[Mumbai, India] Lunch at Cafe Mondegar

We’re back in Mumbai after a two-hour flight from Trivandrum. Suddenly, we’re back in the concrete jungle of the Big Mango, with its heaving masses of humanity. The lush green valleys and palm-fringed waterways of Kerala seemed worlds away.

One tip: we get all our rupees off ATM machines and, being HSBC customers, we get to withdraw without having to pay any service charge, usually 8% or more, which all local Indian banks will levy.

Mumbai has 18 HSBC branches throughout the city. In Kerala state - only Kochi has one HSBC branch. No other town there has one.

For lunch, we decided to drop into Cafe Mondegar, the other classic Parsi cafe besides Leopold Cafe on bustling Colaba Causeway.

Cafe Mondegar, founded 1932 by the Yazdegardi family, was famous for Indian cartoonist and painter Mario Miranda’s murals, which adorned the walls and entrance ceiling of the jam-packed eatery. Tables and chairs were packed to take advantage of every molecule of free space in there.

Waiters here were impossibly good-natured and cheerful. Orders were taken and food were served with clockwork efficiency. I think 90% of the customers here are domestic and non-resident Indian (NRI) tourists and visitors.

‘Mondegar’ means “Eternal” in Parsi. Parsis are a resourceful Zoroastrian community, descendants of early Persians who emigrated to India between the 8th to 10th century to escape religious persecution by their Muslim conquerors, seemed to dominate the coffee house/cafe industry in the city from the colonial-British era onwards.

Cafe Mondegar serves an eclectic mix of Indian, Continental and Desi-Chinese fare from its extensive menu visible under the glass-topped tables.

Our lunch:

  1. Chicken Tikka with Butter Naan

  1. Chicken Manchurian

  2. Hakka Noodles

My Desi-Chinese lunch plate:

  1. Caramel Custard

I don’t think people come to Cafe Mondegar specifically for its food. It’s more to do with the convivial, oh-so-very-Colaba-Causeway-ish kind of vibe, and its sense of history. Mario Miranda’s handiwork was so much fun to look at, and so quintessentially Mumbai:

We were also given to understand that Cafe Mondegar was the first place in Mumbai to have a jukebox. It’s still there and fully-functional, one of the few in town, and a far cry from its hey-days in the 1940s/50s when about 50 out of then-Bombay’s 400 Parsi-Irani cafes had jukeboxes.

Cafe Mondegar
Metro House, Colaba Causeway, near Regal Cinema, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001, India


Not tempted by any parsi fare?

Disappointingly, none to be had. We were looking out for akuri eggs, or even just a bun Maska, but they didn’t offer any.

Not surprised, I guess, as Mondegar (like Leopold) is more of an atmospheric coffee / beer / dessert destination than a food one (I was surprised when you identified it as a classic Parsi cafe).

Enjoy the rest of your trip! (We are gearing up for one long food coma starting tomorrow with the rest of the family arriving.)

1 Like

You. might want to try Kyani (near metro) for akuri or bun maska. However the upscale cafes at fort (kala ghoda cafe, poetry etc) all have really good breakfast including some Parsi dishes in a couple of them. There are 3 or 4 in the fort area.

My favorites for breakfast in Mumbai are Cafe Madras in Matunga, and Prakash in Dadar


Thank you! We get our Parsi fill at the club or from cooking at home or ordering from home chefs, but Kyani and the like were staples growing up. Agree on the lovely cafes around Kala Ghoda.

We are lucky to have great south Indian closer to home than Matunga, but it’s always fun to go to those spots (I spent a couple of years studying nearby). We were just talking about taking my nephews to Cafe Madras or Cafe Mysore or one of the other places at Matunga Circle, let’s see if we can squeeze it in.