Le Café In Chembur Is Perfect For Leisurely Lunches

le cafe chembur


For over a decade now, Chembur’s foremost café – Le Café – has delighted gourmands with its crowd-pleasing favourites such as grilled chicken or fish in pepper sauce as well as its pizzas and pasta. They also have salads, soups, and gluten-free, multigrain options for the health conscious. With free WiFi, this cosy 33-seater is an option for a working lunch as well as a raucous reunion with friends.

Le Café, Jewel of Chembur, 1st Road, Near Natraj Cinema, Chembur (e), Mumbai 400071. Phone: 022 6709 9999


If you want to step out for a working meal and a change of pace in Chembur, Le Café comes the closest to a gracious host who is quick to envelop you in a hug, offer some hot chocolate, and let you get on with your work. The décor is fuss-free and minimalist, with bright floor to ceiling windows, vintage brass knick-knacks, and colourful art. This is clearly not one of those places that spent more on the décor and less on menu development.

It is safe to say Le Café is no slacker in the food department. On days when deadlines make you want to hit pause, step in for some quick comfort. If sugar is not your poison, then try their fondue. I like to ask for additional jalapenos, shallots, and grilled pepper and make a meal of it. The service is quick and attentive, and the staff have been here for years – long enough to remember your standing order of veg paprika or stroganoff. On days when you feel the weight of the world crushing you, order their popular thin crust pizzas and call your friends. This is no day for a solo meal, and let’s be practical; you will struggle to finish that pizza alone.

Their desserts can always be relied upon to lift the spirits in the humid summer or the pouring monsoon. Their tiramisu in a cutting glass tumbler is best savoured alone. I rarely get more than a spoonful of it when shared, because even the most slothful lunch companions discover speed as their superpower when attacking this dessert. Maybe it is restaurant karma or payback. As someone who used to scoff at tiramisu as a boring dessert order, Le Café has suitably chastened me.
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Time To Give Coffee O’Clock A Chance



Coffee O’Clock is a café on Veera Desai Road, Andheri that serves a mean hazelnut cappuccino. Don’t be surprised if you find it empty; the neighbourhood residents are still getting used to its presence.

Coffee O’Clock, Shop No. 2, Nirmal LTD, Veera Desai Road, Andheri (w), Mumbai 400 053. Phone: 098208 31321


For weeks after it materialised out of the ether, you could read the thoughts of locals passing by. We didn’t quite know what to make of Coffee O’Clock, yet there it appeared every time we looked, sandwiched like 12 Grimmauld Place between a Montessori school and my Wi-Fi guy. Like all sensible non-Muggles, we were wary of its nefariously tasteful interiors, so we – retirees hobbling to the park, Women of the House returning with plastic cloth bags full of vegetables, a befuddled istriwallah cycling by – stopped and stared.

Not too long ago, our little part of Veera Desai Road was a peaceful cluster of old, grey two- and three-storey buildings; the one now under construction is 21 storeys high. When a Domino’s snuck in and set up camp overnight, we knew Raju had started to become a gentleman. When a Café Coffee Day infiltrated our homeland and the traitors amongst us were caught trading cutting chai for a lukewarm cup of air-conditioning, we realised who put the gentry in our gentrification.  But when Coffee O’Clock’s mug besmirched our fair vista, we clenched our fists and had coffee at home like we were meant to. Sometimes, I wondered if it wouldn’t be nice to break the tedium of my daily filter coffee with something new. Coffee O’Clock is literally a stone’s throw away; naturally, I never went.

My uncle, who lives in the next building, asked me if I’d “managed to go to Coffee O’Clock” with an expression that suggested a visit to a bordello. His son, who had managed, admitted to his indiscretion in a tone that implied said bordello was located on some distant, insurmountable peak. “The owner is a Malayalee,” supplied another uncle, apropos of nothing.

The multitudes that queue up to admire our local Ganpati pandal gazed at the café like an art installation that made no sense. The small throng of garba revellers who bumble around our single bedsheet of a community ground peered at the occasional patron – obviously from a foreign pin code – as they would at someone who showed up dressed in the wrong colour for that particular raatri. Late one night, the sight of its warmly lit space made the itinerant kulfiwallah forget to harangue me with his saab-aaj-kuch-nahin-bika spiel; together, we contemplated Coffee O’Clock’s pool table (70 rupees per frame), which appeared to be the only table occupied by customers. “Saab, yahaan koi aata bhi hai kya?”

