Food & Restaurants in Mumbai
The dining experience at an upscale restaurant in Mumbai is more or less the same as anywhere else in the world. You can find cuisine from the Middle East, Western Europe, North America and China easily. But to get a real flavour of what's unique to Mumbai, you will have to go a little lower down the scale and experience the street food and Irani cafes. That is what is described here. For individual restaurants and other places to eat, go to the individual district pages.
Don't leave Mumbai without trying:
- Alfonso Mangoes during summer season
- As many different kinds of chaat (Bhelpuri, Pav Bhaji etc.) as your stomach can handle
- Bread Maska (Bread & Butter) from an Irani Cafe
- Goan seafood
- Maharashtrian,Gujrati,Managlorean special and Kerala Thali
- Indian Chinese
- Indian sweets- milky, delicious concoctions (try the kulfi falooda at Badshah's in Crawford market)
- Kebab rolls, Pattis, Keema
- Particularly late-night at Bade Miyaan's behind the Taj near Colaba Causeway (also if the lights are off in order to avoid bribing the cops, do still try and approach it as it is likely to still be serving)
- Kingfisher Blue beer (not common in eateries, but only most "wine shops" (liquor stores)
- South Indian food from an Udupi restaurant
- Vada pav (the Indian veg burger): known to be the dish of Mumbai
Tourists are suggested to use local Business search engines through the Internet or telephone for easy and accurate listing of the places or cuisines of interests in the location of choice. Popular search Engines include Justdial, Burrp,AskLaila, DizyLocal , etc. The search engines shall provide the address, contact details, and user ratings (if available) of the specific eatery (if name is provided), or list of eatery catering to the specialty (e.g. Seafood, Pubs, Chinese Food, etc.) depending on the location suggested (e.g. Worli, Bandra, South Mumbai, etc.).
- Seafood, Apurva (Fort right off Horniman Circle). If you want to eat some authentic Indian (Konkan) sea food you must visit the Bharat Excellensea. It is located next to the Horniman Circle and the Reserve Bank of India. It is becoming pretty expensive. In the slightly higher price range, Trishna (at Kala Ghoda in Fort) and Mahesh Lunch Home (also in Fort) are very popular among both locals and tourists.
- Peshawari, Andheri, (at Maratha Sheraton). It's sister restaurant Bukhara in Delhi has been recognised as the best Indian restaurant across the world. Try tandoori jhinga, the kebab platter, sikandari raan (leg of lamb), and mangoes and ice cream (only during summers), Kebab Corner (Hotel Intercontinental), Copper Chimney (Worli) Khyber (Kala Ghoda), and Kareem's Malad Link Road in Malad W.
- Chinese, India Jones, (Hilton Towers Mumbai), Mainland China (Saki Naka), Ling's Pavilion (Colaba), Golden Dragon (Taj Mahal Hotel), Great Wall (Renaissance), Spices (JW Marriott), China Gate (Bandra), China White (Bandra). Bandra offers a range of Chinese Restaurants ([www]. Royal China at VT (behind Sterling Cinema serves some of the best DimSum the city has to offer). The new CG83 at Kemps corner is brilliant and the signature restaurant of Nelson Wang. Also new is Henry Thams. The food is brilliant as are the prices, however the bar is much more popular than the restaurant.
- Combination Oriental, India Jones (Hilton Towers Mumbai), Pan Asian (at Maratha Sheraton), Seijo, and Soul Dish (Bandra), Joss (Kala Ghoda) has some of the best East Asian food in the country and at moderate prices (compared to hotels). San Qi at the Four Seasons (Worli) combines East Asian and South Asian cuisine quite well.
- Italian, Shatranj Nepoli (Bandra, Union Park), Little Italy (Juhu next to Maneckji Cooper school), Don Giovanni's (Juhu, opposite JW Marriott), Mezzo Mezzo (at the JW Marriott), Vetro (at The Oberoi, Mumbai), Celini (at the Grand Hyatt), Mangi Ferra (Juhu), Taxi(Colaba), Spaghetti Kitchen (Phoenix Mills, Parel).
