Mumbai (formerly called Bombay) is a densely populated city on India’s west coast. A financial center, it's India's largest city. On the Mumbai Harbour waterfront stands the iconic Gateway of India stone arch, built by the British Raj in 1924. Offshore, nearby Elephanta Island holds ancient cave temples dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. The city's also famous as the heart of the Bollywood film industry.
Mumbai has three main seasons — Summer, Monsoon, and Winter (milder summer). The best time to visit is during the winter between November and February. Humidity is also less during the winter, when the climate is pleasant; the minimum temperature is 17 degrees centigrade and the maximum is 30-31 degrees. Summer is from March to May with highs in the low to mid 30s (roughly 80-90°F). It is hot and humid during this time. June to September is the monsoon season when the city is lashed by heavy rains. The city gets flooded two or three times and normal life gets disrupted during this season. Climate is humid pretty much throughout the year because the city rests on the coast.
The dining experience at an upscale restaurant in Mumbai is more or less the same as anywhere else in the world. If you search hard enough, you will find cuisine from practically every part of the world represented in the city. But to get a real flavour of what's unique to Mumbai, you will have to go a little lower down the scale and experience the street food and Irani cafes. That is what is described here. For individual restaurants and other places to eat, go to the individual district pages.
Don't leave Mumbai without trying:
Don't leave Mumbai without trying:
- Gujrati, Maharashtrian and Kerala Thali
- Indian Chinese
- Goan seafood
- As many different kinds of chaat (Bhelpuri, Pani Puri etc) as your stomach can handle
- Pav Bhaji from one of Mumbai's many restaurants. (Shiv Sagar near Juhu Beach is famous).
- Kebab rolls, Pattis, Keema
- Indian sweets- milky, delicious concoctions (try the kulfi falooda at Badshah's in Crawford market)
- Vada pav (the great Indian veg burger)
- South Indian food from an Udupi restaurant
- Bread Maska (Bread & Butter) from an Irani Cafe
- Kingfisher Blue beer
- Alfanso Mangoes during summer season
Asking a local for suggestions is a fun way to try new things. Here are a few suggestions:
- Vada Pav, the vada is a mashed potato patty. Pav is a kind of bread that has its roots in Mumbai. (The word comes from the Portugese word "pão", for bread). The potato patty is sandwiched in the bread. Liberal helpings of three kinds of chutneys (sauces) are also added to the sandwich to make a seriously tasty snack. It is widely available on the streets and most folks price it Rs 6 a piece. If you feel uncomfortable with the hygiene of a particular stall, avoid it. In that case eating at , Jumbo Vada Pav outlets, found almost at all train stations in the city, is a hygienic and safer options.
- Pav Bhaji, Part of the street food culture, this is mashed vegetables cooked in spices, topped with butter and served piping hot with pav. Widely available. For a variation, try the Pav Bhaji Dosa which merges Pav Bhaji with the South Indian Dosa. For the especially brave, ask for a plate of Masala Pav. It consists of two piece of Pav smeared with a generous helping of spicy paste.
- Bhel Puri & sev puri, A classic Mumbai concoction, bhel-puri (or bhel for short) comprises mostly of puffed rice and assorted spices with a few chutneys. You can specify whether you want it spicy or bland and the vendor will make it for you. It is quite tasty and again ought to be had off the streets to get the real flavor. Most people though, like to flock to Juhu beach to try this out.
- Pani Puri, For first timers, this can be seriously intriguing. The vendor hands you a plate. Next he takes a puri (it looks like a golf ball, but brown in color), makes a small hole in it, and dips the puri into two jars. These jars contain water — one tangy on a tamarind base, the other spicy on a mint base. He tops it off with some condiments and places the puri on your plate. You pick it with your hand and pop the whole thing into your mouth. The outcome is an explosion. Awesome. A word of caution here though. Make sure you don't have your pani puri from just any vendor. The best vendors use only packaged water. Stick to that and enjoy the taste.
- Indian-Chinese, Nothing like regular Chinese. For a typical Bambaiyya flavor, try the Chinese Bhelpuri!.
- Hapus (Alphonso) mangoes, A must try, if you happen to be in Mumbai in the summers.
- Mewad ice cream, If you happen to be in Mumbai, it is recommended you avoid ice creams from the famous and expensive parlors and try out the cheap Mewad ice cream stalls. They are a lovely treat at their price and provide a lot of options. The vendors are found everywhere across the streets, but avoid those who appear unhygienic.
- Variations of world cuisine such as Tandoori Chicken Pizzas - the Bombay Masala Pizza at the Pizzeria on Marine Drive is legendary and well worth investigation - or McAloo Tikki burgers.