And why would they? It is situated two buildings away from the main road. There are no signs. Or nearby offices with suits who attend business meetings. Or colleges apart from a maritime training institute that busses its students in and out, so no coffee for them.

We didn’t quite know what to make of Coffee O’Clock, yet there it appeared every time we looked.

I began to worry for the coffee-shop I wouldn’t dream of entering.

And then, one day, a friend came home on short notice and I was out of coffee decoction (Gasp!), so I crossed over to the dark side – paying for coffee.

Coffee O’Clock wants you to know that it loves motorcycles; it reiterates this everywhere you look: biking magazines and keychains, a diminutive model of a racing bike, a wheel-shaped chandelier with bulbs instead of spokes, and a discomfiting sign that just says: “Coffee + Gasoline”. Here, PMS apparently stands for Parked Motorcycle Syndrome (don’t miss the Royal Enfield usually stationed out front), and a poster asserts, “Some do drugs, some pop bottles, we solve our problems with wide open throttles”. The men’s and women’s loos are identified by pictures of a motorcycle and a scooter, which isn’t sexist at all.

But on the wall behind the counter are black-and-white portraits of an elderly couple. I spot a small, well-tended altar. And I’m relieved by the absence of the usual coffee-shop din and the aroma of coffee designed to make you want to hand over your wallet to the barista and ask him to keep you topped up all day.

At 5.30 p.m. on a Friday evening, no one else is here. A young boy and a younger girl walk in, then go behind the counter; they are the baristas. We are all dressed in our home best. The girl takes my order, while the guy glares at me with suspicion as I write this. The girl sets down my hazelnut cappuccino (very good) and cookies (also good), says “sorry for heart” and grins; the floating foam heart in my coffee looks like a flat, pouting fish or a very large clove of garlic, depending upon which way you look.

I’m starting to like my coffee-shop. Umm, it’s not my coffee-shop, but I’d miss it if it were gone.


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Enjoy Irish Coffee & Kheema Pav At Koolar & Co.

koolar and co


Koolar & Co. is an Irani café in a neighbourhood you wouldn’t expect to find one – Matunga. Established in 1932, it is one of the last of the old Irani cafés in the city. The eclectic menu includes the Irani café staples – brun maska and chai – as well as sandwiches, eggs, Maggi, and Irish coffee.

Koolar & Co., 541, Noor Mahal, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Road, Matunga (e), Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 24125062, 022 24109873


In 2010, I was a friendless college student living in an aunt’s place in Matunga with not too many places to go or people to see. I haunted a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf outlet in Churchgate, but the café culture hadn’t yet hit Dadar or Matunga. Then one day I decided to step into Koolar & Co.

Koolar & Co. – or Koolar’s, as it’s referred to – is an anomaly in Matunga: a rare Irani café in an area that’s primarily known for its udipi joints. Established in 1932, it is one of the last of the old Irani cafés in the city, and its menu has stayed more or less the same for decades. For less than 100 rupees, you can treat yourself to a chai, brun maska, and all manner of sandwiches. If you’re feeling ambitious (or have a dining companion), the place boasts a five-egg “wrestler’s omelette”, which is impossible for one person to finish in a single sitting.

While I do love my eggs and kheema pav, that’s not what drew me to Koolar’s. No, I went there for their Irish Coffee. Coffee liqueur and Bailey’s is a rare treat for me even now, and was rarer for me as a broke college student. But I gravitated instantly towards this menu item, weird as it was on the menu of an Irani cafe. Koolar & Co.’s Irish Coffee is not what a connoisseur is used to. You get a tall glass of strong black coffee mixed with a large shot of whiskey (I never dared ask what brand) and topped off with whipped cream. For 150 rupees, it was more than satisfactory for me.

Irish Coffee at Koolar’s became my fortnightly indulgence, a treat that I convinced myself I could afford for it was more value for money and much more delicious than a sugary ice-blended coffee at a chain café. Koolar’s was one of the few places I could find in Matunga where I didn’t need to spend too much money just to have a place to be alone. After I was served my coffee, no one paid much attention to me, and I was able to while away entire evenings at a glass-topped table watching Kings’ Circle traffic pass me by.

