The Essential Guide To Matunga




For the last 33 years, Dadar has been my home. In this protracted period, I’ve explored both Dadar and its neighbour Matunga, unearthing their many secrets and treasures. From temples to silk to – but of course – the mighty dosa, Matunga is a microcosm of South India. And it’s worth spending time here to experience all it has to offer.


Matunga Market

Ask any middle-aged woman living in Matunga East what she wouldn’t be able to live without and you can expect the answer to be Matunga market. Why? Because Matunga market is a haven unlike any other in all of Mumbai.

Sunday mornings are the best (and worst) time to visit, because that’s when all of Matunga descends on this little strip to tick items off their weekly shopping list. Here you will find bhaajiwalas and fruit vendors hawking the choicest produce sitting cheek by jowl with a vendor selling a mind-boggling array of banana chips. Right next to him, you will find a person sharpening the knives of aforementioned middle-aged women as they catch up with each other.

Matunga Market, Lakhamsi Napoo Road, Matunga (e), Mumbai 400 019


Chheda Stores

Chheda is where the action is most concentrated because they sell everything from Kraft cheese to khandvi. The two adjacent stores run by brothers are, between them, the answer to all things food-related. Here you will find everything an Indian kitchen needs, whether it’s bajra atta, homemade pickle, imported chocolate, grains, spices, papad or just a packet of bhel.

Chheda Stores, 292, Bhanu Jyoti, Lakhamsi Napoo Road, Matunga, Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2414 4245

Manjushree Chips

Who needs Pringles when you have Manjushree? This tiny store on Chandawarkar Road sells freshly-made chips in all varieties and flavours. Yes, even sour cream and onion. And they taste much better than the mass-produced, pre-packaged stuff that passes for potato chips.

Manjushree Chips, Shri Rang Building, Chandawarkar Marg, Matunga, Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 098337 83213

Matunga Flower Market

The Tamil presence has given the neighbourhood its temples, Kanjeevaram idli, and filter coffee but the most significant contribution is perhaps the row of Tamil-owned flower shops that make Matunga’s very own phool gully. A number of these little shops – some as old as 50 years – line the footpath at the intersection of Bhandarkar and Telang Roads. These shops sell gajras to adorn the ladies of Matunga and garlands for every occasion from birthdays and weddings to funerals.

Matunga Flower Market, Bhandarkar Marg, Matunga, Mumbai 400 019


Mysore Concerns/Quality Tea and Coffee

Before there were Blue Tokai and Koinonia, there were Mysore Concerns and Quality Tea and Coffee. The freshly ground filter coffee powder available at Mysore Concerns is perfect for a Sunday pick-me-up when you aren’t in the mood to brave the crowds thronging the eateries in Matunga. At Quality Tea and Coffee, next to Ram Ashraya restaurant, you can buy beans or coffee powder and brand yourself a coffee connoisseur.

Mysore Concerns, Maheshwari Udyan, Matunga, Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2402 5339

Quality Tea and Coffee, Shreeji Sadan, Bhandarkar Road, Matunga, Mumbai – 400019. Phone: 98210 19823

Gomathy Moorthy/Jain and Iyer

For super soft idlis that you can whip up at home, head to Gomathy Moorthy at Noor Mahal Building, Maheshwari Udyan or Jain and Iyer at Shankar Niwas, Brahmanwada. Their idli and dosa batters are as authentic as it gets. You can also buy a ready pack of ingredients for coconut chutney, malagapoodi to be mixed with oil, and sambhar and rasam pastes for the fastest and most delicious South Indian meal you will ever make.

Gomathy Moorthy, Noor Mahal Building, Dr. Ambedkar Road, King Circle Garden, Matunga (e), Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2418 5375

Jain and Iyer, Shankar Nivas, Brahmanwada, Matunga, Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 098194 61778

Lakshmi Silk House 

The go-to place for handwoven Kanjeevaram sarees, Lakshmi Silk House claims to be the oldest shop in Mumbai for these traditional sarees. Whether or not this is true, it’s where you should go to invest in an heirloom piece that you can dream of handing down to your granddaughter some day.

Lakshmi Silk House, Bhiwandiwala Building, Lakhamsi Napoo Road, Matunga (e), Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2414 3085

matunga silk sarees


Arya Bhavan

Arya Bhavan opposite Matunga Central station is run by Muthuswamy, the king of South Indian catering in Mumbai. It’s where you should go for your fix of Muthuswamy specials – appam and stew and curd rice that no one else does right.

Arya Bhavan, Shop Number 9 And 10, Bhanujyoti Building, L.N. Road, Opp. Matunga Railway Station, Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2415 9449

Ram Ashraya

Ram Ashraya has a wait time of at least 20 minutes at any time of the day, on any day of the week. But that just means that its food is finger-licking good. The sambhar is not sweet, the dosas are crispy, and the rasam will open up your sinuses. Wash all that food down with a filter coffee, and you’ll be in a food coma.

Ram Ashraya, 24, Shreeji Sadan Building, Bhandarkar Marg, Opp. Matunga Kabutar Khana, Matunga (e), Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2410 2369

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A. Rama Nayak

A. Rama Nayak’s Idli House boasts the widest variety of idlis including pepper idli, butter jackfruit, khotto, kancheepuram, and more. Paired with coconut chutney, red coconut chutney, malagapoodi, and green mint chutney, these pillowy soft clouds are great for a lunch as long and leisurely as Udipi service allows.

A. Rama Nayak Idli House, Idli House, #462, Ram Bhavan, Babasaheb Ambedkar Road, Kings Circle, Matunga, Mumbai – 400019. Phone: 2401 2422

Sharda Bhavan

This quaint little eatery hasn’t changed since it opened in the 1950s. With its vintage tiled flooring and inlaid wooden tables, the ambience is as charming as the food is delicious. Order everything from their limited menu and eat it in your personal patch of sunlight.

Sharda Bhavan, Lakhamsi Napoo Road, Matunga, Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2414 1271

Koolar & Co.

