If you're looking for a meal after midnight, Sudhish Kamath tells you where to find the best places in Chennai.

Late night hunger pangs? Did a movie ahead of dinner? Yes, there are always five star hotel coffee shops that operate round the clock with limited menus. But if you want a taste of the typical Chennai experience, you need to hit the streets and go all out local. After watching the new Fast and the Furious movie, we drove around the city way past midnight to explore dining options.

Midnight Express, TTK Road

Shuts at 1 a.m but is open for takeaways later than that. At around 1.02 a.m, the shutter is mostly down but the waiter asks us if we want vada curry, egg dosa or kal dosa as a takeaway.

Known for its Chettinad curries, Midnight Express is popular for its half boiled eggs. They have a midnight special chicken roast apart from their chicken, mutton and egg biryanis.

What’s the fun taking home food when there are so many dinMidnight Expresse-in options in the city? So we ride on.

Hi Look, Sardar Patel Road, Adyar

This is a hole in the wall place you might miss as you are heading from Madhya Kailas towards IIT but ask any IITian and they will tell you how the students swear by Hi Look for late night cravings.

The place looks shut but IITians told us we would get food there till 2 a.m. The time is 1.15 a.m.

We peep in to enquire and they welcome us in. “Open 24 hours” brags the young man who asks us what we want to eat.

The place is popular for its bread omelette stall inside. It’s a basic functional omelette but the chutney gives it a unique flavour. Oh yes, the mango juice is to die for. We are done with our meal in ten minutes.

Hotel Crescent, Nungambakkam

We miss this one. At 1.32 a.m, we see the staff clean up the place, the chairs all placed upside down. Located on Village Road, Nungambakkam between Nungambakkam High Road and Sterling Road, Crescent is one of the most popular late night hangouts for those who want more options.

The ghee rice and fish curry is a favourite with the crowd. Meat eaters also swear by the parotta-chicken gravy combo. If you are vegetarians, try the appams but after midnight, you may not get the whole range of vegetarian options.

Buhari, Anna Salai

One of the city’s oldest joints recently got a facelift and is now one swanky place. We manage to sneak in just in time for the last order at 1.45 a.m.

Quite stuffed already, we just settle for half-boiled eggs, egg podimas and tea. Buhari is one of the most iconic of all the late night joints since it opened in 1951. We learn that the famous Chicken 65 is actually a Buhari speciality that they introduced in 1965!

There’s also Hotel Sangam right next door and both these restaurants are always full till 2 a.m.

Mathsya, Egmore

If you eat egg or meat, you may find half a dozen options in the city but if you are a pure vegetarian, there’s nothing else other than Mathsya.

Open till 2 a.m., the place is always packed. The regulars know how to squeeze in through the backdoor even after they close doors. Tonight, it shuts at 2.30 a.m., thanks to a gang that has walked in at 1.45 a.m.

Compared to the other joints, Mathsya is probably the most family and women friendly with a mix of family crowd, late night movie goers and pub hoppers.

Mathsya has been open till late night since the Sixties. Legend has it that the tradition began during the blackouts during the Indo-China war.