The wide pavement outside of Koolar’s became a landmark too, a meeting point for friends, a place to sit for a quick smoke before we moved on to our destinations. Occasionally, you’d hear a sharp volley of Gujarati curses only to look up and realise the cafe’s proprietor was swearing at someone over the phone again. I realised how much I romanticised the place when I took my mother there: while she tolerated the alcohol content in my coffee, her face twisted into despair when she heard the owners yelling profanities from behind the counter. By that point, I didn’t even notice the swearing anymore – it was just part of the charm.

Conveniently located as it is on a corner of Kings’ Circle, it had become a frequent escape for when I needed a place to be by myself and watch people and maybe drink some piping hot Irani chai. But now I have not been back to Koolar’s in years. I no longer live in Matunga, and in the time since I have moved away, Kings’ Circle has changed in small ways, as has a lot of Dadar. Instead of going back to Koolar’s and potentially being disappointed, I’d rather cherish my memories of open, welcoming place with a warm glow; one of the few places in Dadar where I could sip on a hot, alcoholic coffee and indulge myself for an evening.

Photographs by Suruchi Maira

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Late-Night Coffee And Conversations At Elementaria

elementaria cafe bkc lower parel


Elementaria is a direct contrast to the reservation-only fine-dining restaurants at BKC. Patrons can linger over coffee, nibble croissants, or chat till 1 a.m. at this cosy cafe that serves a host of delicious desserts and beverages. They also have an outpost at Lower Parel.

Elementaria, Shop 1A, Godrej Jet Airways Building, Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai 400 051. Phone: 077380 73812; Shop 10, Khimji Nagji Chawl 1, Opposite Phoenix High Street, Lower Parel, Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 077380 99212


It’s one of those nights when dinner just isn’t enough. The steady stream of overlapping exchanges over fluffy poee and cashew-infused tipples has failed to satiate us. We could do with coffee, but neither our taste buds nor our wallets are tempted by the options at hand. After much dilly-dallying, we call our respective taxis and start departing in ones and twos. When our party dwindles to four, we decide to take a wee walk around the block. Ten steps into our midnight stroll, I spot warm lighting, wooden interiors, and a coffee machine.

Ten minutes later, we’re staring at the delectable display at Elementaria. Not so long ago we were bursting with stories, now our priorities seem to have shifted from coffee and conversation to chocolate and more chocolate. How does one choose between an intense chocolate tub cake and whisky cupcake? Or between a Snickers pastry and a Ferrero Rocher brownie? One doesn’t.

Then there’s the stuff that’s not on display. The Cutting Dessert is an assortment of mousse, cakes, and cheesecakes set and served in cutting chai glasses. The Ele Pots have ice cream, waffles, fudge, cupcakes, choco balls, jelly beans, and sprinkles. Maybe even unicorns and rainbows. The staple sandwiches and wraps seem boring in comparison, but there’s a list of dessert croissants that we vow to demolish on our next visit. Then we have a chocolate tart to celebrate the discovery of our new 1 a.m. coffee and dessert haunt.
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Enjoy Coffee Made From Freshly Ground Arabica Beans At Happy Di Coffee De


happy di coffee de matunga


Near Ruia College in Matunga is Happy Di Coffee De, an espresso bar made from a converted Aarey stall. In addition to coffee, it also serves tea, mocktails, fruit-based drinks, and a limited snacks menu. Prices start at just Rs. 10.

Happy Di Coffee De, Lakhamsi Napoo Road, Matunga Central, Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 080809 08020


In the leafy streets of Matunga is a rather curious sight: an Aarey stall re-designed into an espresso bar. It’s unusual but not surprising: where there’s a college, there’s a street food experiment, and Matunga has three colleges lined up in a row, facing a cricket ground.

Anthony, the owner and operator of Happy Di Coffee De, grinds Arabica beans for each cup of coffee. Regular coffee-shop favourites have different names here (Anthony believes people won’t order a cappuccino if it’s served on the street), so it takes a little work to read the menu and establish the corresponding drink.

It’s an unconventional and amusing experience unless you fall for a contest that involves drinking a piping hot cup of “chatka espresso” within a minute, which entitles you to another free cup of the same. I’m told several brave men have tried and retreated with burnt tongues. I wonder at the fortitude of these fallen men, given that the chatka espresso is priced at just Rs. 20 and made with instant coffee.

