The Hidden Food of Colaba | MF Guide

By Sarvesh Talreja November 30, 2016
Visit Colaba for the places that aren't Instagram-friendly. Illustration: Vamika Sardana

My favourite thing about Colaba’s iconic, overrated, and overpriced Leopold Café & Bar is that Café Mondegar is just a short walk away. My only favourite thing about Café Mondegar apart from breakfast and the Mario Miranda walls is its location – within 5 minutes, you could walk down a gorgeous, old-school road and into any number of interesting spots – roadside joints that sell fantastic Chicken Burgers, an inexpensive rooftop bar that’s chill even on Saturday nights, and a unique spot where you’ll see sex workers, families, and the occasional Tottenham fan just one table away from each other.

Here are our favourite offbeat places to eat a great meal at in Colaba!

On entering, you’ll see interiors stuck in time – when chairs were built for comfort and tables for long-lasting sturdiness. A small spoon of the delicate Caramel Custard can fuel you to heaven, and the Bheja Fry Masala is as good as they come. The Mutton Kheema available for breakfast at Rs 50 is highly-recommended. The Mutton Khichda is another delight, available for lunch on Wednesday.
Quick tip: Upstairs is more female-friendly than downstairs.


Modern Juice Center


Shawarmas at Modern Juice Center are popular, but burgers are better. Image:

Shawarmas at Modern Juice Center are popular, but burgers are better. Image:

The name of this tiny roadside stall misinforms people of their offerings. Although famous for Shawarma, this place actually serves a wholesome, simple, and delicious Chicken Burger. Priced at Rs 90 after a slice of cheese, this is among the best cheap burgers you’ll find around.
Quick tip: Get a Sweet Lime or Fresh Lime juice and maybe skip the Shawarma queue.


We know you’re probably thinking about Shawarma in Colaba now, so visit this joint for it. Piccadilly is as well known to Colaba’s frequent for Chicken Shawarma as AntiSocial is known to indie scenesters for gigs. The Hummus with Shredded Chicken can be accused of matching Dubai standards.
Quick tip: Pita bread here is pretty damn amazing. What’s a bao, again?


The Bao Haus Co.


Buttermilk Fried Chicken Bao. Image:

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Bao. Image:

Run by chef Sid Somaiya, this outlet delivers baos (no prizes for guessing though). The menu is a single page that lists 5 starters, 10 baos, a Belgian Pork Belly burger, a dessert bao, and a couple of drinks. What the outlet lacks in maddening variety, it makes up for in consistent quality. Safe bets here would be Tofu Mushroom Bao and Buttermilk Fried Chicken Bao.
Quick tip: They’re working on a bao blackened with Squid Ink!


The food is barely interesting, although the nicer items here include Cheesy Fries, BBQ Sticky Wings, and a classic Chicken Burger. What you need to visit this place for is the vibe. The mood here is unique, with families and football fans shifting in their chairs just a little when sex workers enters to hang out and sip a beer. Speaking of, they do have a decent selection of beer and wine and the ambient noise is kept in check.
Quick tip: Fish & Chips is their most famous dish, but we can’t promise consistency.


Ling’s Pavilion
Baba Ling and fam have been serving the most wholesome, authentic, and meaty Chinese food in the city for decades now. Without going into details, the cult restaurant caters to the local Chinese community, expats who miss Hong Kong, and people who know Colaba well. The décor is a bit like a film set from a Rajiv Rai movie, but the food more than makes up for it.
Quick tip: Cooks from kitchens around recommend the Tai Po, Blasting Prawns, and Rainbow Rice.




Chicken Shimla at Bagdadi. Image:

Chicken Shimla at Bagdadi. Image:

There are few places that treat beef (y’know, buff) with as much simplicity. It’s nice meat with homely, fiery masala. That, and the fact that everything mutton on their menu is drool-worthy makes it a must-visit destination. It’s miles ahead of most meat spots that are more famous, like neighbouring Bademiya which is well past its prime.
Quick tip: Their Tandoori Roti is the size of a small stool, the softness of a blanket, and much better with butter.


Ideal Restaurant
A local Muslim favourite, this one delights with Mutton. Raan and Chaap (local speak for Mutton Chops) come onto your table with Pulao or Biryani. What’s brilliant about this is their system of serving Thaals, available as community-sized plates. The Mutton Raan and Mutton Chaap are centerpieces here served with accompaniments in half-a-dozen styles each, be it Palak or Chindian flavours like Chilly.
Quick tip: Gather a gang of 10 to order a thaal in their private rooms in the back instead of yet another brunch.


New Martin Hotel
Goan style food has never been better in the city. Most dishes here cost less than Rs 150. You do, however, get your Susegaad fix with a stranger on your table, as you tear into their onion-heavy Steak, or Vindaloo, or Goan Prawn Curry. This place is interesting to go and eat at, but even more interesting for wondering who’ll be across you on the giant, shared wooden tables. They usually have only one vegetarian dish on the menu.
Quick tip: Don’t ask the waiter for recommendations, and call to check if they’re open for dinner.


The name of this restaurant holds completely true for Continental food, a little less true for Parsi food, and completely untrue for its Chinese food. Go here for homely Parsi fare like Salli Boti and Continental sizzlers. The icing on the cake are their starters and sandwiches though, slathered with a generous amount of homely mayo.
Quick tip: Don’t you dare leave without ordering the Chicken Roll.

How many of our Hidden Food joints have you visited in Colaba? Where will you go first?