Introduction Irrespective of where we hail from, it is but natural that Indians all over the country crave to have their own variety of food-specific to their State. Two good vegetarian restaurants were recommended to me. Based on first-hand experiences and the description of these restaurants and the food they served, it is hoped the information will be useful to anyone who would visit Chennai as a tourist or for business and also want to eat at extremely reasonable costs.
The two restaurants are Hotel Andhra Bhavan, and the Gujarathi Mandal, both of which are situated near Chennai Central Railway Station.
Hotel Andhra Bhavan ChennaiThis vegetarian hotel is situated at No.119, New No.38, Poonamalee High Road, Periamet, Chennai 600 003. Mob: 9380551067.
There is also a lodge attached to the hotel and the phone numbers are 044-25615981 and 044-25615301. However, as regards the facilities of the lodge, readers may use may their own judgment. The main advantage is that it is just walkable from the Central Railway station. A single bed accommodation is priced at Rs.500/-.
Once you reach Chennai Central, just spot the huge white building of the Chennai Metropolitan Corporation called the Rippon Building, a landmark right from the British days, on the right, next to the multi-storied building that houses the reservation offices of Chennai Central station. Do not cross the road. Keep walking on the right till you reach a hotel called Hyderabadi Biriyani, which is an Andhra Speciality Biriyani outlet. Just next to this outlet is a small but decent hotel called the Hotel Andhra Bhavan, which serves all tiffin and lunch. The vegetarian lunch on the banana leaf comes in two varieties. While the limited meal priced at Rs.80, with limited food, the one with the unlimited option comes at just Rs.90/-, where the rice is unlimited. This cost also includes one cup of curd.
The Andhra spice was very much visible, The sambar and the side dishes were totally different and had a taste similar to the one that one gets to eat in Hyderabad. The servings are quite generous. There are three side dishes. One can ask for a second round of the side dishes and it is served with a smile. The waiters keep on asking what the customer wants. The ambiance is nice and the environment was really clean. Surprisingly, the "kara kuzhambu" that is the spicy variety of the sambar that is served in any restaurant in Chennai, was not so spicy and was different. Yet, the taste was good. There was also the "more kuzhambu" served. This is the sambar variety done with curd. It was just delicious. The rasam and the curd were of good quality as well.
At Rs.90/-, the food is very reasonable. It is actually a steal at this price. And it is so near the Central Railway Station. The dinner also has this "thali" variety served. So those who are habituated to having rice for dinner can also try that out.
Gujarati Mandal ChennaiThree decades ago, I was employed at Ahmedabad, which was even then a lovely city. It had many vegetarian restaurants that supplied unlimited vegetarian food at just Rs.40/- in those days. One could keep on asking for the dry chappathis and that would be given. The side dishes were also really tasty.
A few days ago, it was a trip down memory lane for me. Suggested to try this out by a Gujarati friend settled in Chennai, it turned out to be such a good experience that I visited the place a second time just a couple of days ago.
The location is perfect and is just a walkable distance from the Broadway bus-stand. One has to cross the road and keep walking towards the prestigious Parry building that houses the Corporate Office of the Murugappa group of companies. One does not need to go that far. Just ask for Prakasam Street and for Gujarati Mandal. This hotel is extremely famous and anyone can guide you.
The food is neatly served in ever silver plates and small cups in which one can get to eat at least three side dishes. The chappathis are unlimited and the side dishes are also unlimited. The waiters keep on giving you whatever you want. The sweets like Gulab Jamun are served for an extra Rs.30/-. The basic meal is priced at Rs.110/-, and it is very reasonable. The side dishes are delectable. As regards the chappathis, these are the best that you would get to eat in Chennai, as even the Saravana Bhavan does not serve you this kind of quality. They are prepared by specialists and one youtube video now available in Tamil, would even show the way they are made.
Just outside the dining hall, one can also purchase a variety of snacks and the hotel also specializes in providing customized puri that can last one full day, for long-distance passengers.
Address: Prakasam Salai, Broadway, Chennai 600 108.
Conclusion The aforesaid two restaurants would nail the popular perception that Chennai is all about idli and dosa and vada only. The variety of food now available is really good and these two restaurants are a testimony of this fact.
Of course, food is not the only thing that you get to enjoy in Chennai. Know about five must-see places and three must-do things in Chennai. Similarly, if you are from the North of India and would settle down for a typical Tamil Thali, which is what you can get for lunch, try out the ones at T Nnagar and at Mylapore.
Note that buses 10 and 11 take you straight to T.Nagar. You can also go across to a station called Park Station and alight at a station called Mambalam. The East of this station is what is now called as T.Nagar. It is a shopping paradise. Know more about T Nagar.
Of course, if you are keen on spicy Andhra food, that will make have tears in your eyes, try this outlet at Sowcarpet.
Chennai, the fourth largest city of India, has a massive tourist population that keeps growing day after day. There are hundreds who search for good food. These two restaurants not only offer variety but are just great value-for-money propositions. Try these for a change and you will be mighty pleased with what you get to eat!!