#01 Britannia & Co, So berry, very good
In an age of vanishing Irani restaurants, Britannia & Co. has stood the test of time
PolishED wooden chairs, check; red chequered tablecloth, check; heritage building for a location, check, and lastly a smiling old Parsi gentleman; check. Britannia & Co is your quintessential Irani restaurant in the commercial district of Ballard Estate. And it has now been flying its flag (three actually; they have the Tricolour, Union Jack and Iranian flag on the walls) high for 91 years. There is almost nothing to not like about Britannia (expect maybe for the wait for a table) that was started by Rashid Kohinoor on August 18, 1923. The story behind the name of the restaurant is interesting. It is said that Kohinoor was promised a licence by the commissioner within a day only if he gave the restaurant a British name, an Indian name would bring it after six months. Hence, Kohinoor named it Britannia. Currently owned by Boman Kohinoor (Rashid's son), who is as old as the restaurant, it is run by his son. Their most sought after dish is a recent addition — the Berry Pulao that was introduced in 1982. It is a recipe of Boman's wife. It is eaten with gusto everyday with caramel custard, their other famous and popular offering on the menu. At: Wakefield House, Ballard Estate. Call: 22615264 — Dhara Vora
#02 Khichdi Samrat, Home is where the khichdi is
The mashed dal and rice preparation, known as the antidote to upset stomachs, weak constitutions and of course, bed-ridden days has a unique home in the city. The healing dish known to be suffused with mother's love and ghee, can get many migrants in the city homesick. So was Brij Kishore Agarwal, the founder of Khichdi Samrat who yearned for the humble dish that was made at his home in Mathura. Located at Cowasji Patel Tank, Agarwal and his generation went on to concoct 10 distinct varieties of the same. As a homage to his origin, there is the Special Vrindavan Khichdi for the initiated to dig into. Other satisfying meals can be made of Hariyali Khichdi and Dal Dhokli. The ones that abhor the sheer sight of the 'pallid' dish have 'fancier' versions such as Cheese, Dry Fruit and Malai Paneer to redefine the word mouthwatering. Also catering to the Marwari population in the city, the Agarwals have taken care to dedicate Dalbati and Jodhpuri Gatta Saag for fellow diners that hail from the region. Call it kitsch or an idiosyncrasy; thirst is quenched by chaas which is served in beer bottles. The place has also had its share of stardom with theatre and cine personalities, Rajat Kapoor and Vinay Pathak, enjoying meals at this humble eating joint.
At: 44/46, VP Road, opposite Rambagh Wadi, CP Tank. Call: 22420344/ 66381332
— Kanika Sharma
#03 Lucky’s, Are you gettin’ lucky?
Started by an Iranian named Syed Ali Akbar in the year 1938, Lucky's has seen Bandra changing like no other has. It has served all, be it soldiers during the World War II or mill workers, who would drop in for breakfast or tea, early morning before the first shift began at six. The family restaurant was started with just seven dishes: biryani, kheema pav, mutton chops, vegetable, dal, coffee and chai, but today it serves 100 dishes including tandoori, seafood and Chinese. Lucky's is one of the most iconic restaurants in the city. So, if you happen to visit it some time soon, don't forget to get a taste of their signature biryani.
At: Plot No. 9, Swami Vivekanand Road, Junction of Station Road. Bandra (W). Call: 9920637033
— Hassan M Kamal
#04 Trishna, Mahesh, Apoorva, Go on a sea food diet
Whatever is in the sea, you can eat here
It is impossible for any seafood loving Mumbaikar or even an out-of-towner to have not visited one of the holy trinity of Trishna, Mahesh and Apoorva at least once in their lifetime. Located in the heart of Fort ‘s business district, the trio has been whipping up lip-smacking seafood for decades together. A haven for Mangalorean styled coastal fare, each of these have their diehard patrons who swear by their cooking, while there are others who simply alternate between each of these three to get the best of each. Mahesh, which has been around since 1977, is known for its Crab Masala, Neer Dosa and Prawns Gassi. Apoorva has fans for its delicately flavoured Kane (rava-coated fried ladyfish), Koliwada Prawns and delights like appams and coconut-based curries while Trishna's Tandoori Crab and divine Crab Butter Pepper Garlic are the stuff that is integral to citizens of the fish-loving metropolis. Old timers will still recall how ex-Pakistani cricket captain and media favourite, Imran Khan's picture was flashed across Mumbai newspapers when he feasted on the fare at Trishna. Meanwhile, the oldest of the trio, Mahesh has spread its wings across three other locations in city, as well as in Pune, Bangalore and Dubai.
At: Trishna: 7, Sai Baba Marg, Fort. Call: 22703213 | At: Mahesh Lunch Home: 8 B, Cawasji Patel Street, Fort. Call: 22870938 | At: Apoorva: Vasta House, Noble Chambers, SA Brelvi Road, Fort. Call: 33488071
— Fiona Fernandez
#05 Jhama Sweets, Jamuns for Big B, and other delights
If you have a sweet tooth, then Jhama is a place you should not miss. It gets its name from the proprietor Jhamamal Lulla, a Sindhi refugee from Karachi, who set it up in 1950. "Our family lived in the refugee camps nearby," says Ravi (30), a third generation Lulla. His grandfather's culinary skills and reputation for using ingredients of the highest quality brought him regulars. Close to six decades later, Jhama has seven branches across the city but the Chembur branch is still the most popular. Shop staffers maintain that many movie stars are regulars. Even Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan once named Jhama's Gulab Jamuns in a list of his seven favourite things. Then there is Salman Khan, who is known to pick up sweets from here while driving down to his Panvel farmhouse. Apart from sweets, Jhama is a snack and fast food outlet and the shop has seating options for its patrons. Hot sellers include Gulab Jamuns, Sev Barfi and Vegetable Biryani. Lassi is a summer favourite.
