Vagator, Chapora and Anjuna used to have a predominantly hippie and artisan crowd, a hangover from the 60’s and 70’s era. There is still of lot of this community that resides here and in the surrounding areas which helped bring an international flavour to Vagator. Their influence in the early rave scene and food arena made Vagator appealing initially to the trendy and affluent metro crowd and helped put this hidden gem on the map in Goa. A lot of people have moved from the metro’s and now call Vagator their home hence changing the face of the crowd that is now visible, some opening up businesses and others just needing a quiet place to live. In the last few years the word has spread and now the domestic tourists are putting it on their check list as a must visit.
As the crowd has changed over the last 8 years more and more high end brands, restaurants, shops and clubs are opening up in this area. Having said that the charm or Vagator still remains with narrow back roads, tucked away watering holes and stunning views from the cliffs.
Baga and Calangute are well known tourist destinations but overly saturated, commercial and have lost their appeal to the tourist with a more refined travel ethic and pallet. There are very few beach front properties in Baga and Calangute that are easily and directly accessible, hence making this area unique. Vagator may not be the first place that springs to mind when you want to head out but it is slowly becoming as popular as Baga and Calangute and is a destination that is not to be missed.
Vagator wasn’t as popular and well promoted as Baga or Calangute. Restaurants in this area were sparse and Vagator was considered far from the popular holiday stays. With well-known brands seeing the potential of this area, Vagator has now become one of the top destinations in Goa, with big music festivals and other yearly events such as India Bike Week being held here every year.
One of these, now well-known brands, perched on a hilltop, overlooking the magnificent Indian Ocean and picturesque beach of small Vagator is the Greek restaurant THALASSA, run by the charismatic Marigetty Grana. The Greek word “Thalassa” translates directly to “The Sea” in English and the tavern looks straight at the magnificent “Thalassa” ahead. The design and ambience of Thalassa transports you back to Greece instantly with its white decor, terrazzo flooring, rustic wooden shelters and cane furniture. Every once in a while the traditional and celebratory dance of Greece is performed in Thalassa and everyone is always welcome to join in the festivities. The dance called the “Sirtaki” entails people huddling up in a circle and dancing to the tunes and steps of Zorba the Greek and is also accompanied by the smashing of plates on the floor. They have also added on fire and carnival dances. There is a lot of variety on the menu for every palate. Great selection of starters but the kebabs are not to be missed here.
Right next door is the newly opened, ANTARES by Sarah Todd which is the hottest new destination in Goa. Antares, named after Sarah’s zodiac sign, is the brightest star in the Scorpius constellation. Renowned restaurateur Ashish Kapur of The Wine Company, Dimsum Bros. and Yo! China has collaborated with Australian Masterchef finalist, Sarah Todd to put together this architectural showpiece with awe inspiring views of the sea.
The menu, the interiors have also been given a very earthy and contemporary feel with the usage of wooden furniture against the cool grey walls in the restaurant and bar. The restaurant also has a stunning installation of LED lights showing the constellation of Scorpius. The cosy villas are set beautifully overlooking the infinity pool while the Beach club makes for a stunning location against the pink skies at sunset.
Antares presents itself as a seafood haven with exotic dishes like Tempura prawns, Charcoal grilled red snapper and the Clam Linguini to name a few. Vegetarians have a lot in store from the Grilled field mushrooms to the delicious Potato gnocchi with truffle béchamel and Roasted pumpkin smoked paprika. Meat lovers can enjoy the Antares special pizzas with Kheema, Lamb Roast, Mutton or Pork. The perfect end to the meal would be Chef Todd’s special and deliciously filling Dessert platter or the light and airy Australian Smashed Pavlova.
Accompanying these delicacies are the splendid concoctions put together by Australian bartender Nathan Ford. The freshness of these fruity cocktails leaves you asking for more. The bar has a variety of specials from classics like Kiwi Blueberry Mojito to drinks like the exotic Coconut sorbet champagne float that is a blend of sparkling wine with made in house coconut sorbet.
If you are craving a burger there is no better place in Anjuna than immensely popular BURGER FACTORY. The straightforward menu is chalked up on a blackboard at the side, and though the burgers aren’t cheap, they are interesting and expertly crafted and HUGE! This grungy-cool spot has some of the best gourmet burgers to sample. If you’ve worked up an appetite, try their bacon, pulled pork and roast chicken burger—definitely not for the faint-hearted. Their freshly baked buns soaked in juice and their chunky gourmet patties seasoned with your choice of cheese and toppings, explode flavours on your palate! So make sure to have a bite at this legendary Burger Joint of Goa!
However, if you want something different then head to SAKANA. This small gourmet restaurant promises authentic sushi and sashimi is definitely worth a try. This little Japanese place is definitely a hidden gem on the Vagator/Chapora road. The interior are unpretentious and elegant, you can dine under the Sakura tree. The Red Snapper sashimi, if available during season, is a must have but you really must be prepared for the subtle burst of flavor in your mouth. Equally the King Fish Teriak, Miso soup, Hiyashi Udon Noodle, Chicken Katsu & Beef Yoshinoy are to die for. They do the usual fare of sushi rolls and some great imported beer too.
If you are tired of visiting shacks by the beach and your everyday restaurants, then BABA AU RHUM is what you are looking for! Baba Au Rhum is owned and run by Dayini Feraud, who grew up in the Auroville community in Tamil Nadu, and if you know what a free-spirited culture that place has, you’ll understand the vibe that this place sets. Sitting among paddy fields, under a canopy of billowing cotton fabric and mango trees, it’s the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Placed right next to a small open green field with cool breeze from the fields blowing in and an amazing view makes this place just about perfect.
Their menu is a delectable mix of freshly squeezed juices, sandwiches, and salads, as well as pizzas and burgers that are to die for. Among my favourites is their Bacon and Onion pizza, this thin crust pizza is prepared to perfection and the Leo Special Ciabatta made with spring onions, omelette, chicken and cheese chilli plum sauce leaves a burst of delightful flavours in your mouth. The lemon cooler that is served there is a simple infusion of lemon, mint and soda but it definitely beats the heat better than any cooler in town! Also, one can safely say that their desserts are a sinful indulgence which takes your sweet tooth straight to the gates of heaven. So go for a table on an elevated platform, lie back on the cushions and peer at the sky through the leaves or relax in the wonderfully natural ambiance set around this small cosy place and read your favourite book!
The best Gelatos in the world are found and made in Italy but now you can find this authentic taste here in Goa itself!
CREAMCHOC is located about 1.5 kilometres from Anjuna beach in Mazal Waddo. This quaint little gelato parlour is placed right opposite a beautiful looking Chapel that you cannot miss. This gelateria boasts of many flavours of gelato like the Belgian Chocolate, Salted Butter Caramel, Pistachio, Bacio, Coffee and Toffee. Creamchoc serves delicious sorbets which unlike other sorbets are creamy and smooth on the palate. And the best part about it is that it’s all organic. Made in the owners little kitchen, attached to the gelateria, Creamchoc uses nothing but the best of fresh ingredients that one can find.
These were our 6 must visit places in Vagator, wondering what the 7th one would be? Stay tuned for more!