Mumbai restaurants tend to get experimental with dosas, a traditional South Indian staple, topping them with cheese, Sichuan and everything in between. But that’s not the case with Cafe Madras. It serves food from the Udupi region of South India and sticks to the basics while serving a surprisingly wide variety of traditional dosas you never knew existed. Round off your meal of dosas, crispy medu vadas and fluffy rava idlis with a glass of ginger lemon juice or a small tumbler of filter coffee and you’re set for the day. Be prepared to wait and share tables at this 75-year-old institution.
BTW: Order mulgapoodi, a dry powder chutney served with oil, to go with your dosas and idlis. Note that this is a vegetarian eatery.
Cafe Madras, Kamakshi Building, Bhau Daji Road, Matunga, Mumbai 400019
Kyani & Co.
Descendants of the Zoroastrian immigrants who fled Persia between the eighth and 10th centuries founded Irani-style cafes in Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad to serve quick, inexpensive meals. Like the community, the number of cafes is shrinking, too. Distinguishable by its unique decor — bentwood chairs, wooden shelves and partitions that hark back to another era — Kyani & Co. is one of the handful of Irani cafes remaining and, by some estimates, the oldest Irani cafe in business. Conveniently, its omelet, akuri, bun maska and masala chai are also a great (and economical) way to start your day in Mumbai.
BTW: Don’t worry if the waiters or owners seem grumpy. They’re like that to everyone.
Kyani & Co., Jer Mahal Estate, JSS Road, Opposite Metro Cinema, Marine Lines, Mumbai 400002
Boteco Brazilian restaurant
Like its Indian counterpart, Brazilian cuisine is a mix of influences. At Boteco, you can start your meal with a momo (steamed dumpling) and end with a churro. Being the only Brazilian restaurant in the city, it’s also the only place you can have pão de queijo and escondidinho, but don’t let that stop you from having pork belly and ham croquettes before you wash it all down with Brazil’s national cocktail, the caipirinha.
BTW: Consider ordering the churrasqueira menu — a platter of sausages, tenderloin steak, pork and lamb. And, yes, churros.
Boteco Brazilian restaurant, Unit GO-1 A, Ground Floor, Parinee Crescenzo, G Block, Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai 400051
South Indian food in Mumbai often is mistakenly thought to be vegetarian because of the sheer number of Udupi restaurants that dot nearly every city street. Hotel Deluxe is a great place to clear that misconception. It serves a variety of non-vegetarian options from Kerala cuisine. Think fish fry and fish curries, mutton sukka, beef roast, Malabar parotta — the list is a long one. Don’t go looking for ambiance in this hole in the wall. It serves sambar (stew) out of buckets, and the tables are tiny.
BTW: To sample the best of Hotel Deluxe vegetarian fare, ask for the sadya (meal, in the Malayalam language) that offers multiple dishes served on a banana leaf.
Hotel Deluxe, 10A Pitha St., Fort, Mumbai 400001
O Pedro is part of a movement in Mumbai that is seeing regional cuisines move out of hole-in-the-wall spots and into sophisticated settings. Serving Goan-inspired food by Mumbai-born, New York-based chef Floyd Cardoz, O Pedro’s menu of Goan staples — chicken cafreal, poee, fish curry and Bebinca — pays tribute to India’s sunshine state that Mumbaiites dream of escaping to on Monday mornings and during dreary meetings.
BTW: At the bar, set up in the traditional Goan style, ask for its signature Pedro gin and tonic.
O Pedro, Unit No. 2, Plot No C-68, Jet Airways-Godrej, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra East, Mumbai 400051
Few things bring Indians together and divide them all at the same time. Mango is one. Biryani — a rice preparation comprising meat, vegetables and spices — is the other. Like mangoes, there are several varieties of biryanis, the preparation varies from region to region and each variety has a devoted following. Persian Darbar serves the North Indian/Mughlai kind of biryani, as well as the kepsa, Persian-style preparation of the same dish. Walk straight up to the second floor, where the decor is Middle Eastern, and order a mutton chaap (mutton chop) and mutton kepsa — the latter serves four to six, so don’t be afraid to ask for a doggy bag.
BTW: Finish your meal with a serving or three of firni, a rice pudding served in clay bowls.
Persian Darbar, 5 Alexander Terrace, Dr Babasahed Ambedkar Road, Byculla East, Mumbai 400027
This is the suburban outpost of the Kala Ghoda watering hole, where Mumbai’s millennial workforce lets its hair down after office hours. Sprawling by Mumbai standards, 145 Bandra, with its terracotta tiles and pool tables, plays a nice mix of contemporary pop and classics. The booze is affordable and the well-stocked bar means the bartender can make you almost anything.
BTW: For late-night munchies, walk east to nearby Sigdi, which is open until 2 a.m.
145 Bandra, 101 HSBC Building, Pali Road, Bandra West, Mumbai 400050
La Folie Du Chocolate
Artisanal chocolates and desserts find home in this French-style patisserie hidden in the bylanes of the Kala Ghoda art district. End your day with a selection of Japanese-inspired desserts or one of the traditional favorites (tiramisu, Rocher caramel) and its signature beverage — Single-Origin Venezuelan 70 Percent Hot Chocolate. This place is simple and small, with white marble and a few tables, but the sweets and chocolates are complex.
BTW: For a post-dessert walk, head back to the main square and admire the stunning Gothic architectural style of the buildings.
La Folie Du Chocolate, No. 16, Commerce House, Rope Walk Lane, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai 400001