At: Dr Choitram Gidwani Road, Chembur Colony, Chembur. Call: 25212949
— Ruchika Kher
#06 Café Mondegar and Leopold Café, Cafés, Colaba and classic charm
Café Mondegar was taken over in 1932 by Rusi Yezdegardi, who runs it now with his sons Farshid and Hoshang. Reflecting old world charm, the café's interiors are unchanged, especially the wall murals by the late legendary cartoonist Mario Miranda, that have now become its identity. Mondy's as it's fondly referred to, is at the start of the popular Colaba Causeway strip. It offers an extensive menu, which is placed under a glass panel at each table. From Continental, Chinese to Indian, there is something for everyone. However, their breakfast menu (7 am to 11.30 am) cannot be missed. Dig into yum servings of eggs, ham, sausages, toast, kheema pao and, pancakes. Usually mentioned in the same breath, is Leopold Café, also on Colaba Causeway. Initially, the space sold products like oil, soaps and even cakes but gradually transformed into a full-fledged restaurant, which is now frequented by locals and foreigners alike. Today, their menu boasts of over 140-odd items including Chinese and Irani delicacies. The café, owned by Sheriar Framroze Jehani is now run by his sons, Farhang and Farzadh. In November 2008, during the Mumbai terror strikes, Leopold Café was one of the first sites to be attacked. The restaurant was damaged but it reopened soon. The bullet marks remain on its walls as a testimony to its spirit of survival, which is intrinsic to the city's character.
At: Mondegar, 5-A, Metro House, Shahid Bhagat Singh Marg, Colaba Causeway. Call: 22020591 | At: Leopold Café: SB Singh Road, Colaba Causeway. Call: 22828185
— Ruchika Kher
#7 Gaylord, Good lord, it’s Gaylord
Continental favourite chugs along for nearly six decades
Gaylord Restaurant opened its doors in 1956. It was the initiative of Peshori Lal Lamba and his partner IK Ghai. Lamba is acknowledged to be the pioneer of the ice-cream industry in India. He founded his Kwality Ice Cream Co. in Delhi in the 1940's, which soon became a household name throughout India. Thereafter, he ventured into the restaurant business and opened Kwality Restaurant and Gaylord Restaurant in Delhi, followed by Gaylord Restaurant in Mumbai. His flagship Kwality restaurant soon had a presence throughout the major towns in India, whilst the Gaylord brand was taken overseas and established in London, Japan, the U.S.A., Hongkong and the Caribbean. Gaylord Restaurant serves North Indian and Continental cuisine. The hot-selling items in the Indian section are Malai Kofta, Paneer Makhani, Lahori Fish Tikka, Kheema Nalli Gosht and Murgh Makhani. In the Continental Section, the favourites are Vegetable Au Gratin, Spaghetti Napolitaine and Lamb Pepper Steak. The dessert section featuers Baked Alaska, Caramel Custard, and Sizzling Walnut Brownie with Chocolate sauce. Noel D'Souza, VP, Gaylord, explains, "The eatery has stayed relevant over the decades through innovation, adapting to changing tastes and trends, yet never abandoning its core strength, i.e. serving excellent Indian and Continental Cuisine." The eatery has also won several awards. They were also one of the first restaurants to establish themselves as a bakeshop, and introduced the concept of show-baking in 1992. Customers could see and smell the aroma of fresh baked goods coming right out of the oven. The same show-baking concept, continues to be a major driving force in sales.
At: Gaylord Restaurant and Bakeshop, Mayfair, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate. Call: 22821259
— Soma Das
#8 Fountain Sizzlers, Fountain favourite
Fountain Sizzlers was originally Fountain Restaurant, an Irani institution that was started almost 100 years ago. For the last 25 years, it has been serving sizzlers and hence, it became known as Fountain Sizzlers. Some of their most popular dishes include Thai Golden Baskets, Cottage Cheese Steak, Roast Chicken, Roast Potatoes, Zero Carb Sizzler, Paneer Shaslik Sizzler, Fountain Special Grilled Chicken Burger, Crunchy Mustard Chicken, and Ice Tea. For dessert, don't miss their Tiramisu.
At: 57 MG Road, opposite HSBC, Kala Ghoda, Fort. Call: 40647777
— Soma Das
#9 Crystal, Veg with the edge
If you wish to have home-styled North Indian food, then you might want to stop by Crystal. A no-frills place, Crystal started as a place that used to offer Bhel and Sev Puri in the 1950s, but soon graduated to serving proper meals in the 1970s. All-veg, Crystal has visitors opting for a variety of its dishes, ranging from Palak Paneer, Baingan Bharta, Alu Gobi, and Dal Fry at affordable prices. They also serve thalis. But, don't miss their chilled Kheer, which is a sweet delight and a perfect dessert for the summer months. What's more inviting is that the place is pocket-friendly, and a meal for two can be packed in just R 150, of course, you would have to look past the décor and the harried waiters, who are always too busy to respond to one patron at a time. Apart from families, Crystal is also considered a haven for hostelites, living in South Mumbai, who are often spotted at the joint, devouring Crystal's simple-yet-tasty fare. Old Hindi film songs in the background is an added attraction for Bollywood fans.
