Chennai — Things to Do, See, Eat & Sip

This summer, our Sudara Travel series is focused on the cities that our small (but mighty!) team calls home.  If you’re looking for travel recommendations or a new city to explore in your Sudara goods, these are a few of our favorite things to do, see, eat and sip across the U.S. and India.  This week, we’re talking with John Rajah, our director of India Operations, about Chennai! Chennai, formerly known as Madras, is the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Marina Beach in Chennai // ©PaulaWattsPhotography
Five (or so…) things about Chennai:
  1. It’s the biggest cultural, economic and educational center in South India. Ranked by BBC in 2015 in the list of “hottest cities” to live among global cities, with a mixture of both modern and traditional values.
  2. It’s known as the “Detroit of South India” because of its automobile industry.
  3. It’s the most visited city in India by foreign tourists. Lonely Planet named Chennai as one of the top ten cities in the world to visit in 2015.
  4. It is rated as the ‘safest’ city in India.
  5. “India’s health capital” (It attracts 45% of health tourists from abroad and about 40% of domestic health tourists.)
  6. It was ranked by the National Geographic as the world’s 2nd best food city (Chennai was the only Indian city in the list).
  7. It is a host to the third largest expatriate population in India and was ranked by the Lonely Planet as the 9th best cosmopolitan city in the world.
Three reasons to visit Chennai:
  1. To see the rich heritage, culture, architecture and experience the warmth of the people.
  2. To feast your taste buds with the different types of tasty cuisine.
  3. To relax and enjoy the best beaches in the world.
One thing people might be surprised to learn about Chennai: The population (4.9 million).
If a movie was made about Chennai, it would be called: “Gateway to south India”
Chennai Market // ©PaulaWattsPhotography

Favorite places for coffee: 

Filter Kaapi (filtered coffee) is found throughout Chennai. It is the technique and blend that makes the coffee unique, but it also skips the chicory so as to preserve the natural aroma and the flavor of coffee. Some of the places that serve the perfect cup of Filter Kaapi:

  1. Kumbakonam Degree Coffee
  2. Hot Chips
  3. Saravana Bhavan
  4. Ratna Café
  5. Madras Coffee House
Favorite place for breakfast / brunch:
  1. Hotel Saravana Bhavan
  2. Hotel Sangeeta
  3. Murugan Idli Shop
  4. Adyar Ananda Bhavan
  5. Triplicane Ratna Café
Favorite places for lunch:
  1. Sigree Global Grill
  2. The Great Kabab Factory
  3. Hotel Junior Kuppana Restaurant (Multiple Locations) Best Briyani in town.
  4. Fisherman’s Fare, Casa Major Road – Sea Food Heaven.
  5. Anjappar (Multiple Locations) – Traditional Chettinad food renowned amongst the carnivores.
Bay-View at Vivanta by Taj — Fisherman’s Cove, Chennai // image via

Favorite places for lunch / dinner with a view:
  1. Bay View at Vivanta by Taj Fisherman’s Cove, ECR. (Sea Food)
  2. Upper Deck at Vivanta by Taj Fisherman’s Cove, ECR (Mediterranean )
  3. The Wharf at Radisson BLU Templebay, ECR. (Sea Food, Mediterranean, Italian)
  4. China XO at The Leela Palace, Adyar Seaface, MRC nagar.
  5. Mamalla Restaurant at the Mamalla Resort, ECR
Favorite places for a casual dinner:
  1. Main Street in Residency Towers
  2. Mainland China
  3. Copper Chimney
  4. Grill Box
  5. Cilantro in Le Meridian
Favorite food trucks/food stands:
  1. Ravi Anna’s Kadai near Brilliant Tutorials in T. Nagar.
  2. Tambaram Mama Kadai opposite the Ayodhya Mandapam on Arya Gowda road.
  3. Monika Tiffin Center on Big Street.
  4. Food Point on VM Street for masala bread omelets
  5. Balaji Sandwich Stall near Alsa Mall for chutney sandwiches.
Favorite places for drinks:
  1. Gatsby 2000
  2. 10 Downing Street
  3. Bike and Barrel
  4. High – Raintree
  5. Rhapsody – Courtyard by Marriot
Marina Beach in Chennai // ©PaulaWattsPhotography
Favorite place for live music:
  1. The Moon and Sixpense at the Hablis (Saturday evening only)
  2. Hardrock Café
  3. Geoffrey’s
  4. Blend
  5. 10 Downing Street
Favorite place for a good workout :
  1. Gold’s Gym
  2. Talwaker’s
  3. Slam Fitness
  4. O2
  5. Fitness One
Favorite things to do / must visit places:
  1. Saint Thomas Mount
  2. San Thome Cathedral
  3. Fort St. George
  4. Govt Museum
  5. Marina Beach
Did we miss any of your favorite places?  Let us know in the comments!

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