The India Today magazine had recently asked me to name two of my favourite restaurants in Mumbai.
This made me realise that I’ve never done a Mumbai restaurant list post on the blog. I’ve stayed away from lists because I prefer writing stories. I feel that lists smack of hubris as a person can talk of one’s own choices but to claim that these are the ‘best’ is a bit egoistic. People’s tastes differ. Plus no list can be exhaustive. It is not possible for someone to have eaten everywhere in a city like Mumbai. Specially if one is a hobby eater and not a professional (paid by someone) eater.
While travelling to other cities I realised that lists are helpful. Plus people often ask me for Mumbai restaurant recommendations. So I thought it is time I do a post on one.
The list here is very subjective and depends entirely on my tastes in food. The quality of service and the sense of being made to feel at home helps. The list is a function of the places I am based in and visit and I must say that I don’t travel much when in Mumbai.
A guiding factor in choosing the restaurants has been names which come to mind without much thought. And places I feel like going back to. Most of these are places that I go to in the Finely Chopped Food Walks
I have kept an element of recency so places such as Oh Calcutta, Thai Pavilion, Malvani Aswad which I love but haven’t visited in the last two years don’t feature here. Affordability plays a role. I rarely eat at five stars as I am yet to find one, apart from Pan Asian in ITC, which really wows one away and even that cost us Rs 8,000 for a lunch for two without alcohol two years back! Of course, what is ‘affordable’ to me might not be so for a college student.
But be rest assured that each place in the list is a place I love.
To keep it simple I haven’t put pictures or links. For addresses look up Google, Burrp or Zomato or call 022 – 28888888
My Mumbai Restaurant Picks:
Chinese: Possibly my favourite restaurant in town. Baba Ling’s Ling Pavilion in Colaba. The most distinct and authentic Chinese food that I have come across in India and has been blessed by international guests I’ve taken there. My picks: pork soup dumplings, salt and pepper prawns, roast pork, stewed pork belly, honey pork spare ribs, bitter gourd foo yong, chilli garlic pomfret (v expensive)/ basa (affordable), pepper crabs (expensive), pan fried noodles with Chinese greens and tenderloin, bacon fried rice, mixed meat fried rice, bacon pot rice and a hug from Baba Ling.
Asian: I liked Singkonb but its shut. Thai Pavilion in Taj Vivanta is a perennial favourite
1. Bhojohori Manna, Oshiwara. The only restaurant apart from Ling’s that we travel to eat in Mumbai. You get pretty good deglammed Bengali home styled food there. Choose the veg maxi thali, which two can share, choose alu posto in your veg option in the thali. For mains, read non veg, choose from doi katla, shorshe pabda, borishal ilish (bony though) in fish and kosha mangsho or daak bungalow mutton in meat.
2. Bong Bong…our favourite & slightly avant garde Bengali cafe in Bandra (not sure if they have opened after renovations) and now in Powai’s Galleria. Must picks here are the 5 spice creamy potatoes, posto chingri, chicken biryani, kaju kishmish pulao, kancha lonka mangsho, hinger alur dom porotha
1. Non veg/ coastal : Sindhudurg at Sena Bhavan. Fresh produce and masalas ground in the owner’s farm in Malvan make this a great experience. Flavourful honest food. Go for prawn fry, bombil fry, clams curry, surmai fry thali, chicken masala with vade. Unlike most Malvani places, which are small family run place, this though family run is air-conditioned and has a loo but the food is great too
I haven't been to Malvani Aswad beside Buta School at Vile Parle recently but was very fond of it when I worked close by and friends who have been there recently had a good time
2. Vegetarian/ Brahmin: Having tried many my clear favourite is Aaswad opposite Sena Bhavan. Enjoyed the food every time I went there. Go for the thali peeth, sabudana vada, piyush, seasonal aam panna, pohe, missal, batata vada and a dosa like thing whose name I can’t recall at this point but has a great texture. For mains try the varan bhat and the bharli vangi. Kharwas would make a good dessert and in season aamras puri
Mangalorean: My favourite is the family run Apoorva in Fort (I have not eaten at Trishna or Bharat Excelensea and find Mahesh over rated). The food is very honest here and has won over whoever I have taken here. Go for the prawn or pomfret gassi with neer dosa and the butter pepper garlic squids or prawns in Apoorva.
Keralite: This is a tough call. You should definitely go to Deluxe in Fort for the Onam Sadya or vegetarian meal served on banana leaves.
Sneha in Mahim is worth a visit for the superb beef fry with porota though
Udipi: My choice of dosa place would clearly be Swagath at Fort. Go and enjoy an ulundu dosa or a sada dosa or a rava sada dosa with a steaming cup of filter coffee. I’ve been to the Matunga joints but none really stood out to me
Khane Khas in Bandra’s 16th road has been a favourite ever since I moved into Mumbai a decade and a half back. Most of Bandra swears by the home like quality of this small, non aiconditioned but very warm place. We normally order in from there. Favourites are tandoori chicken (leg piece), jeera chicken (leg piece), tangdi kebab roomali roti, black daal, rajma
We love breakfasts. Being based at Bandra our breakfasts choices are from here. Not being morning people we can’t really travel for breakfast and thankfully we have some great options here
Candies at Mc Ronnel…my absolute favourite and you will find me here on most mornings at the ground floor. My picks here would be the double shot cappuccino with sugar cake petite fours, chicken mayo sandwiches. I occasionally order an egg white omelette and the grilled egg sandwich and ham and cheese sandwiches and the chips on the side are other favs. Other things to order here are the mutton potato chops and Thai green chicken curry. Service can be a bit chaotic as is getting a place but it is worth it.
