Indian food has been such an important and enormous part of my life. I was born and raised in Mumbai and lived there for twenty-two years before moving to the States. My childhood was filled with amazing memories of biting into piping hot vada pav from the school canteen during lunch break and eagerly awaiting the arrival of the chaat wala who made the rounds of the neighborhood in the evenings with his portable stall.
While I now try to fill the void with Indian restaurants in Chicago, my ties to Mumbai remain as solid as ever. I travel there at least once every year to catch up with family and friends over some of the best food in some of the most humble of settings. Mumbai’s street food is famous for its rich and diverse flavors that draw on global, national, and regional influences.
This post brings you the best street food in Mumbai (and where to find these 11 dishes) that should try on your next trip to India. I’ve included classic favorites like the Maharashtrian vada pav and South Indian dosas while also including foods like shawarma and momos that are soaring in popularity.
1. Vada Pav
Vada Pav is a simple dish that consists of a deep-fried potato dumpling (vada) that is placed inside a bread roll (pav) and is typically served with various chutneys and condiments. It’s often considered the Indian version of the burger and is one of the best street food in Mumbai.
The vada is made from a mixture of mashed potatoes, spices, coriander leaves, and green chilies. It is shaped into a ball and deep-fried until golden brown. The pav is a type of Indian bread roll similar to a dinner roll that came to Maharashtra from neighboring Goa, which in turn got it during Portuguese colonization.
Authentic vada pavs will come with lip-smacking dry red garlic chutney to be inserted inside the pav. Some are accompanied by fried green chilies or a green chutney spread on the inside of the pav.
Where to eat: It would be impossible to walk along any street in Mumbai without finding a vada pav stall. But Mama Kane Swatcha Upahar Griha, a fourth-generation 113-year-old humble eatery remains the OG of vada pav. Jaslok Sweet and Farsan in Andheri East also dishes out some great vada pavs alongside mouth-watering sweets.
2. Pani Puri
A visit to Mumbai is incomplete without the famous pain puri. The puri is a round, hollow, fried crisp dough made from wheat flour, filled with a spiced mixture of white peas. It is then loaded in two kinds of flavored water or pani. One is the meetha pani – sweet and tangy water made with tamarind. The other is the teekha pani – spicy water made from green chilies, mint, and coriander.
The pani puri vendor will ask what spice level you’d like to you can pick from low, medium to spicy.
Where to eat: Every neighborhood has its own well-known pani puri wala so you should ask around to find the person stall. Vaishali Nagar in Jogeshwari West has some top-notch pani puri and chaat stalls.
3. Pav Bhaji
Pav bhaji is a popular street food from the Indian state of Maharashtra, it is a type of fast food that originated in the city of Mumbai. It is a spicy and flavorful dish that consists of a thick vegetable curry called bhaji, which is served with a soft bread roll called pav.
The bhaji is made with a combination of mixed vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes, cauliflower, peas, and bell peppers. These vegetables are cooked together with a blend of spices, including ginger, garlic, and a special pav bhaji masala powder. The bhaji is mashed and cooked until it becomes thick and smooth.
The pav is a type of Indian bread roll that is similar to a dinner roll. They are toasted on a griddle with butter before being served alongside the bhaji. The bhaji is typically served on a metal plate and the pav is served on the side. Pav bhaji is typically garnished with chopped onions, cilantro, and a squeeze of lemon. You can also order cheese pav bhaji with arrives garnished with grated cheese at the top.
Where to eat: It is impossible to mention Pav Bhaji without mentioning the buttery goodness of Sardar Pav Bhaji in Tardeo. In the suburbs, you can opt for the pav bhaji stalls lining Juhu Beach.
4. Sev Puri
Sev puri is another chaat dish that is one of the best street food in Mumbai. It is a crispy, spicy and tangy snack that is made by placing several small puris (deep-fried and puffed wheat crisps) next to each other and then topping them with a variety of ingredients like diced potatoes, onions, tomatoes, tangy tamarind chutney, and spicy green chutney.
The final and most important element is sev (small thin crunchy noodles made from gram flour) sprinkled on top. It is typically served on a small plate and garnished with coriander.
If you’re looking to try some delicious street food in Mumbai, be sure to give Sev Puri a try.
Where to eat: This is again a neighborhood specialty similar to the pani puri and sold at the same stall. Andheri West definitely has some great sev puri stalls outside the train station or outside Shopper’s Stop on S. V. Road.
5. Misal Pav
Misal pav is a popular street food dish from the Indian state of Maharashtra. It typically consists of a spicy curry made with sprouted lentils (misal) and served with pav (a type of Indian bread roll). The dish is typically garnished with onions, cilantro, and yogurt, and is often accompanied by farsan (a type of fried snack). Misal pav is known for its unique blend of flavors and textures and is a favorite among food lovers in Maharashtra.
