There’s a lot more to Chennai’s breakfast scene than idlis and dosas. Of course, we’ve included the traditional favourites, but in case you're tired of the same old variants of south Indian staples, there are several other options to choose from. Here are some of the best places for breakfast in Chennai.
Pumpkin Tales, Alwarpet
This three-year-old place is perhaps the only one in Chennai to serve various preparations of eggs Benedict. They also serve avocado toast, mushroom toasts, eggs, and chorizos as well as sandwiches and a range of healthy breakfast bowls. What else do you need, really?
Opens at: 7 am
Photograph: burps.slurps / Instagram
Murugan Idli Shop, multiple locations
You can never run out of great idli joints in Chennai, but this chain owes its success to its consistency and top-notch quality. Murugan Idli Shop, started operations in nearby Madurai, and is today one of the most successful restaurant chains in Chennai. Of course they serve dosas and ghee pongal and a variety of rice dishes too so be prepared for a food coma.
Opens at: Select branches open at 7 am, others at 11 am
Photograph: shridevip / Instagram
Chamiers Café, RA Puram
The ambience of the quaint Chamiers Café doffs its hat to an English tearoom. Its breakfast menu also pays tribute to an era gone by. From an English breakfast to variations of eggs and juices, this is one place where you’ll find time has slowed down and, occasionally, come to a standstill too.
Opens at: 8 am
Photograph: nithyalakshmisundar / Instagram
Cereal Killer Bistro, Anna Nagar East
Probably the only one of its kind in India and definitely the only one in Chennai, Cereal Killer Bistro stays true to its name and serves, well, cereals. Think cereal-based pastries, cocktail bowls, cereal drinks—you’ll get it all here.
Opens at: 8.30 am
Photograph: the_vogue_traveller / Instagram
Triplicane Ratna Café, multiple locations
Named after the Triplicane neighbourhood in Chennai, Ratna Café is known for its sambar idly. Its coarse idlis are a departure from the smooth variants and its sambar made from a secret, proprietary recipe ensures that the flavour is consistent. Started in 1948, Ratna Café (which rebranded itself as Triplicane Ratna Café some years ago when it began expanding) isn’t just one of the oldest in Chennai, but also likely the only one of its age that isn’t run by a south Indian owner, but rather one Triloknath Gupta who travelled from Mathura to Chennai making it his home nearly 70 years ago.
Opens at: 7.30 am
Photograph: aakashramesh / Instagram
Pantry D’Or, two outlets
Pantry D’Or has two outlets—one in Anna Nagar and the other in Alwarpet. Both these branches serve amazing vegetarian and non-vegetarian breakfast platters, complete with hash browns, sausages and omelettes for the carnivores and vegetarian rolls, baked beans and croquettes for the vegetarians. To wind up your meal, they also have an impressive spread of pastries and desserts, so dig in.
Opens at: 8.30 am (Fri – Sun), 10 am (Mon – Thurs)
Photograph: the_dining_chennai / Instagram
Hotel Saravana Bhavan, multiple locations
This is the mothership of the very Sarvana Bhavan, that haven of south Indian food in New Delhi. There are multiple Sarvana Bhavan’s located all over the city, including one down the road from Marina Beach, making it a favoured spot for families and morning walkers. Head here for some steaming fluffy idlis that you can dunk in piping hot sambar, crispy ghee roast dosai, and some rejuvenating filter coffee.
Opens at: Select branches open at 6 am, others at 7 am
Photograph: arjunsathish / Instagram
Eating Circles, Alwarpet
We wind up this list with Eating Circles, which brings the taste of Bengaluru tiffin staples to Chennai. The big, plate-size thatte idli is, of course, most highly recommended, but as are the rava idlis, neer dosa, and filter coffee.
Opens at: 7 am
Photograph: the_hungry_fork / Instagram