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Christmas is approaching, and the aroma of freshly baked cakes and marzipans wafting through the lanes of Bandra is strong. While most of these bakeries have been around for decades now, it’s never too late to visit this Mumbai suburb, for some traditional Christmas goodies.  Here are some of our favorites from the neighbourhood,

American Express Bakery

The original American Express Bakery stands tall in Byculla till date. However, this five-decade-old branch is one of the prominent landmarks on Hill Road, Bandra. The novelty of the bakery is in its 70-year-old machines, which were imported from England, and are still very much in use. Also tucked in one corner of the eatery is a wooden barrel. Don’t miss that! Following in their grandparent’s footsteps, brothers Yvan and Emit Carvalho are now in charge of the shop.

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Must try: Pound cakes and Biscottis

J Hearsch & Co

My personal favourite, this bakery also looks like an old decrepit mansion. You might easily miss the blink-and-miss entry to this cake haven right next to Holy Family Hospital. Once upon a time, it used to be open 24 hours a day. More recently, they have shortened the hours to 7.30am to 10.30pm. Legend has it: a German gentleman called Hearsch had founded the place during the ’40s. However, during World War 2, he left the country and the place has since been looked after by D’Sa brothers. Melvin D’Sa, the present owner of the bakery, says it is the most buzzing bakery in the neighbourhood, especially filled with college students at all hours. He maintains that they sell over 500 chicken puffs a day.

Must try: Croissants, burgers and chicken puffs.

A-1 Bakery

One might think American Express Bakery with its fancy façade overshadows A-1 Bakery, which is at a stone’s throw’s away. But the ever buzzing crowd around A-1 clearly suggests otherwise. It’s been this busy since the ’50s, and their wares have been selling like hot cakes, quite literally. Currently run by the third generation member of the founding Parsi family, Aaron Irani, the place opens as early as 5am, and it’s a common sight to see aged Catholic couples waiting to grab the fresh-out-the-oven breads.

Must try: Mutton Puffs and Chicken Cutlet Pav.

Candies

In its 30th year, the offbeat villa-styled café also doubles up as one of the finest bakeries in disguise. It may be a three-storied multi cuisine restaurant, but their cake section – with tiny, decorative cupcakes and pastries – is lip-smacking to say the least, and worth dying for. It’s a hit across generations – students, elders, corporate groups, as well as independent professionals. Allan Pereira, the owner of the café trained at Mac Ronell’s a Bandra-based pastry shop for years (which shut around 25 years ago), before launching his own brand, Candies – it now boasts of three branches in the suburb.

Must try: Chocolate mousse, mini cupcakes and lemon tart.

Café Andora

It’s hidden in one of the bylanes off Hill Road. A more prominent landmark would be – opposite St Andrew’s College. Good luck to you if you happen to find a place here, considering it’s always occupied by students from the neighboring college and school. Selling some of the most reasonably-priced savouries and desserts in the area, Andora has stood the test of time and has also undergone a sea change over the last three decades. Three years back, the store also opened a mini dessert section in their alfresco area to meet the ever-growing demands. From a meal under Rs 200 to tarts for Rs 30, Andoras should be your go-to haunt if you are on a shoestring budget.

Must try: Brownies, Lemon Tarts and Croquettes.

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