There are more Irani cafés in Dadar and Matunga than anywhere else in the city. For your dose of these corner side eateries, head to Koolar & Co. at Maheshwari Udyan where you can dig into a six-egg Irani Wrestler Omelette with brun maska and wash it down with milky, sweet Irani tea.

Koolar & Co. Doctor Baba Saheb Ambedkar Road, Matunga, Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 098203 01842

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Aurora Talkies

Rajnikant enjoys God-like status in Matunga, and nowhere is this more evident than at Aurora Talkies on the Friday of a movie release. It’s where giant-sized cutouts of the superstar are bathed in milk and 3 a.m. shows are sold out. If suspension of disbelief is not your thing, head here to marvel at the building’s art deco architecture instead. Yes, there is another cinema besides Regal that can boast of this style.

Aurora Talkies, Near Maheshwari Udyan, Dr. Ambedkar Road, King Circle, Matunga (e), Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2409 6666


In fact, all of Matunga hides a treasure trove of art deco buildings that are perfect for an afternoon of ogling while ambling along wide, tree lined roads. Unfortunately, these buildings are fast disappearing since none of them have received heritage status yet unlike their South Mumbai counterparts. Carry your camera and get trigger happy before they’re reduced to rubble.


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12 Hours In And Around Juhu




When someone says Juhu, you immediately think of the eponymous beach that beckons hundreds of tourists to its shores and stalls. While that image is authentic, what is also true is that these crowds thin out the further inland you travel. By the time you reach the leafy lanes of JVPD, you’ll see few people on the sidewalks but many models of the latest BMW or Audi. This largely residential area is home to many famous families, but it also houses some cultural delights, themed eateries and shopping gems that will take up your entire day. But first, you have to hit the beach.

Early morning

Juhu Beach

If you wake up an hour early, you live an hour more. This especially holds true if you’re planning to visit Juhu Beach. Land there after 8 a.m. and it’s impossible to walk 100 metres without running into people or tripping over dogs. Get there just before the sunrise, and you can join other dedicated joggers for a brisk run along the shoreline. The southern end of the beach is relatively quiet. Enter from the lane next to Granth Bookstore and make your way upwards towards all the action.

8:30 a.m.

Option A – Aromas Cafe

Every early morning run (jog/walk/crawl) deserves a hearty breakfast, and at Aromas you’ll find food for all kinds of souls. From muesli and berry yogurt parfait for the calorie conscious to the Big Breakfast (eggs, hash browns, sausages, baked beans, mushrooms) for the indulgent, Aromas has it all. Portions are generous and the rosti with cheese and jalapenos is a meal by itself. Even if you aren’t particularly peckish, go for classic coffee and croissant combination and it will linger in your memory for the entire day. Aromas Cafe, Ground Floor, 52, Gazebo House, Gulmohar Road, Below Country Club Fitness, Cross Road Number 7, Juhu Scheme, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 6022 6262 juhu breakfast

Option B – Fable

Fable is charming and quirky in just the right measure. Whimsical pictures painted in black across open yellowed books mounted on the, vintage telephones, and mismatched cutlery are the standout features of this fairytale setting. The breakfast menu is concise, and their bagel with cream cheese, avocado, and sun-dried tomatoes is the hero of this short story. The barley and quinoa upma comes as a surprise, while the French toast with blueberry compote makes for a happy ending. Fable, Shop 3, Ashiyana Apartment, N.S. Road 13, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 6022 6400

11:00 a.m.

Option A – Helicopter Tours

After breakfast, let the party continue 700ft up in the air. A host of companies offer aerial tours of the city, with helicopters taking off from the Juhu Aerodrome. You can fly above the now-iconic Bandra-Worli Sea Link, wave to tourists and locals on Chowpatty, or spot your reflection in the Golden Pagoda at Gorai. With a variety of options in terms of routes (North, South, East or Complete Mumbai) and durations (from 10 to 60 minutes), you’re bound to find something that suits your fancy, and hopefully your budget.  Juhu Aerodrome, Vile Parle (e), Mumbai 400 056. Phone: 022 2661 6738

Option B – ISKCON Temple

If you want to soar without breaking the bank to pay for the flight, then your best bet is a spiritual high at ISKCON Temple. Like most temples built by The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, the one at Juhu is not just an architectural marvel but a hotbed for religious activity that is especially vibrant during festivals. The intricate marble facade and vivid paintings depicting scenes from the Mahabharatha are enough to keep even atheists interested. Apart from housing a research and education centre, a library, an auditorium, and a guesthouse for visitors, the compound also houses a vegetarian restaurant. ISKCON Temple, Hare Krishna Land, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 2620 6860 juhu iskcon temple

1:00 p.m.

Option A – Govinda’s

Any trip to ISKCON is incomplete without a meal at Govinda’s. When the words vegetarian, temple, and food are strung together in a sentence, they conjure up an image of a rather bland and boring meal. Govinda’s surprises patrons with its massive food spread and rich Jain preparations cooked in pure desi ghee. From aam panna and salads to kaju paneer and shrikhand, they’re all on the buffet table. You can also order South Indian dishes from the menu, though you may change your mind after one glance at the buffet spread. Govinda’s ISKCON Temple, Hare Krishna Land, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 2620 6860

Option B – Dakshinayan

If all your heart desires is a South Indian meal, you can head to Dakshinayan for the nine types of white, fluffy orbs of guilt-free heaven they offer. If you can’t choose between Ambassador Idli (mini idlis in sambhar, topped with raw onions and coconut), Nei Idli soaked in ghee, and Tayir Idli dunked in curd, you’ll have to go with a large group. But you must go. If not for the idlis then for the crisp rava masala dosa and onion uttapam. Dakshinayan, Gandhigram Road, Near Hare Krishna Temple, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 2620 8812

 3:00 p.m.

