Mumbai is a diverse city. Anything and everything under the sun is available in this city and it is available at whatever time you want.
You have delicious street food and at the same time, maybe across the road, you have a posh restaurant. And the fact that people of Mumbai love the street side food just as much they love a great gastronomical cuisine is very heart-warming.
It is a city where people and places just come and go without the city stopping even for a second for anyone. But, in this ever-so-fast city that swallows you whole, are some ancient gems that the city has managed to preserve till today and these gems are the famous Mumbai’s Iran Cafes.
The Irani cafes of Mumbai are these quaint little places where you can sit for hours together, sipping on garam chai (tea) and the famous Irani brun maska (bread and butter) with great company of friends, family, books, or that of yourself.
The old rustic charm of the faded interiors immediately transports you back to the 60s and 70s. Some of the Irani cafés are more than 100 years old and are now a part of Mumbai’s Heritage. But sadly, the number of cafes has gone down since the opening of fast-food restaurants, etc.
But, to those who are loyal to the garam chai over a Starbucks cappuccino, Irani cafes will always be there to welcome them. Here are some of Mumbai legendary Irani cafes –
1. Kyani & Co. (Marine Lines)
One of the oldest Iranian joints in Mumbai, Kyani & Co., better known as Kyani, opened in 1904. It has been more than a 100 years but nothing about this café has changed- not their rustic interiors, not their delectable food and not even the prices to match other restaurants.
The cakes, biscuits, khaaris, kheema pao, eggs, brun maska and everything that they offer on their menu is delicious. Kyani stands today, as of the very places where you can have a filling meal under Rs. 100.
It opens at 7am and the rush even at that hour is unbelievable. It is once place in Mumbai which will never run out of its old glory days charm.
2. Yazdani Bakery (Fort)
Another one of Mumbai’s iconic landmark is the Yazdani bakery in Fort. The bakery was establishes in 1951 by a then boxer.
The place is in a dingy building and very easy to miss but once you step inside and taste the food, you will never forget it. Their mawa cakes, apple pies, twisted khaari biscuits, shrewsberry biscuit are something that the regulars swear by.
Yazdani Bakery was the first bakery in town to make multi-grain bread which consisted of 12 grains and it is very healthy too. People come from all around Mumbai to indulge in the food served at Yazdani.
3. Koolar & Co. (Matunga)
While most of the Irani cafes are limited in the town area of Mumbai, Koolar & Co. does the job of pleasing the masses in central Mumbai.
This café was started in the year 1932 and since then, has been a hot favorite of the people of Mumbai. The place in itself is so unique with the interiors being old and yet beautifully artistic and full of things like an old rotary dial phone, grandfather clock etc.
The black tea, Irani wrestler omlette (which is made of 5 eggs), kheema pao, Maggi are some of the dishes that are must-haves. The cost for two here can go about Rs 300.
4. Britannia & Co. (Ballard Estate, Fort)
While the world and the city has moved fast ahead, it seems that time has slowed down for this one café. Situated in Fort, this café was established in 1923. It is only open during the lunch time i.e. from noon to 4pm.
They don’t even accept any cards here. The place is old and was destroyed a bit in the WW2 and yet its simplicity is gorgeous. It is famous for Parsi dishes like berry pulao, salli boti, dhansaak, etc. A cold glass of beer and great food, what else do we want?
5. Sassanian Boulangerie (Marine Lines)
Started in 1913 is this Sassanian Boulangerie which was named after the Sassnian Dynasty of Iran. Today, the café stands as an all-time-favorite of the restaurant goers and food lovers of Mumbai.
Its plum cakes, khaari biscuit and other cookies are baked freshly every morning and you can smell the aroma of it and that in itself if enough to pull you inside the place.
The café has now incorporated some Chinese and continental dishes in its menu but the original Parsi and Irani dishes remain their specialty. The place is priced very decently and you can actually have a goof meal within Rs.200.
6. Café Military (Fort)
This place might be old but it knows exactly how to stay quirky and full of life. Café Military was establishes in 1952. It is a unique interior with glasses on walls and bawa tips adoring the walls.
The places, like all others, serve Parsi and irani dishes but also serves some famous Portuguese dishes such as vindaloo. With chilled beer and great food, you can spend hours in this place.
We need to give a special mention to B. Merwans which sadly shut down in the month of March. It was one place where there would be queues even at 6 in the morning for their famous mawa cake and plum cakes.
We hope that the legendary Irani cafes of Mumbai don’t dwindle any further in number but we will enjoy them as long as they are here.