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There are few tourist experiences in Mumbai to beat that of digging into a hot plate of pav bhaji at Juhu beach.
Juhu and Girgaum Chowpatty, the two main beaches of Mumbai, have an array of street food stalls attached to them. You can get your fill of pav bhaji, bhel and sev puri and sip on some baraf ka golas while taking in the sea breeze.
This might not be the best place to enjoy Mumbai’s street food though. The vendors at the beach know that their customer base is transient and therefore consistency is not really focused on. The food served here is fairly over-priced too.
For a taste of the best of Mumbai’s street food you need to go to one of its Khao Gulley’s or eat streets. These are lanes in the older parts of Mumbai which office-goers frequent for a bite.
The Homji Street Khao Gulley in the lane parallel to the Strand Book Store in Fort is where you get some of the best renditions of Mumbai’s street food. The time to go is around 1 pm. You will see a tiny lane packed with street food vendors. Each stall is surrounded by customers. The clientele is regular here, and the turnover high, which ensures consistency and quality of food.
Ashok’s pav bhaji is particularly recommended as he doesn’t add food colours. So pav bhaji is not red and takes the natural colour of vegetables. There are a couple of Malayalis in the corner dishing out thick, stuffed Mysore dosas and butter vada pao. Bhajiyas, dabeli, toast sandwich, bhel and sev puri, mewad ice cream and puri bhaji: you will get them all hot and fresh here at lunch time.
For those who want street food in a slightly more hygienic/filtered water environment, Elco and Punjab Sweets in Bandra are good options.
Or you could go for a bhel puri at the Taj’s Sea Lounge by the Gateway in the evening for a really posh ‘street food’ experience.
Kalyan Karmakar authors the popular award winning blog, Finely Chopped and is an authority on the food of Mumbai. His extensive knowledge of the city's food scene has been featured in publications such as Femina, Mumbai Mirror and BCC Good Food. He was one of the founding critics of EazyDiner's Mumbai team.