panipuriEating in India. This is a topic which I am sure has been written about for decades and from so many diverse view points and opinions. First there is such a wide range of prices: one can eat pani puri or pav bhaji for just a few rupees from a street vendor or you could walk a few feet down the road and step into a 5-star hotel and spend $100/head on a meal. That then raises the question many travels will ask, “what is safe for me to eat?” which we could also talk about and debate for days. (Pro-Tip: everyone is going to tell you their lettuce is safe to eat and their ice is purified even as you watch them pour it from a tap. You are the only one responsible for your own food safety.) My foodie quest in Mumbai was to eat where local people who are like me eat. Where do the young professionals go for drinks after work? Where do they take their families for Sunday dinner?

Mumbai (also known as and referred to by locals as Bombay) is one of the largest cities in India and considered both the financial and entertainment capital of the world. To put that in a US perspectives let’s say we’ve just combined New York & LA into one city. I’ve focused my dining experiences in one neighborhood, South Bombay.

barstockexchangeBar Stock Exchange – Is a great place to get a few drinks and hang out. This chain of restaurants has a unique concept. They price their drinks based on demand. So if a lot of people order the Old Monk rum the price increases but if no one is ordering a King Fisher Beer then the price goes down. The prices don’t seem to fluctuate enough to really make a difference though but it’s just a fun concept. We didn’t try much of the food here only ordered a couple of starters to snack on. We had some thai basil fried chicken bites and some paneer tikkas, both of which hit the spot. The DJ who came on later in the night played great music and the atmosphere was quite fun for a night out. The liquor prices were also quite reasonable making this a good hangout spot for the evening.

farzicafeFarzi Cafe – Like Bar Stock Exchange, Farzi Cafe is also trying interesting new concepts to attract the young crowd. Farzi’s thing is to offer dishes which are a modern twist on Indian food displayed in funky and unique ways. One of their dishes is delivered in a red British style phone booth, some plates & drinks are served over the smoke from dry ice and cotton candy stuffed paan is delivered after the meal. Farzi Cafe also has a live DJ and a fun night out atmosphere.

China Garden – While Farzi and Bar Stock Exchange may be catering to more of the young and late night crowd China Garden is a has a much more typical atmosphere. China Garden offers both Chinese and Indian Chinese food. There are many tasty dishes here including their steamed wontons and rubbed pepper chicken.

Thai Pavilion – Thai Pavilion is located in the the Taj President Hotel and is definitely for a special occasion. The restaurant has a high end vibe, is very classy and offers first class service. My favorite dishes here were the chicken red curry and the tempura vegtables.

swatiSwati – Swati is unique in its own right as it is a “snack” restaurant with a casual atmosphere. Here you will be able to try some of those snacks you’ve seen on the street but in a safe environment. My favorite was the panki chatni which is a rice pancake cooked inside a banana leaf. Other menu items include pani puri, dosas, and plenty of other tasty bites.

Kobe Sizzlers – Kobe is another casual spot for a good meal. Their token offering is a sizzler with your choice of protein. The sizzlers are serve on a cast iron skillet and are loaded with rice, veggies and meat. The portions are large and best to be shared.