The Best Restaurants In Mumbai

Diversity (in price and cuisine) makes the financial capital of India the food capital of the region.

Mumbai, or, as locals still call it, Bombay, is a worthy competitor for Southeast Asia's best food city, and here's why: A metropolis drawing more than 20 million people from all over the country, the continent and the world means you're just as likely to discover authentic South Indian dosas as you are to find contemporary Japanese food and inventive seafood inspired by Calcutta or Kerala. Plus, the street food is legendary—and ridiculously affordable.

"The one thing I love about Bombay is that you can eat food in various price ranges—you can go inexpensive; you can get street food; you can do an informal restaurant; you can do a really formal restaurant," says chef Floyd Cardoz, who grew up in Mumbai and is now the chef/owner of Indian restaurant Paowalla in New York City and The Bombay Canteen in Mumbai. "I just think that you get so much in Bombay in terms of value for money, which for me is the advantage."

It's impossible to know the exact number of restaurants in the city, especially when you factor in street stalls and chaiwalas (chai vendors), but these six restaurants underscore what's great about Mumbai's food scene and help explain why it's a culinary destination we should all be scrambling to visit. 

① Café Mysore

Mumbai would be nothing without South Indian food, which transports many residents to their hometowns with each dosa or idli. Matunga, where Café Mysore is located, is rife with South Indian cafés, or udipis, and the conversation among Mumbaikars gets pretty heated when discussing which is best. Always a top contender, Café Mysore is like your favorite diner, except instead of scrambled eggs and tuna salad, it serves idli gadbad (steamed lentil rice cakes covered with chopped onions and tomatoes, yogurt and crunchy sev), rasam vada (fried disks in a spicy, tomato-based soup) and delicious dosas with a variety of fillings.

② Bhojohori Manna

Bengali food focuses on the bounty of the nearby Bay of Bengal, and Mumbai's access to fresh seafood (via the Arabian Sea) allows many Bengali restaurants to flourish. Oh! Calcutta, Calcutta Club and Bong Bong are all good choices for Bengali food, but Bhojohori Manna, with multiple locations in Calcutta, is really your best bet. The casual restaurant serves authentic Bengali dishes, including kankra jhal (crab curry) and shukto (mixed vegetables in a creamy mustard sauce). And the natun gurer ice cream, made with date palm jaggery, will change your life. 

③ The Bombay Canteen

Many restaurants focus on multiple types of Indian cooking as a way to create the ultimate expression of contemporary Mumbai cuisine, but none do it as well as chef Cardoz at The Bombay Canteen. This stylish restaurant pays homage to classic Indian dishes from all over the country, yet still allows for considerably modern twists, making The Bombay Canteen a leader in new Bombay cooking. Try the Kerala-inspired whole roasted fish in banana leaf with tamatar masala curry and the stuffed Bombay duck fritters while you sip on a cocktail like the Dark Monsoon, made with Old Monk Rum, honey ginger syrup, ginger ale, star fruit juice and 

④ Gupta Bhelpuri Centre

Among the city's greatest charms are its innumerable stalls and carts hawking chaat, or street snacks, for just a few rupees. Favorite local dishes like pani puri, vada pao and bhel puri can be found all over the city, but choose your stall carefully—if no one else is eating from a stand, you probably shouldn't either. The stalls at Chowpatty and Juhu beaches serve fresh bhel puri, and Gupta Bhelpuri Centre in Bandra West is our top choice for pani puri: crispy, hollowed-out puffs filled with chickpeas and potatoes that are dipped into sweet tamarind water and spicy chile water—they're literally bursts of flavor in your mouth. 

⑤ The Table

Mumbai may have every type of regional Indian food, but the city also has hundreds of international spots serving everything from lasagna (possibly with masala-flavored tomato sauce) to sushi from Morimoto. The critically acclaimed Table, an upscale bilevel spot in Colaba, is run by American chef Alex Sanchez, who worked with Michael Mina and David Kinch at Manresa in Los Gatos, California, before moving to Mumbai in 2011. The cuisine is globally influenced and makes use of local and seasonal produce, meats and fish. In fact, the owners even started their own farm in Alibaug to grow things like spinach, carrots and heirloom tomatoes, which are incorporated into the menu. 

⑥ Soam

Gujarat is a state that borders Maharashtra, where Mumbai is located. Consequently, the city is full of Gujarati transplants who brought along the tasty vegetarian cuisine—which combines sweet, salty and spicy flavors—that has influenced Mumbai cooking for centuries. At Soam, one of the best places to sample unpretentious and zesty Gujarati food, try regional specialties like turiya paatra (ridged gourd and taro leaf curry) and masala bhaat (spiced rice and vegetables), then wash it all down with a lemon basil punch or a mango lassi.

Pack your passport—and an appetite—as we hit the world's hottest culinary destinations on and off the grid all month long. Now Boarding: your next trip to paradise.

Devorah Lev-Tov is a contributing writer for Tasting Table who travels the globe in search of her next amazing meal. See her latest adventures on her Instagram at @devoltv