- Japanese, Wasabi by Morimoto (Taj Mahal Hotel, Colaba) is Mumbai's best and most expensive restaurant, but Japanese food is on the menus of most Pan Asian restaurants like Tiffin (The Oberoi, Mumbai), Pan Asian (Maratha Sheraton), India Jones (Hilton Towers Mumbai), and Spices (JW Marriott), Origami (Atria Mall Worli). Also Japengo Cafe at CR2 Mall in Nariman Point serves up some sushi. Tetsuma, adjacent to Prive (probably best nightclub in town) serves an average sushi but other dishes are worth a try. Best to go there for a cocktail and a few starters. 'Tian cafe' at Juhu is also a good place for sushi. Try the Teppanyaki restaurant at Tian.
- Lebanese Food, Picadilly, at Colaba Causeway, deserves mention for being the only restaurant to serve Lebanese food. Try their shawormas. Cost for a meal for one ₹100-₹200. Alcohol is not served.
- Parsi, Their ancestors originating from Iran, the Parsis are a special community of people that one would associate Mumbai with. Parsi food is based on ancient Persian cooking. Go to Brittania at Ballard Estate or Jimmy Boy close to Horniman Circle.
- Sushi, Sushi Café (Santa Cruz West). Sushi Café is a cosy little place. The decor, including the furniture, is all-white. Here, you can get 20 pieces of those delicious, delicately-flavoured chunks of white rice rolled with fresh fish and vegetables for just ₹600. The food is as much a feast for the eyes as it is a treat for the tongue. They also do home delivery all over Mumbai. Sushi Café, Shop No. 1, Ground Floor, Sainara Building, corner of North Avenue and Linking Road, Santa Cruz (West), Tel: 98336-50503, www.sushicafemumbai.com.
- California Pizza Kitchen, 3 North Ave. Maker Maxity, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra (East).
- Chili's, Central Avenue Road, Powai, Ventura Building, Hiranandani Business Park.
- Cinnabon, (next to Basilico), Pali Naka, Bandra (West).
- Ruby Tuesday, shop No. 20, 2nd Floor, Inorbit mall, Malad (West) or at Shop No. 31, CR 2 Mall, Nariman Point, Mumbai OR Nirmal Lifestyle, Lbs Marg, Mulund West.
- Starbucks Coffee, Behind Taj Hotel, Near Gateway of India.
- T.G.I.F, Palladium mall,Phoenix High Street,Lower Parel or Infiniti Mall,New Link Road,Oshiwara,Andheri(West).
- Bengali, Oh! Calcutta at Tardeo
- Cafe. Leopold and Cafe Mondegar (both near Regal Cinema, Colaba) are great places to while away time, eat cheap, and get a beer. Mocha (chain) is popular with the younger crowd. Deliciae, the dessert cafe which has some of the best desserts in town, located next to Olive Restaurant in Khar.
- Fusion, Zenzi (Waterfield Road, Bandra), Out of the Blue ( Pali Hill, Bandra).
- General Indian, Sheetal Bukhara, Great Punjab (both in Bandra). More in Bandra.
- Goan, Coastal, Goa Portuguesa (Mahim) near Hinduja Hospital. New and a must try is Casa Soul Fry (opposite Bombay University in town) which serves up Goan Cuisine.
- Goan Cuisine, Casa Soul Fry opposite to Bombay University in town
- Gujarati Thalis, Chetana at Kala Ghoda, Thacker's at Marine Drive, and Rajdhani (multiple locations)
- Kashmiri, Poush at Andheri
- Lounge, Olive (Bandra), Rain (Juhu), Indigo.
- Mumbai Street Food, To experience the tastes and flavors of typical Mumbai chaat, and yet not expose oneself to the dangers of unhygienic street food, check out Vitthal's Restaurant located on one of the lanes opposite Sterling Cinema (C.S.T.), but make sure you have a strong stomach. Vithal Bhelwalla (not the Vithal restaurant which is copycat) near VT station (behind Macdonald's) is a safe option.
