The Best Local Foods to Eat in Mumbai

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The Best Local Foods to Eat in Mumbai

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Mumbai’s culinary landscape is as dynamic and diverse as its bustling streets and rich culture. While dishes like butter chicken and biryani are well-known across India, Mumbai offers an array of unique and flavorful street foods that are often overshadowed.

Among these, the vada pav stands out as a simple yet delightful snack, pairing a fried potato dumpling with soft bread. Equally noteworthy is the misal pav, a dish known for its spicy curry and assortment of toppings. These local treats are more than just food; they represent Mumbai’s spirit and culinary innovation.

In this exploration, we delve into the intricacies of these dishes, showcasing why they are essential for anyone looking to experience the true essence of Mumbai’s gastronomy.

Vada Pav

Vada Pav stands as a beloved staple of Mumbai’s street food scene, offering a spicy and satisfying taste that locals can’t get enough of. This famed snack has built a strong following due to its savory potato fritter encased in a fluffy bread roll. The versatility of vada pav lies in the variety of flavors it can embody, with vendors across Mumbai crafting their own unique takes on this classic dish.

Traditionally, the vada pav features a potato fritter known as ‘vada’, encased in a bread bun. Yet, the creativity of street food vendors shines through in the myriad of adaptations available. From the addition of tangy chutneys like mint and tamarind to innovative fillings such as cheese, onions, and even fiery fried green chilies, these twists elevate the humble vada pav into a culinary delight.

The reasons behind vada pav’s widespread appeal are manifold. It’s not just a treat for the palate but also an accessible, quick meal that doesn’t strain the wallet. The harmonious blend of spicy potato and soft bun is a flavor explosion that epitomizes Mumbai’s vibrant food culture. It’s this irresistible combination that keeps both residents and visitors returning for more, eager to savor the rich, bold flavors of this much-loved snack.

Pav Bhaji

After savoring the delicious taste of vada pav, let’s dive into another staple of Mumbai’s street cuisine – the tantalizing pav bhaji. This dish pairs a soft, butter-laden bread roll known as pav with a richly spiced mixture of mashed vegetables, referred to as bhaji. The harmony between the fluffy pav and the savory bhaji creates an unforgettable experience.

In the quest for the finest pav bhaji in Mumbai, a few establishments are renowned for their exceptional preparations. Sardar Refreshments in Tardeo is a personal pick, offering a pav bhaji that’s both sumptuous and perfectly seasoned. Cannon Pav Bhaji in Girgaum is another must-visit; their bhaji is celebrated for its bold taste and liberal use of butter. Additionally, Amar Juice Centre in Vile Parle is acclaimed for their version of pav bhaji, which stands out with its distinctive spice mix.

The roots of pav bhaji in Mumbai stretch back to the 1850s, emerging as a quick and economical meal for textile mill workers. It has since transcended its humble beginnings, becoming a cherished snack for diverse demographics. Its rise in popularity is attributed to its satisfying taste and the comfort it offers to those who enjoy it.

Pani Puri

Pani Puri, Mumbai’s iconic street snack, captivates food enthusiasts with its crunchy spheres brimming with zesty water. This dish is a cornerstone of the city’s bustling street food scene and a culinary delight for visitors. The charm of Pani Puri stems from its diverse iterations as vendors across Mumbai infuse it with their signature flavors.

Embarking on a quest to discover Mumbai’s finest Pani Puri is an exciting journey. Amidst the myriad of food stalls dotting the city, discerning the best can be daunting. Nonetheless, some establishments stand out for their exceptional Pani Puri.

Elco Pani Puri Centre in Bandra is a crowd favorite, renowned for the harmonious flavor profile and freshness of its Pani Puri. Another acclaimed spot is Guru Kripa in Sion, where the Pani Puri packs a punch with its bold, tangy taste.

For an avant-garde take on Pani Puri, The Bombay Canteen in Lower Parel presents a gourmet rendition. Here, Pani Puri comes alive with an array of flavored waters and creative fillings, elevating the traditional snack.

Indulging in Pani Puri in Mumbai is more than a meal; it’s an immersive experience. Delight in the culinary mosaic of Mumbai and let the burst of flavors from this quintessential dish enchant your palate.

Butter Chicken

When it comes to indulging in the vibrant flavors of Mumbai’s street food scene, one dish that stands out is the irresistible Butter Chicken. This traditional Indian curry is a true delight for the senses, with its rich and creamy tomato-based gravy, tender pieces of marinated chicken, and fragrant spices that create a symphony of flavors in every bite.

