Mumbai is India’s most important city. It is known as the city of glamour primarily because it is the seat of Bollywood. This modern metropolis is teeming with posh restaurants, bars and cafés, night clubs and roadside food kiosks. Eating and drinking in Mumbai is an extraordinary culinary and cultural experience not just for the many city restaurants but also for the savory dishes they offer.
As in any exotic destination in South Asia, the really authentic dishes are served at street stalls or carts. Dishes here, however, may be too hot and spicy for first-time eaters. Local snacks are called chaats, and they are very popular all over India and other countries in South Asia. Chaats come in different variants but all are made from dough with chopped onions, coriander, and masala, a spicy mix consisting of cumin, salt, ginger, coriander, black pepper, red pepper and dried mango powder. They are typically served on a bowl-shaped banana leaf. Some variants put potatoes, fried bread, chickpeas, or yoghurt in the mix. The most popular type of chaat is Bhelpuri, which is puffed rice with vegetables and tangy tamarind sauce. Other local dishes to try are goan seafood, kebab rolls, keema, and vada pav (vegetable burger). These are best downed by the local Kingfisher Blue beer, as the locals love it.
Side-street food carts offer a truly authentic cultural experience, but many Western tourists prefer trying out the local cuisine in well-established restaurants where hygiene, cleanliness and good nutrition are guaranteed. Mumbai is home to many specialty restaurants, which include Bharat Excellensea, Sushi Café, and Kebab Corner. Bharat Excellensea is very popular for its delicious Konkan or Indian sea foods. Located near Horniman Circle and the Reserve Bank of India, this posh seafood restaurant is known to serve expensive dishes, but the price is reasonable and definitely worth it. Similar seafood restaurants are Trishna and Mahesh Lunch Home, both of which are less expensive than Bharat Excellensea.
For tourists who would like to have a truly international dining experience, Mumbai offers a number of international restaurants. There are several Chinese restaurants at Bandra, such as China White, Royal China, CG83, Henry Thams and the famous Nelson Wang. Chinese foods are also offered at Ling’s Pavilion, Mainland China Restaurant, India Jones, Great Wall, China Gate, and Golden Dragon Restaurant in the famous Taj Mahal Hotel.
For fans of Japanese foods, the leading restaurants that serve them are Tiffin, Tetsuma, Japengo Café, Pan Asian, India Jones, Origami, Spices, and the best known Japanese restaurant, Wasabi also in Taj Mahal Hotel, Colaba. (Colaba is Mumbai’s most major tourist hub.)
For European dishes, there are cozy Italian restaurants in Mumbai, such as Shatranj Nepoli, Little Italy, Mezzo Mezzo, Vetro, Taxi, and Spaghetti Kitchen. Meanwhile, the most unique food place in the city is Picadilly, because this is the only restaurant in Mumbai that serves Lebanese food.
There are also American restaurants that could spice up eating and drinking in Mumbai. Westerners would be delightfully surprised to see Chili’s on Central Avenue Road, T.G.I.Friday’s in Palladium mall on Phoenix High Street, and Cinnabon, in Pali Naka, Bandra.