In December, we scoured Mumbai (and played not-so-secret alcoholic Santa) to bring you a list of 20 cheap, local bars where you can go tank up with friends. Today, we’re bringing you another specially curated list: one that details 29 delicious bar nibbles to be had across the city. Because alcohol may be great, but it can be made even better when you pair it with some of the recommendations below.
From cheap bars with cheaper eats (Gokul, Janata and the like) to higher-end establishments where cocktails and canapés is the order of the day, you’re never going to be drunk and ‘hangry’ ever again.
I. Basil Infused Panko Prawns at Bar Stock Exchange
Bar Stock Exchange’s unique concept (where the prices of drinks fluctuate based on demand, just like shares on the stock market) has made it wildly popular, but we’d be lying if we said that their basil infused panko prawns aren’t as much of a draw—for us, anyway. The prawns are always fresh and succulent and the panko coating is so much nicer than the standard, regular breadcrumb coating you find at most other places.
Cost: Rs. 220
II. Crispy Calamari at Bonobo
Everybody’s favourite Bandra rooftop bar is known for its electronic nights, its fun cocktails and its oh-so-good spicy calamari. The awesome threesome of fresh seafood, batter and hot oil is one that is very hard to beat. And just when you think it can’t get any better, Bonobo serves up this grilled goodness with lemongrass butter, chilli and pepper.
Cost: Rs. 330
III. Pulled Pork Slider at Boveda
This Lokhandwala bar with its exposed brickwork and laidback atmosphere attracts a hip young crowd and is known for its pulled pork sliders: delicious, melt-in-your-mouth pork off the shoulder bone that’s slathered with hot BBQ sauce. Goes particularly well with beer, if we might add.
Cost: Rs. 425
IV. Crab and Cheese Crostini at Brewbot
Anything that has crab and cheese in it gets our attention—and our undying love. Brewbot’s crab and cheese crostini is then the perfect little union as far as we’re concerned and the result is a dish we hold very dear: tender crabmeat, garlic butter, mozzarella and red chillies on a baguette.
Cost: Rs. 395
V. BBQ Chicken at Café Leopold
Colaba’s most famous bar and restaurant has an exhaustive menu and we’ve tried it all. Despite that, when we find ourselves drinking upstairs at the dingy (and freezing) bar on the mezzanine, we inevitably turn to the BBQ chicken. It just goes beautifully with alcohol and we don’t think you need another reason to order it.
Cost: Rs. 500
VI. Lahori Kheema Lifafa at Café Marina
Café Marina is one of Colaba’s most popular bars and the fact that it overlooks the glittering Arabian Sea with the private boats of the city’s rich shimmering in the sun doesn’t hurt either. Located on top of the Sea Palace Hotel, this bar is usually always packed with people that have emerged hot and sweaty off the crowded causeway and foreigners looking to lay down their shopping bags and rest over a pint of beer. Try and snag a table by the parapet, as that’s really where you get the best view. Order a beer tower and a Lahori kheema lifafa to go with it.
Cost: Rs. 400
VII. Truffle Mushroom Bruschetta and Pulled Pork in Brioche at Café Zoe
Considering French Fries are basically just cut up potatoes that are deep fried and sprinkled with salt, it’s perhaps a serious ode to a chef’s skill if he manages to make plain ol’ French fries distinguishable. And Zoe manages to do just that. Their fries are long and slender, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, and served up with mayonnaise, the lesser-known but proper condiment. Also get a serving of the truffle mushroom bruschetta; it’s light and tasty. And for slightly more serious chow, get the pulled pork in brioche—it melts in your mouth.
Cost: Rs. 280 for French Fries, Rs. 350 for the bruschetta and Rs. 310 for the pulled pork in brioche
VIII. Mac N Cheese Bites at Eddie’s Bistro
Everybody loves mac n cheese. But sometimes, it’s just a bit too much to digest when you’re out drinking. The solution? Eddie’s mac n cheese bites: little deep-fried balls of crumb-fried goodness that are stuffed with melty mac n cheese.
Cost: Rs. 260
IX. Afghani Chicken Kebab at Gokul
Gokul is popular with college kids, locals and foreigners and it’s always full no matter what time of day you go. If you’re in Colaba and in need of cheap drinks, this is the place to be. Settle down at a table and order their Afghani Chicken. They’re succulent and perfectly seasoned.
