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The 38 Essential Mumbai Restaurants

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Mumbai is a daunting place. There are 22 million people here. Population density averages 21,000 people per square kilometer (in Tokyo it's about 6,000). It's crowded and noisy and the traffic — complete with fumes and an endless barrage of car horns — is torture. Inequality is profound and inescapable. But Bombay, as the city was known until 1995 (and still is known by many of its citizens), is also a place of immense hope, drawing people by the million from across the Subcontinent to make their fortunes. Some have succeeded. Many more have failed. But they've all brought their food.

Plagued with nagging fears of intestinal distress, many first time visitors approach the city (and particularly its food) with caution bordering on paranoia, a senseless way to experience a place defined by its mad affinity for foolhardy gambles. This list of 38 essential experiences is far from comprehensive — it focuses on the historic south and central suburbs where visitors are likely to spend their time at the expense of more distant, and increasingly populous, suburbs — but it nonetheless offers a cross-section of this city's many tight-knit communities, its closely nested worlds. Because India's greatest metropolis is at its chaotic, democratic best when it eats.

Finding your way: When using city taxis, street names and addresses are 100% useless. We've provided the instructions or landmarks you should give your cab driver, which will get you close to where you need to go. Say the neighborhood first, then the landmark. Many of these places also exist on Google Maps. Otherwise, it's an old-fashioned patience game. Get ready to ask questions.

Price per person, excluding alcohol:

$ = Less than 338Rs (USD 5)$$ = 338 - 1015Rs (5 - 15 USD)$$$ = 1015 - 2030Rs (15 - 30 USD)$$$$ = 2031Rs (30 USD) and up

Editor’s Note: Eater is not updating international maps at this time given disruptions to global travel during the COVID-19 crisis.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Snack in the Nariman Point Khau Galli

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Nariman Point, Mumbai
Mahārāshtra 400021, India

Literally "snack alleys," khau gallis spring up near railway stations, offices, and colleges: the culinary lifeblood of a city built on long hours and longer commutes. In South Mumbai you’ll find good ones at Churchgate, between SNDT College and Cross Maidan; near the Opera House, where Charni Road meets Marine Drive; and scattered throughout the old bazaars. Come in the late afternoon to the 1960s business district of Nariman Point, just back from the eastern end of Marine Drive, when office workers take their snack break, and sample street dosas, chaat (see more on chaat below), fresh juices, and dabeli (sweet-savory spiced mashed potatoes on butter-fried rolls). [$]

Taxi instructions: Taxi Instructions: Nariman Point, Express Towers

2. Goan Sausage at New Martin

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Strand Cinema Road, Mumbai
Mahārāshtra 400 005, India
+91 22 2202 9606

Until the 1970s, the tiny state of Goa south of Mumbai was part of Portugal, and the food still bears that influence, especially among the state’s carnivorous Catholics. Though its reputation among local food aficionados has been buffeted in recent years, the tiny canteen known as New Martin Hotel in the heart of Colaba is still a good standby for Goan sausage, a piri piri-spiced chorizo. [$]

Taxi Instructions: Colaba, Radio Club lane

3. Drink in a Permit Room Like Gokul

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10 Tullock Road, Mumbai
Mahārāshtra 400039, India
+91 81794 72856

Named for a prohibition law still on the books that requires individuals to carry drinking permits, Permit Rooms are dark, cheap, and smoky: Mumbai’s very own dive bars. Gokul in Colaba is a classic, beloved among tourists and locals alike. (Janata, in Pali Naka, is the equivalent for Bandra, the city’s most fashionable suburb.) But the best Permit Room is always whichever one is closest when the city’s relentless pace finally gets the better of you. [$]

Taxi Instructions: Apollo Bunder, near the Taj Hotel

4. Dinner at The Table

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Kalash Peshi Building, CS Maharishi Marg, Apollo Bunder, Behind Regal Cinema, Colaba, Mumbai
Mahārāshtra 400039, India
+91 22 2282 5000
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The chef here, Alex Sanchez, originally hails from San Francisco and is an alum of Eleven Madison Park. There’s nothing especially Indian about the cooking, but Sanchez brings a laid-back Californian attitude and New York rigor to Indian produce with a menu of small plates that has, in just five years, established this as the city’s premier fine-dining institution. [$$$$]

