Expert guide to Mumbai
Mumbai is a gastronomic adventure through a melting-pot of cultures. From Parsi cafés serving Mumbai's best brun maska (toasted buns), and a 'wilderness-to-table' restaurant, to breezy Portuguese-Goan eateries, and outfits serving blisteringly hot North Indian curries, Abigail Blasi, Telegraph Travel's Mumbai expert, shares the best restaurants in Mumbai.
With powder-blue walls, tinkling tunes played on a Baby Grand views of the majestic Gateway of India, this graceful lounge in Mumbai’s 19th-century Taj Mahal Palace has heaps of bygone atmosphere. It is the classic place to stop for a high tea with a three-tiered cake stand of delicate sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, and pastel-hued creamy petit fours. Streetfood-style snacks include zingy-on-the-palate pani puri – crispy rice puffed shells stuffed with spiced moong daal and served with mint water.
Contact: 00 91 6665 3366; taj.tajhotels.com
Opening times: 7am-12am
Best table: Ask for a view of the Gateway of India
Yazdani bakery and café
There's nothing fancy about this original Parsi café, but with its old metal fans whirring, beamed ceiling and formica tables, it's like stepping back in time to the 1950s when it first opened. Curling photographs adorn the walls, the crockery has seen better days, and even the staff are all of a certain vintage. But the glass cabinets are filled with the fresh rolls that keep the punters coming back, and a chalkboard shows the day’s specials which include ‘firey ginger biscuits’. Make sure you try brun maska – the best freshly toasted, white buns, silky with butter, in Mumbai.
Contact00 91 22 2287 0739
Opening times: Mon-Sat, 7am-7pm; Sun, 7am-11pm
Reservations: walk-ins only
All gleaming white interior and polished-wood, this is exactly the type of organic bakery-cum-café to make style mavens and hipsters breathe a sigh of contentment. Chic and simple with an enticing air of calm uncommon in the hip hood of Kala Ghoda, the menu has an international, creative bent, with pastries, croque monsieur, gorgonzola, apple sandwiches and the like. There are also lots of vegan and gluten-free choices for those on special diets, with black rice pudding and coconut milk, beetroot soup, almond-flour lemon muffins and sandwiches with a choice of gluten-free bread.
Contact: 00 91 22 22678901
Opening times: Mon-Sun, lunch and dinner, 8.30am-11.30pm
Worli to Mahalaxmi
A 'wilderness-to-table' restaurant, Masque can be found in the tangle of dark lanes and warehouse builidings of Mumbai's gentrifying cotton mill district. It's a foodie magnet with a stylish dining room under hand-blown test-tube lampshades, where chef Prateek brings a Noma-style concept to Mumbai, with lots of foraged ingredients popping up on the menu. Concentrating on zero waste and entirely local ingredients, its dishes are simply yet beautifully presented. There are two set tasting menus (veg or non-veg), which offer taste-awakening combinations of lobster and mustard, persimmon with sour aubergine, and salted caramel with apricot.
Contact: 00 91 22 2499 1010; masquerestaurant.com
Opening times: Tues-Sat, dinner, 7.30pm-12.30am (last seating 10.30pm)
Keiba lies alongside the stables at Mahalaxmi racecourse, and is possibly Mumbai’s most enchantingly pretty restaurant, with its courtyard shaded by brilliant-red bougainvillea and cherry-tree mural blossoms across the interior's walls. Well-heeled Mumbaikers drape themselves across pea-green banquettes, tucking into a fashionably pan-Asian offering, including dim sum, sushi and fragrant Thai curries: the sashimi, the har gow (prawn dumplings) and edamame fried rice are all as pretty on the palate as the setting is on the eye. Cocktails are another draw for the in-crowd, such as the tangy Captain Obvious, which mixes shochu, matcha tea liqueur and rice vinegar reduction.
Contact: 00 91 74000 66610
Opening times: Daily, lunch and dinner, 12.30-4pm and 4pm-1.30am
Best table: Sit outside if the weather’s right
Porto & Poie
Located in Juhu, this Portuguese-Goan place is as authentic as it gets in the city, with the bar tiled in blue and white patterned ajulezos (Portuguese tiles) adding to its Mediterranean-tinged illusion. Chef Gracian de Souza has poured his heart into this venture, bringing in fresh produce from Goa daily, including the eponymous soft poie, glossy crusted white bread rolls that are gluttonously used to mop up the rich sauce of some heart-warming pork aamsol (with kokum fruit). Even the cocktails are inspired by a sense of place, with a chance to taste the Portuguese sour-cherry liqueur, ginja.
Contact: 00 91 22 2660 2955
Opening times: Dinner, 6pm-1am
Bandra and Airport
Off the beaten track and along the narrow lanes of Bandra, this small Japanese-Thai restaurant is serious about its food and invitingly exclusive with only six tables waiting to be snapped up (go early!). Grey walls and a black-and-white chevron striped floor set the scene for a contemporary casual lunch or dinner, and there’s a buzz amongst local foodies about its authentic sushi, including maki and California rolls, delicate sashimi, tender grilled chicken gyoza, and spicy pad Thai. The vegetarian sushi is a similarly well-executed alternative, wrapping up asparagus, avocado, pepper and ginger.
Contact: 00 91 22 2604 1188
Opening times: Tues-Sat, lunch, 12pm-3.15pm, dinner, 7pm-11.15pm
Reservations: Walk-ins only
With a rust-red exterior and retro sign, this restaurant doesn’t look anything fancy from the outside, but it’s a coolly reverent hipster take on a 1960s Indian canteen, with long tables on mustard-coloured, patterned tiled floors. It’s full of clatter and chatter, a mix of fashion-forward locals and clued-up visitors tucking into the regional Indian favourites given some Mumbai dash, such as silky succulent prawn momos, or creamy upna semolina with mushrooms. It also serves creative Indian cocktails, such as Canteen Punch, which includes vodka, kokum fruit, and rose, presented in a brass bowl.
Contact: 00 22 4966 6666; thebombaycanteen.com
Opening times: Daily, lunch and dinner, 12pm-1am
A pioneer in India for its creative cuisine, Masala Library has a pared-down elegance, with its white-tableclothed tables and geometric blinds. It's the place to go if you fancy a 16-course culinary journey, with plenty of Mumbai buzz and myriad attentive waiters. The dishes are works of art – 'fake eggs', an amuse-bouche of coconut water and mango purée fashioned to look like soft-boiled eggs served on a nest, a must-try. However, not everything is so tricksy – delicious morsels of marinated king prawns are served with yoghurt and there is also a creamily-rich pulled butter chicken.
Contact: 00 91 8452 2900900; masalalibrary.co.in
Opening times: Lunch, 12pm-2pm; dinner, 7pm-11pm
Close to the airport and thus convenient if you're on your way in or out of town, Peshawri at the ITC Maratha has the slightly non-descript looks of many hotel restaurants with sand-coloured 'crazy paving' walls hung with kilim rugs, but people throng here for the comforting, superlative taste of the rich sauces and roasted meats of North Indian cuisine. Famous for its wonderfully spiced kebabs and tender lamb, with meat so tender it falls apart if you so much as look at it, it is favoured by visiting carnivorous dignitaries as they tour Mumbai.
Contact: 00 91 22 2830 3030; itchotels.in
Opening times: Tues-Sat; Lunch, 12.30pm-2.45pm; dinner, 7pm-11.45pm