- Punjabi, Preetam's Dhaba at Dadar(E) and Urban Tadka at Mulund
- Speciality Deli, Indigo Deli (Colaba), Gourmet Shoppe (The Oberoi Shopping Arcade), Moshe's (Cuffe Parade), Cafe Basilico.
- South Indian, Dakshin (Maratha Sheraton) and Woodlands (Juhu)
- 24X7 Coffee Shops, Trattoria (Taj President), Frangipani (Hilton Towers Mumbai), Vista (Taj Land's End, Bandra), Hornby's Pavilion (ITC Grand Central), Lotus Cafe (JW Marriott), basically all the big hotels have one. More coffee shops in Bandra [www]
- Vegetarian, Swati Snacks (Tardeo, opposite Bhatia Hospital) a gem of a restaurant, it does not take bookings and the waiting during peak meal times is usually 45 minutes every day of the week! Little Italy located on Juhu Tara Road (Jugu), Andheri West opp. Fame Adlabs multiplex, Malad (above croma), New Yorkers on Marine Drive Opp chowpatty; Creame Center on Linking Road, Bandra near Shopper's Stop and also on Marine Drive opp chowpatty; Statua at Nariman point opp. Maker Chambers. Relish (Hotel Samrat — Churchgate). Excellent vegetarian cuisine from around the world.
Street food stalls
Songs have been written about Mumbai's street food and you will find that the hype is justified. You will find them at every street corner, but they are concentrated in beaches and around railway stations.
- Bhelpuri stalls, Selling what in the rest of India would be called chaat. In Mumbai itself, the term chaat is rarely used.
- Bhurji, Either Egg bhurji or Paneer bhurji, a mash of eggs and chopped tomato, onion, chili, and lots of oil. Eaten on the side with some pav. Try the Maker Chamber area (near Crossroads 2, Nariman Point).
- Chinese food stalls, You'll find them at many places, but they are particularly concentrated near Dadar railway station. They all have a typical Indian twist added to it, which is why it is frequently called "Indian Chinese". Although it is great tasting, the hygiene of these places leaves a lot to be desired.
- Rolls, Essentially different meat and cheese grilled and served with some Roti and spice, these are cheap and cheerful for anyone with a stomach that can handle it. They are known to be spicy so always ask them to make it mild. Try Ayubs (Kala Ghoda), Bade Miyan (behind Taj and near Colaba Causeway), Khao Gulli (Food Lane, near Mahim Hindu Gymkhana), or Kareems (Bandra). All are particularly busy after a night of heavy drinking.
- Sandwich stands, Uniquely developed in Mumbai, you won't find anything like it anywhere else in India or the world.
- Vada pav stands, Fried potato stuffed in yeasty bread. Developed to provide nourishment to mill-workers in Mumbai's burgeoning mills. Now they are found everywhere, particularly in the railway stations. This is a Mumbai specialty. In Vile Parle (West), try the one off S.V Road near Irla across from Goklibai School. One of the most popular ones are opposite Mithibai College which is about 15 mins walk from Vile Parle Station. Also try the one outside Grant Road Station and Churchgate Station.
Tip: cheap and tasty food stalls are concentrated around the city's colleges.
Street stall food in India is fantastic, and dirt cheap (you can fill yourself up for ₹20). However, do consider well what you are putting in your mouth. Almost certainly the water used is non-potable, street vendors don't seem to understand much about hygiene or hand-washing, and food safety standards are low, with flies buzzing over everything. Even locals steer clear of street food during the monsoons, when diseases run rampant. If the stall seems very clean, and if it clearly states that it is using Aquaguard or mineral water, go for it.