Option A – Chandan Cinema

If you’re lucky enough, your day out in Juhu may just coincide with the release of a highly anticipated Hindi film starring one of the superstars. You should book Stall tickets at Chandan and reach early to just soak in the atmosphere. You still have people whistling and cheering every time the hero enters, standing on seats during fight sequences, and dancing to songs along with the actors on screen. With its folding wooden seats, popcorn packets, and samosas in white paper bags, Chandan Cinema still holds on to some traces of its glorious days. Chandan Cinema, S Dnyaneshwar Marg, Near ISKCON Temple, Sainath Nagar, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 2620 0437

Option B – Granth Book Store

The eternal debate about films vs. books will manifest itself in your itinerary as well. If you had to pick between three hours of watching Shah Rukh Khan serenade PYTs on screen or three hours reading George RR Martin while sipping on coffee, what would you decide on? If you have literary leanings, then Granth is the perfect place to spend a quiet afternoon. This two-storey bookstore stocks bestsellers and better-known titles in chic monochrome shelves and plays soft jazz in the background. Pro Tip: Grab one of the tables by the glass windows overlooking the upscale neighbourhood, and don’t leave until you absolutely must. Granth Book Store, 30/A, HM House, Juhu Tara Road, Opp Rotary Club, Santacruz (w), Mumbai 400 049. Phone:  022 2660 9327

Option C – Juhu Shopping Centre

The one-stop shop for all your miscellaneous needs and desires, Juhu Shopping Centre is actually a row of different buildings spread out over 200 metres. Shops inside these old buildings span all genres between general store and bridal studio. If you need a gift for your four-year-old nephew, you’ll find a mini car with flashing lights and a Pokemon bonet. If you need a fancy saree blouse by next week, you’ll find a boutique where you will also pick up clothes for the other wedding functions. If you need a snack, you’ll find the jhaal muri uncle a few steps away from Quality Stores. Vaishali Shopping Center, Shop No. B-1, next to Sahakari Bhandar, Plot No.5, JVPD Scheme, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049.

5:00 p.m.

Option A – Jhaal Muri

At around 5 p.m. every evening, a man will set up his steel tins around him like a drum set and then play the same melodious tune throughout the evening, churning out packet after packet of Calcutta’s favourite snack. Jhaal muri, or spicy puffed rice, is a Bengali specialty rarely found outside of East India, and almost never found in its true form. The man slicing the chillies and raw mango may change every week, but the ratio of kala chana to aloo or the quantity of mustard oil never alters. Be warned though, this sniffle-inducing snack is not for the faint hearted. juhu jhaal muri

Option B – Stalls outside Mithibai College

For a more substantial (and less fiery) snack, follow the college crowd to the food stalls opposite Mithibai College. On the “must try” list: Schezwan vada pav from Shivaji Vada Pav Stall, Andar Bahar cheese grill sandwich from Mithibai ka Famous Sandwich, and pizza dosa from Anand. Purists better sit this one out. North South Road Number 1, Suvarna Nagar, Vile Parle (w), Mumbai 400 056.

Option C – Aleph

Unlike other cafés where the staff drops subtle hints and serves not-so-subtle stares if you’ve been occupying a table for far too long, Aleph actually invites you to lounge on their mattresses for as long as you like. Coffee at this hipster café is a good idea for other reasons as well. One, they have a rooftop. Two, they have fairy lights. Three, they have a dog. They also have Madagascar vanilla coffee and six different types of tea. Aleph, 7-28/29 1st floor Janki Kutir, Juhu Church Road, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 099303 84641

Option D – Tea Villa Café

An open courtyard, green window shutters, and wall garden lend Tea Villa Café some fantastical charm. This could be the house of any one of the characters from the fairy tales our grandmothers told us when we were little; a character that drinks copious amounts of tea. Tea Villa Café offers over 70 different types of tea and has three pages dedicated to just chai. Brews from across the world are represented on the menu with Kashmiri Kahwa, Luang Ching Tea, and Japanese Sencha being some of the favourites. Tea Villa Café, 32, Juhu Church Road, Near Prithvi Theatre, Janki Kutir, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 8080850000

6:30 p.m.

Option A – Juhu Joggers Park

Juhu is dotted with small garden, jogging tracks, and play areas, but a particularly charming space is the Juhu Joggers Park. In the morning, you can see residents practicing yoga in the gazebo and hear the hearty guffaws of the local laughter club. In the afternoon, people lie down on the closely cut grass at the fringes and take a long snooze. In the evening, the park is a favourite for children and lovers who find solace in the jungle gym and on the benches respectively. Walkers, joggers, and runners can be found throughout the day, using the dedicated mud and paved tracks in the centre of the park. Joggers Park, Vaikunthlal Mehta Road, Ashok Nagar, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049.

Option B – Prithvi Theatre

A suburban mecca for lovers of arts in all its forms, Prithvi Theatre remains the preferred venue for a cultural night out in town. If you don’t get a ticket to one of the experimental or smaller productions on the main stage, you may be able to attend a film screening or a talk in the adjoining building. The tiny bookshop stocks some lesser-known titles on theatre, the front courtyard is always lit with strings of yellow bulbs, and the Irish Coffee at the café still maintains its untarnished reputation. Keep an eye out for familiar faces, both onscreen and off-screen. Prithvi Theatre, 20 Janki Kutir, Juhu Church Road, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 2614 9546 juhu prithvi theatre

Option C – Amrapali Jewels

From Diane Kruger in Troy to Deepika Padukone in Ram-Leela, many a famous figure have been adorned by Amrapali’s jewels. If you want to add your name to that list, head to the Jaipur-based jeweller’s Juhu store and spend some time admiring their intricate pieces. Funky, neon necklaces designed by Manish Arora, bracelets inspired by Turkish Kilms, and chunky, gleaming jewels from Hyderabad glitter on the glass shelves. Prices are clearly on the higher side, but here’s some perspective: Amrapali may be your only chance to own a Manish Arora design. Sold. Amrapali Jewels, Phoolwari Cottage, Juhu Church Road, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 2612 5001

Option D – Bhaidas Hall

Bhaidas Hall is a landmark in Juhu. This multipurpose auditorium hosts plays, music performances, school functions, college convocations, and even transforms into a wedding reception venue. All long-running Gujarati plays make repeated appearances at Bhaidas. You know it’s show day when you see cars outside the gate holding up traffic, and theatre patrons getting off from their vehicles straightening their jackets and smoothing their cotton sarees. Don’t forget to sample their famous samosas during the intermission. Bhaidas Hall, Gulmohar Road, Near Mithibai College, Vile Parle (w), Mumbai 400 056. Phone: 022 4219 9924

8:00 p.m.

