Mumbai’s legendary dining institutions: Chowpatty
From a time when Mumbai was called Bombay, till today, the city’s oldest beach-side restaurant stretch has always been a vegetarian one. As one of Mumbai’s wealthiest localities, it houses some of the islands oldest business families who are mostly devout Hindus or Jains. So as things stand in 2016, even global F&B heavyweight like Starbucks have opted to toe the line, because we and they both know that those who don’t, simply shut down.
Feeding Mumbai since the 1940s
Every January, most Mumbaikars convince themselves into believing “Winter in coming,” but only after eating a white and red peaked mountain of strawberries and cream. It’s a yearly ritual and the only place we drive to for a cup of whipped berry goodness is Bachelorr’s, the local pioneers of the seasonal treat. Chowpatty’s famous park-and-order shack delivers to your car seat freshly pressed fruit juices, ice creams, yogurts, milkshakes, sundaes, fruit creams, sandwiches, wraps and pizzas. Our perfect order? 1 pomegranate juice (Rs 225), 1 grilled paneer tikka sandwich (Rs 174), 1 green chilli ice cream (Rs 55) and 1 strawberries with cream (Rs 189).
Bachelorr’s, 45, Chowpatty Sea Face, opposite Thacker’s, Girgaum, Chowpatty, +91 22 2368 2211. 10.30 am to 1.30 am
Feeding Mumbai since the 1900s
Back in the day, if a paan vendor, chaiwalla or home cook (maharaj) made something better than the rest of his contemporaries, the product would thereon be called ‘special.’ One such century-old ‘special’ can be found at Chowpatty’s Paramount Café, with their chai ― best had with bun maska (both Rs 20). Situated across the sandy shores of Mumbai’s favourite Sunday beach, the mirrors, vintage Coca Cola adverts, checkered tiles and table cloth café has many devotes that keeping coming back from Wilson College to Virar, for their chicken lollypop and eggs. Can’t decide what to order? Ask for anything from their kheema pav to chicken fried rice.
Paramount Café, Sattar Seaview, opposite Thacker’s, Girgaum, Chowpatty, +91 22 2369 3023. 9 am to 10 pm
Feeding Mumbai since 1960
For a generation of well-heeled thali-lovers, Thackers is thali and thali is Thackers. Every traveller touring India should try at least one all-you-can eat, multiple courses in one plate Gujarati meal, and this restaurant continually proves to be the best introduction. All you have to do is book a table (recommended), arrive hungry, skip the a la carte snacks and go straight for the Special Gujarati Thali (Rs 295). In case the magnitude of how much you are about to eat hasn’t set in yet, let us just say that it involves consuming over eight courses of salads, snacks, assorted vegetables, breads, rices, dals and dessert.
Thackers, 1st Floor, Birla Kreeda Kendra, Girgaum, Chowpatty, +91 22 2364 9304. 11.30 am to 3 pm and 7 pm to 11 pm
Feeding Mumbai since 1959
Sloppy smiles and sticky fingers are made of these. Growing up in Mumbai, there wasn’t a kid that didn’t have ― or want to have ― his/her birthday celebration at Cream Centre or its more contemporary and continental cousin, New Yorker. The set menu for one of these birthday bonanzas would read: a mountain of onion rings, cheesey nachos, chole with big bhatura, pickled onions and carrots, mozzarella cheese pizza, enchiladas, tacos, ice cream sodas and sizzling brownie sundae. You should think of it like a child-friendly version of TGIF only replace the drink deals with paper table mats printed with puzzles, quizzes and games.
Cream Centre, Fulchand Niwas, Chowpatty Sea Face, Girgaum, Chowpatty, +91 22 3371 6075. 12 pm to 12 am
Feeding Mumbai since 1950s
It isn’t fancy, it isn’t pricey, the menu is one page long and the most expensive thing on the menu will set you back by Rs 100. There isn’t a thing the simple, rough, old Punjabi eatery doesn’t do well but we particularly recommend the baingan bharta, channa masala, palak paneer and dal makhani with a stack of butter rotis. Everybody misses uncle Kamal (Khanna) but fourth generation owner Sanket is doing everything he can to keep the food, service and quality up to the mark that his grandfather would approve of. Only, remember to save some space for kheer. Veggie breakfast seekers, they make a mean mooli paratha.
Crystal, 19, Easter Emporium, near Wilson College, Girgaum, Chowpatty, +91 22 2369 1482. 12 pm to 3.30 pm and 7 pm to 10.30 pm; Closed on Mondays
Feeding Mumbai since 1981
For three decades now this open-till-late drive-in has been serving hungry hoards all the staple ‘Sagar’ fare. And so while the menu is full of South Indian, North Indian, Chinese, sandwiches, pav bhajis, pizzas, juices, milkshakes, ice creams, fruit creams and faloodas, everyone has their personal favourites. Ours being the express idli chutney (Rs 80; served near the cash counter), masala pav (Rs 90) and pav bhaji (Rs 110).
Sukh Sagar, Marina Mansion, SVP Road, Girgaum, Chowpatty, +91 22 2363 6856. 11 am to 11.30 pm
NEW KULFI CENTRE
Feeding Mumbai since 1960
It doesn’t matter where you eat at in the area ― Govinda, Soam, Revival, Amar Juice Centre, Kobe Sizzlers, Domino’s and Asian Street Kitchen ― just as long as your sweet endings are at this old, kulfi house. The options are endless but we think you’ll love their mango, matka and malai flavours most. If there is only one thing you want to try, let it be their Special Kesar Pista (Rs 70).
New Kulfi Centre, 556, Marina Mansion, S.V.P Road, Girgaum, Chowpatty, +91 22 3371 5998. 10 am to 1 am
Photo Credit: www.thackers.co.in, www.zomato.com