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A five-minute walk from Mumbai Cen­tral sta­tion, Sar­dar’s Re­fresh­ments spe­cialises in straight-from-the-streets, fin­ger-lick­ing pav bhaji. It’s hid­den be­hind white bar­ri­ers, but mut­ter “Pav bhaji?” to any passerby and they will point you in the right di­rec­tion. Two metal plates ar­rive within min­utes: one con­tain­ing thick veg­etable masala strad­dled by a slab of but­ter, the other with fluffy rolls so well but­tered the bread’s yel­low. Squeeze some lemon on top of the choles­terol laden good­ness and tuck in, wip­ing the plate clean with the bread pro­vided. Sar­dar's, 166- A tardeo Road Junc­tion,

Tul­si­wadi, near Tardeo bus de­pot, Open noon-2am


Mo­hammed Ali Road is the bench­mark for skew­ered ke­babs, which hang from smok­ing stalls like siz­zling cur­tains. But to­wards the north end, veer left on to Dim­timkar Road and head to Sarvi. It’s been around for 90 years, has no sign, looks fire dam­aged, and grills the most ten­der seekh ke­babs in the city. Crisp on the out­side and melt­ing in the mid­dle, with a hint of mint – ru­mour has it they grind pa­paya into the meat. Get there early evening, as they sell out fast. Sarvi was a hang­out for the un­der­world in the 90s, and it would be a crime to not try its bheja masala fry (brain fried with spices in a sub­tle gravy). Other dan­ger­ous din­ners in­clude the ma­soor (lentil) pu­lao which hides gen­er­ous amounts of spiced kheema.

Sarvi, 184/196 Dim­timkar Road, op­po­site Nag­pada Po­lice Sta­tion, By­culla West, Rs 100 for four ke­babs. Open 9.30am-11.30pm

While the ke­bab per se may not be unique to Mumbai or the re­gion, a few va­ri­eties that emerged from the Bohri Mus­lim com­mu­nity are truly unique. Gurda (kid­ney) and kaleji (liver) top this list. Char­coal grilled, they go great with freshly sliced onions and a squeeze of lime. Try it at Ayubs, on the street be­hind Rhythm House, Kala Ghoda, open only in the evenings. For out­stand­ing north west fron­tier style Ke­babs, go to Pe­shawari, ITC Grand Maratha, Sa­har Road, And­heri (E).


Minced mut­ton cooked with onions, gar­lic, toma­toes, chill­ies and spices takes on many avatars here. In its orig­i­nal form, it is ref­er­eed to as plain Kheema. Topped with a crisply fried sunny side up egg, it is called kheema sin­gle fry. And scram­bled with eggs, it is called gho­tala. And all three are best eaten with Mumbai’s sig­na­ture pao bread bun. Tra­di­tion­ally a

break­fast dish, it is mainly avail­able in the morn­ings. For­get trawl­ing Co­laba’s tourist spots for del­i­ca­cies and try lunch here the way the lo­cals do it – with a plate of paya, Reshmi kabab or tan­doori chicken, fa­mous chicken biryani and a serv­ing from the mut­ton handi. Bang op­po­site the in­fa­mous Leopold’s, where you get an ar­ray of more Western style dishes, Olympia also does a va­ri­ety of snacks like kheema gho­tala and savouries like omelette pao, and desserts like Caramel Cus­tard. Try a plate of the de­li­cious bheja fry bhurji with pav, bun maska and fresh lime wa­ter. And don’t for­get, this is a cof­fee house, so top it all off with a milky, sweet cup of Irani Chai. Their tan­doori pom­fret fish is also de­li­cious. Olympia is a lo­cal Mus­lim haunt teem­ing with male visi­tors, but fe­male visi­tors are made to feel equally wel­come.

Olympia Cof­fee House, Rahim Man­sion, 1 SB Singh Rd, Co­laba, Open 7am-mid­night.


It’s ev­ery Mum­baikar’s grab-and-go snack. Your ar­ter­ies will tighten at the sight, but your stom­ach will thank you. Po­tato pat­ties mashed with gar­lic, chill­ies and co­rian­der are dipped in chick­pea flour, fried golden, then laid in “pav” – springy white bap that’s well but­tered, spread with co­rian­der chut­ney and sprin­kled with gar­lic and chilli pow­der. Ev­ery­one from stu­dents to busi­ness­men flock to the Anand stall, un­der a pur­ple and green awning, which whips up more than a thou­sand a day. An added touch is a plate of rock-salted fried green chill­ies, which aren’t nearly as fiery as you might think. Cool off with mini bot­tles of sweet lassi from the nearby stall.

