Starters: "Best" can have so many connotations. So let us not digress and simply condemn that word as "his opinion". The first thing about Mathura is the wait. It isn't that bad nowadays. But in the 90s, the head-waiter would take down your name and usher you into their huge balcony overlooking mount road. Sometimes a trip to Mathura is worth for the time spent waiting in that terrace-like balcony. A place like that in mount road is simply unimaginable. Once you get a seat, the first thing that strikes you is their interior design. Especially the glass-like pillars and lighting. Now it isn't a big thing but many years ago it was really cool. Tomato soup in Mathura is always special. It has a life of its own. It tickles every part of your food pipe before going down. I've never ordered any other soup there so have no clue how they taste. I don't know what balance they strike to get the soup so right. But that kind of soup, I've only ever had in Panagal-park Hot Chips. Masala Pappad, Spring rolls, and Gobhi 65 are other starters that are very tasty here. Many people sing praises of HSB's sambhar vadai. However, one has to concede that Mathura is equal if not better than HSB in this category. Both have taken the art of putting 'optimum' quantity of jaggery in Sambhar to a scientific precision. It is disgusting when some over do the jaggery.
N. Indian Food: Mathura's strength is its variety/taste of North Indian food inspite of Mathura being a S. Indian restaurant. While it is besides-the-point, they do have non-Indian food that is very good. NRI type people sampling the non-Indian food - beware! What is out there is the Indianized version of pastas and augratins. Don't expect the authentic (whatever that means) versions of these items. These items are tasty stand-alone. Period. However, Mathura's strength, as I said before, lies in making the regular S/I Indian food tasty. Although they do have a lot of exotic items in their menu, that is not the reason why people go there. My favorite among their breads are; Masala Kulcha and Aloo Paratha. They do have all the usual breads. There is only so much you can do to spoil the breads. Among the 'special' type breads - Kashmiri Naan is always preferred by people who like Mathura.
They have about 30 side-dishes for these breads. Some of them fall under the category called "Esoteric Dishes". That is how their Menu Card classifies them. Baron's "Word List" jokes apart - esoteric it is, as only a chosen few find it awesome. Vegetable Imperial in this category is my favorite dish. The waiter always warns that it is not spicy but sweet (they do this for every 'sweet' based side-dish). It is a milk based dish and so throws off most people. However, I recommend people try it at least once before condemning it. Their Navarathna Kurma used to be good, once upon a time. Nowadays the Navarathan has increased and Kurma is nowhere to be seen. Most of the other regular dishes, they hit the nail on the head. I wish they reduced the size of their paneers in paneer butter masala. It is almost as if they wrote Paneer is font size 120, butter in font size 30 and masala in size 2. Where is the masala dude?
South Indian: Just eat their Paper Masala Dosai. It speaks for itself. I would rate them as better than HSB in every dosai category. As it has been mentioned repeatedly, Mathura's sambhar has to be tasted for one to believe its awesomeness. Note: 'Raayars Mess' type old people will always pick a fight on this issue.
Rice Varieties: Their simple vegetable biryani is tasty, filling, and more than adequate for one "normal" person. The thing about Mathura is their consistency. All their rice varieties Fried Rice, Mixed Rice etc are so good. I have always baulked at the Kashmiri Rice varities, which has so many nuts, fruits and other such gaudy things. I have heard from people who have eaten this that Mathura is really good at this rice. So if you are that type then hey..
Dessert: Basundhi. I'll leave it at that.
Disclaimer: There is a popular opinion, not without merit, that the quality here is decreasing. While many called me back and said they liked the recommendation, a few came back deflated and underwhelmed. I'll leave it to the reader to judge that.