Nestled in the developing face of Mumbai, at the corner of busy traffic junctions or in the Gothic styled buildings of South Mumbai, are some of the iconic Irani cafés. They have a legacy that goes far back and is still relevant even in this new era of ultra-chic restaurants. The Irani cafés of Mumbai have carved a niche for themselves amidst the growing hustle and bustle of pop culture cafés, restaurants and bars. We explore some of the best.
Merwan & Co tantalizes the taste buds of middle class office goers and retired mill workers in the wee hours of the morning. Situated right outside the eastern side of the Grant Road Station is the century old Irani café which is famous for its delicious mawa cake, buttery bun, bhurji pav and the iconic Irani tea. Its ambiance will remind you of the Bollywood movies of the 1970s where Irani cafés shared the limelight with superstars of a bygone era.
The tall roof and wooden ceiling and chairs lend a charming look to one of the oldest Irani cafés in Marine Lines, which is now surrounded by the developing infrastructure of South Mumbai. Famous for its wine cake and some mind boggling confectioneries, this café also provides gastronomic delights like the chicken roll and sumptuous kheema dishes. Kyani & Co. has a history that goes far back and which has been passed on to the next generation by the owner as well as its customers.
As the name suggests, this café is located right outside Mumbai’s first international cricket stadium, The Brabourne Stadium. The café is a few minutes away from Churchgate Station and is the perfect place to enjoy your evening tea along with some delicious muffins. After a quick stop at this café you can head out to the Marine Drives to catch a beautiful sunset on Mumbai’s sprawling shoreline.
For those who love city walks, Café Excelsior is the place to experience the majestic beauty of the Fort Area in Mumbai. Standing conveniently between the old buildings of the Fort Area, this 97 year old café prepares some of the most delicious mutton burgers in the town. That’s not even all, you can also enjoy Lebanese cuisine here along with a wide range of desserts.
Usually the most popular Irani café menu is tea, bun maska, kheema and patties, but at The Jimmy Boy you should definitely go for their salli per edu, mutton gravy cutlet, and margi na farcha. Their traditional Parsi dishes are certainly the ‘hot selling cake’ of this Parsi-Irani café situated in the Fort Area of Mumbai.
Cafe Military is probably the only Irani café in Mumbai that serves beer to its customers. It’s a joyous place to eat, thanks to the owner who makes it more jovial with his chirpy smiles. The akoori that you can order is a flawless version of a perfect scrambled egg: a delight for ‘eggitarians’ everywhere. You can also try out the mutton dhansak, kheema ghotala and the delicious caramel custard.
While most of the Irani cafés of Mumbai are found beyond Charni Road, one particular café that manages to continue the legacy of Irani cafés is situated in Matunga, a hub in Central Mumbai. The café is famous among college students and the residents of the neighborhood. Even if it is overshadowed by some of the legendary cafés in Mumbai it is committed to giving customer the authentic Irani café experience.