Option A – Gadda Da Vida

A drink at Novotel’s sea-facing bar is the best beginning to the end of an eventful day. Watch the sun dip into the Arabian Sea while sipping on a chilled beer or one of Gadda Da Vida’s signature cocktails. As the sun rays fade, the candles on each table come alive to cast shadows and create an atmosphere conducive to romance and intimate conversations. If you’re looking to earn some brownie points with your partner, Gadda Da Vida’s your place. Gadda Da Vida, Lobby level, Novotel, Balraj Sahani Marg, Juhu Beach, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 6693 4444

Option B – Silver Beach Café

If (like the writer) you consider yourself too old for such shenanigans and real-time social media updates, make your way to a quaint restaurant in one of the JVPD back-lanes. With its French windows, leather seats, and dim lighting, Silver Beach Café is every first-date dream, but it’s also the perfect spot for a cosy catch-up with close friends over some wine and pasta. You can’t go wrong with the spinach and cream cheese ravioli or the roasted vegetable risotto. Silver Beach Café, Jaldarshan Building, Near Hare Rama Hare Krishna Temple, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 3996 7496

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Option C – On Toes

On Toes is like a blast from the past. With its ’90s interiors and the club above playing retro music, it transports back to the early days of eating out. Staple starters such as hara bhara kababs and spring roll remain popular, but it’s the locha naan that has patrons licking their fingers. A thick naan stuffed with cheese, garlic, butter, and coriander, this dish can be spotted on almost every table in the restaurant. Apart from the standard Punjabi fare, On Toes also serves the most delicious dal khichdi with palak raita. All meals end with sauf and sugar. On Toes, No. 7 Mithila Shopping Centre, V Mehta Road, JVPD Scheme, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 6627 6464

Option D – Facing East

The only restaurant in the vicinity serving authentic South East Asian cuisine, Facing East is known for its extensive menu and generous portions. The dim sums here are soft, not doughy, and the lemon coriander soup is packed with subtle flavours that linger on even after dessert. The indoor and outdoor seating arrangement is authentic and intimate, with tables sometimes falling short of space to accommodate entire orders. Best to ask for a bigger table while reserving in advance. Facing East, JVPD Scheme, Opposite Lotus Eye Hospital, 13th Road, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 2625 1199

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Mockingbird Café Bar Is Churchgate’s Bestseller


mockingbird cafe bar


With its wordy décor, eclectic menu, and library under the stairs, Mockingbird Café Bar attempts to stimulate the mind while tingling the palate. From Thai curry to twisted thrillers; potent coffee to pretty paperbacks; classic cocktails to handy compendiums; you’ll find it all behind the glass doors of Mockingbird.

Mockingbird Café Bar, 80, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate, Mumbai 400 020. Phone: 022 6022 6023


I’m attempting to read my first digital book, index finger tapping down every 30 seconds to turn the proverbial page, eyes darting up from the phone more often than they should. I look over to the writing on the wall, a quote from To Kill A Mockingbird next to the tire swing from the Radley’s front yard. I glance at the famous words of famous men and women sprinkled over a cluster of posters. I twist back on my surprisingly comfortable high stool and face the bookshelf where Zadie Smith sits spine to spine with Vikram Seth. I turn back and put my phone into my pocket to prevent further sacrilege.

At Mockingbird, there’s no escaping from phrases, pages, and puns. From the cozy décor and witty cocktail names (care for a Bloody Carrie?), to the eclectic, yet carefully curated menu, everything here has a literary connection. The youngest café and restaurant on Churchgate’s busy thoroughfare, Mockingbird has become an oasis for those seeking a cup of cappuccino and some quiet. Here, America croons at just the right volume, the cookie accompanying the coffee is chocolate chip, and the herb garden patch out front is a breath of fresh air.

Not everybody who walks in is seeking company in the pages of a classic. Kitty parties, family dinners, and romantic dates are more common than solo meals. But if you’re a reader who appreciates the typewriter in the corner just as much as hearty breakfast menu, Mockingbird is one for the books.

Feature photograph copyright George Dolgikh –


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Cappuccinos, Croissants, And Co-Working At Bombay Coffee House


bombay coffee house


Bombay Coffee House is a sound option for those looking to work out of a café in Bandra. The coffee is delicious, the staff is courteous, and you can’t complain about the WiFi on most days.

Bombay Coffee House, 248, New Kamal Building, Waterfield Road, Bandra (w), Mumbai 400 050. Phone: 022 2642 6879


Every coffee connoisseur worth their beans knows that the best brew in town can be found in Bandra. But if you happen to be a freelancer with a refined caffeine palate, the mocha-sized café pool shrinks to the size of an espresso shot. Koinonia (in neighbouring Khar) can barely accommodate more than 10 humans at a time, let alone laptops. The Bagel Shop is so popular it often has too many humans. Blue Tokai doesn’t have a washroom. Enter Bombay Coffee House.

Everything about Bombay Coffee House is as simple and straightforward as the name suggests. The décor borders on vintage with old-fashioned booths, marble top tables, and black and white photographs of the city. This could be a coffee bar in Fort during the 1960s, but the freelancer friendly plug points under most tables give it away. The concise menu doesn’t inspire awe, but the flaky French croissant possesses a certain je ne sais quoi that leaves the eater rather dumbfounded. This means it’s wise to choose the “croissandwich” with ham and cheese or pesto and grilled vegetables over the all-day breakfast items on offer.