Taxi instructions: Taxi Instructions: Colaba, near the Gateway

5. Butter Garlic Crab at Trishna

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7 Sai Baba Marg, Mumbai
Mahārāshtra 400 023, India

Lots of people (and guidebooks) will send you here for a full seafood feast. Save that for Ankur (also on the map). That said, you’d be remiss if you neglected Trishna’s famous butter-garlic crab, which is truly decadent and worthy of its acclaim. The city's most famous seafood restaurant might be a one-trick pony, but does it really matter when the trick is this good? [$$$]

Taxi Instructions: Kala Ghoda, on the left side of Rhythm House (a now-defunct record store), and left into the lane across from the Synagogue

6. Veg Toast at Sanjay Singh Sandwichwala

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Kalaghoda, 145 Mahatma Gandhi Rd, Mumbai
Mahārāshtra 400 023, India
+91 22 2267 3227
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The veg toast is an iconic local snack, available on street corners throughout the city. No one makes it better than Singh: potato, cucumber, beetroot, bell pepper, onion, sulfuric chaat masala, and a hot slap of mint-chili chutney all crammed onto white bread, toasted in a metal clamp over open coals, and topped with butter, more chutney, sweet ketchup, and crispy threads of fried chickpea batter (called sev). Customize at will, adding or subtracting any ingredient you like. [$]

Taxi instructions: Kala Ghoda (he’s on the main road before the open square)

7. Seafood Dinner at Ankur

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M.P shetty marg, Mumbai
Mahārāshtra 400023, India
+91 22 2263 0393

It looks like an imitation ski chalet and inexplicably favors a soundtrack of classic rock rendered in cheap synth, but Ankur serves some of the best fish and shellfish around. The restaurant specializes in mild, home-style cooking from the coastal city of Mangalore. Clams sukha are fried with coconut and spices, Kerala prawns are hot with crushed peppercorns, and fish thekkady is surprisingly delicate under a brilliant red spice rub. All this is best eaten with plate after plate of light-as-air neer dosa, gossamer-thin steamed rice flatbreads. [$$$]

Taxi instructions: Fort, near Horniman Circle (but not that near, so get close and use Google Maps)

8. Bheja at Cafe Military

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Near High Court, Mumbai
Mahārāshtra, India
+91 22 2265 4181

Opened by Persian migrants around the turn of the 20th century, Irani cafés were the first democratic dining spaces in modern India, serving cheap, wholesome grub to laborers and middle-class families alike. Café Military is one of a dwindling number still standing. Located in the Kala Ghoda neighborhood now known for boutiques, cafes, and galleries, the cafe’s menu mainly consists of simple, meaty snacks. The best among them the bheja (mutton brain) fried in egg. Split it (it’s too rich to tackle alone) along with an order of deliciously oily kheema sali (mutton mince with fried string potato) over a cold liter of beer. [$]

Taxi instructions: Fort, near Horniman Circle (but not that near, so get close and use Google Maps)

9. Keralite Thali at Hotel Deluxe

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Pitha Street, Mumbai
Mahārāshtra 400001, India
+91 22 2283 6698

Just off the grand avenue connecting the High Court and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, two of Mumbai’s most spectacular Victorian monuments, there’s a narrow lane capped with a minuscule South Indian temple sheltering a pair of canteens serving fare from the southwestern state of Kerala. Opt for Deluxe, the better of the two. Order the vegetarian thali (mixed plate), several buttery, flaky rounds of Malabar parotha (flatbread) and a masala-fried whole fish — crisp, hot, and pearlescent inside. [$$]

Taxi instructions:DN Road, Fort (visual landmark is Citibank, though the taxi won’t know it)

10. Berry Pulao and Bombay Duck at Brittania & Co.

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Ballard Estate, Mumbai
Mahārāshtra, India
+91 22 2261 5264

The Parsis — Zoroastrians with roots in Iran — are among Mumbai’s most culturally influential communities. Britannia, the most famous Parsi place in town, earns its keep on the nonagenarian proprietor’s theatrical odes to Queen Elizabeth and "Madam Hillary Clinton." Mr. Kohinoor also happens to serve a couple inimitable classics in his Victorian time-warp of a room, particularly the beloved berry pulao (spiced rice with currant-like dried berries) and a fine rendition of Bombay duck (super-soft local fish, battered and deep-fried, what fish and chips wishes it could be). Note: Serves weekday lunch only. [$$$]