At: 19, Chowpatty Seaface, Near Wilson College, Chowpatty, Mumbai. Call: 23691482
— Ruchika Kher
#10 Kyani & Co, Tea yaani Kyani
Iconic, Irani, and integral to our city’s fabric
Like several other corner side Irani cafes in the city, Kyani & Co has quietly been running its business at the busy bylane of Dhobi Talao. A haven for students of St Xavier’s College with its egg dishes that serve as power breakfasts and a delight for both adults and kids with its glass bottles lined with a variety of biscuits, Kyani has been an institution and an example to other age-old restaurants that have been standing the test of time. Though not many survived (Bastani that stood opposite Kyani shut several years back). Besides its egg dishes, Kyani is known for its dry cakes. Their plum cakes, rum cakes, walnut cakes, walnut chocolate cakes, are all available in the form of bars. Quick snacks such as vegetable puffs and non-vegetarian samosas also fly off the shelves. Other must-tries are their Christmas special seasonal preparations. Kyani’s is also a chai-lover’s haven. Families begin their mornings with their biscuits such as shrewsberry, coffee biscuits, nankhatais, toasts and kharis.
At: Jer Mahal, Metro Cinema Junction, Dhobi Talao. Call: 22011492
— Dhara Vora
#11 Badshah, TGIF: Thank God It’s Falooda
Two days before he passed away in 2011, as he lay at London's Royal Brompton Hospital, the great M F Husain told Shobha De of his desire to savour a falooda from Badshah. His wish went unfulfilled. "That Mr Husain wanted to relish our falooda speaks volumes of our quality and popularity… it’s unfortunate that his wish was unrealised," recounts Yasmin Aspi Irani, current generation proprietor of Badshah Cold Drinks and Falooda House (now rechristened Badshah Pure Veg. Snacks and Cold Drinks). This landmark is known for its over century-old recipe, the Royal Falooda that has its origins in Persia (known as Faludeh in Persian texts). As the story goes, Irani’s father Merwan Jehangir Irani inherited the Crawford Market shop, which was one of the seven Badshah fruit juice shops from BA Badshah a benevolent fruit juice shop owner in the 1900s. Years after Irani took over, Yasmin’s late husband Aspi Irani joined Badshah as a young helper who came from Iran. Irani Senior was so impressed with the boy’s conduct and dedication that he passed on the ownership of the shop as well as his daughter's hand in marriage. Aspi passed away in 1996, and the business is now run by Behram — Yasmin’s daughter Behnaz's husband, along with Ashfaque Salaam Momin who joined as their business partner in the 1980s. While their Royal Falooda remains their biggest draw, the falooda is also served in options like chocolate, strawberry, butterscotch, black currant, shirazi (which uses green rose syrup) and Badshahi (served in a bowl, with malai-kulfi and kesar flavouring). This dessert is a godsend for Mumbai’s humid climate, and is supposed to aid in digestion because of sabza (basil seeds) used in it. From Tina Ambani to Salman Khan, this landmark not only draws in the rich and famous but also loads of shoppers. Here’s a sweet fact to sign off with: It’s owners claim that women make up for 99 per cent of its customers!
At: 152/156, Umrigar Building, opposite Crawford Market, Call: 23421943
— Fiona Fernandez
#12 Joshi Budhakaka, Sweet sheets of delight
There are several establishments in the city that are known for a particular dish they specialise in: Mawa cakes from Merwan, Falooda from Badshah or Chole Samose from Gurukripa. An addition to this is a sweets store whose locality lends a name to the sweet it specialises in, which is, Mahim Halwa from Joshi Budhakaka. The store opened more than 200 years ago. It gets its name from its founder, Girdhar Mauji, who came to the city from Jamnagar, and would sell halwa door to door. Children in the locality would call him, “budha kaka”, and that’s how the name has stuck. The Mahim Halwa is a thin sheet made from clarified butter, sugar and wheat extract that is stretched out on planks of wood to make it as thin as possible. These sheets, that originally have the flavour of saffron but are available in various flavours today are then dusted with dryfruits. One can also buy farsan such as gaanthia and sev here. From the variety of sweets available at their stores, their barfis are worth a try too.
