Nitrogen infused desserts, mirrored walls, extensive bars, curated menus and international chefs – new age restaurants definitely promise you a fine-dine experience, but it’s the long-standing eateries that have seen the city evolve, restaurants that have seen Bombay turn Mumbai, hang out spots that just don’t have great food but amazing stories too. Here are 10 Mumbai restaurants that may not have chic interiors or multi-cuisine menus, but the warm hospitality, age-old specials and rustic spaces make up for it.
1. Kyani & Co.
Iconic, legendary, classic and Kyani & Co. might as well be synonyms. This Iranian Café was brought to Bombay by Mr Khodram Marezaban in 1904. Believe it or not, it was also a hangout spot for freedom fighters back in the day. And now, in the 21st Century, after almost 100 years you can still find checkered red mats, biscuits and puff jars, wooden shelves, the sweet Iranian tea, soft bun maskas and the quintessential Parsi charm that the founders brought with them all the way from Iran.
What to eat: Elaichi Chai, Bun Maska, Kheema Pav
Approx Cost: Rs. 300 for two people. (Rs. 100 for a wholesome breakfast)
Where: JSS Road, Jer Mahal Estate, Opposite Metro Cinema, Marine Lines, Mumbai
2. Café Military
South Bombay is known for many things – The vintage architecture, the old-world charm, the iconic buildings are all housed in South Bombay, but what takes the cake (or should we say custard) are the Parsi Cafés. Joining the league of iconic Iranian cafes is Café Military in Fort. Started in 1933, this too freezes time in its slow-creaking fans, checkered mats, a grumpy looking but kind Iranian owner and a team of cooks that prepare dishes straight from the heart. Bun Maska and Chai is a regular here. But the best offerings of Café Military are their caramel custard, a chilled beer and the aakoori.
What to eat: Caramel Custard, Kheema Ghotala, Mutton Dhansak, Sali Boti and Akoori.
Approx Cost: Rs. 250 for two people
Where: Ali Chamber, Tamarind Lane, Fort, Mumbai
3. Mama Kane
If Iranian Cafes introduced Bombay to Kheema Pav, Mama Kane can take credits for introducing the legendary ‘batata vada’ to Mumbai! Known for its Maharashtrian delicacies, this Dadar eatery started in 1910. Run by its fourth generation owner now, this 106-year-old, all-vegetarian joint is the go-to place for politicians, actors, and labourers – all alike.
What to eat: Batata vada, Misal Pav, Kothambari Vadi
Approx Cost: Rs. 200 for two people.
Where: 222, Smruti Kunj, Senapati Bapat Marg, Dadar West, Mumbai
4. K. Rustom & Co.
If you ask your parents or their parents where they used to hang-out during their teens or early tweens, K.Rustoms will definitely be one of the mentions. In 1953, the tourists at Marine Drive were baffled by a new concept – Ice Cream Sandwiches, and they have stuck to it since then. A variety of flavours of ice-cream freshly churned at their shop, sandwiched between wafers is a classic dessert that people of all age groups like to relish in. They have literally frozen the past in their sweet-treats, but with time they experiment with all the new flavours.
What to eat: Walnut Crunch, Rum n Rasin, and Blackcurrant
Approx Cost: Rs. 50-70 for a single slab.
Where: 87 Stadium House, Opposite Ambassador Hotel, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate, Mumbai.
5. Café Churchill
Colaba’s Continental Café – Churchill may not have a 100-year-old history, but it is iconic nevertheless. Joining the league of Mondys and Leopold, Churchill was once a go-to place in the 90s. Run by a Parsi couple, this café can be very easily missed on Causeway. Just 5-6 tables, painted walls, drawing mats and a big dessert refrigerator, this quaint café is a paradise for meat-lovers and anyone looking to enjoy wholesome food at affordable prices.
