If you ever find yourself on the wild and crazy streets of Tiruvannamalai in Southern India maybe you’ll be looking for somewhere to eat. Allow me then to give you a restaurant recommendation and point you in the direction of Srinivasa.

I’m not much of a food person which may mean either I am blessed or cursed. In the case of Srinivasa restaurant I’m not sure which of those categories I would fall into. Set behind the makeshift roadside food preparation area where the smell of the burning stove mingles with the smell of the traffic that frighteningly passes by only inches away, this small eatery is a terrifyingly dirty little hut that has all the charm of Thai prison combined with the ambiance of a bus stop.

Laxman and Joelle are regulars here, they assure me that the food, which is served on banana leaves, is entirely safe and among the best that Tiruvannamalai has to offer. This might ordinarily be reassuring had a a very large rat not just walked across the floor just inches away from my feet. “It’s a rabbit.” Laxman tells me with a wry smile as he catches the alarm on my face.

Sri Nivasa restaurant in Tiruvannamalai.

Dosa, a kind of Indian pancake, is served with a bucket of something hot and mildly curry flavored and accompanied by water in what look like prison issue metal cups. Like everywhere else there are no knives and forks, you wash your hands as you walk in then eat whatever is served with your right hand. For the budget conscious visitor this place is hard to beat as a meal for three including hot drinks will cost you no more than for 35 Rupees, which is less than one (US) dollar!

As we sit there eating and making conversation while I struggle to eat my meal with one hand, a man sat at the table across from us falls backward off his stool and lies unconscious on the floor. With no great haste the proprietor and a couple of others pick up the man and hold him in a more upright position on the floor. The other patrons look on for a few moments, before getting back to their meals. It turns out that the man who collapsed works there making the tea and coffee, and as soon as he regains consciousness he returns to work.

Srinivasa restaurant in Tiruvannamalai.

I would like to tell you that the poor state of the building, the tables and stools is all forgiven once you taste the fine south Indian cuisine on offer. Unfortunately though, I can’t. The food here is functional and somewhat boring, and I’m not known for being at all fussy about food. But if you fancy eating in a small room with soot lining the collapsing walls while rats run freely and staff collapse around you, the Srinivasa roadside eatery in Tiruvannamalai is very much the place for you. Enjoy!

[Video] Take a look inside Srinivasa
Laxman’s Flickr photo’s