Chef Floyd Cardoz's Guide to Mumbai
Where to eat in Mumbai, India.
Star chef and Top Chef Masters winner Floyd Cardoz opened The Bombay Canteen in Mumbai in early 2015. For the last year or two he’s been going to Mumbai every few months to spend time at the restaurant and to travel around India for food inspiration. His new cookbook, Floyd Cardoz: Flavorwalla, will be available April 5th. Later this year he'll open a new restaurant in NYC, Paowalla, which takes its name from bread sellers in Goa.
For too long, the dining options in Mumbai were either very formal or street food, without a lot in between. Lots of new restaurants have opened over the last year or two, however. Many are traditional, regionally focused Indian spots, but there are also some great Chinese places, as well as some modernist Indian, and European-inspired restaurants as well. These are some of my go-tos.
Fantastic Chickpea Fritter Sandwich: Ashok Vada Pav
Vada pao or vada pav (pronounced wuh-daah pow) is a popular street food dish. It’s a deep fried potato fritter or dumpling served with chutneys on a soft roll. At Ashok the dumplings are made with chickpea flour, and they’re topped with crispy chura (deep fried pressed rice). It’s absolutely to die for. Kashinath Dhuru Marg, Dadar, Mumbai, Maharashtra
Incredible Rice Pancake: Swati Snacks
Swati Snacks is really inspiring. All of the snacks are vegetarian. There are always long lines, but it’s worth it. I love going there for inspiration for menus. The panki chatni, a rice pancake steamed in a banana leaf, is incredible. Opp. Bhatia Hospital, Tardeo
Mutton Stew: Britannia Café in Ballard Estate
One of the last Parsi cafes left in south Bombay, it’s a family restaurant opened by Iranian immigrants and now run by the third generation. There are two things I particularly love here: the mutton or goat berry pulaos and the dhansak (mutton in lentil gravy). Berry pulaos with meat is a traditional Iranian dish. The owners import the barberries in the dish from Iran, but they make it spicier here, more like an Indian biryani. Wakefield House, 11 Sprott Road
Superb Seafood: Jai Hind Lunch
Jai Hind Lunch Home is one of my favorite seafood spots. I especially love the fish curries and the whole fish crusted with semolina. The neer dosa (thin rice crepes) are great too. Hill Road, Bandra
Killer Fish Curry: Hotel Highway Gomantak
Another favorite seafood spot is Hotel Highway Gomantak. It's great for lunch. The fish curries are really good and the fish is limited to whatever they pick up from the market in the morning. It’s run by a husband and wife team; the wife does the cooking every morning. 44/2179 Pranav Co-op. Housing Society, Gandhi Nagar, Highway Service Road, Bandra
Playful Pork Vindaloo Tacos: The Bombay Canteen
Dining out can be very expensive in India, so we wanted to do something affordable at Bombay Canteen. It’s not pure Indian. We combine regional dishes and adapt classics. For instance, we do a playful version of vindaloo, a well-known Goan dish, called desi tacos. Instead of the classic roti that often accompanies meat dishes, we serve the pork on thepla flatbread like a taco. Our menu changes frequently, which also isn’t very common here. Unit 1, Process House, Kamala Mills, S.B. Road, Lower Parel
Fantastic Indian Small Plates: Hotel Deluxe
This is another classic spot. I get the vegetarian thali and then supplement that with fish or chicken. It’s really spicy and served on a banana leaf. You eat everything with your hands. 28, SBS Road, Pitha Street, Near Hitkari House, Fort
Great East-Meets-West Dishes: The Table
Chef Alex Sanchez, who cooked in some of the top kitchens in the U.S., makes European-American food adapted for India. The menu changes frequently. Ground floor, Kalapesi Trust Building, Opp. Dhanraj Mahal, Apollo Bunder Marg, Colaba
Exellent Chinese-Inflected Food: One Street Over
This spot is from two chefs who both used to cook in Chicago. It’s Asian-inflected, kind of American Chinese, and they’re doing really interesting food and good cocktails. 809, 35th Road, Khar West