From East Coast To West Coast | Goa | Part 2
Last month, booking.com sent me and Mumbai Foodie’s visual content creator Vinayak Grover on a week-long holiday. Our mission was simple: explore the coastal cities of Pondicherry and Goa with a focus on the eclectic food scene during our short stay. Although the task sounds mammoth, it couldn’t be more fitting for two people who work in a company that revolves around food. We’re both eaters by profession, so this trip was an exciting getaway we were looking forward to.
We chose Pondicherry and Goa as our travel destinations, so as to experience both east and west coasts of India. To read about the Pondicherry part of our trip, follow this link!
As quiet and peaceful as Pondicherry was, Goa was the total opposite. Busy streets, neon lights, and a long line of shacks, is Goa’s general look. When we visited in the month of July, it was all there, but with the added magic of the monsoon which included thriving flora and fauna, the smell of wet earth and of course, torrential rainfall!
Since chilling on the beach or exploring the shacks wasn’t really an option, we spent hours walking through the by lanes of Fontainhas, the old Latin Quarter in Panjim. The area is heavily influenced by Portuguese culture, visible in the architecture and in the old winding streets lined with pastel yellow villas, very reminiscent of a small town in Europe.
Through booking.com, we chose to stay at Cidade De Goa, one of Goa’s oldest and most renowned family hotels. It is a large property by the sea in Panjim, the heart of Goa, right in the middle of the state, making both north and south Goa easily accesible. Our hotel had its own private section of the beach, which meant spending hours late in the night, sitting on the sand under the moonlight, while my toes occasionally high-fived the waves. The quiet by the beach was rivalled by the karaoke inside our hotel, which was every bit as fun.
Under The Sea
A huge part of my Goa adventures in the past have centred around food. How could they not be, when Goa offers some of the best cuisines and restaurants in the country? The seafood is fresh and local, and authentic Goan preparations are delicious, especially when they’re being served in their own birthplace.
We had a long list of recommendations from friends and Instagram DMs, and our list of restaurants were split between illustrious restaurants and hidden gems.
We started making our way through the list and went searching for a classic fish thali. We landed up at Fat Fish, a large restaurant that serves classic Goan food and thalis. Our very first meal in Goa was a very filling plate full of fish curry, clams, crab xacuti and dried anchovies served with rice, fish fry, pickle, papad and dried prawns kismur.
One of our favourite meals had to be at Baba Au Rhum in Anjuna. We visited them for brunch and gorged on a Mozzarella Croissant and a classic Cheese Hamburger. When we visited, it was raining heavily outside, which made our meal all the more enjoyable. The restaurant bakes their own bread and even sells croissants and pastries so we were in carb heaven.
Because we spent so many hours walking around Fontainhas, we fell in love with two spots. The first one was a small coffee shop named Bombay Coffee Roasters, which we ended up visiting every morning for a cappuccino and a slice of warm coffee cake to accompany the hours we spent working. The coffee shop is frequently visited by patrons residing in an attached hostel. It’s a very casual space that makes for a great little break in the day.
The second Fontainhas-special place we stumbled into was called Mammarama, a tiny Asian eatery serving delicious home style dim sum and ramen. The food here was comforting, hearty and delicious. We tried their Thai coffee, chicken gyoza, chicken katsu and pork ramen bowl.
Although we wanted to focus on Goa’s hidden gems, we didn’t want to miss out on the classic Goan experience of having a meal at Britto’s on the beach, and karaoke at Anthony’s. We also visited Sarah Todd’s Antares for sunset and tried a bunch of exquisite cocktails at their bar by the sea. Late night at Thalassa was as expected with loud music, lots of dancing and bartenders flipping bottles.
Burger Factory is a small spot in Baga serving delicious burgers and milkshakes, and had a very hip vibe. We shared an entire fresh and meaty lobster in a recheado masala at The Lazy Goose, a rather new, but very lively spot in Goa. I’d much rather go here than the overpriced and outdated spots that some other famous ones have become.
Our last meal of this week-long Pondicherry and Goa culminated with a hearty prawn curry and rice at Mum’s Kitchen in Panjim, where they serve authentic local recipes. This restaurant defines Goan food as all their recipes have been sourced from various Catholic and Hindu Goan mothers.
Our trip wouldn’t have been possible without the team at booking.com, because of whom we were able to truly experience the gastronomical cultures of Pondicherry and Goa. We returned with our tummies full and our hearts happy. If you’re looking for the universe to give you a sign to plan your next holiday, this is it!
Written by Mallika Dabke.