It used to be cool to say 'coffee shop' until a few years ago. Not anymore. Now we say 'all-day diner' to refer to 24-hour restaurants that are the mainstay of large luxury hotels. It's no different in Chennai where these all-day restaurants perform multiple roles. Buffet restaurant (typically for all major meals including breakfast), a multi-cuisine restaurant if you'd rather steer clear of the buffet and opt for a la carte, a perfect spot for meetings or meals between meals and a late-night refuge.
Just the kind of spot where you'd pop in after a night on the town or a late-night movie to satiate those biryani or dessert cravings and, of course, for an invigorating fix of filter coffee. It's always a good time for filter coffee in Chennai, so the coffee shop moniker isn't that uncool after all. Some of these restaurants don't function through the night but they're still 'all-day' diners. We round up some of our favourites in Chennai:
Here're 7 Of The Best All-Day Diners In Chennai:
1. Spectra, The Leela Palace Chennai:
Their Sunday brunch is a local legend of sorts. In a hotel where there are multiple speciality restaurants, Spectra scores for both quality and spread. Their buffet counters are mini speciality restaurants in their own right and also showcase a range of wellness cuisine. But it's the breakfast spread including sinful waffles that wins our vote. Spectra's desserts hit the right notes and then there are the views - it's the only luxury hotel in the city that overlooks the Bay of Bengal.
Where: MRC Nagar
2. 601, The Park Chennai:
All-day diners are a great reflection of a city's food culture and trends. 601 is a fine example. The Park's all-day diner keeps evolving and reinventing itself with a spirit of adventure that borders on bold. The newest tweak is a dimsum and sushi bar that panders to the city's continuing romance with Asian cuisine. While the menu is refreshed constantly, there's always room for 601's staples that keep the regulars coming back - from pizzas to fail-safe pastas and their legendary tiramisu. It's all there in the mix.
Where: 601, Anna Salai
3. The Dining Room, Park Hyatt:
One of our favourite spots for breakfast, this large restaurant keeps with the hotel's minimalist chic and features floor to ceiling glass windows that allow the indoor and al-fresco seating areas with a stunning water body to merge seamlessly. There are multiple spaces including areas that are tucked away from the hustle. While buffets are the mainstay for breakfast and dinner, the restaurant offers a fine selection of global cuisine for lunch including comforting Asian options.
Where: Sardar Patel Road, Guindy
4. Madras Pavilion, ITC Grand Chola:
True to its name, ITC Grand Chola's buffet restaurant serves top class South Indian cuisine including some of the fluffiest idlis in town for breakfast. But that's not the only reason to visit Madras Pavilion. The buffet spread is expansive, the service is switched on and there are quite a few live counters and healthy options. We dig the breakfast specials and the Seafood selection during the special Sunday lunch buffet. If you land up between meals, there's Café Mercara Express next door for those quick comfort meals and excellent choice of coffees.
Where: Mount Road, Guindy
5. Bazaar, Grand by GRT:
For long, the 24-hour restaurant at the GRT Grand was the perfect pit-stop; the restaurant offered a unique set of 'midnight combos' that truly hit the spot. Many of those comfort dishes continue to bring back diners to Bazaar, an all-new version of the hotel's all-day dining experience. It's larger, merges seamlessly with the lobby and is a popular family dining option with a large selection of desserts and authentic South Indian signatures.
Where: Sir Theagaraya Road, T Nagar
6. Food Exchange, Novotel Chennai Chamiers Road:
This intimate all-day diner scores with its breakfast and dinner buffets. Regulars keep coming back for home-style specials including a coffee station that are helmed by home makers. Food Exchange is equally well known for its international selection and wine list. The restaurant isn't shy to experiment with its dinner buffet with periodic food promotions that break away from the clichés.
Where: Chamiers Road, Nandanam
7. Anise, Taj Coromandel:
To call the Gilli biryani at Anise one of the best in a luxury hotel in Chennai is not an exaggeration. It remains a big draw among gourmands and late night revellers who seek their biryani fix. Anise takes its name from a spice that's also an integral element in Chettinad cuisine. It offers a smattering of Oriental, Italian and Mediterranean signatures. We like the views of the hotel pool and the natural light that make it a fabulous lunch venue.
Where: Uthamar Gandhi Salai, Nungambakkam
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.