I have been following the journey on and off via Instagram from the time the construction began. Dont ask me how or why, but insta chose to show me some of the posts by Dhanya [the founder of the place] and I loved how it was taking shape and hoped to visit on my next trip to Chennai. 

So, when I got there and pinged a friend about our meetup, she suggested Kaylir canteen for breakfast. Said she’s been there a couple of times & loved the space and food. I got ready in the morning and reached the venue by 7.45am. Loved the mural on the outer wall, and as i walked in [it was drizzling that day], saw the huge indoor and outdoor space. Chose the outdoor cos the weather was pleasant & you rarely get the opportunity to enjoy outdoors in Chennai. 

Forget sleek facades and trendy menus. Kaylir Canteen, whispers a different story. Here, “Yaadhum Oore Yaavarum Kelir” – “To us, all towns are one, and all people are our kin” – isn’t just a motto splashed across its walls. Step inside, and vibrant street art explodes into your senses. Each brushstroke, curated by Bhargav and Dhanya themselves, tells a story, reflecting the diverse talents that fuel Kaylir’s spirit. Forget polished chrome and sterile chairs. Here, rustic wooden furniture reminiscent of village “thinnais” (verandas) and bamboo ceilings embrace you like a long-lost friend. It’s a deliberate nod to simplicity, an ode to sustainability woven into the very fabric of the space.

 Kaylir’s menu, thoughtfully presented on a blackboard near the food counter, showcases a curated selection prepared by passionate home chefs—each dish a unique and authentic delight.  The man sitting at the table near the entrance explained the concept since it was my 1st time – how you place the order with him, pay, and then pick up the food from the window [ self-service], enjoy the meal and leave the plates, cups at the section in the back. I was quite thrilled and looked forward to the experience.

And don’t be surprised if your furry friend steals the show. Kaylir’s inclusivity extends beyond humans, welcoming pets with open paws and wagging tails. It’s a community, not just a canteen, where you break bread (or dosai & vadai) with strangers who become neighbors over steaming cups of filter coffee. Wooden tables and chairs, thatched roof, colourful banners or thorans and also spotted a cat [was told his name was Alpenliebe, there were 2 others- white= poondu chutney, and a dark fellow=forgot his name] 

So, come hungry, come curious, come as you are. Kaylir isn’t just about the melt-in-your-mouth “sambar” or the fluffy “appams.” It’s about shared laughter over platefuls of comfort, about conversations seasoned with acceptance, about rediscovering the joy of belonging, not to a place, but to a feeling. It’s a reminder that home isn’t always built of bricks and mortar, but of shared stories, open hearts, and the warmth of a meal that nourishes body and soul.

Friend arrived; we caught up a bit before hunger bells began in our tummies. Placed the order – Masala dosai, thayir vadai, idli, podi idli, kesari and kaapi. [we were told the podi idli & kesari must try items and so caved in] . Within minutes, our names were called, and we collected the items as they were plated up. 

The man inside asked how we liked our coffee & true to that, it tasted divine~~ Actually all the dishes tasted really good. I loved how the masala in the dosai was spread out and not just piled in the middle. The kesari was also good, almost like how we make it at home. We must have spent a couple of hours eating, talking, sharing stories, and more. And finally, when we were done, took the plates cups and tissues to the back, and dropped them in the respective bins. Above all, the dishes are all very reasonably priced, the entire order costed Rs320.

Kaylir is more than just a canteen or a cafe; it’s a heartwarming ode to sustainability, and a sense of community. 

I have no idea why people were trolling this place and shaming the people behind it – “Oh, not only do we have to go pick up our food, but also drop plates in cleaning area and pay for the food” kind of comments~

If you are in Chennai, and looking for a good place for breakfast, ditch the fancy restaurants and head here. You can thank me later~~ 

Kaylir Canteen
#9, C.I, T Colony, 1st Main Rd, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600004
Timing: 6am to 6pm – they have breakfast, lunch and snacks  

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