You might think that Chennai's not so pleasant weather might not make it an obvious choice for a meal under the stars. That is if you haven't dined along the city's East Coast Road, where quite a few restaurants allow you to dine at the edge of the ocean. The city's extended coastline offers beachside dining options that only few Indian cities can match. But, it doesn't just end there. You can enjoy a cool sea breeze even on a humid day at some of the city's rooftop restaurants that are a perfect setting for a special occasion or a romantic dinner. We pick six restaurants that win our vote.
1. Bay View, Taj Fisherman's Cove
Nothing stands between you and the Bay of Bengal at this atmospheric restaurant. The restaurant's thatched roof gazebos are the standout design element, and are perched just a few feet away from the ocean spray. The restaurant gets fresh boatloads of the catch of the day - which includes mackerel, kingfish and snapper - from the nearby Kovalam village. Bay View's batter-fried anchovies - a Chennai speciality - and their wasabi mayo are popular too. The local influence in the menu stretches to their Chettinadu signatures, but this restaurant is ultimately about the view.
Where: Taj Fisherman's Cove Resort & Spa, East Coast Road, Kovalam
(Also Read: 5 Best Pan Asian Restaurants In Chennai)
2. Aqua, The Park
Aqua probably set the template for the lounge dining experience in Chennai. It works equally well for a romantic rendezvous or a casual evening with your buddies. This roof top lounge rubs shoulders with the hotel's shimmering pool and offers a choice of cocktails and nibbles. Kebabs and grills dominate the menu with an accent on shareable platters and finger food - try their tandoori murgh or mutton chowki kabab. If you want a change of scene, you could move indoors to A2 where their sushi and sashimi platters shine.
Where: The Park, 601, Anna Salai
3. Kokomo, the Intercontinental Resort Chennai, Mahabalipuram
Chennai's first tiki bar is probably where a Polynesian-style tiki bar meets a luxury shack. Named after the iconic Beach Boys anthem, this casual space is the perfect venue for a sundowner along the Bay of Bengal. A mock food truck keeps up with the cocktail bar - the curry leaf martini is truly wicked. The menu is a blend of international and local favourites. From Amritsari fish tacos to Pork ribs, to fresh catch up the day, you will be spoilt for choice.
Where: The Intercontinental Resort Chennai, Mahabalipuram, East Coast Road, Nemeli
(Also Read: 8 Best Restaurants in Chennai You Must Visit)
4. Up North, The Raintree Anna Salai
The cleverly named rooftop restaurant keeps things remarkably simple. The decor is minimalist, while the menu stays true to home-style northern Indian cuisine. The restaurant offers sweeping views of the city from its location in the heart of the city's commercial district. Their shorbas are surprisingly popular, while the melt-in-your-mouth Lahori Seekh is another bestseller. The restaurant doesn't shy away from experimenting - the desi chicken tacos and soya chaap cheese sticks are a case in point.
Where: The Raintree, Anna Salai, Teynampet
5. Above Sea Level, The Raintree, St Mary's Road
For over a decade, this rooftop F&B destination perched on the 14th floor, has been one of the city's 'go to' outdoor dining venues. It's not just the uncluttered views and cocktails with a twist, but a menu that finds that delicate balance between Indian and International favourites as also comfort food with the occasional innovation. Just the kind of space where everyone in your group is likely to find their 'food fix'. Unexpected twists include the Brie and aam papad cigar, a soya galouti blended with smoked cheese and a mud pot tiramisu.
Where: The Raintree, St. Mary's Road, Alwarpet
6. Kipling Cafe
Kipling Cafe might not possess the beachside location like some of its competitors along the East Coast Road (ECR), but more than that, it makes up with its cosy, romantic setting and expansive lawn, tucked away in one of ECR's tiny alleys. Kipling is equally popular with expats and locals who tend to veer towards the restaurant's wood-fired pizzas and Thai menu that includes the usual suspects like the pandanus wrapped chicken and curries. The Indian selection is a safe bet too with a wide range of starters that complement its exhaustive cocktail and spirits menu.
Where: L Jey Avenue, East Coast Road, Akkarai.
About Ashwin RajagopalanI am the proverbial slashie - a content architect, writer, speaker and cultural intelligence coach. School lunch boxes are usually the beginning of our culinary discoveries.That curiosity hasn’t waned. It’s only got stronger as I’ve explored culinary cultures, street food and fine dining restaurants across the world. I’ve discovered cultures and destinations through culinary motifs. I am equally passionate about writing on consumer tech and travel.