A friend of mine recently visited Bombay and all he kept asking was, "Isn’t Bombay known for its quaint and quiet cafés, where you can just be by yourself with a good book and some lovely hot chocolate for company?"
Since our last list was on beer in Bombay, we need to cure the hangover with some coffee places in Colaba. Nay, we don’t mean the commercial Starbucks or Costa Coffees, we mean the tucked-away, quaint, and really quiet cafés where the ambiance is more intriguing and conversations aren’t drowned out by crowds and white noise. Not to mention, the food and beverages are great, too. So next time anybody comes to Bombay, I am taking them here.
Kala Ghoda Café
This could be Bombay’s most beloved and rustic café, which provides an old-world charm against the setting of Bombay’s gothic architecture. Part art gallery, part networking center, the café is thronged throughout the day, customers lining up either for breakfast, coffee, or their snuggly hot chocolate. The downside? Seating is restricted, so you may have to wait, or just grab a bite, if you aren’t lucky enough to get a table.
Where: 10, Ropewalk Lane, Kala Ghoda, Fort
Must-haves: Hot chocolate, carrot cake, dark chocolate cake, waffles, cappuccino
Cost for two- RS 500
The writer/journalist in me is a fan of this place, as Pantry lets you live a writer's dream: a replica of an idyllic Parisian café. Chic and European in its interiors, Pantry serves all day breakfast, with a flourless chocolate cake that’s to die for. There’s free Wifi, and the seating is just oh-so-comfortable — straight out of a French movie.
Where: Opposite Mamagoto, Kala Ghoda, Fort
Must haves: Banana bread, multigrain sandwiches, gluten-free chocolate Cake (click here for the recipe)
Cost for two- Rs 1200
One of South Bombay’s finest comfort breakfast places, the Nutcracker serves some of the best egg dishes in town. Two things to know before you go: The prices are a little steep on the prices, and it is completely vegetarian, but not vegan.
Where: Opposite One Forbes Building, Kala Ghoda, Fort
Cost for two: Rs 1000
Must haves: Pancakes, Breakfast in a Bottle, and The Seven-Layered Cookie
Food for Thought/Kitab Khana
As the name hints, you can sit here for hours in a quiet atmosphere with an intriguing book for company. There’s an in-house café that’s packed during lunch as professionals from nearby offices love to sit here for a quiet midday escape.
Where: Flora Fountain, Fort, Mumbai
Must haves: Pink pasta, pineapple cake
Cost for two: Rs 1000
This is one place that we’re proud we discovered. More like a college canteen than a café (at college canteen prices, too), Coffee Talk is a small, al fresco place in The Fariyas Hotel with barely five tables, where you should go simply for the quiet, natural ambiance. Ideal for breakfasts or laid-back evening coffees, this place allows you to have unending conversations in an open-air, private, garden-like setting.
Where: The Fariyas Hotel, Colaba, Mumbai
Cost for two: Rs 400
Café at the NCPA
This could be a place where the crowd expects us “kids” to be all proper, but if you have to show Bombay’s artistic and theatrical hub to someone, with all the classy grandeur, against the breezy backdrop of Nariman Point, café at NCPA is ideal. A posh ambiance with a lot of live stations, this is where South Bombay’s elite catch up on conversations.
Where: NCPA, Nariman Point, Mumbai
Must have: Chocolate fondue
Cost for two: Rs 1200
Gaylord is required visiting in South Bombay, a café that serves the purpose of a college hangout or a classy restaurant, depending on what you’re in the mood for. With renovations and classier menus in tow, the bakery still holds the charm of yore, while the food inside is unparalleled.
Where: Opposite Churchgate station, Mumbai
Must haves: Chicken kathi roll, cinnamon roll, jujubes, macaroons (not macaron), croissants
Cost for two: Rs 1000
This place may be sarkari, and you will have to really hunt to locate it, but it has a tea museum attached to it, and has some of the most exotic varieties of chai, from the good-old kulhad waali chai to a banana caramel tea. There’s proper food (unfortunately, it costs a bit more than the chai), but if you’re a person who loves your tea, Tea Centre won’t disappoint you!
Where: Next to Churchgate Station
Cost for two: Rs 700
Must have: Since tea is very subjective, experiment and choose!
I love this place, so I will be biased. But a red velvet cake with hot chocolate from Theobroma defines nirvana. The seating is limited, but the staff is so sweet that you don’t mind waiting. Plus, it’s perfect for when you are on a budget!
Must have: Red velvet cake, hot chocolate, brownies
Foodie tales from the modern Indian. Lettuce Review is a weekly capsule of food fables from the Indian subcontinent, our culture and hospitality. Join us as we give insights into our country, break myths about our cuisine, while welcoming you this colourful land of diversity! Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.