Smoke House Deli Bandra is another fav breakfast spot. Pleasant ambience, lovely service. Favourites are the chocolate chip pancakes, salt and pepper fried eggs, egg benedicts and creamy mushroom omelettes.
Love the cosy warm vibes of the Bagel Shop, Bandra and most of the bagels that we have tried (barring roast chicken). Go for the chorizo, hummus, roast pork, grilled sausage bagels. They make good fresh juices and yoghurt smoothies too (ask for what’s seasonal). Do try out the seafood chowder there
Another favourite is Gostana at Khar where our pick is the steamed beef burger and the banana smoothie. They have a nice hummus plate too.
Moshe’s is another nice and quiet place in Bandra in the evening to go and have some coffee (and like Smoke House & the Bagel, they have decaf) along with a lemon rocket hummus with pita
For hot chocolate Bird Song, the organic cafe tucked inside Bandra’s Waroda Road is a good choice. They have a nice grilled aubergine with Greek yogurt and whole-wheat bread sandwich and an egg white omelette. Consistency is an issue occasionally here.
Having grown up on egg rolls every evening in Kolkata, Hangla’s the roll shop opposite Amarson’s at Bandra is a favourite for its egg rolls and mutton rolls (chicken is not so good). Ask them to fry the onions.
European/ Western/ Continental/ Italian
The place we keep going back to is Salt Water Cafe in Bandra. love the service there. The food is beautifully plates and is bursting with flavours and has lovely textures. Some favourites that come to mind are the seafood fritters, the pan seared John Dory and the wild mushroom risotto. Frankly we have liked everything we have tried here.
Other favourites are Indigo Deli in Bandra and Phoenix, Smoke House Deli and Serrafina (for the caviar spaghetti)
This has to be Pizza Express at BKC and Bandra for the dough balls and the pancetta and blue cheese (ask them to skip the leeks) soft crust pizza.
The Prego pepperoni pizza at Westin is flavoursome and supple too
Parsi/ Irani food
My favourite Parsi bakery is Yazdani in Fort. Dunk a crusty brun maska or a soft bun maska in the Irani chai or try khari biscuits or apple pie. If you are lucky try to get Tirandaz to show you the baking section.
Amongst restaurants my favourite, having eaten in most, is Parvez’s Ideal Corner in Fort. I love the dhansak, pulao dal, railway mutton and akoori here. the menu is a daily menu.
Also try the kheema ghotala and caramel custard in Military Cafe in Fort.
A new favourite is Jimmy Boy in Horniman Circle after Sherzad has done a turnaround there. I would go for the dhansak here or the laganu bhonu (wedding feast) which feeds two.
Britannia is nice for the romance and the atmosphere and for the joy of having cute old Mr Boman Kohinoor take your order
My favourite Parsi caterer is Kurush Dalal of Katy’s Kitchen. He delivers across Mumbai, takes a delivery charge and has a minimum order size of 4 portions per dish. He does daily dabbas too which I have not tried and great parsi New year meals which I have had. His food is blessed by the Parsi side of my family. Things we have ordered and loved from him are the pulao daal, sali boti, patrani machhi, prawn pattice, bheja cutlets and laganu custard. His number is 9820136511
The khao gulley in Fort in the lane parallel to the Strand Book Stall is my favourite for veg street food in Mumbai. The chubby guy in the middle with a thick moustache makes the best pav bhaji I have had. The thin guy with a thin moustache at the end opposite from the Strand end makes great batata vada and bhajiyas and his neighbour makes a good bhel puri and sev puri. Go here during lunch hour and be prepared to brave the hungry crowd of regulars
My favourite place to eat in Mumbai after Fort is Bohri Mohalla which is adjacent to the Saifee Ambulance Stand below the JJ Flyover near Bhendi Bazar. Go here between 8 pm to 10 pm and follow the following route;
India Hotel: Karachi chicken rolls and bheja masala/ Bar-B-Que: khiri and kofta kebabs/ Pulao gulley for beef pulao at the unnamed shop in the beginning or at Salman’s/ nalli nehari bara handi with roti at Vallibhai Payawallah/ seasonal fresh fruit ice creams at Taj Ice creams/ (malpua at Tawakkal during Ramzan)
Goan: There are hardly any good Goan options and the perennial favourite with by the tiny, Mangalorean run New Martin Restaurant tucked away at Strand in the lane opposite Theobroma in Colaba. Try the Goan sausage fry, beef steak with onions, pork vindaloo and jelly with custard.
By Goan I am referring to Goan Catholic and not Gomantak. I have left Snow Flake out as it has been a while since I have been there
Biryani: I don’t give biryani recommendations as people’s choice in biryani differ. If one was to go theme wise I would choose Bong Bong and Calcutta Club (Oshiwara) for Calcutta Biryani (my favourite), Kakori House for Lucknowi (though not as colourful as in Lucknow), Lucky Bandra for Mumbaiyya and Olympia Colaba for kachchi. Golconda Bowl used to make a good Hyderabadi biryani but I’ve not been there since they shifted to Juhu.
I rarely go to thali places but when I do then Maharaja Bhog in Oberoi Mall, Goregaon is our pick
Having recently gone back to an old favourite I would add the Thai Pavilion here. Also try out the duck curry in Spices at the JW
Le 15 Patisserie in Bandra and Lower Parel are our absolute favourite for their dark chocolate macarons.
I like the brownies and petite fours at Candies and Theobroma does good brownies too.
In Indian Sweet Bengal for Bengali is my choice.
So these are my Mumbai restaurant picks for the moment. Try them out and let me know how it goes.
Please give in your restaurant recommendations in the comment section to make this richer
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