For those who’d rather enjoy drinking a coffee instead of turning it into a competition, Happy Di Coffee De does offer some seating options. If you’re feeling reflective, sit on the little bench that Anthony built under the shade of a tree. For a bit of entertainment, find a spot at the Ruia katta from where you can watch young romances bloom or a spot of cricket practice. And the coffee itself? While I can’t speak for the whole menu, I can say that the espresso is superb.

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Spoilt For Choice At Poetry By Love And Cheesecake


poetry by love and cheesecake


Poetry By Love And Cheesecake is a café in Bandra that is kind to the keto (low carb diet), vegan, and gluten-free diets. Of particular note are its desserts, specifically the baked New York cheesecake. Those not dieting needn’t despair – there are plenty of carb-filled and non-vegetarian options as well. Poetry also has outlets at Lower Parel and Fort.

Poetry By Love And Cheesecake. Bandra: Pali Darshan, 33rd Road, Bandra (w), Mumbai 400 050. Phone: 082912 95412. Lower Parel: Kamala Mills, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Fort: Machinery House, Ground Floor, Bharucha Marg, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 022 6237 8411


Scrumptious cheesecake, filled with love,

Humble bread left scorned, sulking

Forgive the poor attempt at a poem, but I am still trying to get over a bruschetta without bread! Then again, that’s the beauty of Poetry besides the mellow interiors and framed verses on the walls. With the kitchen serving keto (low carb diet), vegan, and gluten-free meals, the menu needs your attention, or you might just overlook the purple star besides the bruschetta and start penning poetry. You will polish off the plate nevertheless, given the perfectly grilled chicken and fresh tomatoes and sprouts.

Spoilt for choice, you will then move on to the cheesecake, happy to have missed the carbs, leaving room for all the sugar. As you pick from Nutella, salted caramel, Oreo, and tiramisu, to name a few, more trysts will follow. Eventually, you will find your rhyme. The baked New York cheesecake sings for me each time. As does Devil’s Desire, which comes with a layer of caramel, Belgian chocolate, mousse, and hazelnut.

The savoury list here is just as long, with a variety of pastas, salads, and meals cooked around avocado, chia seeds, kale, and cheese. In the mornings, they are also kind to bread. The breakfast spread spans freshly baked focaccia, croissants, multi-grain, along with muffins, herb butter, eggs, and a coffee that can hold its own. Just like Poetry, which can draw in the health-nut and sugar-crazed with equal elan.

Feature photograph copyright skumer – stock.adobe.com


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Your Guide To All Things Tamil In Chembur




Even the most die-hard Mumbaikars often have a blind spot when it comes to parts of central and eastern Mumbai. Unless you travel by local train on the Central or Harbour lines, stations like Tilak Nagar and Chembur that comprise this Mumbai South Central constituency can seem remote. Chembur has, however, always been shorthand for all things South Indian – and more specifically Tamil – in Mumbai. It is where the molaga podi is never in short supply, and the filter kaapi decoction is bona fide.


The original outpost of Mani’s Lunch Home is still in Matunga, but since January 2017, Chembur is also home to this South Indian joint. Run by Palakkad Iyers, what sets it apart is the authentic sambhar, unlike the sweet, syrupy sambhar you find in most Udipi joints in Mumbai. Come for the filter coffee and plantain bhajji but stay for the rava upma and four-course meals served on the banana leaf. For Rs. 400, a family of four can imbibe the most authentic Tamil vegetarian meal this far west of Chennai.

Mani’s isn’t the sole purveyor of fermented South Indian snacks – you can also sample the wares at Ayyappan Pure Veg., Geeta Bhavan, or Cafe Udipi – all of which have been around for longer. If you prefer non-vegetarian food, there are the famed Hotel Sunny and Hotel Navina, where the TV is set to Sun News as patrons consume chicken or fish with parotha.