Taxi instructions: Ballard Estate, Britannia Restaurant (it’s a landmark of its own)

11. Chai and Mutton Puffs in Dhobi Talao

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J.S.S Road, Mumbai
Mahārāshtra 400 002, India
+91 22 2201 1492 (Kyani), +91 22 2209 8001 (Sassanian)

Of Mumbai’s surviving Irani cafes, Kyani and Sassanian are among the most atmospheric. Located around the corner from one another in Dhobi Talao, a gracefully decaying neighborhood once favored by Goan sailors waiting for work, these cafes make a perfect mid-morning (or mid-afternoon) pitstop while dodging traffic amidst the city’s glorious Victoriana. Order a sweet Irani chai and a mutton puff at Kyani, or a sweet mawa (milk solids) cake at Sassanian. At least for a moment, you’ll live at the pace of Old Bombay. [$]

Taxi instructions: Metro Cinema, Dhobi Talao

12. Masala Khichiya and Sugarcane Juice at Mangaldas Market

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Janjikar Street, Mumbai
Mahārāshtra 400 002, India

Masala Khichiya is one of the brightest, lightest, freshest street foods Mumbai has to offer. A crispy disk of rice flour is charred over coals, topped with a variety of chutneys, raw vegetables, sev (crispy threads of fried chickpea flour), and coriander. The best place to find this is in the khau gulli at Princess Street near the western entrance to the Mangaldas Textile Market, a fascinating place to shop for fabrics. Wash it down with a sugarcane juice from a nearby stall then wade into the mercantile crush of Zaveri Bazaar, Kalbadevi, and Bhuleshwar. [$]

Taxi instructions: Crawford Market, then walk through the market; don’t try navigating these crowds in a car.

Photo by Frank Bienewald/LightRocket via Getty Images

13. Nalli Nihari at Noor Mohammedi

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Eating around the traditional Muslim quarter of Mohammad Ali Road is one of Mumbai’s most visceral dining experiences. After visiting the the popular antiques market known as Chor Bazaar, seek out this rich stew of bone marrow and mutton shank, developed in the 17th-century courtly kitchens of Mughal Delhi. There are many options nearby, but Noor Mohammedi is the only one that has a sketch by the great modernist painter M.F. Hussain hanging above its cash register: a gift from one artist to another. [$$]

Taxi instructions: Mohammad Ali Road, near Bhendi Bazaar

14. Gujarati Thali at Shree Thaker Bhojnalay

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31, Dada Sheth Agyari Lane, Mumbai
Mahārāshtra, India
+91 87953 65431

Up a scruffy flight of stairs in Kalbadevi — a vibrant market area in the city center — you’ll find the most decadent thali (an unlimited set meal) in town. Thaker’s is a family-run place serving ghee-laden, vegetarian cooking from Gujarat, the state to the north of Mumbai. If you’re in town between December and February, come on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Sunday to sample the winter root delicacy known as undhiyu. Let one of the owners guide you, and don’t bother saying when you’re full. You finish when they tell you. [$$]

Taxi instructions: Kalbadevi Road (Thaker’s is listed accurately on Google Maps)

15. Chota Kebab at Hindustan Restaurant

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153, IM Merchant Rd, Pydhonie, Mandvi, Mumbai
Maharashtra 400003, India

Come here for delicately spiced morsels of chickpea flour and ground mutton, deep fried on the sidewalk beside the restaurant proper. Then ask for (but don’t count on) saandal made by Fatima Bibi, a dessert of steamed fermented rice cakes topped with sweetened milk cream, available occasionally in the adjacent lanes. Failing that, cross the street to Burhanpur Mawa Jalebis for your sweet fix then wander the crowded lanes around Minara Masjid and Bhendi Bazaar. [$]