At: Dadar, Mahim and Tardeo. Call: 24449457
— Dhara Vora
#13 Harbour Bar & Sea Lounge, A tip(ple) of the hat
Circa late 1890s: Against the background of the plague, Jamsetji Tata suddenly announced his decision to build the Taj Mahal Hotel. This great hotel would help restore the image of Bombay and attract visitors from abroad, he envisioned. And, restore, it sure did. Located on the ground floor of the old wing, the Harbour Bar was Mumbai's (then Bombay) first bar to possess a liquor license (001) in 1930. Redone, post the 2008 attacks, the nautical theme made way for a cosmopolitan vibe, celebrated by city artist Rajesh Pultawar's mixed media artwork, The Golden City. Bartender Tehmton Mistry who has been stirring up many a tipple for 34 years, is a walking encyclopaedia about the legends and icons who've set foot inside Harbour Bar. One such tale is that of the fascinating origins of Mumbai's oldest cocktail, Harbour On 33. All this soaking in the picturesque view of the Gateway of India. Sea Lounge, the city's second licensed bar is another city landmark for totally different reasons. For decades, and till date, its been considered a lucky space to find the ideal marriage prospect. Part of urban legend, families were known to meet in its classy environs to seal weddings. So serious is this belief that the lounge even boasts of a "lucky couch" where every meeting has ended in a happy wedlock.
At: Taj Mahal Palace Apollo Bunder, Colaba. Call: 66653366
— Fiona Fernandez
#14 New Yorker, So, let’s go to the New Yorker
Where you can eat much more than just a Big Apple
New Yorker is one of those restaurants that has made its mark on the glamourous Marine Drive stretch. Always bustling and comfortable for diners, the restaurant has been garnering praise and appreciation since it opened 30 years ago. Serving vegetarian and eggless preparations, the suave eatery is spearheaded by the Batra brothers — Ranbir and Tony. The former of the duo is known to be a gold medalist at several culinary competitions in the US; an expertise that seems to reflect in the restaurant's menu. The kitchen whips delicious food from several parts of the world; be it, Mexican, Italian and Continental. Ranbir Batra asserts that the place's signature dishes including Pizzas, Pastas, Enchiladas, Onion Rings, Cheese Corn Balls and Ice Cream Sodas. New Yorker also serves Lebanese items such as Hummus and Falafel for those looking for a quick and clean bite. Recently, Fondues and Sizzlers have also been introduced to keep up with times and demand of such preparations as there is in other eating joints in the city. For traditional flavour lovers, Chana Bhatura, Paneer Makhani, Parathas and Russian Salad will prove to be the old faithfuls. If you are looking for something new, New Yorker introduces new dishes every fortnight.
At: Fulchand Niwas, 25 Chowpatty Seaface. Call: 23677500
— Kanika Sharma
#15 Jaihind Lunch Home, Sea and smile
From a simple eatery in Dadar, to a popular seafood restaurant chain, Jaihind Lunch Home is the archetypal Mumbai success story. Known for its value-for-money, coastal fare, and generous portions, it's on our list for its middle class ethos, smart locations and no-nonsense approach. Their Konkani and Mangalorean fare are big draws When Jai Hind started in the late 1950s at their Sayani Road outpost, it served only vegetarian thalis. Dasu Shetty who worked there as an evening labourer moved on from being dishwasher, to waiter and eventually, manager. By then, the owner was getting old and with no heir in the family keen to take over, he handed it to Shetty. By that time, the place had begun to serve non-vegetarian fare but the numbers weren’t encouraging. It needed his magic touch and hands-on approach to turn things around. Today, the queues outside their outlets are testimony. The Clams Sukka, Bharli Bombil, Konkan Sagoti and riotous Chicken Kori Kari are some of their chart-toppers. The Shettys' vision to open the Lower Parel branch was a masterstroke that changed fortunes in the late 1990s; this was after all, an area that hadn't yet become a business district that it is today. Today, this iconic stop for seafood in Mumbai remains in the safe hands of Harish and Girish Shetty, second generation owners who continue to carry on the good work that their father did for a legacy that he built from scratch.
At: 6 Mantri Corner Building, Sayani Road, Prabhadevi. Call: 32951480 | At: 7/8 B, Madhav Bhavan, Lower Parel. Call: 32951481 At: Dr BR Ambedkar Road, Bandra (W) Call: 32951482
— Fiona Fernandez
#16 Noor Mohammadi Hotel & Caterers, Just lookin’ at Nihari cookin’
From a simple bhatiyarkhana to a staple for the city’s meat-loving junta
As sundown approaches, the unmistakable whiff of cooking meat greets every pedestrian along the pavement that lines Noor Mohammadi Hotel & Caterers in Bhendi Bazar. After all, the space has been feeding millions since Abdul Karim set it up in 1923. Now run by the third generation, Karim's grandson, Abdul Khalid, it still draws in the crowds. The transformation from a bhatiyarkhana to a sit-down eatery that feeds a mixed clientele including Bollywood superstars, has been the stuff that urban legends are made of. Its Nalli Nihari and Chicken Sanju Baba (yes! a dish that the star had created and shared with the hotel for their menu) remain huge draws. The Nihari is cooked in humongous tamba (copper) vessels, sealed with atta and alternately prepared at 6 am and 7 pm. Traditionally, a breakfast special, it was Khalidbhai's father Abdul Hakim, who began serving it after sunset to adjust to Mumbai's long working hours. So pleased was the artist MF Husain that in 2003, after a sumptuous meal, he sketched a rooster belting its morning call about Noor Mohammadi's famous Nalli Nihari, in Urdu. With roaring business that still reflects a slice of the Mumbai of yore, this place makes it worth the trip back in time for all the right reasons.
At: 181-183, Abdul Hakim Noor Mohammadi Chowk, Bhendi Bazar. Call: 23456008.
