Permit Room Cambridge: A tribute to 1970s Bombay

Arched into the cobbled lane of Trinity Street, behind a mustard yellow door, an all-day bar-café cuts loose. Not to be confused with the buzzy bars in Dishoom cafés, this Permit Room is entirely other – a tribute to the way Bombay kicks back and cuts loose – a salute to the city’s permit rooms, beer bars and drinking holes. (For those keen on history, here’s the detail to dive into.)

Step inside and be whisked away to the Bombay of the 1970s. Foot-stomping, rootsy beats greet your arrival. Strut past the jukebox and admire the artwork-adorned walls. To your right, a piece from Cambridge-local Jodie Howard has found a welcome home. Pieces from fellow locals Rhyanna Halasovski and Richard Heeps are also in residence – seek them out. Deeper into the Permit Room the walls become a gallery of South-Asian artistry, featuring works curated by The Irregulars Alliance alongside other South Asian talents.

Artwork admired, belly rumbling, ease yourself into a reasonably comfortable bentwood chair at one of the gingham-topped tables. To start, a strong cup of coffee from our friends at Wood St Coffee Roasters. Or move straight to the cocktails – the time of day is not important. Do not rush the choice, read the offering at leisure. The drinks tell tales of Bombay’s rich and colourful history of revelry and are crafted perfectly to complement round-the-clock-deliciousness on the menu. Short and Boozy. Twisted Classics. Highballs and Morning Glories. The gangs all there.

Then, to eat… lunch lightly or leisurely on excellent drinking food. Fresh salads and crispy Chaats, maybe some Chicken Pick-Me-Ups for the afternoon. Picky-snacky-crunchy Chakli and Peanut Masala go well with local beers. Then wrap your teeth around select Dishoom favourites or Aunty’s Anda Curry with a side of Chilli Butter-Bhutta. Stay for tasty Sweets Things, too. Our best recommendation: the Mango Soft Serve is notably delicious and entirely unique to Permit Room Cambridge.

Music is your constant companion at the Permit Room. On Thursdays, stay late for a beer, a bite, and a boogie. Local DJs take to the decks, spinning an eclectic playlist of funk, punk, hip-hop, disco and soul. Knees will tap, spirits will lift. And should you be carried away on the late-night revelry, swing by the next morning for comforting Breakfast Naan Rolls and plentiful cups of Chai.

Permit Room is mostly for walk-ins – but we've got a few tables reserved just for those who like to plan ahead. Should you live or work in Cambridge – hello, new friends. We simply cannot wait to meet you. 

Explore Permit Room Cambridge
Read the café stories

Suggested Reading

See the journal

Dishoom Loves. Issue XVIII.

The July issue of Dishoom Loves is already here (and perky, for your eyes). Fill your mind with some of the best South Asian talent, from a 17-year-old playwright sharing her life story, to a beauty expert’s top tips and tricks. And, a doctor who writes about henna.

Dishoom Loves. Issue XVII.

June brings the promise of sun-drenched days – or monsoons – balmy nights and a smattering of first-class cultural happenings.

Dishoom Impact Report

People, community and planet.

Dishoom Loves Issue Sixteen

Dishoom Loves. Issue XVI.

May has us buzzing. The scent of the fresh, juicy Alphonso mangoes, two long weekends, cultural exhibitions, new documentaries – there’s a lot to soak in.