Off The Beaten Track!

Goa is the land of sparkling beaches and swaying palms, where Indian culture intertwines with Portuguese influences left over from a 500-year occupation. The beaches have long served as a magnet for serene hedonists. A haven for foodies the Goan cuisine, with its manifold combinations of coconut, chilies, vinegar, rice and spice, is one of the world’s original fusion foods, rich in Portuguese and South Indian heritage. Apart from the fine dines and day to day restaurants, Goa also has a store of hidden gems which are definitely worth a visit. Here’s my list of some of these fabulous places.

Off the Wall

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Designed in an offbeat manner where there is literally a hole in the wall quiet like our list, this pretty little restaurant with an artistic feel, is located in Sinquerim, Goa. The restaurant has delicious Tapas like the Patata Bravas and the Gambas Ajillo. One can try the Moroccan Chicken or the Urrak Pork or the Off the Wall special – The Art Attack Burgers and wash it all down with a pitcher of Sangria. The service here is so friendly that one instantly feels at home or like they are chilling at a friend’s bachelor pad.

Perfect for a Saturday night dinner!

Bhatti Village

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A small, no-frill place styled in a Portuguese house, made it my favourite spot for Goan food. Bhatti Village is absolutely worth a visit as not only is the food good, you also get to try a variety of local dishes which one wouldn’t get at the usual places. Start your meal with a plate full of crispy fried whitebait, beef cutlets and some cold beer. Pace yourself because everything there is good. Then try the Roast Pork, Pork Amsol, Pork Ambot , Beef Tomato (this was quite simple, not spicy and might have been one of my favourites) – their special bread loaves to mop it all up, Fish and Caramel Custard. Heads up! This place is open only for dinner.

Maracas 

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Located in Porvorim, this little place has its entrance right on the bustling NH 17 but upon stepping in, one actually feels like they travelled to some sort of sweet haven. With its patio designed with chic white and blue shades and dim lights, a classy interior with a black board wall with all the special written on it, the décor of this place takes your breath away instantly. On my visit here I had the Beef Chimichurri which I can safely say was the most delectable dish I have ever had, not to mention the pastas which are creamy and light. The Maracas Signature cocktails are a must try, I could not seem to stop myself at one!

Urban Café

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Urban Café is located in the heritage Fontainhas area of Panjim – Goa. This quaint café serves you a wide range of freshly brewed coffees, fresh juices and not to mention a unique style of hot chocolate served with a differently shaped chocolate on a stick. The setup of the café is a perfect blend of European décor with light music to which you can sway to while you read a novel provided to you from their mini collection of books or play your choice of board game right off their shelf. The friendly demeanour of the staff at Urban Café gives you the sense of a 5 star service along with the comfortable feeling of being at your very own home. Why just stop at making this pretty little place a one stop destination? Urban Café also provides you with the option of hostel accommodation at reasonable rates!

Soro

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While in Assagao, Soro is the place to be! Soro’s rustic décor completes itself with murals on the wall and a verandah with outdoor seating arrangement and a pool table. Woot!

Start your meal here with Tex-Mex Nachos, these cow boy crunchies paired with salsa bean and sour cream dip, are perfectly yummilicous. Follow your appetizer with 9 Spice Chicken and Pork Coconut Fry. These scrumptious dishes are cooked with 9 spices (duh! The name says so) and Goa’s oh so famous coconut. Time for dessert! Though you may have to run a couple extra miles to burn those extra calories Soro’s Brownie A La Mode is the perfect end to a delicious meal.

They also has live music nights where you can put on your dancing shoes and dance the night away.

Cantare

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Started 5 years ago, in the peaceful village of Saligao, Cantare is famous for their laid back style ambience. It is one of the best places to be if you’re interested in some real live music, a less frenzy atmosphere and a bit more mature crowd. They have live music nights on Monday and Thursday followed by Ladies Night on Saturday. The open air balcony on two sides is a good place to dine and listen to the band. Guests can also dine downstairs if they are there purely for dining. They serve classical dishes in a contemporary style, using local ingredients from the land. Once you have visited Cantare & tried their food, you will understand why I am such a big fan.

Fat Panda 

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Who doesn’t love Chinese? While in Candolim, I had to try out Fat Panda, probably cause I love Kung Fu Panda!

This place is cute and original with bamboo poles, wine creepers in the ceiling and paintings of Pandas on the wall. Vegetarians have as much reason to cheer as non-veggies here. From the lengthy list of vegetarian starters, we picked the Corn and Crackling Spinach that has batter fried corn kernels tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce with crispy whole spinach leaves, this dish left a tasty crackle in my mouth. Next, the Crispy Shredded Chicken which was tossed in an addictive honey chili sauce was a perfect follow up. In addition to this, there is a list of special starters such as Birds Nest – fried noodle basket filled with a protein of your choice, the well-balanced Calamari in Chilli Plum and scrumptious Chinese Pork Ribs which I highly recommend!

Don’t sweat it! You can thank me later for this list.

Stay tuned to find out where in Goa you can taste South Indian food with a twist that you will never forget!

Happy Reading,

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Gigi Martin

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