Taxi instructions: Minara Masjid

16. 9 p.m. Dinner Crawl in Khara Tank Road

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Mumbai
Mahārāshtra, India

Come back to Mohammad Ali Road at night with an empty stomach. Start with a mutton-stuffed baida roti at Jilani Fast Food, followed with udder (kheeri) and liver (kaleji) kebabs at BBQ Corner. Next, grab a dish of khichda (stewed split wheat and mutton) from the stall that sometimes parks on the opposite corner. If the khichda guy isn’t there, head to India Hotel for bheja fry (mutton brain). Finally, satisfy your sweet tooth with hand-churned guava or mango ice cream at century-old Taj Ice Creams, or with phirni (a thick semolina pudding) and deep-fried malpua (a sweet, eggy pancake) at Tawwakal Sweets. Promptly collapse. [$$]

Taxi instructions: Mohammad Ali Road, Chor Bazaar

17. Kebabs at Sarvi

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Nagpada, Mumbai
Mahārāshtra, India

On a hectic junction in the once-prosperous and still picturesque neighborhood of Byculla is Mumbai's classic kebab house. Order a plate of coal-roasted kebabs (once made from beef, now mostly buffalo) and a bunch of big, crisp oven-baked rotis. And don’t be afraid of the watery green mint-and-garlic chutney: It’s half the pleasure. [$]

Taxi instructions: Nagpada Police Station

18. New Kulfi Centre

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Sea Face, Gamdevi, Mumbai
Maharashtra 400007, India
+91 22 2368 4291

Fair warning: Marine Drive, Mumbai’s beloved, Deco-lined seaside promenade, is longer than it looks. If you walk from Nariman Point, by the time you reach this more-or-less-literal hole-in-the-wall you’ll be ready for the eponymous style of ice cream that is the only thing they serve. Made from milk, sugar, cardamom, and any number of other flavors, kulfi here is weighed in front of you, sliced into a dense slab, and served with toothpicks. [$]

Taxi instructions: Marine Drive, Chowpatty (Kulfi Centre is on the north side of the road, across from the beach)

19. By the Way

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Papanas Wadi, Tardeo, Mumbai
Maharashtra, India
+91 22 2388 9109

Britannia (also featured on this map) may be Mumbai’s most famous Irani joint, but the oddly named By the Way offers cooking that’s subtler and more refined. Order the sali boti (a mutton stew made with caramelized onion and tomato topped with fried potato), patra ni machhi (fish steamed with mint chutney in banana leaf) and dhanshak (a mild lentil dish). Proceeds from the restaurant go to the Seva Sadan Society, which funds education for disadvantaged girls. The restaurant is also not far from the house where Gandhi once lived. [$$]

Taxi instructions: Gamdevi Police Station (directly next door)

[Ed. note: By the Way is now closed.]

20. Jamnagari Farsan Mart at Grant Road Bhaji Gulli

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Shankar Sheth Ln, Grant Road West, Grant Road, Mumbai
Maharashtra 400007, India

Ogle local greens and sprouted lentils, sample unusual fruits like tannic purple jamuns and jelly-like ice apples (tadgola), and pop into Jamnagari Farsan Mart, a shop specializing in fried, spiced snacks from Gujarat. Sample anything you like (don’t be shy; they’ll open bags for you to taste) and take some with you for snacking on the go. [$]

Taxi instructions: Grant Road Railway Station (or just take the train to Grant Road)

21. Swati Snacks

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Karai Estate, Tardeo Road, Mumbai
Mahārāshtra 400007, India
+91 22 6580 8406
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This standby in Tardeo, one of Mumbai’s old-money enclaves, is the neighborhood’s favorite spot for vegetarian snacks from western India. Try the suva panki (fine films of rice batter stuffed with dill and steamed in banana leaf) or the thalipeeth (a crisp multigrain flatbread). From here, you can take a fascinating, hectic walk south through Nana Chowk, where you should buy packets of the best ghee in town at the Belgaum Ghee Depot and, if you’re lucky, snag a marvelous fish roe pickle hot with mustard oil. [$]

Taxi instructions: Tardeo Road, near Bhatia Hospital

22. Oh! Calcutta

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C/O Rosewood Hotel, Tulsi Wadi Lane, Opp Mahindra Height, Near Tardeo Ac Market, Mumbai
Mahārāshtra 400034, India
+91 22 2353 9114

