K is for Karpagambal Mess #BlogchatterA2Z

Mess : Short for a ‘Mess Hall’ , a place where food is served, and eaten. The word originated from the French Word ‘Mes’ or ‘Mets’ which meant ‘portion of food’.

Karpagambal Mess, in Mylapore is a legendary stop when you’re in Chennai.  Started in 1953, this mess has retained its popularity even as it fed generations of the same family.


We reached the mess at 7:30 am on a Sunday morning, to find a gleaming entrance with fresh flowers and rangoli welcoming patrons. Only 1 table was occupied when we took our seats, though by the time we were done the restaurant was full, with more people patiently waiting outside.


The size of this vertical restaurant is that of a very generous passageway, with a separate air conditioned section on the side and it seats 50.  Interestingly, the dishes on the menu are priced higher for the air-conditioned section.


A Banana Leaf  is placed before you as soon as you are seated. The specials are rattled off at a dizzying speed, and if you read Tamil you could find them written out in chalk on  black boards both inside and outside the restaurant.


As you wait for your food to arrive, do notice how little of the walls you can see. Why? Because all the walls of the restaurant are covered with pictures of Gods and Goddesses, and some very beautiful ones at that!

Onion Wada, Idli and Chutneys

Because lunch wasn’t served beyond 1 pm a lot of people would miss out on it, so in 1989 this family run restaurant decided to do away with meals altogether . Since 1989 Karpagambal Mess serves breakfast from 7 am to 10 am and ‘Variety Rice’ (Tamarind Rice, Tomato Rice and the like) from 11:30 am.

Badam Halwa

2010 was the year this mess underwent renovation.

Husband’s favorite : Puri-Bhaaji

As you walk towards the counter to pay your bill, don’t forget to check out the corner selling home-made condiments. You’ll find a variety of Podi’s (powders) Pickles, Applams (papads) .Some of the podi’s and pickles (like the ones made using curry leaves / ginger etc ) are consumed for better health.

We bought the most delicious Vadu Manga (baby Mango) pickle, a delicious Sesame Seed and Asafoetida based Podi and the most lip smacking Vatha Kuzambu to carry home a bit of Karpagambal with us.

Just making everything crystal clear

Written for the theme

My A to Z of Chennai: The City Viewed Through An Outsiders Eye


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  1. I have been to Karpagambal mess so often. Loved your description of it. And the pictures of Gods and Goddesses are out of the world! My parents live in Mylapore and I visit them every three months. Your post has brought back memories and the next time I am in Chennai I will definitely make another visit to Karpagambal mess.

    1. This is a new one for me, Mayuri – I haven’t visited this mess – and will do so in the future – but the menu looks yummy! 🙂

  2. I haven’t been to this mess but your post and the yummy delicacies makes me want to visit it. In Kolkata, there are many South Indian restaurants but that feeling of eating in a mess with a heritage of decades is unparalleled. Lovely post that also made me hungry.

  3. I heard so much about it and want to visit this place. But going all the far from South Chennai just for food is not a viable idea at all in my hubby’s views.

  4. Mayuri Nidigallu Priyanka Nair

    Badam Halwa and puri bhaji looks delicious. It made me hungry and will have to have simple roti subji for now 🙂

  5. The pictures of Gods and Goddesses are truly beautiful and considering the narrow passageway it gets quite clean and well-maintained.
    The food pics are lovely M but I do wish you had shared pics of the Podi’s corner. I’m on the lookout for some authentic powders and would’ve liked to see them. Anyway, share pics of the ones you got with me, perhaps? 🙂

  6. I would certainly love to visit this family run mess, looks like some authentic delicacies are on the plate.

  7. Never been to Chennai. Have to think about it.

  8. I am a true lover of South Indian foo had on banana leaf and your post has left me so hungary and drooling. I think by the end of the series I will already be flying to Chennai

  9. One thing I like about such mess/restaurants is the simplicity. Been to a few like these in Bangalore and I was impressed by the cleanliness, the prompt service, and the food of course. Onion Vada pic is tempting, wish to have it right now.

  10. Mayuri Nidigallu Noor Anand Chawla

    Hahaha! You’re charged a higher price for the AC section- that’s too funny!
    I’m preserving your topics on a Chennai to-do list 🙂

  11. I am definitely going to Karpagambal Mess when I am next in Chennai. Badam Halwa looks yummy and so does poori bhaji. It’s past midnight and I feel like eating these, now. SIGH

  12. Every city has this legendary food place that can be easily deemed as heritage. Interesting post this was.

  13. Mylapore (this word) reminded me of 2 States. And mess reminded me college days 😀 The portion size was strictly meant when it came to sweet dishes (rolling eyes)!
    The podis and powders you mentioned in the end, I was left mouth-watering, simply by just reading about them.

  14. This mess sounds very interesting. The mess culture helps in providing tasty economical food What was your favourite ?

  15. This place reminds me of such old eateries in Bangalore, I had been to few with almost same feel and look. In fact, even in Pondicherry the messes look same. I think it has something to do with the mess tradition in Souther part of the country.

  16. We all have some simple places reserved for any time visit. Authentic food, familiar ambience and informality are the best things to cherish.

  17. The yummy food pics makes this place a must visit whenever I am in Chennai.

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