— Fiona Fernandez
#17 Aaswad Upahar & Mithai Gruha, The taste of tradition
If you are keen on savouring traditional vegetarian Maharashtrian delicacies, make a trip to Aaswad Upahar and Mithai Gruha at Dadar. The eatery was started back in 1986 and remains a favourite with locals. Their must-haves are Misal, Poha, Sheeera, Kothimbir Vadi, Thalipeeth, Sabudana Vada, Puran Poli, Pithale Bhaji Bhakri, Shrikhand and Ukdiche Modak. There is emphasis on spices and nuts are generously added to most of the dishes. Thalipeeth and Misal are some of their most popular items. Apart from the traditional items, Pav Bhaji and Dosas are also on the menu. On weekends, the eatery is choc-a-bloc with customers which attests to its popularity.
At: Wavda Building, L J Road, Dadar (w). Call: 24451871
— Soma Das
#18 Hotel Deluxe & Taste of Kerala, When in Mumbai, eat like Kerala
If you are looking for some authentic Kerala food, head to the Pitha Street in Fort. This bylane, tucked behind the mighty Gothic and Neo Classical structures of DN Road, and Fort, is home to two prized eateries, Hotel Deluxe and Taste of Kerala. Both restaurants serve authentic Malayali cuisine, yet each stands apart in its taste. If Hotel Deluxe is popular for its Mutton Sukha and Lachcha Parathas, served with a delicious dose of yellow coconut gravy and the Sadhya Thali, the other takes pride in its Karimeen Fry, Kakka and Kallummakaya. The prices are within most budgets. The two restaurants don't have swanky seatings and interiors, but each time we have been there, we have always returned satisfied.
At: Hotel Deluxe and Taste of Kerala, SBS Road, Pitha Street, Fort. Call: 22042351 (Hotel Deluxe); 7303045119 (Taste of Kerala)
— Hassan Kamal
#19 Suleman Mithaiwala, Swoon on the Afltatoon
It is all oh-so-sweet at Suleman Mithaiwala
Imagine sinking your teeth into the Aflatoon: a mithai made from mawa, ghee, sugar, cashew nut and egg that is baked to perfection? The hunt for this calorific excess would lead you to the chaotic buzz of Bhendi Bazaar, and precisely to sweet Holy Grail — Suleman Mithaiwala. There’s more to this 78-year-old sweetmeat haven located in the heart of arguably Mumbai's most exotic food district. Run by third generation owner Irfan Mithaiwala, the sweet toothed can go nuts over their Pineapple Barfis and Apple Barfis (their monsoon picks), Kaju-Choco Swiss Roll, the seasonal Strawberry Milk Sweets, Mango milk sweets, Anjir Milk Sweets, Kaju, Blue Currant and Litchi. Phew! This is apart from their heady halwa varieties and nankhatais that are prepared fresh, daily. While the place sees a mix of patrons, celebrities like Salman Khan, Preity Zinta, Dia Mirza and Adnan Sami are regulars who get their mithai from this landmark in the area. Back in 1999, they were possibly Mumbai's first traditional mithaiwala to create a website; and were also the first to accept credit cards in the area. As soon as they went online, their products reached West Africa, the US and the UK. It was this online presence that lead to Suleman Mithaiwala being awarded the B.I.D. QC100 Quality Crown (London) for outstanding commitment to quality and excellence in 2006, for which Irfanbhai, was invited to London. What better than the sweet taste of success, we say!
At: 41F/G Mohammad Ali Road; 268/270, Belassis Road, Bombay Central. Call: 66366606, 23001111, 23002222
— Fiona Fernandez
#20 Uncle's Kitchen, Simply everybody’s Uncle
Started in 1987, as a small eatery at the junction of Link and Marve Road, Uncle’s Kitchen, (Malad restaurant) continues to be a hot favourite among Malad residents for Chinese food. The restaurant moved to its new spot five years ago, but till today, it is popular for Chicken Chilli and Chicken Lollipops. The latter, the restaurant claims was invented here. But despite being re-located, the restaurant retains its loyal patronage.
At: Sunder Lane, off Link Road, Orlem, Malad (W). Call: 28881752 / 28816204
- Hassan M Kamal
#21 A Rama Nayak & Sons Udipi, Cool comfort food
“Quality is never an accident, it is an effort of constant endeavour, my father would quote John Ruskin; he wanted this is be our motto,” says 57-year-old Saiprakash Rama Nayak, son of Rama Nayak, who was responsible for Mumbai’s Udipi revolution. Nayak now runs A Rama Nayak & Sons Udipi, which was the last enterprise started by senior Nayak, on July 1, 1979. Saiprakash’s older brother Nagesh Rama Nayak convinced his father to make it air-conditioned, as he felt that eating out wasn’t restricted to bachelors and immigrants but was a family outing. Thus Mumbai got it’s first fully air-conditioned Udipi. The family also owns Idli House, and Udipi Shri Krishna Boarding (established in 1942).
