the unabashed candour of its people in the advocacy of a lifestyle of plenty. The beauty of Tamil Nadu's fare, however, is that every region has developed its own distinct modification of common dishes in addition to its native ones.

Presenting its gracious amalgamation of Tamil Nadu and Kerala cuisines is the Ceylonese Tamil cuisine where Items like puttu and sevai are the most relished. The crops of the kongunadu region form the main ingredients of this cuisine. The food of this area is best known for its nutritious value due to extensive use of pulses. That most South Indians are born vegetarian is a fallacy that is busted by the southern regions in Tamil Nadu, namely Madurai, Kaaraikudi or Chettinaadu that are recognized for their piquant non-vegeterian dishes. The Chettinaadu cuisine when non-vegetarian, largely utilizes chicken.

But the highlight of Chennai cuisine is the "Virundhu Sapadu" . This elaborate feast consisting of more than twenty items doled out on a banana leaf usually served at weddings and festivals makes it moderate but but benign appearace at meal times in many a quintessential Chennai household. This meal expects guest to be seated on a coir mat and just by a glimpse of the food laid before them, guests have a fair idea of the community, wealth, and the host's exact region of origin in Tamil Nadu.

Capturing the ingenuity of the discerning Chennai foodie is the array of dishes that have been reinvented with a regional twist to satiate the palate of the people of this region. The parota made with maida or all-purpose flour bears semblance to the North Indian Wheat flour-based paratha. The infamous Muttaiparota (minced parota and scrambled eggs) and the Karidosai (dosa stuffed with mutton) are just some of the tantalizing inventions of this land. Whether you're looking to sit down to a spicy non-vegetarian lunch at Ponnusamy Hotel in Chennai Citi Centre or an ornate vegetarian fare at Saravanaa Bhavan, or to simply grab a bite of steaming mulaga bhajjis when u drive past Marina Beach or take home chocolate burfis from Adyar Ananda Bhavan, you are spoilt for choice in this city.

Bearing formidable verity of Chennai's diverse gastronomic offerings is the Kingfisher Explocity Great Food Guide; a guide that doesn't take you on an ordinary binging trip around town but instead tells you where to lap up the good life in Chennai.

Some of the renowned places in and around Chennai are as follows.
Ripon Building, a stone's throw away from Central Station, the Ripon Building is the seat of City Corporation since 1913. Named after Lord Ripon, who was governor general of India during the days of the Raj, the building is the shining example of Indo-Saracenic architecture.

National Art Gallery, the sandstone- faced gallery was built in 1907 by T Namberumal Chettyand is influenced by Mughal architecture. At the National Art Gallery you can find paintings done during the 10th, 17th, 18th and 19th century AD from different schools of art like Tanjore, Mughal, Rajasthan and more.

Vivekananda House, when it was first built in 1842; this structure was used as an icehouse in Fredric Tudor's ice business. Later on, in 1897, the renovated building was where Swami Vivekananda stayed on his nine day visit to the city. Since then, the Ramakrishna Math has a permanent exhibition on Vivekananda's life and times at this place.

Madras University, the alma matter of eminent personalities, including two Nobel laureates, The Madras University is simple breath taking. First used as a senate house, this monument was built by Robert Fellowes Chisholm, considered by many to be finest architect of 19th century. Chisholm combined the Indo-Saracenic form with Byzatine and European styles to give us this magnificent structure.

Victoria Public Hall, now under renovation, the victoria public hall or the town hall was built during the late 19th century Designed by Robert Chisholm, Who also gave us the Madras University, this architectural gem was opened to the public by Lord Connemera in 1887.

St Mary's Church, known as the Eastern equivalent of the Westminster Abbey, St Mary's church is located at the Fort St George. Built in 1680, the building consists of a nave and two aisles and the inside of the Church is embellished with wooden and glass furnishing.

Kapaleeshwarar Temple, built by the Pallavas in the 8th century, the Kapaaleeshwarar Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Thousands of Shiva devotees and tourists visit the marvel of Dravidian architecture.

Valluvar Kottam, constructed in 1976 in the memory of the Tamil poet, philosopher and saint-Thiruvalluvar-Valluvar Kottam is one of the Chennai's modern landmarks. It is said to be built on a deepest point of a lake that existed eons ago and is fashioned to resemble a temple chariot.

Top 10 Must Visit Food Places in Chennai as recommended by Chennai Food Guide

Crimson Chakra

Continental, North Indian, South Indian, Fusion

No 13, 1st Crescent Road,Gandhi Nagar, Adyar Chennai-600020

Tuscana Pizzeria

Desserts, Italian, Pizza, Salads

No. 19, 3rd Street, Wallace Garden Road, Nungambakkam, Chennai-600034

Zara Tapas Bar

Continental, Italian, Spanish, Oriental

71, Cathedral Road, Gopalapuram Chennai - 600086

Golden Dragon


aj Coromandel Hotel, 37, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Nungambakkam, Chennai

Lotus - The Park


601, The Park, Anna Salai, Nungambakkam, Chennai

Great Kebab Factory - Radisson Blu

North Indian, Indian, Tandoori, Kebabs

Radisson Blu Hotel, No. 531 St. Thomas Mount, GST Road Chennai


Coffee Shop, Desserts, Italian

Courtyard Marriott, 564, Anna Salai, Teynampet Chennai-600018

Sandy's Chocolate Laboratory

American, Coffee Shop, French, Continental, Desserts, Mediterranean, Sea Food, Sandwiches, Greek, Burgers, Middle Eastern, Steak House, Cakes, Soul Food

No. 16, Wallace Garden, 2nd Street, Nungambakkam, Chennai-600006

Jakob's Kitchen

Chettinad, Street Food , Kerala, South Indian, Andhra, Short Eats

Old No. 18, New No. 28, Khader Nawaz Khan Road, Nungambakkam, Chennai - 600034

Rayars Mess

Street Food , South Indian, Short Eats, Snacks

New No. 31, Arundale Street Mylapore, Chennai 600004 Opp. Kutchery Road PO Opposite to CC Bank