Your taste buds say veal but your wallet says vada pav? Fear not, we will find you the best batata vada there is to eat in Mumbai. If you can spring for both, plus a bowl of pisco punch at the city’s swishest restaurant, we’ve got you covered too.
Restaurants now have their own organic farms, plotting and plating coin sized portions for Rs 1,000 per serving, paired with Rs 2,000 cocktails that sometimes put the ‘bitter’ in bitters.
But while Michelin star chefs visit the city to test its waters and plan bigger things, it does not diminish the shine of Mumbai’s cheap-but-cheerful institutions that still sell the tastiest food for under Rs 100.
Use this guide to eat your way through Bombay, no matter what the situation in your pocket might be.
Breakfast at Kala Ghoda Café, Kala Ghoda
Kala Ghoda Café is often credited for helping spark the transformation of Kala Ghoda into the artsy, vibrant neighbourhood that it is today. It makes sense then, that you kick-start your day at this café where you can admire the art on the walls while sipping on hot cocoa made with Belgian chocolate. The waffles are also a good choice – crisp and airy, you can opt for a sinful chocolate sauce to go with it, or choose a healthier route with fresh fruit and honey. For a more substantial option, we recommend the akuri eggs – rich and filling, it is just the breakfast you need to fuel a day of sightseeing.
Address: 10, Ropewalk Lane, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai, Phone: 022 22633866.
Meal for two is approximately: ₹650
Lunch at Bastian, Bandra
For fun, over-the-top comfort food, there is no place in the city better than Bastian. Come here hungry and with enough time on your hands for a nap after. Since seafood is the specialty here, opt for the Mud Crab in Mom’s Singapore Curry sauce. A typical Southeast Asian curry with lemongrass, kaffir lime and chili oil, that works well against the sweet, fleshy crab. The crisp Waldo salad, with iceberg lettuce, fried chicken so crisp that it shatters as you sink your teeth in, and a creamy buttermilk dressing is also an excellent choice if you’re in the mood for something lighter. Wash it all down with a Hugo Royal Spritzer – a light and floral number with mint, cucumber, lavender syrup and sparkling wine.
Address: B/1, New Kamal Building, opposite National College, Linking Road, Bandra West, Mumbai. Phone: 022 33126753
Meal for two is approximately: ₹2,500
Dinner at The Table, Colaba
Easily one of the most well reputed restaurants in India, The Table is where you’d go when you’d like the day to end with fireworks. With wooden tables and striped flooring, it has an elegant, casual vibe that instantly puts you at ease. But the food reminds you that you are at one of the best fine dining restaurants in the city. The small plates are perfect for sharing, especially the Sea Bass Ceviche, served with tortillas and radish, avocado and coriander, highlighting the excellent quality of the produce. The 6-hour carrots are also exceptional and truly showcase the magic that can happen when great produce meets excellent technique. Enjoy your meal with a Pisco Punch – a Peruvian-Californian drink once described by Rudyard Kipling as “being compounded of the shavings of cherub’s wings.”
Address: Kalapesi Trust Building, Near Hotel Suba Palace, CS Maharishi Marg, Colaba, Mumbai. Phone: 022 22825000.
Meal for two is approximately:₹4,000
On A Budget
Breakfast at Amar Juice Centre, Vile Parle West
A glass of fresh mosambi juice and a plate of spicy bhaaji with fluffy, warm pao is the quintessential start to a Mumbai day. This is not the place for a quiet, laid-back breakfast. Expect crowds – which is a great thing because you can be sure that the food you’re eating is fresh – and have your elbows out to jostle. But the food makes it all worth it. If you have some tummy room left, try a kulfi falooda topped with rose syrup, almost as nice as sipping pink champagne in the am. Note: Madras Café in Matunga is a cheap and cheerful South Indian breakfast option. Not to mention, less calorific.
Address: No.3, Gulmohar Road, next to Cooper Hospital, Vile Parle West, JVPD Scheme, Vile Parle West, Mumbai. Phone: 022 26247917.
Meal for two is approximately: ₹550
Lunch at Ashok Vada Pav, Dadar
Ashok Vada Pav, near Keerti College in Dadar, is a culinary landmark in Mumbai that has been serving the snack for 25 straight years. So on a budget or not, this one should always be on your itinerary. A confluence of incredible textures, the soft bread tears away to yield a fiery aloo-vada inside, scrambled by the textures of crisp sev, and salt-crusted chilli. Make sure you don’t scrimp on the chutneys – red and green for fire and ice. Grab a chai from the stall next door. Note: Another culinary favourite in Mumbai is missal pav, and you will find the best plate at Shivaji Park’s Aaswad.
Address: Kashinath Duru Street, Veer Savarkar Marg, Prabhadevi, Near Keerti College, Dadar West, Mumbai, India. Phone: +91 22 2422 6423.
Meal for two is approximately: ₹100
Dinner at Kyani & Co, Marine Lines
One of the few Irani bakeries still standing in Mumbai, Kyani at Marine Lines is great for vintage vibes and old-school prices. Begin with a kheema par eeda, or a plate of bhurji. Make sure you end with sweet Irani chai (or Duke’s Raspberry soda, if you prefer something cold) and bun maska. Also get many, many mawa cakes to go.
Address: JSS Road, Jer Mahal Estate, opposite Metro Cinema, Marine Lines, Mumbai. Phone: 022 30150864
Meal for two is approximately: ₹300
Day in the ‘burbs
Breakfast at Kitchen Garden by Suzette, Bandra
A day exploring Bandra is a day spent loitering in leafy bylanes and cosy cottages, people watching and snacking at the hippest cafes.
Begin your produce pilgrimage at The Kitchen Garden, where hand-made sourdough bread turns into sexy sandwiches. The café also has its own organic farm, which makes it a great place to stop by for salad bowls. Their grab-and-go fridge contains granola bowls, cold pressed juices and the best cold chocolate milk in the city. Our brekkie pick: egg-ham sandwich with cheddar on delicious black brioche
Address: 8/9, Gasper Enclave, St. John Street, Pali Naka, near Suzette, Opposite Gold’s Gym, Pali Hill, Bandra West. Phone: 022 26459775.
Meal for two is approximately: ₹1,000
Lunch at The Blue, Bandra
Get here early, because this petite Asian restaurant seats only 10, and has a waiting line of about 20 at any given time. The ace restaurant is well-known for its katsu curry, wasabi prawns and a sushi platter that rivals the best in the city. With meticulous attention to detail, The Blue is minimal and elegant. A plate of gyoza is never out of line, neither is a platter of nigiri. Don’t forget to hydrate – the bright purple butterfly pea juice is deliciously refreshing.
Address: Shop 1, Sai Pooja Building, 16th Road & 33rd Road Junction, Pali Hill, Bandra West. Phone: 022 30151958.
Meal for two is approximately: ₹1,500
Dinner at Eddie’s Bistro, Bandra
If Toto’s was once Bandra’s Cheers – where everybody knows your name – Eddie’s seems to be the Frasier…er flavour du jour. Here you’ll find hipsters in their PJs sharing tables with the chic and dishevelled, each set chugging beer and digging into no-fuss small plates. We recommend the vegetarian flatbread with artichoke and smoked scamorza, and the lentil and mushroom paté with cranberry relish, which makes for a great sharing plate.
Address: 6, Silver Croft Building, 16th & 33rd Road Junction, Pali Hill, Bandra West. Phone 022 26002637
Meal for two is approximately: ₹1,400
This story was contributed by Anisha Oommen, food journalist and co-founder of The Goya Journal.