At: Opposite Maheshwari Udyan, Matunga (CR). Call: 24010571
— Dhara Vora
#22 Sassanian Boulangerie, Still Sassy Sassanian
They completed a century last year, and are going strong
Dhobi Talao seems like a blessed place for Irani cafes what with Kyani's just a short walk away, and another landmark being Sassanian Boulangerie. It has been going strong since 1913, and the current partners too have done everything possible to keep the place running. The eatery is named after an ancient Persian empire. Started by Rustom Yazdabadi in 1913 (then known as KR Sassanian), the café had three partners initially, which moved to two partners, Yazdabadi and Kola family. It still stands proud with its marble top tables, a clock that has to be wound everyday and polished Bentwood chairs. Unlike the other cafes in the city, Sassanian has kept up with competition by not just sticking to original Parsi and Irani dishes but also introducing Chinese and Continental fare. During yesteryears, the eatery was also a place where horse trainers stopped by before their morning training sessions, and it was a great place to get tips during the derby season. During Christian festivals, the locality with a sizeable Roman Catholic population also demands fresh batches of hot cross buns, cakes, Easter eggs and marzipan. At: 98, Marine View, Anandilal Podar Marg, near Metro cinema, Marine Lines. Call: 22006198
— Dhara Vora
#23 Sardar Pav Bhaji, Salute the Sardar
Butter-dripping and night-prowling, this is one of Mumbai's favourite haunts for its favourite dish which is Pav Bhaji. The snack is so iconic that there are websites dedicated to decoding how the mix of vegetables creates magic on one's palate. The casual vibe of the place invites people from all parts of the city, country and the world. If one undertakes a Mumbai food pilgrimage, this is one halt that needs to be made. Ideal for families, the haunt is equally preferred by late night diners as well. Located in the bustling Tardeo area, the street side joint is a walk away from Mumbai Central railway station. Cheese Pav Bhaji is an improvised version of the Mumbai street snack and the locals swear by the flavour of the same. Heaped with grated cheese, the bhaji itself jostles for space with a big blob of butter on the plate. Another dish that several diners favour is Masala Pav, in which the bhaji is stuffed inside the pav as the bread gets toasted to give the extra crunch. Innovating on the humble dish, Jain Pav Bhaji and Chinese Pav Bhaji are two variations that the adventurous can try. One can either opt to sit on the steel benches with sunmica tables or carry the tasty meal in thermocol plates to your car.
At: 166A, Tardeo Road Junction, Tardeo. Call: 23530208
— Kanika Sharma
#24 Café Madras & Café Mysore, This is a South side story
Café Madras is an iconic eatery in Matunga and dates back to 1940. Try their Raagi Dosa, Upma, Butter Idli, Appams, Medu Vada, Madras Misal, Neer Masala Dosa and other items. It is a very economical place but do be prepared to wait. It is one of the best places to savour South Indian food. Also don't miss their buttermilk. South Indian cuisine lovers can also flock to Cafe Mysore for their Khotto or Konkani Idli, Dahi Wada, Poori with Bhaji, Bisibele Bhat with papad, Pineapple Sheera, and coffee.
At: Café Madras: 38 B, Circle House, King's Circle, Matunga. Call: 24014419 | At: Café Mysore: Durlabh Nivas, Bhaudaji Road, Matunga (E). Call: 24021230
— Soma Das
#25 Thacker's, Gujju grub hub
Why do you need reservations at Thacker's? Que-ki it is so good
Standing alone and strong at the Girgaon Chowpatty curve of Marine Drive, Thacker's is a favourite of Mumbai's Gujarati community as it promises authentic fare. Thalis draw a huge following at this eatery for they imbibe 'khaan', a prerequisite of Gujarati cuisine in most dishes. Renovated in 2009 to accommodate their loyal diners, the place sports a dark furniture dining space complemented with a sprightly staff that doesn't hesitate to peek into your thali and suggest delicacies. Not only limited to dine-ins, the place also has a banquet hall that offers a magnificent view of the sea bordered with a lawn. Preparations such as Surti Dal, Kadhi, Aloo ki Sabzi, Dahi Vada and Angoori Rabdi are recommended by patrons. Another dish to be cherished is the Gujarati delicacy Panki that is made out of rice flour and steamed between banana leaves. For the homesick who look for ghee-laden delish fare, Potato and Tomato Subzi, Turiya Patra Nu Shakh and the Bhakri are also promised to be exquisite. And as no meal is complete without Shrikhand, Thacker's managed to strike a good balance between sweetness and creamy texture while garnished with pistachio shavings. Owing to its long queues and great demand, reservations are recommended.
At: Birla Kreeda Kendra, Chowpatty, Girgaum. Call: 23649300, 23649301
— Kanika Sharma
#26 Stadium, Just so Stadi-yum
If there were a competition to rank restaurants in terms of arrogance, the Stadium Restaurant would top the list. And yet, people don’t mind coming back to it time and again. That’s largely because of its tasty fare of breakfast dishes including our hot favourites: Omelette Paav, Egg Bhurji and Kheema Paav. Once a popular joint amongst cricketers, who happened to be practising at the nearby Brabourne Stadium, the restaurant has managed to retain its customers. The food has kept its taste uniform over the years, and is a must for those visiting Churchgate or attending a cricket match at the Wankhede Stadium.
