The previous year when fate (or rather, Dad’s job) led me to Chennai, the first thing I noticed was the plethora of diverse cafes and restaurants that freckled the city.

Although Madras has always been known for its authentic South Indian food when it comes to the culinary arts, nowadays we can see a number of eateries that aim to please our cravings for other cuisines as well. Here are five of the many places that I consider my personal favourites.

Make sure you strike them off your food bucket lists when you visit Chennai, India!

That Madras Place

As the name suggests, this cozy bistro by the calmest of Chennai’s streets offers a perfect blend of pop culture with traditional roots of Madras’ ethnicity.

The cuisines offered include European, Continental and Italian along with a desserts menu to die for. Some of the popular dishes include Cream Ravioli, the Parsley Fries and Prawn Popcorn. While the service provided is decent enough too, the place is primarily famous for its feel-good ambience.

The walls are adorned with quirky Chennai-based doodles, and the well-lit space practically radiates positive vibes. Moreover, the café is pet-friendly for all the animal-lovers out there and, above all, also fairly easy on the pocket.

Double Roti

This burger bar has been the talk of the town ever since its recent opening. There are three imperatives that can make or break any restaurant food, atmosphere and music. Double Roti undoubtedly aces it all.

The name ‘Double Roti’ literally translates to ‘bread’ and, quite understandably, the place is known all across the city for its legendary sandwiches and burgers. Combine that with a heavenly collection of desserts and beverages, friendly staff and a fairly basic but welcoming ambience and you will get Double Roti. The catchy soundtracks are an added bonus.

The restaurant aims to serve American food with a North Indian twist that can be seen in its interiors. It also offers a wide range of choice for the vegetarians and all these factors simply make the place a must-visit for anyone in Chennai.

Absolute Thai

It has barely been a month since Absolute Thai saw the light of the day but that has not stopped this newborn from stealing Chennai’s heart. Being one of the very few places in the town that serve authentic Thai food, the place is quickly making its way up the ladder.

In addition to serving exceptionally mouth-watering food, Absolute Thai also offers the friendliest of staff and a generous parking space, something believed to be quite rare in Chennai. A woman clad in the traditional Thai attire escorts one to one’s table. The restaurant is done up in subtle shades of gray along with smooth wooden floors, giving it an aura of serenity. The complimentary lemongrass tea and a variety of sauces make the whole experience more enjoyable.

Lloyd’s Tea House

Located along one of Chennai’s busiest streets, Lloyd’s Tea House is an all-time favourite of food lovers. Known for its variety of teas along with blissful food, the cuisines available are Italian, Asian, European and a wide-ranging array of café food. Be it cheese fries, iced tea or golden dragon chicken, the bistro always outdoes itself with its excellent service and quality.

The place’s interior decor is a delightful mix of blues and yellows abruptly giving way to an occasional wall clad in off-white floral wallpaper. Lloyd’s functions as the go-to café for people of every age group, what with the whole ‘modern-meets-contemporary’ ambience.

Sandy’s Chocolate Laboratory

Hidden away in the corner of a quiet street, Sandy’s is like a shrine for all of us with a sweet tooth. Especially known for its desserts throughout the city, the place also serves savoury Italian and Continental food.

Surrounded by a lush green garden that offers excellent outside dining, the cafe is celebrated for its delectable red velvet pancakes, chocolate milkshakes, cookies and brownies. The staff is very polite and efficient in service. Sandy’s has a very homely and countryside-like feel to it with mosaic floors, framed windows and whitewashed walls.