Mumbai is a lot to take in at once. I travelled to the maximum city after a hiatus of 14 years, with a few places on my bucket list. From eclectic to minimalistic, Mumbai’s cafes have a lot to offer if you have a longing for different experiences.
If there was a time in this city when I felt relaxed in the hustle bustle of the crowd, it was at Mondy’s. Situated in the shadow of the Taj Hotel right across the gateway of India, Café Mondegar’s history speaks to the heady mix of locals and tourists alike.
The café is none like I had ever been to. And am I glad I picked Mondegar over Leopold’s? Absolutely. This Iranian restaurant and bar boasts of having the first jukebox in Mumbai and plays songs from the good ol’ era, be it the Eagles or like in my case, the (really hot) summer of 69. The café entices you right as you enter the causeway and is a refuge for people like me who roam around the area in blistering heat, only to settle down for good food and a pint of cold beer. The place is almost always full and you might have to wait for a table, and the almost non-existent walking space will make you bump into guests and servers alike. Mondegar sure retains an old-world charm, with its giant murals and colourful interiors, painted by legendary Indian illustrator Mario Miranda. The anachronistic setting and good food make it a perfect place to embrace downtown Bombay.
Another place that took my breath away was a deceptively small place called Candies in Pali Hill. With a very vintage Portuguese feel to it, this multi-levelled place has much to offer to delight your palate. In terms of structure, Candies sets a stratospheric benchmark for cafes. The bright front yard gives way to a dimly lit dungeon-ish ground floor where you can choose to chomp on a delicious pizza or a wrap from their quirky menu. Or if you’d like to breathe in a bit more of nature, Candies offer many levels of seating space, each of which has a different ambience.
A lot of detailing goes into the look of Candies which is the brainchild of the owner Allan Pereira. Right from making the wall mosaics, to the glass paintings and design of the chairs and tables – everything seems thoughtful and purposeful. Candies loyalists tell me coffee and breakfast food here are huge and so is their weekend brunch. I could only catch a pizza and an insane ice-crush with my best friend and we walked out with a brain-freeze and a few blurry pictures. But the place sure is amazing.
Cosy, bordering on cramped, Doolally’s ambience is almost in stark contrast to both Mondegar and Candies. Doolally has simplistic interiors that give it a very warm fuzzy ambience, perfect for an evening with good friends. The place offers some of the best crafted beers I’ve ever tasted, and the drinks menu, with its quirky one-liners that describe these beers, is just cherry on top. Plus, you can carry your furry friends to the pub too!
With light wood furniture and a brick-walled bar, there are books and board games to keep you entertained. Doolally has, per its loyalists, pioneered a revolution in the way we take our drinks. The warm ambience of the place makes drinking a fun affair, making Doolally a lifeline for travellers craving a semblance of home.