Phone: +91 9137770978
Address: Shop 3, Sunbeam, Perry cross road, Pali Hill, Bandra West, Mumbai, Maharashtra India
Time: 8:30 AM – 10:45 PM
Meals for two: Rs. 1,300
Facilities: Indoor Seating, Table Reservation Not Required, All Day Breakfast
Good news ahead! Two reasons: Firstly, I’m an all time fan of Spanish cuisine. Over the years, I have been researching (read eating) my way through sunny Spain. Second reason: I have a big fat soft spot for family-run restaurants. And so, when a small (seriously small) family-run Spanish eatery opens, it’s time to rejoice. And of course, head there for a meal.
My assistant tries to book in a fake name. But it’s Monday, and they are closed. A Saturday afternoon sees us nattering over a fun, girly lunch. The 12-year old foodie Tarinni Shirodkar, who raised money with her art projects, approves of El Mercado. As does her mother, Ashlesha Shirodkar, creative strategist, mastermind who is in great demand for conceptualizing and executing fun educational board games and books for children. Equally appreciative is Chandni Tolani, digital consultant of over a 100 brands, travel blogger, foodie who loves trying out new restaurants. Bustling around hospitably is textile businessman turned restaurateur Vidur Kapoor, and we learn that El Mercado is his project of passion, set up along with Pranaya Gidwani.
El Mercado, Pali Hill, Bandra West, Mumbai: Decor
Charm infuses the tiny 15-seater eatery. Brick wall, adorned with paintings, photographs and more. Stainless steel lined bar counter and a tiny open kitchen, too.
El Mercado, Pali Hill, Bandra West, Mumbai: Food
It’s deeply satisfying. It’s Mumbai’s best Salmoreco… at par with the ones I’ve enjoyed in Seville. Hearty cousin to the gazpacho, their Tomato Sherry Vinegar enriched dip (great to eat as a cold soup) comes up tops. Follow it up with the intense roasted beetroot and yogurt blended beetroot borani crowned with chickpeas caramelized onions and feta. Can something as simple as a thick wedge of ciabatta rubbed with raw garlic and tomato drizzled with sea-salt taste so sublime? Or that simple classic Spanish omelette with potatoes (tortilla) be so crazily addictive? Yes to both! Rustic simplicity delights. Mushrooms sliders pregnant with sauteed garlic, arugula, chilli flakes feta are a must try. Go for delightful desserts ranging from the French toast or the egg-less flour-less gooey choc cake.
El Mercado, Pali Hill, Bandra West, Mumbai: Minus Points
Seriously small. Privacy of conversation is impossible, and it’s difficult to reserve a table. When we visited, plenty of dishes were unavailable. No albondigas, cheesecake or alcohol. Overcooked prawns, under-cooked honey lamb and mushy patata bravas.
El Mercado, Mumbai: My Point
This Bandra Spaniard is charming. It ain’t no tapas bar (no alcohol here) but an open all day cafe serving tapas and more. Don’t go expecting a refined and comprehensive Spanish menu. Go to this open all day El Mercado for a slice of charm and moderately-priced robust, rustic, home style food, and you’ll be happy you did.