If you are in Chennai and are looking for somewhere to that feels cultural to eat, Dhabba Express is a wonderful happy medium. What sets this apart is the outdoor seating, kept cool by fans.
The food is relatively cheap but is just a flavoursome as many of the more expensive restaurants, yet is not too hot. You can eat a main meal for around £5 / $7. They do not serve alcohol, but instead you can savour drinks such as mango lassi or lime soda. The staff speak fairly good English so can help guide you through the menu.