The dish is generally made by cooking sprouted matki beans and preparing a spicy gravy called ‘kat’ using a mix of goda masala, onion, tomato, and other spices. Alongside it is served with pav, raw onions, and farsaan.
Where to eat: Mama Kane Swatcha Upahar Griha and Prakash Shakahari Upahaar Kendra both serve delicious spicy misal pavs among other Maharashtrian delicacies in Dadar. You can also try the canteen inside Sanjay Gandhi National Park near the eco tents for a homely meal of misal pav.
6. Mumbai Sandwich
Mumbai sandwich (or Bombay sandwich) is a unique style of sandwich typically made with a combination of vegetables, including potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, boiled beetroot, and chutneys, such as mint plus coriander chutney, and garlic chutney. There is also a special sandwich masala that is sprinkled at the top before closing the sandwich. The sandwich is then grilled until the bread is crispy and the vegetables are warm. Cheese and mayonnaise can also be added to the sandwich for elevating the flavors.
Where to eat: I have loved the sandwiches at Sandwizza in Santacruz for years, ever since it was a small shop called Swastik Sandwich.
Frankie, also known as a “wrap,” is a popular Indian street food dish that consists of a flatbread (usually a paratha) that is filled with a variety of ingredients. The paratha is grilled with a little oil to make it crispy before filling. The filling typically includes a combination of cooked vegetables and proteins, such as potatoes, onions, tomatoes, chicken or paneer (Indian cottage cheese), and a variety of spices and chutneys.
Where to eat: College campuses are usually a great spot for Frankies as they are a very popular on-the-go best street food in Mumbai with youngsters. Check out the stalls outside Bhavan’s college in Andheri or Mithibai in Vile Parle for some delectable Frankies.
Dosa is a type of pancake made from fermented rice and lentil batter and is a staple food in South Indian cuisine. In Mumbai, dosas can be found at street food vendors, hawkers, and small dosa shops throughout the city.
They are typically served with a variety of accompaniments, such as sambar (a lentil-based vegetable stew), coconut-based chutneys, and various vegetable fillings. You can’t go wrong with the masala dosa with the traditional spiced potato masala. My favorite has got to be the Mysore masala dosa which also includes the signature chutney in addition to the potato masala. This Mysore chutney is made from red chili, dal, and coconut, which gives it a unique and spicy taste.
Where to eat: The dosa stalls at Silver Beach (Juhu beach’s underrated sibling) are part of my most cherished childhood memories. Recently, I’ve also tried and loved the dosa outside Gandhi Market in Sion.
9. Indo Chinese
Chinese cuisine arrived in India when the Hakka traders settled in Kolkata in the late 1700s. The Chinese dishes received an Indian makeover and the result is the fantastic fusion cuisine – Indo-Chinese. Indo-Chinese is served in several restaurants and has emerged as one of the best street food in Mumbai. Many of the roadside vendors serving this cuisine remain open even into the wee hours of the morning.
Hakka noodles and fried rice are the most popular dishes in this cuisine. These can be eaten as is or topped with varying Manchurian and Schezwan gravies. Hakka noodles is a spicy and flavorful stir-fry dish made with thin, wheat-based noodles and a variety of vegetables, such as bell peppers, onions, carrots, and cabbage. It is often made with a spicy sauce that includes ingredients like soy sauce, chili sauce, and tomato sauce. Fried rice is made the same way but with cooked rice instead of noodles.
Where to eat: You can find several street vendors specializing in Indo-Chinese in various neighborhoods including the food stalls at Juhu Beach.
They are a type of dumpling that originated in Tibet but have become a popular street food in many countries, including India. They can be steamed or fried and are typically filled with a mixture of vegetables, chicken, or meat. They are often served with a spicy chutney or sauce on the side.
Other than the street vendors you can find Momos in several street food joints, street side cafes, and even in the fine dining restaurant in Mumbai that serves momos as part of their menu. There’s even a momo burger now, which as you can guess is a spiced, sauced momo cocooned in a bun!
Momos are a great option for a quick and delicious snack or meal and are a great way to experience the diverse street food culture in Mumbai.
Where to eat: Chowpatty Beach has several street food stands including momos. I’ve also tried Wow! Momos on my most recent trip a couple of months ago and loved it.
Shawarma is a trending street food in Mumbai. It is a Middle Eastern dish that is made by grilling meat (typically chicken or lamb) on a spit and then slicing it off to serve in a wrap or pita bread. The meat is usually marinated with a blend of spices, herbs, and yogurt.
It is typically served with a variety of toppings and condiments, such as lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion, and various sauces like tahini, garlic sauce, and chili sauce.
Where to eat: The new Shawarma joints in the Jogeshwari West suburb just off S. V. Road really deliver on the taste, quantity and price.
That concludes my Team Eleven of the best street foods in Mumbai that you should try in 2023.
I’d love to hear from Mumbaikars about your favorite foods and food joints in the comments below! And for those who are yet to visit the city, which of these foods are you excited to try?