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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18 thoughts on “K is for Karpagambal Mess #BlogchatterA2Z

  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.

  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. 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? 🙂

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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 🙂

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

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