Authentic Marathi cuisine
Mumbai, being home to large ethnic Marathi community, has its share of notable restaurants that offer authentic Marathi cuisine. Most offer both snacks and regular dining. Some of the snacks to check out are Sabudana Wada, Batata Wada, Missal, Kanda Poha, Uppit (or Upma), Shira, Alu Wadi, Thalipith, Zunka Bhakari,ghavane (neer dosa) and many more. Two notable appetizer are Kokam Sarbat and Solkadhi which are best enjoyed during hot summers. People say that many of these authentic Marathi restaurants are finding it difficult to survive competitions with other modern or fast food typed restaurants, but you will find Gajali, Malvan Kinara, Sindhudurg and many more have retained their own charm and clientele.
Mangalorians(and udupi) forms the highset tourist populations of Mumbai,and both the cities have almost same culture and architecture. "Udupi" restaurants (or "hotels") are everywhere. They bear the name of the town of Udupi in Karnataka, but do not be misled into thinking that they specialize in the cuisine of Udupi. They serve pretty much everything, and that is their specialty.
Usually strictly vegetarian, these restaurants were opened by migrants from the district of Dakshina Kannada in Karnataka (of which Udupi is a part), to satisfy the palates of other migrants from the district. Over time, they gained popularity as places to have South Indian food. As the tastes of their customers evolved, so to did their menus, so much that now you can find Mughlai, Indian Chinese, Bhelpuri, and other chaats in addition to South Indian stuff. Amazingly, some places serve imitations of pizzas, burgers, and sandwiches too!
They are fast food joints and sit-down restaurants combined. The reason to visit them is not to experience fine gourmet dining, but to have cheap, passably tasty and fairly hygienic food. There is no easy way to identify an Udupi restaurant — they are not a chain of restaurants and they may not have "Udupi" in their name, so you will have to ask.
Matunga(Central line) has the best south Indian fare in Mumbai. There are few restaurants which could well be heritage sites as they are more than 50 years old and still retain their old world charm(and furniture).
Irani cafe's are Persian styled cafes opened by 19th century Persian migrants from Iran. These cafes have a unique lazy atmosphere, display of day-to-day accessories including toothpastes behind the cashier, soaps and what nots(specially targeted at bachelor crowds) and furniture. Most of these cafes were located at the corner of the road or building and were chosen spots by commuters to spend time. It was quite a usual sight to find people spending hours reading newspaper over a cup of tea for hours in these places. Sadly the new restaurants and fast food culture has almost removed these cafes from the maps, though few notables like Kyani & Co. and Olympia remain. The joints are best known for their "Irani Chai", "Bun-Maska/Maska Pav" (bread and butter) and Egg Omelette. Also are popular their assorted snacks, like Kheema-na-Patice, samosas, mava-na-cakes, etc. One of the best dish which is almost always on the menu is Kheema (prepared from ground meat) and pav (bread).
If you order a thali (translated as "plate"), you get a complete meal arranged on your plate, with a roti or chappati, rice, and many different varieties of curries and curd. Ordering a thali is a popular option when you are hungry and in a hurry as it is usually served blazingly fast. Most mid-level restaurants have a thali on the menu, at least during lunch hours. Occasionally, they are "unlimited", which means that some of the items are all-you-can-eat. The waiters serve them at your table.
Of course, you find many varieties of them, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. There is the South Indian thali. The "North Indian" thali translates to Mughlai or Punjabi. Do try Gujarati or Rajasthani thalis if you can find them. They are sinfully filling and tasty. Rajdhani (At Crawford Market) serves up thalis in the Rajasthani style while Aram (near Mahim Church, Mahim), Ramanayak Udipi (At Matunga Station, east) serves up thalis in South Indian style and Shree Thakker Bhojanalaya (off Kalbadevi Road) do filling and fabulous Gujarati thalis.
Fast food chains
Surprisingly, there is no fast-food chain in Mumbai serving Indian cuisine. But Western chains like McDonalds, Subway, Pizza hut , Dominos,Kentucky Fried Chicken etc. have many outlets all over the city. But if you are a weary westerner looking for the taste of the familiar, be warned that all of them have rather heavily Indianized their menus, so you will find the stuff there as exotic as you found Bambaiyya food. However, Barista, Cafe Coffee Day, and Smokin' Joe's are all Indian chains, although they don't serve Indian food. While Barista and Cafe Coffee Day, as there names suggest, serve coffee and pastries, Smokin' Joe's serves decent pizzas and is headquartered in Carmichael Rd, Mumbai. International coffee chains like The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Aromas have recently set shop in Mumbai.