At: IMC Building, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate. Call: 22046819
— Hassan M Kamal
#27 Café Military, How they eat in the military
Popular for its Kheema as it is for the no-frills and friendly ambiance, Café Military that opened shop in 1933, used to be a frequent stop for writer Salman Rushdie and former cricketer Dilip Vengsarkar. The café was opened when the building it is presently housed in, Ali Chambers, was erected in 1933. An Irani by birth, who was present owner, Behram Khosravi's father, bought this corner plot and transformed it into Café Military. In the early decades, the café's menu served primarily European food with cold cuts, salads, egg fry and sandwiches. But when Behram Khosravi took over the reigns in 1952, he added a few more items to it including mutton, chicken, biryanis and others. While most of the items on the menu are divided for special days when they get served, kheema is available from 8 am to 11 pm. Khosravi wanted the café to retain its charm and hence he didn't renovate it. Even the glass paintings near the seating area that were installed in 1933, are still there.
At: Ali Chamber, Tamarind Lane, Fort. Call: 22654181
— Ruchika Kher
#28 Café Colony, Colony haunt for the hungry
Generation Next sticks to tradition to keep this café humming
The Irani cafés in South Mumbai are the ones that most people are aware of. But there are some that go beyond the southern tip of the city and one of these is Café Colony. What sets it apart is that it is happily run by the younger generation. And this is heartening as most other Irani cafés in the city are shutting down due to lack of interest of the owners' children to help run the cafes. Café Colony has been open since 1933-34. The current owner, Agha Nazariyan, has been running the café since 1960s. And his children Bibi Sadat, Mirza and Bibi Fatehmeh help him run the café. It is known for its kheema-pav and has specials for each day such as Chicken Curry, Special Paya and Chicken and Mutton Biryani. They also sell provisions for home and sell eggs at wholesale rates. In addition to that Irani café staples such as Khari, bun and Brun Maska and tea, people usually drop by at the eatery for Khari, Bun, Brun Maska and tea.
At: Shrikant Lodge, corner of Hindu Colony, near Dadar TT junction, Dadar (E). Call: 24142321
— Dhara Vora
#29 Borivali Biryani Centre, Leaving us Dum-struck
The Borivali Biryani Centre (BBC) was started on a humble scale with just three-four dishes in its menu on a handcart near Borivali station in 1999-2000. Owner Hardik Udeshi attributes the eatery's success to a keen interest for food and a passion to serve the best fare at pocket-friendly rates. "We believed in hard work and were least interested in the outcome," he states. Today, BBC boasts of six outlets in Mumbai and Thane and they are keen on adding more. They specialize in Dum Biryani. "We actually cook our Biryani in a way which requires one hour dum on coal for chicken and one-and-a-half hour for mutton. The handis in which Biryanis are cooked, are sealed with dough to retain its flavour. Matka Biryani is the latest addition on our menu in which we cook the Biryani in a earthen pot and serve it in the same pot to our guest," he adds. Butter chicken (R200), Nehari Gosht (R220), Chicken Tandoori (R320), Paneer Tikka Biryani (R190) and Caramel Custard (R50) are must-haves and most popular items. Biryanis are also sold on a kilo basis for bulk orders.
At: Outlets at Borivali, Malad, Goregaon and Thane. Call: 28992722 Log on to: www.borivalibiryanicentre.com/
— Soma Das
#30 Ling's Pavilion, Where the taste Ling-ers
In 1945, Colaba witnessed a Chinese invasion with the opening of Ling's Pavilion, one of the oldest Chinese restaurants in the city, today. Presently run by 63-year-old Baba Ling and his 66-year-old brother Nini Ling, the restaurant has not lost its sheen even after so many decades owing to its top quality fare that they call authentic Chinese food. Baba reveals that Ling's Pavilion remains a huge draw even today, mainly because they are familiar with their customers inside out. "Ultimately, it boils down to customer psychology. One needs to understand the market and what the customer wants. With sky-high rentals, it's not marketing gimmicks that ensure sales and repeat footfalls for a restaurant," he maintains. The owners wake up as early as 6 am to go to the market for fresh produce, open the eatery by 8 am and end the day only by 1 am. While they import a lot of their ingredients from Thailand and China or source it from Sikkim and Darjeeling, they also use produce available in Indian markets, such as bitter gourd, winter melon, cabbage, potatoes, cauliflower, ladyfingers, and aubergine. Some of their most popular dishes are seafood delights including Steamed Fish and Slice Fish with Ginger Chilli and Garlic Fry.
At: Ling’s Pavilion, 19/21, Mahakavi Bhushan Marg, behind Regal Cinema, Colaba. Call: 22850023
— Ruchika Kher
#31 Mani’s Lunch Home, Mani’s magic across Matunga
A landmark whose food remains a crowd favourite among every age group
Established in 1937, Mani’s Lunch Home shares its year of birth with another institution nearby, Ruia College. While Mani’s has been the go-to place for several students with their affordable eating options, it attracts people from all over the city. Such is its aura that usually people sit outside on chairs lined on the footpath (it’s actually better outside) and have their daily dose of filter coffee (which is served with much fanfare). Their Medu Vadas are the crispiest ones around and in the Udipi dominated area of Matunga, Mani’s has stood strong and withstood competition from newer fast food eateries. Other than Vadas, their Pineapple Sheera is a must-have, but it usually gets over by 10 am. If it’s authentic lunch you wish to have, served on banana leaf et al, then head to Telang Road. On offer are a variety of bhajis served with rice, sambhar, rasam and pickles. Head there especially during Onam and Pongal for their special sadhyas that let you eat all you can have, true to the nature of the festival. They also have an outlet at Sion.
