The Mumbai I grew up in had one icon worth mentioning - the Irani cafes. They were unpretentious and clean. They welcomed people from all walks of life, any community and all stratas of society. The service was good and the food was cheap. They served the best Brun Pao or crusty bread roll with white butter and chai.
I remember, when I was a flight attendent, we stopped off at one in our uniforms at around 5:00 am on our way back from a tiring flight. Fifteen minutes of unwinding with a brun pao, chai and an especially nice band of colleagues literally washed away our tiredness. In those days even the van drivers who took us back home from the airport were game and had the time in-between drop-offs and pick-ups to stop off at the cafe for a chai and a brun-maska. I wonder if those days can ever be repeated today. Sigh!
I loved these Irani joints and have discovered two websites that give a good description of them. Geobeats is one of the best websites I've discovered about the Mumbai I grew up in. It pretty much covers all my favourite joints - Irani and others - in the Bombay (now Mumbai) I grew up in. http://www.geobeats.com/videoclips/india/mumbai/britannia-restaurant
But for a detailed description, pictures and history of the Irani joints and the Iranis who ran them, I've recently discovered an article by K.E.Eduljee which I've added (in Sept 2011) to this post.
The link: http://www.heritageinstitute.com/zoroastrianism/irani/cafe.htm#iranicaf
To end, on a personal note, much to my regret, we couldn't stay in Mumbai for long during our last visit. We were anxious to be with someone who was almost on her deathbed and cut short our stay in Mumbai. (Happily, she is recovered, at least for now.) I do believe the kids enjoyed Pune, Jaipur and family very much. I am keen to show them the Mumbai I grew up in and knew intimately - perhaps next time.