A few months ago my colleague and I went to Goa for work. We spent a week there to explore some new restaurants and had a great time. Yes, we did get a lot of work done but whenever we could catch a break, we checked out some places suggested by locals and had a wonderful time walking long distances to find it. When we reached Goa, we stayed in Madgaon for a night. During that time we stopped by at Alila Diwa to experience their Dark Room Dining concept at Spice Studio. It was my second visit to this luxury resort and it brought back wonderful memories. Their infinity pool was my favourite spot in the entire property and we parked ourselves there to get some cocktails and catch up with the staff. We left the cocktail order up to the new bartender at Edge Bar and he made some delicious cocktails at sunset. A sundowner session was followed by an exquisite meal at Spice Studio eaten in absolute darkness. I’ve written more about it on my TimesCity article so if you’re in Goa and looking for a new experience, this is it.
Post dinner, we were informed about a local favourite bar called Firefly in Benaulim. The friendly bar owned by Donovan Vaz is still unknown to tourists so all the people were locals who meet a few times a week over beers and karaoke. The amphitheatre-esque feel and accommodating staff is what I loved about it. We didn’t end up eating there at all but stuck to King’s and mingled with the locals.
Next day we headed out to North Goa. On our way there, we stopped by for a quick lunch at a very chic restaurant in Panjim called O Fogo. Tucked in the tiny lanes of Panjim, O Fogo’s charming entrance blew me away. We ordered a few dishes to tide us over until dinner and wished we didn’t have to leave. The space was beautifully designed but unfortunately they were about to close to relocate to another space in the neighbourhood. I sure do hope they’re ready for business when I visit Goa again.
In North Goa, we stayed at a shack in Anjuna (Inn Anjuna), right next door to Curlies. After Baga and Calangute, it has to be the most crowded spots but fortunately we were amidst like minded people and a few travellers. Before we hit Curlies at night, we headed out to Calangute for work and checked out the newly opened restaurant hub named Destination One. Escapade was its sea facing restaurant which had a deck area, casual dining area, and a fine dining area with a few more bars and cafes opening around it. After a long day out in the sun, we finally had the time to relax in our room and unwind at Curlies over a few beers with shack food. While we were on our second beer, we had James the carpenter from UK join us. He was travelling with his pal who decided to stay in and let poor James drink alone. We bonded over drinks and exchanged travel stories. It was refreshing to meet someone who was a fellow backpacker and belonged to my favourite city (for now) – London. He suggested we check out a shack called Moonstar on the other end of the beach and try out their cappuccino. Our conversations kept us there till 3 am and finally we called it a night. Next morning, we hiked to Moonstar to have breakfast as recommended by James the carpenter. The cappuccino, truly, was amazing and we wished James had joined us. Thanks, James!
One night for dinner, we checked out Go With The Flow and fell in love with the food. The sexy restaurant by the Baga River is run by a Brazilian chef and you’ll find him interacting with the diners. The white wine sangria and to-die-for food fuelled our conversation and we made a note of it so that we can visit again. We loved their Melanzane e Parmigiana, Beef Steak, Spinach Roll, and Ceviche of Fresh Salmon. Each dish outdid the other.
In the afternoon, we headed out to the Grand Hyatt in Bambolim to see their new experience concept. My colleague wrote a wonderful piece describing the package and I recommend this to anyone visiting Goa; even more if you’re staying at the hotel. Each day of the week is dedicated to an activity. We arrived there on a Saturday so we signed up for the ‘buy your own, cook your own’ package that allowed us to have a private, sea facing cook out. We first selected our meats from the various packages on offer and in the meanwhile, the staff set up a barbeque with all the arrangements for a little picnic. We had pomfret, prawns, lamb chops and frozen margaritas from the Capiz Bar (not in the package). We were given all the tools and gloves to get hands-on with the meats and grill it perfectly. It was such a relaxing day. Our trip to Goa wound up with high tea at a friend’s place. The beautiful couple we spent an afternoon with live in a cosy cottage in Vagator. Their backyard had a swing that hangs from a tree adorned with fairy lights. They were wonderful hosts and prepared some delightful crostinis, tofu cake (with tofu purchased from Bean Me Up), sangria and homemade iced tea for us. I could live in a place like that. And their cats were simply adorable.
Here’s hoping for more enriching travels this year!