At: Matunga (Central), near Hindu Colony and Telang Road. Call: 24021112
— Dhara Vora
#32 Swati Snacks, Gujarat, on a plate
Mumbai has always been recognised for its cosmopolitan roots. Testimonial to that is unassuming eateries that aim to provide succour and comfort to diners from all over irrespective of where they come from. Swati Snacks is one such Mecca of Gujarati cuisine that lures gourmands to the traditional gujju to savour aromatic dishes reminiscent of Gujarati households. Patrons throng at the Tardeo Road joint to partake meals at this brightly-lit and vibrant restaurant. If on a food trail, this ought to be your one-stop shop to stuff your mouths with dishes like Panki, Fadani Khichdi, Gatta nu Shak, Corn Handvo, Satpadi Roti, Methi Dhokla, Pitla, Bajri Khichu and Baked Masala Khichu. Friendly to the pocket, other varieties of snacks such as pizzas, sev puris, idlis and dosas are also served. Their seasonal sitaphal/jack fruit preparations draw hordes as do they pankis.Also present in Ahmedabad, the eatery is known to convert non vegetarian patrons into hoggers at simple veg fare. They also offer Jalebi, Papdi and Fafda by the kilo in case you hope to stock it for some comfort or sweet cravings. With their service-friendly and extensive menu, the place is a must if you are in this part of town.
At: Swati Snacks, 248 Karai Estate, opposite Bhatia Hospital, Tardeo. Call: 65808405
— Kanika Sharma
#33 Cafe Gulshan, Maska at the maidan
Started over 70 years ago, Cafe Gulshan’s association with sport goes as back as long as the nearby Matunga Gymkhana. It has retained its old-world charm, and still serves items like Bun Maska and Brun Maska, Iranian tea, Kheema Pav and Dal Fry Pav that attracted the likes of Farokh Engineer, Ravi Shastri and Dilip Vengsarkar. Located near Ruia College and Podar Colleges, and the Welingakar Institute, Gulshan has also been a popular hangout for collegians and has seen many love stories turn into reality. Despite renovations in 2002, the cafe hasn’t given up its Irani cafe interiors and vibe including 75-year-old round dining tables with mica top and black wooden chairs, and fans that have survived the test of time.
At: Balkrishna Niwas, beside Podar College, L N Road, Matunga (E). Call: 24143449
— Hassan M Kamal
#34 Shalimar, Ab ki baar, Shalimar
Ever been to a restaurant with rude waiters, oily dishes and small tables, and yet, flooded with customers and waiting queues? Shalimar Restaurant in Bhendi Bazaar fits the bill. This iconic restaurant on Mohammed Ali Road is known for its faloodas and sumptuous Mughlai food. It takes pride in breeding its livestock, and serves food they claim is as authentic and royal as Mughlai food could get. Unfortunately, luck plays a big factor here. Because, if it’s bad, you could end up with a cold Shammi Kebab, and a waiter who ignores you. But if you still want royalty, try their dastarkhwans that come with private dining rooms with comfortable floor seating. However, avoid this if you’re in a hurry or have a fragile ego because this one will make you bleed.
At: Vazir Building, Bhendi Bazaar. Call: 23456630. Also at Andheri (W).
— Hassan M Kamal
#35 Merwan's Action stations at Merwan's
When the commute seems overwhelming, take a break
A different outpost of the same name, this Merwan's in the Western suburb of Andheri is a distinct departure from the popular Irani establishment, B Merwan & Co. For station goers, Merwan's has doubled its presence by opening two spaces adjacent to each other. The place is always teeming, as the bakery offers a host of cocktail pizzas, rolls, biscuits, khari biscuits, cakes and much more. Youngsters to families, salivate at the refrigerated items that contain dollops of cream, on the sweets and value for money savouries. The brightly lit yellow and red sign and the warmly lit cake shop also lets customers sit casually, to catch up for a quick chat between hauls. Also, the cake shop holds great nostalgic value as its cakes are part of birthday and anniversary celebrations in several households. Loyalists vouch for the signature Butterscotch Cake and Lemon Crackle. From Shrewsbury biscuits to all sorts of rolls, the bakery hums with fresh stock from time to time, and exhausts its stocks quickly. Do try their Chicken Mayo Roll, Tandoori Paneer Roll, Mini Pizza, smoothies and more.
At: 12/13, Madhav Nagar, SV Road, Andheri (W). Call: 26244896
— Kanika Sharma
We cannot fit them all here, but these eateries make the cut for their yum, varied fare, a la a slice of Mumbai!
Fresh Catch, Mahim | Bachelor's Juice, Charni Road | K Rustam’s, Churchgate | Woodside Inn, Colaba | Cream Centre, Chowpatty |Sindhudurg, Dadar (W) | Mohanlal Mithaiwala, Zaveri Bazar | Saayba, Bandra | Mocambo Café, | Sir PM Road, Fort | Sundance Café, Churchgate | Tambe's, Dadar | Panchratna Jalebi, Zaveri Bazar | Bhagat Tarachand | American Express Bakery, Byculla | Gallops, Mahalaxmi Race Course | Oh! Calcutta, Mumbai Central | Gajalee, Vile Parle (E) | Samovar, Kala Ghoda