Here are three reasons why butter chicken is a must-try when exploring Mumbai’s culinary delights:

  • Rich and Creamy: The velvety texture of the butter chicken gravy is a testament to the skill and expertise of Mumbai’s chefs. The combination of butter, cream, and tomatoes creates a luscious sauce that coats the succulent pieces of chicken, resulting in a dish that’s indulgent and satisfying.
  • Bursting with Flavors: The secret behind the deliciousness of butter chicken lies in the careful blend of spices. From aromatic garam masala to tangy kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves), each ingredient adds its own unique flavor profile to the dish, making it a true taste sensation.
  • Versatile and Comforting: Butter chicken is a dish that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and palates. Whether you prefer it mild or spicy, paired with naan bread or fragrant basmati rice, this classic Indian curry is a comforting and satisfying meal that never fails to please.


Biryani stands as a testament to culinary excellence, an Indian rice dish that promises to enchant your senses. The version made in Mumbai is a tapestry of tastes, offering a glimpse into the city’s eclectic food heritage.

Tracing back to its roots in Mumbai, biryani arrived with the Mughals, who once ruled India. Since then, the city has put its own spin on the recipe, taking inspiration from its mosaic of communities.

Renowned for its use of aromatic basmati rice, succulent pieces of meat, and a carefully curated mix of spices, each bite of Mumbai’s biryani is a symphony of flavors. The spices marry with the rice and meat in a way that’s truly compelling.

Mumbai offers a variety of biryanis, each with a unique flavor profile. You’ll find mouthwatering chicken biryani, rich mutton biryani, and for those who prefer plant-based options, the vegetable biryani is just as satisfying.

For anyone in Mumbai, trying the local biryani is essential. It’s a dish that not only highlights the city’s culinary skills but also mirrors the rich tapestry of cultures that define Mumbai. Treat yourself to this exquisite dish and let the flavors of Mumbai’s biryani lead you on an unforgettable taste adventure.

Misal Pav

Misal Pav, a beloved street food from Maharashtra, combines spicy sprouted lentil curry and fluffy bread rolls. Toppings like crispy farsan, fresh onions, vibrant coriander, and a dash of lemon enhance its taste. It’s a dish that perfectly captures Mumbai’s culinary spirit.

Three well-known varieties of misal pav in the city are:

  • The Puneri Misal, from Pune, is exceptionally spicy with a thick sprout-based sauce and plenty of farsan, often accompanied by an extra side of piquant tarri.
  • The Kolhapuri Misal, which hails from Kolhapur, is renowned for its potent heat and deep flavors. It features a red-hot gravy seasoned with Kolhapuri spices, spicy farsan, and raw onions.
  • The Nashik Misal, a less spicy option from Nashik, comes with a tasty gravy, farsan, onions, and is usually served with yogurt and lemon to balance the taste.

Misal pav caters to a range of preferences, from fiery to mild. Its zesty and tangy profile, paired with the tender pav, is a feast for the senses. When in Mumbai, trying this dish is a delightful experience that showcases the region’s flavor diversity.


Kebabs offer a rich tapestry of flavors that enchant the palates of food lovers across Mumbai. The city’s diverse kebab offerings range from street food favorites to regional delicacies, ensuring something for every preference.

Bademiya stands out as a celebrated kebab destination in Colaba’s vibrant alleyways. Renowned for its irresistible seekh kebabs, Bademiya serves these skewered marinated delights cooked on an open flame. The result is a symphony of juicy, tender meat paired with refreshing mint chutney and warm, just-baked naan, creating an experience that kebab aficionados shouldn’t miss.

In the city’s core, Baghdadi is another crowd-pleaser with its Chicken Tikka kebabs. These skewers feature marinated chicken, expertly grilled to achieve a balance of robust flavor and subtle smokiness. A touch of lemon juice and a dusting of chaat masala elevate Baghdadi’s Chicken Tikka to a beloved treat among locals and visitors alike.

For those seeking unique regional fare, Bandra’s Kandahar is a treasure trove of Afghan-inspired kebabs including the Chapli and Shami varieties. Chapli Kebabs, a fusion of minced meat and spices, are skillfully pan-fried, while the Shami Kebabs combine ground meat with lentils for a soft texture, each accompanied by tangy tomato chutney.

Mumbai’s kebab scene is a testament to the city’s culinary diversity. From the classic seekh kebabs to the zestful Chicken Tikka, and the distinctive regional creations, these kebab houses promise a journey of taste that’s both rich in variety and steeped in tradition. Whether you’re a lifelong kebab enthusiast or a curious newcomer, Mumbai’s kebab spots are ready to serve up their best, inviting you to relish their flavorful masterpieces.

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