Anand, opp Mithibai Col­lege, Gul­mo­har Road, Vile Parle West. Open 7.30am-11pm


The craft of it is part of the fun: ven­dors poke a thumb into a crisp fried puri, fill it with po­tato, chick­peas, onion and sprouted lentils, then dunk it into a sweet and sour mix of tamarind and jag­gery, and also a liq­uid blend of co­rian­der, mint and garam masala (made with min­eral wa­ter). They also serve chaats and siz­zling hot ragda pat­tice, as well as dosas and flavoured faloodas. Share the pave­ment with Ban­dra’s lo­cals, and fa­mous Bol­ly­wood ac­tors.

Elco Pani Puri, 2/A Elco Mar­ket, 46 Hill Rd, Ban­dra West, Open 10 am-11.30pm


No Mum­baikar seems to have been to Bademiya be­fore 3am – a tes­ta­ment to the late-night al­lure of its char­coaled, meaty good­ness. A glo­ri­fied open-air kitchen on wheels, Bademiya sits in a back­street directly be­hind the Taj Ma­hal Palace Ho­tel. Waiters in red aprons ap­pear from a cloud of smoke and hand over plas­tic menus. The chicken tikka rolls are the best op­tion. Slid off skew­ers, the meat is wrapped in a steam­ing roomali roti – as thin and soft as a hand­ker­chief – and topped with strips of fried onion. No sauce re­quired, juices are enough. Mugh­lai dishes like murg musal­lam and shahi tukda are on of­fer.

Bademiya, Tul­loch Rd, Apollo Bun­der, Co­laba, Rs 150 a roll. Open 5pm-4am.



Bhel puri is one of the most com­mon all-day snacks: a crunchy, cold, swee­tand-sour mix of puffed rice, sev, chopped onion and po­tato, and tamarind chut­ney. It has to be mixed and eaten on the spot, and most ven­dors will con­coct their own vari­a­tions. Chow­patty Beach is the home of bhel puri, where it should be eaten while strolling along the shore. Try Sharmajee’s (No 22) or Badshah’s (No 11), amid the clus­ter of stalls op­po­site the Levi’s Store, where rugs are spread out and bhel puri “touts” will bring it over to you.

Sharmajee’s and Badshah’s, Chow­patty Beach, Charni Road sta­tion, Open all day


As a rule, restau­rants with lam­i­nated menus show­ing pho­tos of their food aren’t to be trusted. Cream Cen­tre is an ex­cep­tion. It does a ver­sion of channa bhatura that’s a bit on the oily side, but it’s rated the best in Mumbai by the hordes of stu­dents, fam­i­lies and work­ers on breaks. Sit tight in your booth and en­joy the sea breeze as a foot­ball-sized, deep-fried puri ar­rives, along­side a bowl of creamy masala chick­peas, diced pota­toes and onions. Poke a fin­ger in the top and watch the puri de­flate slowly. A va­ri­ety of other cock­tail snacks are on of­fer, like chilli cheese toast, club sand­wich, na­chos, pizza and siz­zlers.

Cream Cen­tre, Fulc­hand Ni­was 25/B Chow­patty Sea Face, Open noon-11.30pm.


Strictly not street food, but it’s a sin to come to Mumbai and not eat crab. Tr­ishna is ex­cel­lent, but full of ex­pats and tourists, so try Mahesh, around the cor­ner from the Mo­cambo Café, in Fort. Or­der the jumbo but­ter gar­lic pep­per crab with a roomali roti to wipe up the crunchy bits of gar­lic and chilli. If you’re un­sure about por­tions, waiters will hap­pily bring your crab to the ta­ble to wave a leg at you. There’s only one way to eat it – with a bib and both hands, mak­ing as much mess as you like. Other Man­ga­lorean seafood dishes on of­fer are Sur­mai curry. fish tawa fry and Gassi.

Mahesh Lunch Home, 8-B Cawasji Pa­tel Street, Fort


Bachelorr’s (yes, they’ve added an ex­tra “r”), is the de­fin­i­tive hang­out for smooth­ies, shakes and juices. It’s been in busi­ness since the 1940s and has gen­er­ated a loyal fol­low­ing, who gather by the road­side kiosk dur­ing warm evenings, perched on car bon­nets and in open boots. The cream-and­straw­berry milk­shake is a clas­sic, but it also churns out nu­mer­ous choco­late vari­a­tions – from Clas­sic Choco­late and Black Gold Premium to Liq­uid Mar­ble – along with lassi, smooth­ies and a host of fresh lime, co­conut wa­ter and ly­chee juices.

Bachelorr’s, Chow­patty Sea Face, op­po­site Birla Krida Ken­dra, near Charni Rd sta­tion, Open 3pm-11pm


Elco Paani Puri Cen­tre

Vada Pav

Ke­babs @ Sarvi

Pav Bhaji @ Sar­dar’s

Kheema Pav


Chana Bhatura

But­ter Gar­lic Crab at Mahesh Lunch Home

Bhel Puri

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