What to eat: Roast Beef, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Roast Lamb, Peach Iced Tea, and Gooey Chocolate Cake
Approx Cost: Rs. 1200 for two people
Where: East West Court Building, Opposite Cusrow Baug, Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Colaba, Mumbai
6. Pancham Puriwala
167 years ago, Pancham, a man from UP walked for 40 days and reached the sprawling city of Bombay and set up a poori-bhaji stall. Today, his family continues the tradition by serving golden-brown crispy pooris in a two-storied non-AC restaurant at Fort. Pancham Puriwala may as well be declared a heritage site. A century old eatery known for the authentic taste of north-India is where you’ll find businessmen, office-goers, students and lovers of puri-bhaji on a weekday. Slowly pacing up with time, Pancham Puriwala is a legendary restaurant that has managed to preserve the past and delight its patrons in the present.
What to eat: Masala Puri, Pancham Thali, and Sweet Lassi
Approx Cost: Rs. 200 for two people
Where: 8-10, Perin Nariman Street, Fort, Mumbai
7. Delhi Darbar
The ‘Mansuris’ know exactly what goes in making scrumptious Mughlai food and they are not the ones to kiss and tell. Serving for around 60 years, Delhi Darbar has grown from a small eatery to having opened several outlets in India and Dubai. Well, in Mumbai, if you crave for some chicken tikka or biryani, Delhi Darbar is your answer. With ambience replicating a royal court or ‘darbaar’, there’s no better place than this to try your hands on traditional ‘Mughlai’ food.
What to eat: Butter Chicken, Paneer Biryani, Bheja Fry, Roomali Roti
Approx Cost: Rs. 900 for two people.
Where: 10/14, Holland House, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Road, Near Regal Cinema, Colaba, Mumbai
8. American Express Bakery
Francesco Carvalho brought all the sweet and the savoury to Mumbai in 1908. The operations of the bakery have been passed down to the third generation of the family, much like the recipe book, where one can trace all the secrets behind their doughs, bread and treats! With its very first outlet in Byculla, this bakery named after the quick ‘American Express’ boasts of its baked goods, biscottis, pound cakes, apple pies, Marzipan and fresh loaves of bread. They also like to frame their advertisements that they created back in the day. One that stuck along was ‘We knead…your needs’.
What to eat: Croissants, Plum Cake, Cinnamon Roll,
Approx Cost: Rs. 250 for two people.
Where: AEB House, 66A, Mirza Galib Marg, Byculla, Mumbai
9. Gallops, Mahalaxmi
A fitting name for a fitting location, Gallops at Mahalaxmi’s 225-acre race-course may as well give itself a tagline of ‘members only’. With patrons ranging from regulars at the derby to businessmen, to the elite or just plain lovers of a fine-dining experience – Gallops has them all. Chandeliers, high ceilings, and lace-curtains, with an ambience like this, you’ll get the vibe of a vintage British club. The setting and the privilege is enough to do the trick, but the food too doesn’t disappoint.
What to eat: Chicken Kalimirchi Kabab, Mutton Dori Kabbab, Mushroom Risotto, and Onion Soup
Approx Cost: Rs.2500 for two people.
Where: Mahalaxmi Race Course, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai
10. Harbour Bar, The Taj Mahal Palace
Overlooking the Gateway of India, with a spectacular ocean view, Harbour Bar at The Taj Mahal Palace is the first bar to get a license in India in 1933. The 26/11 attacks may have ruined the wooden flooring and the makeshift bar, but it rose from the ashes looking opulent than ever with the legacy still intact. Displaying the license plate with much pride, this bar preserves the quaint charm and the lavishness that it once started with. You can chat with Tehmton Mistry, a bartender at Harbour for over 30 years about the evolution of the bar and its patrons. While you’re at it, let him serve you the signature cocktail ‘From the Harbour Since 1933’, named by two U.S sailors who dropped by the bar and loved the drink served to them.
What to drink: From the Harbour Since 1933, Extensive Selection of Whiskeys and Cigar
Approx Cost: Rs.3000 for two people
Where: The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Apollo Bunder, Colaba, Mumbai