When it comes to coffee, you can’t really go wrong. The beans are sourced from some of Karnataka’s most famous coffee plantations, and the prices don’t force you to stretch your latte for the entire duration of your visit. A recent “working day” at the café with a friend saw us start our morning with foamy, flavoured cappuccinos, move on to Vietnamese iced coffees at mid-day, and finally turn to steaming mugs of mocha in the evening while the rain went on with its surprise act on the other side of the window. Between bouts of giggles, discussions about conspiracy theories, and sipping silently on superb coffee, we never did get much work done. But not once were we asked to hurry or nudged into placing an order. What more can a freelancer ask for?


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The Heritage District Is Home To Kala Ghoda Café



Kala Ghoda Café is situated inside a 20th Century barn in a quiet lane in Kala Ghoda. They offer organic coffees, teas, and infusions, as well as a range of snacks and salads. All their breads are freshly baked at the café itself.

Kala Ghoda Café, Bharthania Building, A Block, 10, Ropewalk Lane, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 022 2265 0195


How does a modern-day café hold its own in the city’s heritage precinct? I wondered before walking into (for the first time ever) Kala Ghoda Café many years after it had opened and gained favour amongst the “it” crowd. I’d heard so many people talk so favourably about KGC, and all I could think was, “But it’s just another café, right?” I’ve never been happier to be proven so wrong.

It was wet, gloomy, and depressing outside that evening, the way most monsoon evenings are in the city. One step inside the café, and the glow of the light combined with the promise of good great coffee is all it took for my spirits to lift (I suspect the coffee had a lot to do with that). It’s been three years since that day, and after multiple post-run breakfasts with a sweaty crew, post-lunch indulgences with the best chocolate cake in Mumbai the world, and endless meetings over coffee, I still don’t have an answer for how this modern-day café holds its own and fits right in. It could be because of the charm of being created inside a 20th Century barn. It could be because of their signature blend of organic, home-grown coffee and guilt-free, freshly baked breads. It could be because the owner encourages the patrons to be ecologically conscious and walk or bike to the café. Or it could be because it’s a picturesque, stand-alone space reminiscent of the cafés we visit on holiday – a rarity amidst the homogenised, soulless multitudes of chain cafés that have infiltrated this city.

Photograph courtesy Kala Ghoda Café


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Spoilt For Choice At Karachi Bakery And Cafe

karachi bakery and cafe bandra


Karachi Bakery and Cafe is a welcome addition to Bandra’s burgeoning café scene and stocks the famous tutti-frutti biscuit plus other goodies from Hyderabad’s iconic bakery. The café offers limited seating and serves beverages, snacks and desserts throughout the day.

Karachi Bakery and Cafe, 4, Ground Floor, Corner View, 15th/33rd Road, Bandra (w), Mumbai 400 050. Phone: 022 3015 1542


Say Hyderabad and one (or all) of these three images will pop up in most minds – Hyderabadi biryani, Char Minar, and Karachi Bakery’s fruit biscuits. While you still have to travel 750km for the first two, the latter can be found sitting snugly on a shelf at the 65-year-old bakery’s first Mumbai outpost in Bandra.

Distinct packages of Karachi Bakery’s signature square biscuits dotted with tutti-frutti lure passersby through the strategically designed glass façade. Inside, flashy boxes of biscuits, sweets, chocolates, and snacks cover an entire wall. Sweet and salty Osmania biscuits, five flavours of soan papdi, and four types of biscotti jostle for space on the same shelf. Nankhatai, khari and coconut cookies call out from the back. Nachni chips, ragi biscuits, and baked chakli meant to please the health-conscious lie ignored at the bottom rung. If you scan systematically through the entire display, you will spot boxes of decadence hidden between the usual suspects. Look out for their balushai, besan gajak, and gujiya.

Even the most decisive will dither at Karachi Bakery’s great wall. The most logical plan of action in this case would be to settle down on a wooden barstool, order a cup of cappuccino and study all the treats in great detail. If you need more time, indulge in a chocolate éclair or blueberry cheesecake baked by the cafe’s Hyderabadi chef. Die-hard tutti-frutti fans can just borrow a paperback from the counter or watch the latest luxury cars whiz past. Whatever you choose to do, don’t count on leaving Karachi Bakery in a jiffy.

Feature photograph by Suruchi Maira
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12 Hours In And Around Lower Parel




Tall, crumbling chimneys peek out between sleek office towers. Vibrant chawls, once home to the city’s mill workers, are dwarfed by glass high-rises with swimming pools. Sloping, wooden beams lend support and character to new restaurants built inside skeletal textile mills. You’re never too far away from a physical reminder of Lower Parel’s former glory. This is where the old and new co-exist, and spending a day here is akin to a roller coaster ride that dips you into the past and then accelerates you into the future. Strap in for the ride.

9:00 a.m.

Option A – La Folie Patisserie

If you shut your eyes, soak in the sunshine and inhale the aroma of freshly ground coffee, you could be in Paris. Open your eyes and you’re seated at the little nook by the window at La Folie Patisserie, watching the early office bunch trickle in, dreaming about Eggs Benedict. A few things to remember: you can’t share the croissant because it’s too flaky to cut; don’t be surprised to see copious amounts of avocado in your Avo Bowl; everything off the girdle is worth the wait, especially the Belgian waffles with Nutella and maple coulis. La Folie Lab, Unit no. 10, Trade World ‘B’, Kamala Mills, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 096999 93350. Opens at 8 a.m. daily

Option B – D:OH

Green chairs, comfort food and a quick game of Scrabble – D:OH is the perfect embodiment of starting your day right. The airy, sunlit cafe offers fuss-free breakfast favourites like French Toast, Banana Pancakes, and Akuri. Hash browns are crispy and buttery, and the coffee feels like home. Time saved by the concise breakfast menu can be spent wisely in front of the beer display. D:OH, Ground Floor, Unit 2B, Trade View, Kamala City, Kamala Mills, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 022 6237 2829. Opens at 9 a.m. daily Lower Parel Guide_004

Option C – Poornima

Get in the thick of the action by leaving Kamala Mills and making your way down Tulsi Pipe Road to Poornima. An outpost of the iconic eatery in Fort, this non-descript South-Indian joint is where the locals fuel up for the manic day ahead. You’ll find corporate workers, bank managers, and mill workers tucking into Mangalore buns, rasam vada, and onion uttapams while students share a single plate of sheera. You can’t go wrong with Poornima’s quick service and dependable food. No bad morning ever started with pudi dosa and lassi. Poornima, Shop No 9, 237- A, Rustam Handere Building, Opp. Peninsula Lower Parel Compound, Ganapatrao Kadam Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400013. Phone: 022 2495 7600. Opens at 8 a.m. (closed on Sundays)

11:00 a.m.

