Chai Time in Fort

There are several times when a cutting chai isn't enough at four thirty, the lunch has long been processed and a hunger pang begins to set in. Over the past few years, at this hour, I have found myself hungry, low on cash and standing on the streets of South Bombay. This has led me to find some of the best budget places that offer a sumptuous evening time meal along with some good chai. If you are around, irrespective of whether hungry or not, you should visit these small places that hardly find a mention on the internet but serve authentic stuff. Also, I often end up taking most of my friends to these places if I am catching up, so ditch the 'Bucks and drop by here.

1. Café Bharat, Opp Churchgate Station

Tucked away in a small corner, next to a mini supermarket on Indian Merchant Chambers road Cafe Bharat is a bustling place, complete with a mezzanine floor. Generally overshadowed by the nearby Satkar and even fancier places all around, it goes unnoticed. The food served is simple, delectable and cheap. Puri Bhaji and Misal Pav rule the charts. I always prefer having a plate of Misal with Pav. Misal is nothing but Usal with some farsan thrown in. Usal is a spicy pulses curry eaten with rice otherwise. In this part of town, finding a good Misal Pav is rare unlike in Marathi strongholds like Dadar (Hotel Prakash) or Thane (Hotel Mamledaar). You may opt for the batata vada with some usal which again is a fantastic combination, not available at every outlet. The vada is made in the typical Maharashtrian way with the filling containing good amount of garlic and coriander.

Be prepared to share the table during peak hours.

Misal Pav: Rs. 30

Also, MLA Canteen, next to DGP office.

2. Hotel Deluxe, Pitha street, Fort

Now, Hotel Deluxe deserves not a small mention but an entire blog dedicated to their wondrous food items that they serve. One of the few places in Bombay serving Malabari cuisine, you can visit HD anytime of the day and come out satiated. Sadhya, Fish Thali, Fish Curry, Biryani are served and devoured with great delight during meal times but between 4-7 they have a special menu. Three baskets woven out of coconut leaves are laid on a small table next to the cash counter, filled with three types of snacks. Fried bananas, small vadas, chicken rolls, sweet preparations. The best part is that the options keep changing every day. One can even order for a plate of dosas which are served with a small bowl of fish curry or a dollop of chicken curry! Both curries, typical of Malabari cuisine with a good hint of curry leaves.

The chai is unique too. Served in a tall glass, it isn't milky but neither watery. It is frothy and packs a punch, I generally have it after my dosa and fish curry. I have had several good meals at this place about which I have blogged here and here. Also, it is probably the only place that remains open on Sundays when this bustling business district goes silent.

Meal for one: Under Rs. 50

Non veg options: MLA Canteen next to DGP office for Bhurji, Omlette Pav.

3. Hotel Poornima, on the junction of Bombay House

I am a sucker for south Indian snacks. I can have them at any time of the day. But finding good authentic, Matunga type fare is rare. Therefore, when I visited Poornima the first time, I knew I had found my SoIn place at SoBo. Entering Poornima is like stepping into an era goneby. The decor hasn't changed since the 90s (except for new steel tables on the floor and the cash register), there's no menu (sign of a real South Indian joint) but a board which states that it will be 50 naya paise for extra sambar and two waiters that recite the entire menu each time. They also have a mezzanine floor where orders are taken while on the ground, you have to serve yourself.

I love the Vegetable Upma here along with some coconut chutney. Worth trying are the Mysore Masala dosai, Idli Vadai and Onion Uthappa. And the best part is that they serve good, pure filter coffee (Although, recently they switched to paper cups and ditched the tumbler-dabara combo to save water and time). In the afternoons, they serve a very good veg-thali for Rs. 66.

A snack and coffee here should set you back by Rs. 50

Other Filter Coffee places worthy of mention: Hotel Ramanath, Colaba and Hotel Swagat, off PM Road, Fort.

4. Moti Halwai, Cawasji Patel Marg

Located at a short walk from Horniman Circle or Fountain, Moti is a fairly huge place that dishes up Chole Bature, Samosa Chaat, Kachori, Daal Pakwan and of course Chole Samosa. If you are in the mood for some heavy stuff, Moti should be your stop. They also have a wide variety of sweets on sale. I love trying out the warm Gulab Jamnus on display. Bhajiyas are passable so stick to the Samosa served with some Chole and finish off with a tall glass of special lassi(less creamier version is also available).

Alternatively, you could opt for the special chai which is quite strong and brewed fresh on order.

Meal for one should be again around Rs. 50-60 including a snack and a chai.

Puncham Puri at VT is a good option too.

There's also the Irani - Cafe Military on Nagindas Master Road that starts to serve beer along with Caramel Custard at around 4-5pm.


I am sure there are plenty of other joints that serve equally delicious and cheap fare in and around Fort. If you have any recommendations, do let me know!


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