Cost: Rs. 160
X. Classic Nachos at Jamjar Diner
Jamjar has always been a hot favourite of ours. Aside from their unique décor, this little eatery does great breakfast too but let’s not digress. The main reason that Jamjar is on this list is because its classic nachos are legendary. Tortilla chips, queso (melted cheese + chilli pepper), smoked beans, salsa, sour cream and jalapeno. Just perfect.
Cost: Rs. 327
XI. Masala Papad at Janata
Everybody’s favourite Bandra watering hole is known for its cheap alcohol and late-night liquor pick-up and delivery services. But what it’s also known for is its masala papad. You may be wondering what’s so special about masala papad, but once you have Janata’s version, you’ll understand why. Crispy papad topped with the perfect balance of onions and tomatoes (we hate it when one overshadows the other), and chillies. Not to mention plenty of sour lime goodness.
Cost: Rs. 25
XII. Peppered Chicken Kheema & Mushroom Empanadas at Monkey Bar
When Monkey Bar opened its doors, getting a table was practically impossible so we won’t hold it against you if you haven’t yet been. But if you’re looking for a reason to go, let’s just say that the peppered chicken kheema & mushroom empanadas is reason enough. The kheema is lightly spiced, the cheese is melty and the mushrooms, which add a serious depth of flavour, are all merrily stuffed into empanadas and fried. It’s served with mint chutney and sour cream.
Cost: Rs. 220 for Peppered Chicken Kheema and the Mushroom Empanadas
XIII. Death Wings and Double Grilled Naga Chilli Cheese Toast at Social
Social has been changing the game as far as Mumbai restaurants go ever since it opened its doors in Colaba, followed by two branches at Lower Parel, and now the spanking new Khar Social, which is also home to the city’s first skate park. It’s chosen its locations wisely, and as a result, has become one of the go-to places for after work drinks. As a result, Social cleverly caters to that market and has a range of delicious bar snacks. Our picks are the Death Wings in a tangy BBQ sauce and the Double Grilled Naga Chilli Cheese Toast, a local twist on the Welsh Rarebit.
Cost: Rs. 220 for the Death Wings and Rs. 160 for the Double Grilled Naga Chilli Cheese Toast
XIV. Bombay Duck at Soul Fry
When at the adorably quaint Goan-Portuguese Soul Fry, there’s only one thing that rightfully deserves the position of honour next to your ice-cold beer. And that’s the Bombay Duck, or bombil—crisp on the outside, soft on the inside. No arguments will ever be valid here.
Cost: Rs. 190
XV. Boiled Chana Masala at Sunlight
Sunlight is the favourite watering hole of the students of the nearby St. Xavier’s College and on any given day you’ll see tables full of loud, chirpy eighteen to twenty year olds cackling over beer and the bar’s trademark boiled chana masala. It’s got chopped onions and tomatoes and seasoned with lime, salt and coriander. There never was a better bedfellow for beer.
Cost: Rs. 20
XVI. Lotus Root Chips/Banana Chips at The Bombay Canteen
The Bombay Canteen has caused quite a buzz since its opening—and rightly so. We’ve been plenty of times and still can’t enough. Two of our favourite bar snacks here are the lotus root chips, and the freshly made banana chips. However, there’s a chance you won’t be able to sample both at the same time, as they’re seasonal. The restaurant serves the lotus root chips before winter, while the banana chips are currently available. A word of caution: just one bowl isn’t enough.
Special mention: The Bombay Canteen’s Arbi Tuk is definitely worth trying too.
Cost: Complimentary. Best things in life come for free
XVII. Champagne Mushroom Fricasse and Day & Night at The Daily
The Daily is a chic little restobar on Bandra’s SV Road. Though it really comes alive over the weekend, the week too sees a smattering of the young suburban crowd catching up in its courtyard or idling by the bar. Grab yourself one of their signature cocktails and order the champagne mushroom fricassee (wild mushroom sautéed with champagne vinegar with parmesan cheese in a crisp filo pastry) and Day & Night, cream cheese flatbread with caramelised onion jam and arugula.