Option A – Piramal Museum Of Art

Once you’ve demolished your pudi dosa, just cross the busy road and waltz into Peninsula Corporate Park with a full tummy. Walk into the central atrium of the Piramal Tower to find refuge from all the corporate humdrum. The Piramal Museum of Art is one of only two private art museums in the city and is luckily unknown to most tourists. The private art collection of Ajay and Swati Piramal boasts works by Akbar Padamsee, Jehangir Sabavala, MF Husain, FN Souza, and many others. The venue has an active calendar filled with regular thematic art exhibitions, talks, workshops, and seminars, as well as a tiny shop selling gift items. Piramal Museum of Art, B Wing, Ground Floor, Piramal Tower, Peninsula Corporate Park, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 022 3046 6981 Lower Parel Guide_002

Option B – Trilogy Bookstore and Library

Follow the signboards in the Raghuvanshi Mills Compound until you reach the tiny slice of sunlit heaven known as Trilogy. Apart from the usual literary fare, this library/bookshop stocks graphic novels, rarer titles, coffee table books, and illustrated material. If you get lost inside the book labyrinth, follow the neon Post-Its with hand-written recommendations from the owners, members, and regular customers. They have an extensive children’s section as well as a separate library membership for the tiny tots. Trilogy, 1st floor, Building No. 28, Above Mercedes Service Center, Raghuvanshi, Mills Compound, Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 080805 90590

1:00 p.m.

Option A – Pravas

If you’re ready for an indulgent meal, Pravas will take you on a culinary journey to Gujarat. The only restaurant in the city centred around a railway theme, Pravas offers the experience of dining inside a recreated train compartment, albeit a rather ornate one. Choose between the unlimited thali, traditional Gujarati snacks, and token street food and top up the meal with a bowl of Locha Mohanthal. If not for the view outside, you could well be aboard the Palace on Wheels. Pravas, Gate No. 4, Beside Smaaash, Kamala Mills, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 022 3997 1887

Option B – Jai Hind Lunch Home

Jai Hind Lunch Home has been saving corporate lunchgoers for many years now. Like its other branches, the Lower Parel outlet of this dependable chain serves spectacular seafood dishes. Regulars swear by the stuffed bombil and prawns Koliwada, vegetarians order repeats of sol kadi. Peak hours could mean a substantial wait, sharing your table with other eager eaters, and shouting above the din to communicate with your companions. But proceed with patience and you won’t be disappointed. Jai Hind Lunch Home, 7/8, Madhav Bhuvan, ‘B’ Block, Opposite Kamala Mills, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai, 400 013. Phone: 022 2493 0010 Lower Parel Guide_006

Option C – 1 Tablespoon Pizza Kitchen

When you’re at Todi Mill during lunch hour, it’s tempting to ignore all the fledgeling eateries and head straight to the bigger names. Dare to digress and you will be rewarded with the most delicious pizza in the vicinity. 1 Tablespoon Pizza Kitchen has little more than one table and just about enough chairs to accommodate a medium-sized group, but the menu runs for pages. With names like Ciao Chili, Blowing Fire, and Maillard Reaction, every pizza sounds promising. When the thin crust pizza arrives at your table crisped to perfection and loaded with toppings, you know they also deliver on their promises. 1 Tablespoon Pizza Kitchen, Unit 1, The New Mahalaxmi Silk Mills Premises, Mathuradas Mill Compound, Between Zaffran & Cafe Zoe, Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 075064 33908 

3:00 p.m.

Option A – Clue Hunt

After lunch, you can shake off the lethargy and engage in a stimulating activity like Clue Hunt. A “room escape” game littered with clues to help solve a mystery in under 60 minutes, Clue Hunt tests your logical skills and ability to work with a team. You can choose between three mysteries: The Stolen Painting, The Diamond Maze, and The Lock-up Mystery. One hour in a closed room, racing against the clock to break free and all traces of lethargy will disappear. Clue Hunt, Ground Floor, CD House, Mathuradas Mill Compound, Behind Cafe Zoe, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 022 2499 9165

Option B – BARO

If you’d rather give in to your full-belly laziness, take a leisurely stroll over to BARO. Browse through their eclectic collection of furniture, admire the Suzani armchair, intricate Rajasthani phads, vintage lampshades, and lacquered steel trunks. Sink into a couch and curl up next to Laila or Maya. Owner Srila Chatterjee’s dogs know the cosiest spots in the house. BARO, 12, Sun Mill Compound, Tulsi Pipe Road, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 022 4034 4888 baro srila chatterjee siddharth sirohi

4:30 p.m.

Option A – Blue Tokai

The heady aroma at Blue Tokai is enough to awaken you from your mid-day stupour. Sift through the menu offering cappuccinos, affogatos, and almond croissants before deciding on at least two items. Watch the roastery in action through round glass windows on Wednesdays and Sundays. On other days, you can just concentrate on your cortado and mumble “I love coffee” into your cup. Blue Tokai, Unit 20-22, Laxmi Woollen Mill, Opposite Khazana Furniture, Off Dr. E Moses Road, Mahalakshmi, Mumbai 400 011. Phone: 098200 95887 Lower Parel Guide_003