The food from the eastern state of Bengal — as any proud Bengali will gladly tell you — is some of the Subcontinent’s finest. Come for dinner and order banana flower fritters, prawns in coconut curry (chingri malai curry), freshwater fish (get rui, not overpriced hilsa) steamed with a pungent mustard-based gravy (shorshay bata), and ask for the off-menu cauliflower cooked with mustard and mango. Finish with sweetened yogurt in a clay cup: the classic Bengali sweet known as mishti doi. [$$$]

Taxi instructions: Tardeo Road, near Tardeo AC Market (you can get closer using Google Maps)

23. Chivda Galli

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Dinshaw Petit Rd, Mumbai
Maharashtra, India

After a light bite at Ladu Samrat, walk down to this horseshoe-shaped lane specializing in a variety of fried snacks known as chivda. Some are sweet, some spicy, some sour, some all of the above. Buy a bag to munch on and wander east to the back of the lane, where piston-like spice crushers run at full tilt pounding whole spices into customizable masalas, ideal for smuggling back home. From here it’s a pleasant stroll to the beautiful Bhau Dhaji Lad Museum, one of the city’s most elegantly restored buildings. [$]

Taxi instructions: Lalbaug

24. Maharashtrian Snacks at Ladu Samrat

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Habib Terrace, Mumbai
Mahārāshtra 400012, India
+91 22 2471 0127

A district once dominated by mills and the workers who made the city prosperous and led its once-radical political culture, Lalbaug is near the city’s geographical and cultural heart. The mills and the leftist labor unions are no more, but the Lalbaug remains a bastion of traditions from the sprawling rural state of Maharashtra, for which Mumbai serves as the capital. Ladu Samrat is a great place to try vegetarian snacks like sabudana vada (fried balls of tapioca and peanut served with coconut chutney); kothambir vadi, made from chickpea flour and coriander; and dahi misal, a spicy lentil stew served with yogurt and soaked up with soft buns. [$]

Taxi instructions: Lalbaug, near ITC Grand Central (the restaurant is a 5-minute walk south)

25. The Bombay Canteen

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Kamla Mills, Mumbai
Mahārāshtra 400013, India
+91 22 4966 6666
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Mumbai has its share of slick, buzzy restaurants — many of them set in the old mill compounds — but none of them feels as essentially of (and essential to) the place as the Bombay Canteen, conceived and developed by Floyd Cardoz, a Bombay native who made his name at New York’s Tabla. Call a week ahead to nab a table, or grab a seat at the bar, and order half a dozen small plates that play cheekily with humble dishes and street snacks from across India. From here, you’re a short walk to several of the city’s swankiest bars, especially Blue Frog and Café Zoe across a busy four-lane road in Todi Mills Compound. [$$$]

Taxi instructions: Lower Parel, Kamala Mills (don’t pronounce the middle ‘a’)

26. Vada Pav at Ashok Vada Pav

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kashinath dhuru marg, Mumbai
Mahārāshtra 400028, India

A battered and deep-fried dumpling of spiced boiled potatoes served with hot and cool chutneys on a soft, fluffy bun: the humble vada pav is inarguably Mumbai’s most powerful culinary metonym, a gustatory (and at times political) symbol for the city’s heritage. Ashok’s stall, in the heart of the city’s most stalwart Maharashtrian enclave, is the most famous place in town for a reason. [$]

Taxi instructions: Dadar West, Kirti College

27. Mama Kane

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Senapati Bapat Marg, Dadar, Mumbai
Maharashtra 400028, India

After a visit to the fragrant, vibrant flower market along the tracks of one of Mumbai’s most maddening rail junctions, cross the street to Mama Kane for simple vegetarian dishes like poha (spiced pressed rice), misal pav (stewed mixed lentils served with fluffy rolls), and batata vada (fried potato dumplings). [$]

Taxi instructions: Dadar West Railway Station, or Dadar flower market

28. Malvani Seafood Thali at Acharekar’s Malvan Katta

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DL Vaidya Rd, Mumbai
Mahārāshtra 400028, India
+91 22 2421 6923

Pick a thali, any thali (you can’t go wrong with shellfish). Order some bombil fry, also called "Bombay duck," coated here, as is the traditional coastal way, in crackly semolina. Solkadi, a sweet-sour-savory drink made from coconut milk and a sour berry called kokam, is the best thing to put out the fire. [$$]

