Chennai's ECR is a starting point of multiple beach adventures. The East Coast Road (ECR) connects Chennai with Pondicherry (Puducherry) along the Bay of Bengal. Parts of this road hug the coast and are among some of the most scenic beach drives in India. Over the last couple of decades ECR has gradually evolved into Chennai's 'go-to' weekend entertainment destination with multiple options. It's not just surfing, kayaking and cycling along this stretch, ECR offers an eclectic mix of culinary diversions.
Here're 8 Restaurants To Try In Chennai's ECR:
1. Afters Gelato
The perfect first pit-stop as you hit ECR. Located just off ECR in a residential pocket of Thiruvanmiyur, Afters is positioned as a gelato destination with flavours that invoke a strong sense of Chennai nostalgia. One of their flavours pays homage to Chennai's most famous rose milk, that's churned out by the dozens at Kalathi store in Mylapore. The Mylapore connection also comes to the fore in the Mylapore filter coffee gelato that celebrates the neighbourhood's reputation for invigorating filter coffee.
Where: East Kamaraj Street, Thiruvanmiyur
2. Brod Bakery
It's easy to imagine that you're in a tiny European bakery at this cosy breakfast spot. The brainchild of Subika Ganesan who runs this space almost single-handedly, Brod (translates to Bread in Danish) has quickly built a reputation for its sourdough loaf that sells out in quick time each weekend. The blackboard menu is limited but hits the spot. Regulars swear by the ham and cheese sandwich that's served in a ciabatta or baguette and their scrumptious cardamom buns.
3. Origin, Green Meadows Resort
This resort doesn't boast of an edge of the ocean location like many beach getaways along ECR but it's home to one of Chennai's only gin bars. The name is a giveaway; Origin's artisanal gin cocktails have caught the fancy of Chennai's hip set. The setting is laidback and the music adds to the vibe. You can order a whole bunch of sharing platters - like the hummus platter with their signature beetroot hummus, from Bayroot, a global cuisine restaurant that's located next door.
Where: (Off) East Coast Road, Palavakkam
4. Hibiscus Café
A popular weekend destination that also includes an organic food store (Vaer), a traditional kitchenware store and Matriarch, that specialises in handloom sarees. The café is the highlight with its decadent, cabana-style seating. One of Chennai's most popular expat chefs - Willi Wilson, has crafted the menu that includes fail-proof, thin crust pizzas and sinful waffles. Not surprisingly, fresh catch of the day is the highlight of their mains. The grilled mahi mahi is a bestseller.
Where: ECR, Injambakkam
5. Kai from the Sea
We're seeing an interesting blend of retail and dining in some of ECR's new hotspots. 'Kai' translates to ocean in Japanese. Kai combines a fish shop, a grab and go menu and an intimate fine dining space that serves seafood delicacies from across the world. Kai focuses on fresh catch of the day and seasonal (hence sustainable) offerings. The seafood dishes - the Mangalore-style prawns ghee roast and the ceviche are our favourites, but do check out their chewy Blondies served with caramel ice-cream and their Caesar's Salad.
Where: East Coast Road (Near the toll plaza)
6. Surf Turf
Kovalam is home to one of India's first and best-known surfing schools. Not everyone is here for the surfing though. Surf Turf, the café attached to the academy takes you close to the ocean with unhindered views. You can watch the surfers in action or grab a sundowner and enjoy the relaxed late evening vibe. The menu is uncomplicated basic with a mix of comfort food and seafood dishes.
Where: Pearl Beach, Kovalam
7. C Salt, Sheraton Grande Chennai
There are few dining spaces on India's east coast that take you as close to the ocean as C Salt. This beachside luxury dining venue has just added an intimate space that offers the perfect setting for special occasions. The menu finds a balance between coastal cuisine from across South India and an array of progressive South Indian dishes with a tweak. It's not just seafood, the menu has multiple options for vegetarians too. Some of their cocktails (try the Malabar Mule) come with a South Indian twist too.
Where: ECR, Vadanemeli
8. Wharf, Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay, Mamallapuram
One of the first and finest luxury beachside venues along ECR, Wharf doesn't just take you close to the waves; it also offers clear views of the iconic Mamallapuram shore temple. Try and catch the views just before sunset. Seafood lovers love the elevated seating area close to the live kitchen. We'd also recommend the cluster of tables on the beach where you can almost feel the ocean spray. The menu combines international grills, local seafood specialties and pastas.
Where: ECR, Mamallapuram
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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.