Option B – The Rolling Pin

If you’re not as finicky about your coffee but go all Masterchef while dissecting your dessert, then The Rolling Pin is the right place for you. On a diet or not, it’s impossible to remain immune to the fragrance of freshly baked goodies. Choose from over 40 types of cakes, tarts, brownies, fudge, and cookies and watch the pastry chefs roll croissants on white worktops while you wait for your coffee. With its mind-boggling variety and vibrant displays, The Rolling Pin could well be the modern version of Hansel and Gretel’s house. No need to leave a breadcrumb trail, the aromas will lead you right back. Pro Tip: Order everything mango on the menu during the summer months. The Rolling Pin, 12, Janta Industrial Estate, Opposite Phoenix Mills, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 022 4610 4610

Option C – Zen Cafe

Zen Cafe is Lower Parel’s best-kept secret. Located on the mezzanine floor of a furniture store inside a compound filled with similar shops, this vegetarian café is often ignored for more obvious options. The perfect spot for a quick catch-up with a friend or a leisurely date with your current literary flame, Zen Cafe exudes laid-back vibes and churns out top-notch cappuccinos. The couches are inviting and the staff is patient with freelancers, lovers, and bookworms. Zen Cafe, at the Mezzanine of ICasa, Raghuvanshi Mills, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 022 2498 4825

6:00 p.m.

Option A – Matterden CFC

Matterden CFC is a restored building with an open courtyard, red-tiled roof, and two white elephants. The erstwhile Deepak Cinema was spruced up a few years ago and now screens classics of world cinema, offbeat films, and documentaries, all for under Rs. 125. Grab a packet of popcorn and sink into one of the recently upholstered red seats to enjoy some Kieslowski, Kiarostami, or Kurosawa. Matterden CFC, 38, NM Joshi Marg, BDD Chawl, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 022 2492 3399 matterden-cinema-deepak

Option B – Sitara Studio

Sitara Studio is a tiny, tiny venue for arts and culture in a narrow alley on the fringes of Lower Parel. Weaving through the evening crowds, dodging handcart pullers, and asking chaiwallas for directions is a crucial component of the Sitara experience. A relatively new entrant on the scene, Sitara didn’t quite announce its entry with a big bang. The venue usually hosts offbeat theatre and music performances and offers its mezzanine space for rehearsals. Check the schedule before going. There’s not much else to do on non-performance days apart from admiring the street art and enjoying a steaming cup of tea from the chaiwalla at the corner. Sitara Studio, Garage Galli, Kakasaheb Gadgil Marg, Opposite Indiabulls Finance Centre, Lower Parel, Mumbai 400 028. Phone: 022 2422 1666

8:00 p.m.

Option A – Ambience

It can be daunting to choose from over 40 watering holes in a 2-mile radius, so go by what suits your mood. And your wallet. If you’re feeling rather stingy and don’t quite want to scan through pages and pages of cocktails, head to Ambience. A favourite with the journalists, technicians, and crew of news channels housed in the vicinity, this local dive under the flyover can no longer be called dingy after a recent renovation, but it still retains some of its coarse glamour. Come here on a Friday night to sip on Old Monk and coke, chomp on paneer chilly, and pick up juicy tidbits about the television news industry. Ambience Bar & Kitchen, 162/D, Jagdamba Bhavan, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 022 2498 5654

Option B – The White Owl

One of the earliest entrants on the micro-brewing scene, The White Owl is often ignored these days in favour of the new kids on the block. Their craft beer is made in small batches and is devoid of any preservatives. Depending on your ale palate, you can choose from Diablo (Irish red ale), Ace (apple cider), Spark (Belgian wit), and a few others and see the brewing equipment set up behind glass walls at the back of the bistro. They also serve delicious finger food, salads and sandwiches. The White Owl, One Indiabulls Center, Tower 2 Lobby, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 022 2421 0231

Option C – The Tasting Room

If wine pairing is as crucial to you as the meal itself, then you’ll find your tribe at The Tasting Room in Raghuvanshi Mills. Housed inside Good Earth, this restaurant has a wine-only drinking list and décor straight out of an anniversary issue of Architectural Digest. The setting is apt for long-flowing conversations over red wine sangria and tiny tasting plates of stuffed brioche and smoked salmon. If you aren’t swaying merrily by the end of dinner, stop at the small bookstore near the entrance for a quick browse. The Tasting Room, 1st Floor, Good Earth, Raghuvanshi Mill Compound, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 022 6528 5284 Lower Parel Guide_005

Option D – Pa Pa Ya

Walking into Pa Pa Ya feels like you’ve entered an atom in the middle of a chemical reaction. Pretty apt, considering this upscale eatery showcases the finest masterpieces of molecular gastronomy in the city. From the hexagonal light fixtures casting shadows on deep red walls to the chocolate ball that melts away to reveal sweet surprises, everything at Pa Pa Ya has a touch of drama. The Sushi Matrix, a platter of 19 types of sushi, is dramatic just by virtue of size. The potent lemongrass infused vodka could have theatrical repercussions. It’s ironic however that the most exciting course is the one between formal courses – the amuse bouche of rambutan sorbet served in faux oyster shells in a bowl of liquid nitrogen. Pa Pa Ya, Level 3, Palladium Mall, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. Phone: 088280 31900 Feature photograph by Superfast1111 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Your Guide To The Best Filter Coffee In Mumbai




Who serves the best filter coffee in the city is a contentious issue. Wars have started for less. We understand how precious this drink is, so we reached out to several filter coffee lovers in the city and asked them for their favourite spots. More than just a selection of coffee houses, this is a compilation of varied tastes and love for that perfect cup of kaapi. Disclaimer: Cafes Madras and Mysore are not on the list for the simple reason that every self-respecting Bombayite knows about these famous establishments. And probably agrees that their filter coffee is excellent, just like the rest of their food.

