from vada pav to biryani: a foodie's guide to mumbai

- Restaurants In Mumbai

Welcome to the bustling, vibrant streets of Mumbai, a city that never sleeps and always eats. Mumbai, the melting pot of India, is not just famous for its fast-paced life and Bollywood glamour; it's a paradise for food lovers. Here, culinary traditions from every corner of India (and beyond) blend seamlessly, creating a food culture that is as diverse as its people. In this guide, we'll take a gastronomic tour from the humble vada pav stands to the aromatic biryani joints, uncovering the heart and soul of Mumbai's culinary landscape.

The Humble Beginnings: Vada Pav

Let's start our journey with Mumbai's beloved street food, the vada pav. This simple yet flavorful dish consists of a deep-fried potato dumpling (vada), tucked inside a soft bread bun (pav), and served with spicy and sweet chutneys. It's not just food; it's an emotion for Mumbaikars. You'll find vada pav vendors at almost every corner, but for the best experience, head to Ashok Vada Pav near Kirti College or Shivaji Vada Pav in Dadar.

The Street Food Queen: Pav Bhaji

Another street food gem is pav bhaji, a spicy blend of mashed vegetables served with butter-laden pav. Sardar’s near Tardeo Road Junction is famous for its rich, buttery version. It's a dish that embodies Mumbai’s spirit – fast, flavorful, and satisfying.

The Irresistible Chaat

No discussion of Mumbai street food is complete without mentioning chaat. From the tangy and spicy bhelpuri at Chowpatty Beach to the crunchy sev puri and pani puri at Elco Market in Bandra, chaat in Mumbai is a burst of flavors. Each bite is a symphony of sweet, sour, spicy, and crunchy, leaving you craving for more.

The Coastal Influence: Seafood

Mumbai, being a coastal city, offers a variety of delectable seafood options. From the Konkani-style prawn curry at Gajalee to the butter garlic crabs at Trishna, seafood in Mumbai is a must-try. Don't forget to visit Mahesh Lunch Home, which has been serving mouth-watering seafood for decades.

The Heart of Mumbai: Dabbawalas and Local Trains

A unique aspect of Mumbai's food culture is the dabbawalas. These lunchbox delivery men are a crucial part of the city's food system, delivering homemade meals to office workers with incredible accuracy. To witness this phenomenon, head to Churchgate station around midday.

Mumbai's Muslim Influence: Biryani and Kebabs

Mumbai's biryani, influenced by its Muslim heritage, is a must-try. The fragrant rice, tender meat, and blend of spices make it a heavenly dish. Mohammed Ali Road is the go-to place for the best biryani and kebabs, especially during Ramadan. Don't miss out on Shalimar's biryani and Bademiya's kebabs.

The Sweet Finish: Mumbai's Desserts

End your culinary journey with something sweet. Mumbai offers a variety of traditional Indian sweets. For a taste of the iconic mango lassi, head to Bachelorr's on Chowpatty. Or try the famous kulfi at Parsi Dairy Farm.

The Vegetarian’s Delight: South Indian and Gujarati Fare

Venturing into the vegetarian side of Mumbai's cuisine, South Indian and Gujarati dishes hold a special place. Matunga, often referred to as the South Indian heart of Mumbai, offers an array of delightful dosas, idlis, and uttapams. Cafes like Ram Ashraya and Café Madras serve some of the best South Indian breakfasts in the city. For a taste of Gujarati cuisine, visit Swati Snacks or Soam for their authentic thalis and snack items like dhokla and khandvi.

Parsi Cuisine: A Blend of Sweet and Sour

Parsi cuisine, with its unique blend of Persian and Gujarati flavors, is a must-try in Mumbai. Head over to Britannia & Co. or Jimmy Boy for an authentic Parsi experience. Don’t miss out on their berry pulao and salli boti, and end your meal with some delicious Parsi dairy desserts.

The Bohri Food Experience

For those willing to explore, Bohri cuisine offers a unique communal dining experience. The Bohri Kitchen, started as a home-dining experience, now offers a chance to savor this lesser-known but incredibly rich cuisine. The thaal, a large communal platter, is at the heart of Bohri meals, featuring a variety of dishes, both sweet and savory.

A Cup of Irani Chai and Bun Maska

Experience Mumbai’s old-world charm with a visit to an Irani cafe. These cafes, run by Zoroastrian immigrants from Iran, have a quaint, nostalgic feel. Try the bun maska (buttered bun) and Irani chai at Kyani & Co. or Yazdani Bakery. These places are not just cafes; they're a part of Mumbai's heritage.

Mumbai’s Fusion Food Scene

The city’s culinary landscape is also home to innovative fusion food. From The Bombay Canteen’s reinterpretation of classic dishes to Masque’s experimental tasting menus, Mumbai’s chefs are constantly pushing culinary boundaries.

The Unexplored Street Corners

While the popular spots get most of the attention, Mumbai's true culinary heart lies in its less-explored streets. Walk through the bylanes of old neighborhoods like Byculla or Girgaum to discover food carts and small eateries serving delectable local snacks.

The Midnight Food Culture

Mumbai's food scene doesn't sleep at night. Places like Bademiya in Colaba and Amar Juice Centre in Vile Parle buzz with activity even late at night, serving everything from kebabs to sandwiches and juices.

A Melting Pot of Flavors

Mumbai’s food is as diverse as its population, a blend of traditional recipes, bold innovations, and flavors from around the world. This city has something for everyone - whether you’re a fan of spicy street food, exquisite fine dining, or anything in between. Every meal here is an adventure, a story waiting to be tasted and told. So, delve into the heart of Mumbai’s food scene and let your taste buds be your guide!


Mumbai's food scene is as diverse and dynamic as the city itself. From street-side vada pavs to luxurious dining experiences, the city caters to every palate and budget. As you explore, you'll realize that each dish tells a story of Mumbai's rich cultural tapestry. So, embark on this culinary journey and let Mumbai's flavors captivate your taste buds.


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