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A trend that seems to be popular with diners in the city is these ‘all you can eat’ meals. Usually, it is a heavy buffet with a wide variety of dishes and you just eat to your heart’s content and pay one fixed priced. It is what folks call value for money and every second restaurant is offering all-you-can-eat buffets.
Many seem to forget that we, as Indians, are the kings of this concept as we have been at it for years and, most importantly, the buffet comes to our plate! Thali as a concept is a set meal and usually (though not always) tends to be unlimited and available till your stomach and brain both agree you have eaten enough. Traditionally, it was just about a set meal on your plate but, over the years, we have evolved and now restaurants pride themselves on not only the variety available in the thali but also the endless supply of food till you are more than satisfied. It took some serious research and a fair bit of indulging till we managed to pick some of our favourites we think you must try next!
Shree Thaker Bhojanalay – Trying to get to this small restaurant is a task, as you need to battle traffic-choked narrow streets, then patiently wait in line till you get a seat, and then try to eat the thali where the servers top it up before you can even register if you want more or not. The thali is a Gujarati one with delicious vegetables that are far less oily than other thali joints.
Gonguura – One of the only places in the city that serves good Andhra food. It is not an out-and-out thali joint; it is actually a restaurant with an À la carte menu but the reason it makes the list is because it does offer a typical humble Andhra thali with dal, vegetables, rasam, sambhar and the works!
Pancham Puriwala – Most thali joints tend to serve either Gujarati or Rajasthani food but this restaurant (along with their all-vegetarian À la carte menu) has a choice of thalis serving North Indian fare. This is an extremely humble and inexpensive joint but the food is worth a visit. You can choose a bare, basic thali or an elaborate one, and it will still cost less than most other places.
Rajdhani Thali Restaurant – When you think of thali joints, the one name that will always pop out is Rajdhani. These folks have been dishing out some amazing food for years now and with three outlets in the city, they are clearly a popular choice. The style of food is Rajasthani and Gujarati and, during the summer months, they tend to go bonkers with mangoes from aam ras to mango rice. The food is consistently good and is considered one of the best thali options.
Chetana – Kala Ghoda is morphing into this hipster, trendy and artsy area with quirky cafés and funky shops, so a thali joint seems slightly out of place. However, Chetana has been around in the area way before anything trendy popped up and has a loyal customer base. A lot of folks enjoy their chaat and quaint little bookstore in the restaurant, but the real winner is their choice of thalis. There is the Maharashtrian (which serves meat), Gujarati or the Rajasthani thali and each one is at a reasonable price.
Better known as the Tiny Taster, Roxanne is an internationally respected blogger and expert on the Mumbai food scene. She has hosted many events, including the Upper Crust Food & Wine Show and travels the world, sharing her knowledge and gaining more experience.