Sharda Bhavan, Matunga

There are no queues at Sharda Bhavan, and that should be reason enough to like their coffee. Sharda Bhavan’s beauty also lies in the old-world charm and vibe that the owners have retained. It hasn’t been “manicured” for a younger or newer clientele, and it feels like it belongs in a different time altogether. Sharda Bhavan, Lakhamsi Napoo Road, Matunga, Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2414 1271

Taj Mahal Tea House, Bandra

Despite its name, Taj Mahal Tea House does serve coffee – Indian filter coffee – and we’re not complaining. Their filter coffee is milky and not very strong. Before you turn your nose up at the brew, know that there might be quite a few milky coffee lovers who might appreciate this version of kaapi. Go easy on the sugar and you’re sure to get a good taste of the rich, flavourful coffee. Taj Mahal Tea House, 36/A, Sanatan Pereira Bungalow, St. John Baptist Road, General A.K.Vaidya Marg, Bandra (w), Mumbai 400 050. Phone: 022 2642 0330

Ramashraya, Matunga

Ramashraya make their coffee strong but don’t hold back on the sugar. So if you want a potent mix of the two, this is the place for you. If you want to make a full meal out of your trip to Ramashraya then order their sheera, which is cloud-like soft and has a soufflé-esque structure. If you go during strawberry season, you’re in for a treat. They’re known to not use any artificial flavours or syrups either. Pair it with some sweet bun puri, and you have yourself a glorious breakfast. Ramashraya, 24, Shreeji Sadan Building, Bhandarkar Marg, Opposite Matunga Kabutar Khana, Matunga (e), Mumbai  400 019. Phone: 022 2410 2369 filter coffee

Dakshinayan, Walkeshwar

If you ever find yourself stuck in a jam near Teen baati, just leave your taxicab and walk to Dakshinayan. Easily the best filter coffee in all of South Mumbai. Not too milky, just the right amount of sugar and far away from the chaos of the traffic. Dakshinayan, Walkeshwar Road, Malabar Hill, Mumbai 400 006. Phone: 022 2367 6701

Indian Coffee House, SEEPZ

SEEPZ is rarely on the map for food and drink guides, but Indian Coffee House are known to make a mean cup of filter coffee, the highlight being that the staff are willing to customise it according to your tastes. Indian Coffee House, Santacruz Electronic Export Processing Zone, Andheri East, Mumbai 400 047. Phone: 022 2829 0955

Swagat Refreshments, Fort

This tiny, old Udupi restaurant near Strand Book Stall does a pretty good filter coffee. They been around since the 1970s, their filter coffee isn’t too sweet, and you never have to tell them to make it strong. That’s just a given. Swagat Refreshments, Syed Abdullah Brelvi Marg, Gunbow Street, Borabazar Precinct, Ballard Estate, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 022 2265 7300 filter coffee

Dakshinayan, Juhu

Dakshinayan is an institution. Juhu locals swear by it, and people actually make the effort to trudge across town to have a meal here. Needless to say, their filter coffee is on point. You can see the staff make an effort while fixing you a cup – that dedication always adds to the taste. Dakshinayan, Gandhigram Road, Near Hare Krishna Temple, Juhu, Mumbai 400 049. Phone: 022 2620 8812

Mysore Concerns, Matunga

If you’re looking for proper filter coffee powder then Mysore Concerns is your place. They’ve been around since 1939, and if you like to brew your own filter coffee then you probably already know about them. The heady smell of freshly ground coffee greets you before you even approach the store. Mysore Concerns do several varieties of blends with or without chicory. Mysore Concerns, Maheshwari Udyan, Matunga, Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 022 2402 5339

Poornima, Fort

If you’re fond of the coffee houses/restaurants that are speckled all over Matunga, then you’ll definitely love Poornima in Fort. It is old school in its décor and service, consistent with the quality of coffee (and food), and great value for money. Poornima, Raja Bahadur Compound, Mumbai Samachar Marg, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai 400 023. Phone: 022 6631 1396 filter coffee

Amba Bhavan, Matunga

Amba Bhavan opened its doors to the public in 1934, and since then it has been serving its patrons South Indian snacks and coffee. The food is hot and fresh, and a meal here is considered complete only after it’s chased by a cup of strong filter coffee that a server will make at your table. Amba Bhavan, Patel Mahal, Bhandarkar Marg, Kings Circle, Brahmanwada, Matunga, Mumbai 400 019. Phone: 098201 17882

Trupti, Sion

It may not have the reputation of Cafes Madras and Mysore, but Trupti figures high on the list of authentic South Indian food and coffee. The menu is lean but if you’re there for the filter coffee, you will not be disappointed. Trupti, Sulochana Shetty Road, Sion West, Sion, Mumbai, 400022. Phone: 022 2401 5934 Photographs: 1. By Charles Haynes [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr 2. By Triv.rao (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons 3. By Charles Haynes (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons 4. By LuckyRani2990 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Le 15 Café Is A Sanctuary In Colaba


le 15 cafe colaba


Le 15 Café is a sugar lover’s delight. In addition to the desserts, it also has a savoury menu that includes salads, sandwiches, and croissants along with coffee and tea.

Le 15 Café, Shop No. 18, Lansdowne House, Behind Regal Cinema, Colaba, Mumbai 400 001. Phone: 097693 41994


Walking into Le 15 Café if you don’t eat sugar is not for the faint-hearted. The first thing you see through the glass front door, before you even set foot inside, is the dessert display – rows and rows of macarons, cupcakes, and desserts lined up and sitting pretty, looking as delicious as they no doubt taste. Avert your gaze and walk right past it to the tables. The coast is clear.

It’s 5 p.m., and the café is surprisingly empty. I’m not complaining. This is when I get to enjoy a few minutes of solitude before my friends get here. Acoustic Ellie Goulding is playing from the speakers, and the evening light is streaming in from the large bay windows. You can almost forget you’re mere feet away from the noise, crowds, and pollution of Colaba Causeway. This is a little sanctuary in one of the busiest neighbourhoods in the city, the perfect spot to take a breather and slow down a busy day while sipping on a good cup of coffee.

You have to give them full marks for tying up with Blue Tokai. It’s easily the best coffee in town, and Le 15 Café makes an excellent iced Americano. Pair your coffee with a croissant – a buttery, flaky, fresh croissant I devour – and it’s the perfect slice of Paris without actually being in Paris. For those who do eat sugar, I’ve heard the desserts are divine. You wouldn’t expect any less from Pooja Dhingra.

Feature photograph courtesy Le 15 Café


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