Cost: Rs. 325 for the champagne mushroom fricassee and Rs. 375 for Day & Night
XIX. Calamari & mussels at The Good Wife
Easily one of BKC’s favourite haunts, The Good Wife is a chic little restobar that draws in the office crowd by droves. Dim lighting, great music and a menu that takes ages of deliberation to get through make it a must-visit. Our favourite bar snack here is the calamari & mussels, that are delicately cooked in a sauce of white wine and butter and served with garlic bread. It’s the closest thing you’ll get to moules mariniere and it’s every bit as good. Of course, there is the little matter of it being a bit messier (use that bread wisely to mop up all the buttery remains)
Cost: Rs. 585
XX. Bacon and Cheese Potato Skins at The Ghetto
Everybody knows the ghetto—even if they don’t know where exactly it is. This Breach Candy pub is probably Mumbai’s truest embodiment of a dive bar. With graffiti on the walls, black lighting and a stereo system that cranks out hits from the 60s, 70s, 80s (and some times the 90s), Ghetto is one of the city’s coolest nightspots. Its crowd varies from enthusiastic 19 year olds just experiencing the magic of Pink Floyd for the first time, to loyal patrons well into their 60s that have been frequenting the pub for years. Ghetto’s menu is exhaustive and everything on it is exactly what your tummy craves when you’re drinking. But the standout dish for us is their bacon and cheese stuffed potato skins. They’re goddamn beautiful. Chunky potatoes baked with tons of oozing cheese and generous chunks of bacon. Be warned: it’s seriously hot so even though you may want to shove it into your mouth the minute it’s laid out in front of you, don’t.
Cost: Rs. 190
XXI. Wasabia Japonica at The Irish House
While we realise The Irish House chain is known more for its beer, we’ll let you in on a secret: their food is just as good. Like with most nights out that involve a lot of alcohol, the correct thing to do is focus on smaller bites spread out over the night, as opposed to one large meal. That leaves you with more tummy space to drink while ensuring you’re not the drunken embarrassment of the group. At The Irish House, or pick is Wasabia Japonica, rock shrimp in wasabi mayonnaise topped with toasted pine nuts. Don’t crinkle your nose at the pine nuts, they add a level of depth and a layer of texture that goes beautifully with the other ingredients.
Cost: Rs. 395
XXII. Baked Goat Cheese Bruschetta and Potato Skins with Wasabi Mayo at Woodside Inn, Colaba and Andheri
Woodside Inn is perennially popular with yuppies and media professionals alike. Their alcohol selection is excellent, their music is always on the mark, and their bar food is outstanding. We’ll admit that we do pore over the menu for far longer than is required since we always order the same nibbles when we’re there—the baked goat cheese bruschetta and the potato skins with wasabi mayo. The former has generous amounts of goat cheese topped with picked tomato confit that’s slathered onto crunchy bruschetta, while the latter consists of beautifully crisp potato skins served alongside a dipping sauce whose ratio of mayonnaise to wasabi is just right.
Cost: Rs. 395 for the bruschetta and Rs. 245 for the potato skins
XXIII. Kheema Pao at Yacht Club, Bandra
Yacht Club is right across from St. Andrew’s Church and is another one of those blink-and-you’ll-miss-it places. But that’s what makes it so great. What it lacks in ambience it makes up for in taste, as far as its kheema pao goes. We’ve never really managed to get ourselves to order anything else here. The kheema is spicy and the pao is soft. It’s so good that some people come by just to eat it regardless of whether they plan to drink or not.
Cost: Rs. 80
Schezwan Chakli at Sunraj
Sunraj is a hole-in-the-wall bar in the middle of Khar’s Chuim Village. We recommend skirting past the over-crowded and raucous downstairs section and heading up to the air-conditioned area. Sunraj, like many other hole-in-the-wall establishments serves liqour by the quarter, which makes it a very popular place with youngsters and jaded ad professionals alike. What you need to get here is th Schezwan Chakli. It sounds absurd, we know, but trust us. When your frantic waiter slams the little plate of the snack down on your table you’re going to be pleasantly surprised. The dish is pretty simple and self-explanatory: chakli accompanied by schezwan sauce. Crisp and tangy at the same time, we’re never satisfied with just one portion and neither is anybody else we know.
Research by Diva Garg and Meharunnisa Moula Sahib