The original community tables
Crowded, noisy, and far from offering privacy, here are our favourite share-a-table eateries that are totally worth the crush.
Food from the soil
At: Aram, Fort
At this no-frills eatery, everyone is always sharing a table. Brand communication consultant and author Ashraf Engineer never misses an opportunity to have zunka bhakar and sabudana wada when he is in town for meetings. "And the piyush, although I could never finish it on my own. Everyone pretty much keeps to themselves. It's a representative crowd—you find the working class rubbing shoulders with hardcore corporate types. That's why I always thought of it as quintessential Mumbai—a great equaliser."
Prices: Rs 10 onwards
At: 126, Capitol Cinema, Dr DN Road
Down the ghee route
At Dakshinayan, Juhu
Familiar staples and a homely atmosphere, Dakshinayan's patrons find the nei idli, upma, dosa and lassi to die for. Hotelier and culinary writer Manasvi Bhatia, says, "Loaded with ghee, super soft and delicious, the food here draws you in. I even made a superb friend one day when I walked in alone. A couple of minutes right after our order, we discussed so much about life! In fact, our quick meal lasted out for three hours before we were asked to clear out."
Price: Rs 50 onwards
At: Gandhigram Road, near Hare Krishna Temple, Jukarwadi
At Jalpan at MM Mithaiwala, Malad
Right outside platform number one at Malad railway station, this is a chat-lovers' paradise. Daily commuters stop by for a quick snack of lassi and chole bhature. Financial advisor Rabia Patel says, "I'm partial to the sharing sofa seats and love the pav bhaji here. The staff gets me extra crisp pav on request. Very few places make good tea and these guys have mastered the art. I've often shared a table with families or couples and no matter how disciplined one is, there is joy in watching what's on someone else's plate. Then again, you also invariably end up ordering what they are having."
Price: Rs 18 onwards
At: Kasturba Road, opposite railway station
Where's my coffee?
Amba Bhavan Coffee Club, Matunga
Spacious, breezy and with less wait time and quick service, Amba Bhavan is famous for its Udupi treats and strong, fragrant coffee. Nutritionist Hetal Chedda loves the authentic pessaratu (green moong) dosa since she is mindful of eating healthy; they make it without butter on request. The serving of sambar and chutney is generous. On one visit with her toddler, Chedda shared a table with a middle-aged lady and they got chatty. "She urged my daughter to finish the last five pieces of idli while telling her stories; I thought it was sweet."
Price: Rs 20 onwards
At: Patel Mahal, Bhandarkar Road, Kings Circle, Brahmanwada
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