Mani’s Lunch Home, Shop No.86, Komal Building, Road Number 2, Chembur (e), Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2402 1112

Ayyappan Pure Veg Hotel. Shop No.72, Shell Colony Road, Near Muthumariyamman Temple, Chembur, Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 098330 48505

Geeta Bhavan, 70/H, Geetmala Building, Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati Marg, Chembur (e), Mumbai 400 071. Phone:  022 2527 8948

Café Udipi, Plot No. 72, Hira Baug, Central Avenue, Chembur, Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2521 1121

Hotel Sunny, Shop No. 43, Shell Colony Road, Shramjivi Nagar, Chembur (e), Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2522 3549

Hotel Navina, Shop No.77, Shell Colony Road, Shramjivi Nagar, Chembur (e), Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 098332 66168


Ratna Department Stores boasts of Rao’s molaga podi, Mysore Concerns filter coffee, home-ground idli and dosa batter (marked with an I or a D to distinguish between them), and various Tamil snacks and ingredients from appalam to til oil sourced straight from Tamil Nadu. Some of these ingredients are not hard to find in most grocery stores nowadays, but Ratna has an impressively vast spread of both Tamil and international/imported ingredients, which makes it a pantry staple. You can also find ready-made snacks such as appam, adhirasam, idlis, wadai, and madras onion pakodas.

Mysore Concern Coffee and Raos molaga podi at Ratna

Ratna, however, is not the only claimant to the throne of the Tamil store in Chembur. Valli Stores has been around for a year longer than Ratna, opened in 1964 by T. Chellaswamy who moved here from Tuticorin. His son Karthik, who has run the store since 1999, says nearly three-quarters of their regular customers are Tamil. Unsurprisingly, he adds that his most popular sale items are the coffee powder and Coimbatore butter, along with vadam, vathal, and pickle. Valli Stores is also the only store in Chembur that sells ayurvedic marundhu, the medicinal halwa consumed along with Diwali bakshanam/snacks by Tamils.

Madras powders at Valli Stores

Karthik’s brother, Alagesan, runs a store across the street called Valli Steels that sells stainless steel utensils, and puja articles, specialising in the Coimbatore wet grinder (for making dosa, idli, or wadai batters at home) as well as paniyaram and appam pans, filter coffee makers, brass lamps, and incense stick holders. Murugan Steel Emporium is another haven for those seeking stainless steel dishes for their kitchen.

Ratna Department Stores, Haware Parekh Chambers, Road Number 5, Ghatla, Chembur, Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2520 3389

Shri Valli Stores, 32/4, Sarvodaya Building, R.C. Road, Postal Colony, Chembur, Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2522 1146

Shri Valli Steels, 39/ 5, Neelkanth Shopping Arcade, Next to Vijaya Bank, R.C. Road, Chembur, Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2528 2162

Murugan Steel Emporium, Shop No. 2, Saideep Building, Plot No. 82 A, Near Indian Bank And Syndicate, Bank, Govandi Road, Chembur, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400071. Phone: 022 2521 1769


The BMC vegetable market under the foot overbridge connecting east and west Chembur has nearly 180 stalls, the owners of most having moved to Mumbai from places in Tamil Nadu like Kanyakumari, Tuticorin, and Tirunelveli several decades ago. The vegetables here are also Tamil cuisine staples – from drumstick, white or yellow pumpkin, cluster beans, plantain flower, chayote squash, and various types of gourds and yams. Mamis or mamas flock here to buy the freshest produce as well as banana leaves and wild plantains, both of which are only available in this market. They will most likely stop to pick up flowers down the street at Padma Florist. From jasmine to tulsi and fragrant lamp oil to incense sticks, Padma florists are a one-stop shop for house pujas, wedding decorations, Ganapati, and Navratri flower arrangements.

Padma Florist, Laxmi Market, 4, Narayan Gajanan Acharya Marg, Chembur (e), Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 098199 60732

Lakshmi at Padma Florist


Co-optex, a Tamil Nadu government initiative to promote handloom weaves, has had a showroom in Chembur for nearly 40 years, offering the finest saris – whether Coimbatore soft silks, Kanjivaram silks, Kanchi or Madurai cottons – at a flat discount of 20 to 30 per cent.


Other shops like Kaveri Silk House or Sarvodaya Vastra Bhandar are run by Rajasthanis but cater to local demand with singudi cotton saris, kanchi silks, and even panchakachams (the dhotis worn by Tamil Brahmin men). The necessary bling to accompany a Kanchi silk – from fine gold to temple jewellery – can be found at Mahalaxmi Jewellers and N. Gopaldas Jewellers.

