Free Press Journal

5 SoBo eateries that will satiate you, without burning a hole in your pocket


Sandwich ice-creams at K. Rustom

Where do you eat on a lazy weekend without having to resort to bottomless pockets? Here’re five legendary options, writes Anupama Chandra

Waking up on a Saturday after a full week of work can throw you for a toss. Yes, there are groceries to buy, clothes to wash, utensils to clean and shelves to dust. And if you are not totally heartless, there is also a mewling stomach to fill with delicious grub, the kind that you have missed all week.

While the dusting and washing are chores you have to deal with on your own, what we can help you with is a list of five iconic eateries in South Mumbai that will satiate you— mind, tummy and soul. And you will not have to burn a hole in your pockets either. So, don’t fret if your salaries are not yet credited, we bet you would still be able to afford these simple, filling treats.

Pancham Puriwala:

Pancham Thali at Pancham Puriwala

If you are in time for breakfast, after a quick cup of tea at the station (or Irani tea paired with Bun Maska from Kyani & Co, when arriving from that direction) exit the CSMT train station and head straight to this 150-year-old nondescript shop. Finding a seat immediately would be very lucky, as this legendary no-frills vegetarian place is packed at all times.

Make way to one of the community tables, and pick from an array of puri-bhaji plates and thalis. Their hot and crispy puris come in three versions – sada, masala and palak, and can be paired with an assortment of curries or sukka sabjis, costing Rs.35-100/plate. Since my first visit, every plate has always contained five fresh puris and every table is always stocked with a bowlful of fresh lemon-chilli pickle that pairs well with all their meals.

Having tried out all the varieties, (yes, I really have!) my personal favourites are the Masala Puri Alu Bhopla Bhaji, Sukha Alu Puri, Alu Bhindi Puri, Gulab Jamun, Chaach and Dahi Vada. With the summer arriving, watch out for the delicious Aamras Puri, and, in the rains, let Kadhi Rice or Masala Khichdi paired with the pickle work the magic. Open on all days and till midnight, the milling queues prove that the puris are light on your tummy even as a post-dinner snack, though we hardly advice that. The average cost for a meal for two would be Rs. 350.

New Martin Hotel:

If home-cooked Goan fare is what rocks your boat, make this hole-in-the-wall Colaba shack your go-to place. With a tiny menu scrawled on the old black board, displaying regulars and daily specials, every patron has certain favourites here.

My father declared their Pork Vindaloo, Prawn Palao, Beef Chilly Fry and Pork Sopotel as the best in town, while I lean towards their Fish Curry Rice and love their celebrated Mutton Cutlets; after a Saturday meal, I always pack some for a hearty Sunday breakfast as the restaurant is closed that day. Their simple Beef Steak is another five-star fare, swaddled with juicy carrots and beans, and topped with sweet caramalised onions.

The Custard Jelly is an authentic Portuguese recipe, where the custard hides a secret treat and is served with ample jelly. Go on visit; two people can easily eat heartily within Rs. 500 here.

Pradeep Gomantak Bhojanalay:

Malwani is a specialty of Pradeep Gomantak Bhojanalay

While most seafood lovers head to Dadar or Vile Parle when seeking authentic Goan Hindu cuisine, the Fort area has its own Malwani restaurant. With never-ending queues even on Sundays, Pradeep Gomantak serves delicious non-vegetarian thalis to foodies.

Sharing tables with strangers is a norm at this tiny joint, with the Bombil, Shark, Mutton Kheema and Liver thalis being the star attractions. For two people, you may have to shell out about Rs. 350 at this eatery. (Advice to vegetarians: consider skipping Pradeep and New Martin.)

Ideal Corner:

Chicken Farcha Chips is a must have at Ideal Corner

Whenever there’s a hankering for good Parsi food, I can be found at Ideal Corner, Fort. With regulars and daily specials, every item in the menu is available till stocks last. My usual order includes Mutton Cutlets, Chicken Farcha Chips, Patra Fish, Sali Keema, pavs, rotlis and loads of Pallonji ice cream, ginger and lemonade sodas. My Parsi friends love their homestyle dhansaks, and find the sali boti mouth-watering with a curry that’s robust with flavour.

I usually place my dessert orders as soon as I step in to avoid disappointment, and twice have ordered the entire list—namely, the bread pudding, lagan nu custard, caramel custard and chocolate mousse—altogether, though I prefer the last two. Nobody has been able to make me sample their Chinese fare, which I hear is good. Usually, between a friend and I, a meal costs us not more than Rs. 500.


Crystal is famous for its parathas

If you are missing flavoursome home-cooked Punjabi food, it’s time to discover Crystal, a popular Chowpatty-facing two-storey shack near Wilson College. Multi-task while waiting in the queue and order up the irresistible baingan bharta, hearty rajma, scrumptious dal makhani, tender palak paneer along with some awesome stuffed (aloo, mooli and gobi) parathas, so that you can start gorging as soon as you find a table.

No one leaves without ordering the lip-smacking kheer (it would be plain foolish) that is simmered for at least four hours in a huge kadhai, till it becomes creamy and fragrant, and a spoonful is enough to send you to foodie heaven.

Bonus: If you still crave more dessert options, walk over to the New Kulfi Centre nearby for a soul-satisfying plateful. And if it’s ice cream you want, saunter over to K. Rustom Ice Cream to order from their mind-blowing range of delectable ice-cream sandwiches and juices.

Good food is everybody’s birthright, and a budget should hardly stop you. Visit these iconic restaurants to relish some delish food within a budget of Rs. 500.

Bon appétit!