Taxi instructions: Shiv Sena Bhavan, from there use Google Maps

29. Upma, Dosa, and Coffee at Sharada Bhavan

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Lakhamsi Nappu Rd., Matunga, Mumbai
Mahārāshtra 400019, India

King’s Circle — Mumbai’s leafy, prosperous South Indian enclave — is a great place for a mid-morning stroll. Check out the local grocers (Kanara Stores stocks particularly interesting spices and aromatics), the flower stalls, and a beautiful vegetable market specializing in the produce of the South. Sharada Bhavan is among the neighborhood’s most venerable canteens, and a great place for breakfast dishes like upma (a creamy semolina porridge), rasam vada (deep-fried balls of fermented rice batter swimming in a tamarind-soured broth), perfectly crisp dosas (try the ulundu, made from chickpea batter), and sweet, milky South Indian filter coffee. [$]

Taxi instructions: King’s Circle, near Matunga Central Station

30. Idli House

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A/462, Ram Bhavan, Dr. B. Ambedkar Road, King Circle, Mumbai
Mahārāshtra 400019, India
+91 22 3244 4811

The steamed cakes of fermented rice-and-lentil batter known as idli — a breakfast staple from the South — are available all over Mumbai. But Idli House is the only place that serves varieties like moode, steamed in a cone of screw-pine leaf, and pepper idlis, studded with black peppercorns ground to three different degrees of coarseness. Pair them with some of the freshest chutneys and pickles around. [$]

Taxi instructions: King’s Circle (the restaurant is on the main road just north of the circle)

31. Lunch at A. Rama Nayak’s Udipi Shri Krishna Boarding

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1st Floor, LBS Market Building, Matunga (CR)
Mahārāshtra 400 019, India
+91 22 2414 2422

This canteen in a hidden lane across from a train station is noisy and fast (you won’t get more than 20 minutes to finish your meal), but also bright, breezy, and joyful. The food is basic: unlimited servings of coconut-rich vegetables and lentils served on a banana leaf with freshly fried puri (a puffed, hollow bread) and mounds of rice — all for under $2. The menu hasn't changed since 1942. Why mess with perfection? [$]

Taxi instructions: King’s Circle, Matunga Central Station

32. Dine al fresco at Kombdi Vade

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Takandas Kataria Marg, Matunga West, Mumbai
Maharashtra 400016, India

Dinner consists of semolina-coated fish fried on the roadside and dishes of mutton, chicken, and mutton liver in hot coconut-thickened gravies. Everything arrives at your plastic sidewalk table from some mysterious auntie’s kitchen. Bring a discretely pre-mixed drink of Old Monk rum and Thums Up (India’s Coke). Cool off after at Sharda Paan Wala, next to Gypsy Restaurant a few blocks up, with a cold, sweet paan. The mixture of candied fruits and jams wrapped in betel leaf is typically taken as a palate cleanser; ask for ice magai or you’ll get the normal, ambient-temp version. [$$]

Taxi instructions: Shiv Sena Bhavan; on Google Maps, search Sachin Seafood (and if Kombdi Vade is closed for some reason, you can eat there, too)

33. Appams at Hotel Madina

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82, Lady Jamshedji Rd, Wanjawadi, Mahim West, Mahim, Mumbai
Maharashtra 400016, India

Originally established nearly 50 years ago to serve Keralite Hajjis (Muslims from the southwestern state of Kerala en route from India to Mecca), Madina serves simple dishes from that region’s muslim kitchens. Stop for lunch on your way between South Mumbai and Bandra or coming back after a late night out — they open their doors at 5 a.m. and close at midnight. You’re there for cloud-like appams (a delicate bread made from fermented rice batter and coconut, lightly fried in concave pans, which lend the signature bowl shape) with fiery egg roast or ishtew, which is exactly what it sounds like: stew. [$]

Taxi instructions: Mahim, Paradise Cinema

34. Punjabi Comfort Food at the National

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Bandra Talao, Bandra West
Mumbai, Maharashtra 400050
+91 98198 14949
Visit Website

