Geographically, Goa is India’s smallest state, and a port city to boot, so it’s jam packed with flavour, history, churches and beaches and the best people you’ll ever meet. Navigating this crush is hard, and visiting the same five places is easy. Which is why we’ve organised a handy guide for you, tracking the best old-timers, the newest kids on the block, and the hushest secrets so that each trip feels new.
Matsya: Goa’s best kept food secret, Israeli chef Gome Galilly’s Matsya recently shut down, but plans to pop up in romantic settings like old Portuguese homes and by the beach. Be patient and follow their Facebook page for updates. View the Facebook page here.
Burger Factory: You already know and love La plage, so for new Morjim beach waves, catch Burger Factory. This new ‘factory’ is on the beach, which means all post-swim cravings can be satisfied with sliders, burgers (get the classic beef) and hand-cut fries. Tables for two have swings, which means your date is already off to a great start.
Gunpowder: The Delhi import is where large groups of friends should go so you can order (almost) everything from the Indian coastal menu. The backwater prawns with curd rice and gunpowder is our favourite meal.
Sakana: Aliko and his wife Mali serve chilled bottles of sake, rolls of sushi and delicately sliced sashimi in ponzu sauce. Solo diners, sit on the community table to make more friends.
Vinayak Family Restaurant: This Vagator restaurant isn’t for fancy pants, but skip it and you’ll miss an amazing Goan thali the size of the moon, one that includes pork sorpotel and chicken xacuti.
Cantare: This village tavern in Assagao is where the locals go to drink. Best salt rimmed margaritas + seats on the balcony for people watching.
Soro: If you seek a village belle without going to the village, Soro at Anjuna is Goa’s new “village pub”. Retro music is promised.
Villa Blanche: From scrambled tofu to wholewheat bagels, poppy seed cake and vegan ice cream, this garden café is breakfast haven for hipsters.
Natty’s Naturals: If you like Villa Blanche, you’re guaranteed to love Natty’s Naturals. Best for breakfast after a particularly indulgent night and also to stock up on ingredients like Spirulina powder from Auroville and Pukka detox teas. On the Anjuna to Calungute Road, call 08550999422.
Chronicle: Cliffs, cocktails, clubbing with a view.
Markets & Food Fests You Shouldn’t Miss
In October, Goa hosts a three-day Poderachem Fest (baker’s fest) to celebrate bread of every kind from the state, including poi and bangle bread, a circular variety that you can wear around your wrist and eat as your stroll. The Saturday Night Market isn’t quite what it used to be, but it’s still a good place to try new food from tiny stalls that may soon become Goa’s most explosive restaurant (true story, ask Thalassa!). You can also buy bikinis and sarongs and bags and shorts here, and when you feel like it isn’t satisfying your vegan want, wake up the next day for the Sunday Farmer’s Market at Arpora.
This story was contributed by the team at brownpaperbag.in, a culture and lifestyle portal in Mumbai, Delhi & Bangalore.