Best for street food
Try Bade Miyan — a hole in the wall in Colaba. This place is known for non-vegetarian Muslim food, so be brave and try bheja masala (goat brain curry). The stall has been here since the 1970s and it’s an intriguing haunt for all the hoteliers who finish work late at night or early morning. Tulloch Road, Apollo Bunder.
Best for kulfi (Indian ice cream)
It has to be the New Kulfi Centre in Chowpatty. Local favourites are malai (cream) and pista (pistachio), but this place keeps bringing out innovative flavours: cashew and fig is the one that stands out for me. T: 00 91 22 2368 4291.
Best for fine dining
Right now, Masala Library is all the rage. It’s molecular gastronomy working its magic on Indian food. Case in point: syrupy jalebi (sticky, deep-fried batter) is topped with tiny beads of ‘caviar’ resembling salmon roe, in a pistachio broth. I, however, prefer Mahesh Lunch Home (prawns in butter, fish tawa fry) for traditional dining — it never fails to put a smile on my face. masalalibrary.com maheshlunchhome.com
Best for a cold beer
Leopold Café is tops — it’s mentioned throughout the novel Shantaram (by Gregory David Roberts). I love to meet my friends here; drinks are cheap, the food is good, and it reminds me that Mumbai is hugely cosmopolitan — you can meet people from all over the world. Unfortunately, it was the scene of terrorist attacks in 2008 and some bullet holes remain as a reminder. leopoldcafe.com
Published in the Jul/Aug 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)