Good, simple, inexpensive north Indian cookery is not an especially easy thing to find in Mumbai, a city whose canteens skew south and west. This unassuming spot just up the road from Bandra railway station is the exception that proves the rule. Give preference to vegetables, which you can mix at will. Try rajma (kidney beans) with alu methi (potatoes and fenugreek). This is the kind of comfort food that bad Indian places all over America fail to replicate. [$]

Taxi instructions: Bandra Station Road, near Bandra Talao

35. Chaat in Bandra

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A variety of street snacks made from different permutations of fried stuff and chutneys, chaat is always best from a street-side chaat-wala, found on virtually every corner in the city. Everyone has a personal favorite, but if you’re in Bandra for some frenetic roadside shopping (and still harboring concerns about your stomach), head to Karachi Sweets for squeaky clean pani puri. For a quieter spot, walk down Varoda Road to Gupta Bhel Puri, across from St. Jude’s Bakery, for some expertly made sev puri, dahi puri, and bhel puri. And if you see a cart piled high with yams on your way, ask for a shakarkandi: the sweet root is roasted on an open flame, split open, then topped with sweet lime and a flurry of salty, spicy masala. [$]

Taxi instructions: Bandra, Hill Road (if you’ve reached St. Peter’s Church, you’ve gone too far)

36. Dinner at Pali Bhavan

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10, Adarsh Nagar, Pali Naka, Near Costa Coffee, Mumbai
Mahārāshtra 400050, India
+91 22 2651 9400

Often, high-end Mumbai restaurants forsake flavor in the name of ambience. Not so here. The elegant digs never quite manage to out-perform the seriously good cooking. Try the pomelo-and-coconut salad, little shots of spicy-sour rasam, and unusual vegetable dishes like baby eggplants stuffed with peanuts or bitter gourd in pumpkin gravy. On a Friday, you’re a short walk to several of the city’s most popular bars, which start to fill up around 11. [$$$]

Taxi instructions: Bandra West, Pali Naka

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  • 37. Mutton Biryani at Khane Khas

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    16th Rd., TPS Bandra (W), Mumbai
    Mahārāshtra 400050, India
    +91 22 2600 6970

    To choose a favorite biryani place is to court controversy, even in Mumbai, a city of undistinguished biryani offerings. Compared to the renditions served in Hyderabad, Lucknow, and Kolkata, most Mumbai biryani is oily gracelessness. But the rendition served in little clay pots at this Bandra mainstay is as rich, flavorful, and satisfying as any you’ll find in town. Locals will have other favorites and they’ll fight to the death to defend them (the Kolkata-style at Arsalan is more refined, newcomer Hyderabad Xpress in Andheri is a dead ringer for the beloved biryanis of its namesake city), but Khane Khas would have to be on anyone’s list of contenders. [$$]

    Taxi instructions: Bandra West, KFC on Linking Road; if you’re coming from the South, tell the driver to turn left at KFC and Khane Khas will be several blocks down on the right

    38. Pav Bhaji and Golas on Juhu Beach

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    Juhu Tara Rd., Mumbai
    Mahārāshtra 400049, India

    Vegetables and potatoes mashed to a brick-red pulp with inconceivable quantities of butter, served with fluffy rolls toasted in butter: pav bhaji isn’t for everyone. But it is quintessential, especially when eaten at sunset from one of the many snack stalls on Juhu Beach, the throbbing stretch of sea where locals from all walks of life gather to enjoy the closest thing to fresh air this crazy-cramped town has to offer. Follow it with an ice-cold, super-sweet gola (think snow cones). This is what people all over India dream about when they dream about Mumbai. [$]

    Taxi instructions: Everyone knows Juhu Beach

    1. Snack in the Nariman Point Khau Galli

    Nariman Point, Mumbai, Mahārāshtra 400021, India

    Literally "snack alleys," khau gallis spring up near railway stations, offices, and colleges: the culinary lifeblood of a city built on long hours and longer commutes. In South Mumbai you’ll find good ones at Churchgate, between SNDT College and Cross Maidan; near the Opera House, where Charni Road meets Marine Drive; and scattered throughout the old bazaars. Come in the late afternoon to the 1960s business district of Nariman Point, just back from the eastern end of Marine Drive, when office workers take their snack break, and sample street dosas, chaat (see more on chaat below), fresh juices, and dabeli (sweet-savory spiced mashed potatoes on butter-fried rolls). [$]

