Chennai's humid weather (through much of the year) may not be ideal for outdoor dining but a combination of atmospheric rooftop dining venues and beachside restaurants along the East Coast road (that leads to Pondicherry via Mamallapuram) has added an interesting dimension to the city's dining scene. The city's weather is milder during the months of November to February but that's not the only reason that's leading a concerted shift to outdoor dining.
As diners make the shift to Unlock mode in a year where COVID-19 has cast a long shadow, many diners are shunning air-conditioned environments for the perceived relative safety of outdoor dining venues. Our list of recos combines outdoor dining venues and restaurants that offer partial outdoor seating
Here Are 9 Of The Best Outdoor Dining Options In Chennai You Can Try:
KooX - Rooftop Asian Grill, Novotel Chennai Chamiers Road
One of Chennai's newest rooftop venues, KooX offers sweeping views of the city from its downtown location. The menu is a happy meeting place of Sichuan cuisine and Japanese signature dishes including an innovative selection of sushi rolls. KooX also offers a selection of artisanal cocktails; this venue works equally well for a romantic date or a high-energy weekend night out.
Where: Chamiers Road
Aqua, The Park
Aqua, without a doubt, is one of Chennai's most popular lounge dining experiences. This roof top lounge borders the hotel's shimmering pool and offers a choice of exotic cocktails and nibbles. The menu is eclectic too. You can sample sushi and sashimi platters from A2, the indoor space or pick from a wide range of kebabs and grills.
Where: Anna Salai.
Tucked away in a quiet lane along the East Coast Road in a residential quarter in Neelangarai, Meraki (the Greek word for creativity) is one of Chennai's newest progressive restaurants. This fusion diner is spread across three areas including our favourite outdoor space that is themed as a tropical garden. The menu is bold while the food presentation occasionally borders on art - yes, it's good for the 'gram'. Where: Kapaleeswarar Nagar, Neelangarai
Bread and Chocolate
There was a time when Chennaites used to drive down all the way to Auroville in Pondicherry to bite into the sinful pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant) at Bread and Chocolate. This popular Pondicherry establishment has now opened its doors in Chennai and offers the same range of baked goodies and all-day breakfast bowls along with a range of exquisite coffees. Seating options include a compact outdoor balcony area.
Where:Off Cenotaph Road, Sri Ram Nagar
Wild Garden - the Cafe at Amethyst
Amethyst can take some credit for sparking Chennai's wave of cafes. The cafe is hidden behind a verdant garden and the verandah area features chequered flooring and period furniture. This cafe is equally popular for business meetings and catch-ups over an all-day breakfast with your buddies. The menu is mainly contemporary with a smattering of finger food, smoothies and heavy mains.
Where: Whites Road, Royapettah.
Lyfe by Soul Garden Bistro
Positioned as a vegetarian 'resto-cafe and set in a large bungalow in Kilpauk, this bistro exudes an easy, laid-back charm. The menu is exhaustive. There's room for everything from high-energy bowls to thin crust pizzas to mezze platters to Indian comfort food like paneer makhani. Soul Garden's home-made gelatos are a big hit too.
Where: New Avadi Road, Kilpauk
C-Salt, Sheraton Grande
One of the most promising dining venues to debut in the city this year, C-Salt offers unhindered views of the Bay of Bengal from its edge of the ocean location. This concept destination features a large bar that churns out innovative cocktails (including signatures with local ingredients) and a food menu that leans heavily on fresh catch of the day. C-Salt serves a mix of classic Southern Indian cuisine and a host of progressive South Indian dishes - the salmon and cream cheese kuzhi paniyaram is a case in point.
Where: East Coast Road, Vadanemeli
Kokomo, the Intercontinental Resort Chennai, Mahabalipuram
If you're in the mood for sundowners on the beach and prefer to dress easy, Kokomo (that takes its name from the Beach Boys anthem) is perfect for those shorts and loafers evenings. Billed as Chennai's first tiki bar, Kokomo has a talented mixologist who keeps those beach-friendly cocktails coming and a food truck that almost keeps pace - the Pork ribs are a favourite here. The resort also offers a unique Sand Pit hideout on the beach with beautiful views.
Where: East Coast Road, Nemeli
Up North, The Raintree Anna Salai
The cleverly named rooftop restaurant keeps things remarkably simple. The decor is elegant, almost minimalist while the menu stays true to home-style Northern Indian cuisine. It's mostly comfort food at a dining venue that offers panoramic views of the city. The menu is a mix of popular classics (try their Lahori Seekh) and a bunch of innovative dishes like their popular desi Chicken tacos.
Where: Anna Salai, Teynampet
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.