Co-optex, Hira Baug, Plot No 72, MDS Marg, Near Railway Station, Chembur (e), Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2521 1580

Kaveri Silk House, N.G. Acharya Marg, Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2521 3424

Sarvodaya Vastra Bhandar 4 A, Narayan Gajanan Acharya Marg, Chembur (e), Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2528 2220

Mahalaxmi Jewellers, Bhairavkripa Building, N.G Acharya Marg, Near Flyover, Chembur (e), Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2528 8788 / 022 2528 0538

Gopaldas Jewellers, DK Sandu Street, Chembur (e), Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2529 2928


The church, temples, and associations like Ahobila Muth, Shri Shringeri Shankar Muth, Muthumariamman Temple, Thiruchembur Murugan Temple, Bethel Tamil Church, and Marathi Tamil Sangam are a draw for Tamils who flock to the temple deities or church weekly and also during Margazhi (the Tamil equivalent of Lent, which takes place in December).

Ahobila Mutt0

They host functions all through the year – such as Tamil New Year, Rama Navami, or Pongal – which offer a chance for the community to not only mingle, pray, and seek blessings but also give back. The Ahobila Muth, for instance, offers free prasad to everyone at 7.30 p.m., which patrons can fund.

Ahobila Muth, Chembur East, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400071. Phone: 022 2528 7183

Shri Shringeri Shankar Muth, Road Number 5, Basant Garden, Chembur (e), Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2520 6978

Thiruchembur Murugan Temple, Chedda Nagar Road Number 2, Temple Complex, Chedda Nagar, Mumbai 400 089. Phone: 022 2525 0303

Bethel Tamil Church, 296, 297 & 298, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, Tilak Nagar, Chembur (e), Mumbai 400 089. Phone: 098696 95453


The Chembur Fine Arts Society is really a mecca for Carnatic music and Bharatnatyam in Chembur. Started in 1962 as a cultural society, the FAS expanded into a cultural centre when the auditorium was added in 1993. Today, it’s the beating cultural heart of the suburb with its concerts during the Tamil month of Margazhi (December to January) and classes.

Chembur Fine Arts

Students flock to the FAS every Vijaya Dashami (the traditional start of the academic year for classical dance and music), and the expanded syllabus now includes Hindustani bhajans, Marathi abhangs, and Sanskrit kritis.

Chembur Fine Arts Society, Fine Arts Chowk, R.C. Marg, Chembur, Mumbai 400 071. Phone: 022 2522 2988

All photographs by Ramya Ramamurthy except feature photograph by Superfast1111 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


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Cutting Edge Chai At Taj Mahal Tea House

 taj mahal tea house bandra


Taj Mahal Tea House is, as the name suggests, a tea house. Located in an old bungalow in Bandra, the space is beautifully designed by The Busride Studio in warm, inviting tones that make you want to linger over your cup of tea. You can also purchase their tea from the small shop inside the tea house.
Taj Mahal Tea House, 36/A, Sanatan Pereira Bungalow, St. John Baptist Road, Bandra (w), Mumbai 400 050. Phone: 022 2642 0330 


The first thing you notice about Taj Mahal Tea House is how pretty it is. Ochre walls with framed art, blue flowers, and turquoise, patterned accent tiles. Cane furniture, vintage wooden tables with marble tops, indigo and white cushions. The homey feel is intensified by the fact that it occupies the ground floor of an old bungalow in Bandra.
The tea house is owned by Hindustan Unilever – its full name is Brooke Bond Taj Mahal Tea House – which is in no way a deterrent. Mumbai may be shying away from corporate to embrace young, independent brands, but Taj Mahal Tea House is proof that there is room for both.
Most of the flavours here are ones you aren’t likely to blend at home. Mint is passé (although available for those who like to play it safe); curry leaves, coconut, even paan flavoured teas make you wonder just how versatile the little tea-leaf is. And if you’re a coffee drinker who’s been dragged here by a tea-loving friend, you needn’t fret – there may be just two coffee options for you, but they’re just as good as anything your friend will order.
Whatever you decide to drink, pair it with their buttery brun maska served with seasonal jam. I broke a no bread-no sugar rule for it during a Very Important Work Meeting, and I have no shame in saying I tuned out from business talk while eating it. There might even have been soft murmurs of appreciation as I not-so-gracefully devoured it. Caffeine and carbs always come first, and they’re both absolutely delicious here.
Photograph by Suruchi Maira 
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