    Taxi instructions: Taxi Instructions: Nariman Point, Express Towers

    Nariman Point, Mumbai
    Mahārāshtra 400021, India

    2. Goan Sausage at New Martin

    Strand Cinema Road, Mumbai, Mahārāshtra 400 005, India

    Until the 1970s, the tiny state of Goa south of Mumbai was part of Portugal, and the food still bears that influence, especially among the state’s carnivorous Catholics. Though its reputation among local food aficionados has been buffeted in recent years, the tiny canteen known as New Martin Hotel in the heart of Colaba is still a good standby for Goan sausage, a piri piri-spiced chorizo. [$]

    Taxi Instructions: Colaba, Radio Club lane

    Strand Cinema Road, Mumbai
    Mahārāshtra 400 005, India

    3. Drink in a Permit Room Like Gokul

    10 Tullock Road, Mumbai, Mahārāshtra 400039, India

    Named for a prohibition law still on the books that requires individuals to carry drinking permits, Permit Rooms are dark, cheap, and smoky: Mumbai’s very own dive bars. Gokul in Colaba is a classic, beloved among tourists and locals alike. (Janata, in Pali Naka, is the equivalent for Bandra, the city’s most fashionable suburb.) But the best Permit Room is always whichever one is closest when the city’s relentless pace finally gets the better of you. [$]

    Taxi Instructions: Apollo Bunder, near the Taj Hotel

    10 Tullock Road, Mumbai
    Mahārāshtra 400039, India

    4. Dinner at The Table

    Kalash Peshi Building, CS Maharishi Marg, Apollo Bunder, Behind Regal Cinema, Colaba, Mumbai, Mahārāshtra 400039, India

    The chef here, Alex Sanchez, originally hails from San Francisco and is an alum of Eleven Madison Park. There’s nothing especially Indian about the cooking, but Sanchez brings a laid-back Californian attitude and New York rigor to Indian produce with a menu of small plates that has, in just five years, established this as the city’s premier fine-dining institution. [$$$$]

    Taxi instructions: Taxi Instructions: Colaba, near the Gateway

    Kalash Peshi Building, CS Maharishi Marg, Apollo Bunder, Behind Regal Cinema, Colaba, Mumbai
    Mahārāshtra 400039, India

    5. Butter Garlic Crab at Trishna

    7 Sai Baba Marg, Mumbai, Mahārāshtra 400 023, India

    Lots of people (and guidebooks) will send you here for a full seafood feast. Save that for Ankur (also on the map). That said, you’d be remiss if you neglected Trishna’s famous butter-garlic crab, which is truly decadent and worthy of its acclaim. The city's most famous seafood restaurant might be a one-trick pony, but does it really matter when the trick is this good? [$$$]

    Taxi Instructions: Kala Ghoda, on the left side of Rhythm House (a now-defunct record store), and left into the lane across from the Synagogue

    7 Sai Baba Marg, Mumbai
    Mahārāshtra 400 023, India

    6. Veg Toast at Sanjay Singh Sandwichwala

    Kalaghoda, 145 Mahatma Gandhi Rd, Mumbai, Mahārāshtra 400 023, India

    The veg toast is an iconic local snack, available on street corners throughout the city. No one makes it better than Singh: potato, cucumber, beetroot, bell pepper, onion, sulfuric chaat masala, and a hot slap of mint-chili chutney all crammed onto white bread, toasted in a metal clamp over open coals, and topped with butter, more chutney, sweet ketchup, and crispy threads of fried chickpea batter (called sev). Customize at will, adding or subtracting any ingredient you like. [$]

    Taxi instructions: Kala Ghoda (he’s on the main road before the open square)

    Kalaghoda, 145 Mahatma Gandhi Rd, Mumbai
    Mahārāshtra 400 023, India

    7. Seafood Dinner at Ankur

    M.P shetty marg, Mumbai, Mahārāshtra 400023, India

    It looks like an imitation ski chalet and inexplicably favors a soundtrack of classic rock rendered in cheap synth, but Ankur serves some of the best fish and shellfish around. The restaurant specializes in mild, home-style cooking from the coastal ci