Naturals is a chain of ice cream stores that serves up tasty and unconventional flavours of ice creams. Try their tender coconut or the coffee walnut ice creams. Its main branch is in Juhu in the Western suburbs (hence the tagline - 'Ice cream of Juhu Scheme'), but it has franchises at many places including Marine Drive, Bandra, Nepean sea road, etc. Naturals is also famous for its seasonal "Sitaphal" or Custard Apple Ice-cream. Baskins-Robbins is an international ice cream chain having its presence throughout the city. Also there are a number of shops in malls anongst other places which serve Italian Gelato icecream.
Try the sumptuous creamy crepes and omelets at Crepe Station, Bandra. Its owned by a famous Bollywood actor, Dino Morea.
What to eat
Asking a local for suggestions is a fun way to try new things. Here are a few suggestions:
- Bhel Puri & sev puri, A classic Mumbai concoction, bhel-puri (or bhel for short) comprises mostly of puffed rice and assorted spices with a few chutneys. You can specify whether you want it spicy or bland and the vendor will make it for you. It is quite tasty and again ought to be had off the streets to get the real flavour. Most people though, like to flock to Juhu beach to try this out.
- Hapus (Alphonso) mangoes, A must try, if you happen to be in Mumbai in the summers.
- Indian-Chinese, Nothing like regular Chinese. For a typical Bambaiyya flavour, try the Chinese Bhelpuri!.
- Mewad ice cream, If you happen to be in Mumbai, it is recommended you avoid ice creams from the famous and expensive parlors and try out the cheap Mewad ice cream stalls. They are a lovely treat at their price and provide a lot of options. The vendors are found everywhere across the streets, but avoid those who appear unhygienic.
- Pani Puri, For first timers, this can be seriously intriguing. The vendor hands you a plate. Next he takes a puri (it looks like a golf ball, but brown in color), makes a small hole in it, and dips the puri into two jars. These jars contain water — one tangy on a tamarind base, the other spicy on a mint base. He tops it off with some condiments and places the puri on your plate. You pick it with your hand and pop the whole thing into your mouth. The outcome is an explosion. Awesome. A word of caution here though. Make sure you don't have your pani puri from just any vendor. The best vendors use only packaged water. Stick to that and enjoy the taste.
- Pav Bhaji, Part of the street food culture, this is mashed vegetables cooked in spices, topped with butter and served piping hot with pav. Widely available.
- Vada Pav, the vada is a mashed potato patty. Pav is a kind of bread that has its roots in Mumbai. (The word comes from the Portuguese word "pão", for bread). The potato patty is sandwiched in the bread. Liberal helpings of three kinds of chutneys (sauces) are also added to the sandwich to make a seriously tasty snack. It is widely available on the streets and most folks price it ₹6 a piece. If you feel uncomfortable with the hygiene of a particular stall, avoid it. In that case eating at, Jumbo Vada Pav outlets, found almost at all train stations in the city, is a hygienic and safer options.
- Variations of world cuisine such as Tandoori Chicken Pizzas - the Bombay Masala Pizza at the Pizzeria on Marine Drive is legendary and well worth investigation - or McAloo Tikki burgers.
Tip between 5% at sit-down places. If a place includes service charges on the bill, you don't need to leave an extra tip. Note the difference between service tax and service charges. Service tax goes to Government and not to the staff. While tipping is always good practice, at bars you don't necessarily have to tip the bartender. If you plan to be there a while though it's a good idea to give him ₹50-₹100 on your first drink to ensure a night of trouble-free service. You do not have to tip cab or auto drivers at all, and don't get out of the vehicle until they have given you full and exact change.
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