It’s the ultimate holiday destination. When I think about a beach, I, without hesitation, think about Goa. As a friend aptly describes it – a land of sun, sand and sin. I’d like to tweak that to – the land of sun, sand and seafood. Goa has it all. North Goa has everything to offer for the tourist in you-beaches, water sports, shopping and casinos. But in peak time, be ready to make your way through a large crowd. If you’re looking for a relaxing holiday at the beach, where you can sit peacefully and watch the sunset, without a hoard of people blocking your view, South Goa is for you! Hire a bike and roam through the streets from one beach to the next.
Though Goa is mainly known for its sandy beaches, cheap alcohol and casinos, the state’s food doesn’t fall too far behind in the list. You can get the recipe for the Goan dishes, and try making it at home, but it will never come out perfect. Perhaps it’s the air in Goa which adds that unique flavour to the food. You can get lost in the world of prawns, squids, mussels, crabs, lobster, oyster – and all created in the most delicious and mouth-watering Goan and international sauces.
When you’re in Goa, every shack will look tempting with their specials menu carefully written out in chalk. But let me save you the trouble, time and money. Here are some places I would recommend in the land of sun, sand and sin:
1) Infantaria (Calangute) – a must-go for all beer lovers, or those who really treasure a good offer. You get 6 pints of beer for only Rs 100. Food is just as mouth-watering as the offer, with quantities to more than just tickle your taste buds. I would recommend the bacon wrapped prawns, breakfast meals, and the death by chocolate cake. Breakfast is served all day, so you can nurse your hangover and enjoy the delights even after waking up post noon.
2) Curlies (Anjuna) – your trip to Goa is not complete without spending a whole day here. If you reach in the afternoon, you have a chance of bagging a table upstairs, which has a brilliant view of the sun set. Here, it’s the ambience that’s the major draw for visitors. You can literally sit here for hours and watch the water tease the shore as the waves hit the sand and withdraw back. You’ll find silence at your table during sunset, as the water swallows the sun whole in a matter of minutes.
3) Munches (Vagator) – This place is not on the beach with an exquisite view, but I would recommend it for the foodie in you. While just the variety of omelettes would shock you (they have an avocado omelette!), be prepared to be blown away by their range of other offerings – shakes, fruit salads, sandwiches and a whole lot more. Appropriately named to attract Goa’s visitors, the restaurant is open 24 hours a day. I would specially recommend the Bacon and Cheese Omelette (and Sandwich as well) as well anything on the Strawberry Special menu in season.
4) Zeebop (Utorda)
It was my first and only visit to South Goa, and my visit to Zeebop shack on Utorda beach was a memorable one. I would recommend the shack for the prawns, crab and beef steak. An open area on the right of the shack is rented out for parties and weddings. If you want to get married in Goa, it has to be on the beach, and Zeebop has a wonderful arrangement to offer. You can take your vows against the backdrop of the setting sun. There’s nothing more romantic.
5) 49ers (Colva)
This place is one of the few shacks on Colva beach open till really late. If you’re brave enough or have just the right amount of alcohol in you, go for karaoke. Apart from enjoying the music and the gazillion cocktails, you can try out the hookah as well. With regards to food, I wouldn’t say they are the best in Goa, but if you’re there, you have to try out the Fried Cheese Balls – no batter, just cheese – exactly how it was meant to be.
6) George’s Restaurant & Bar (Panjim)
If you want home cooked Goan food, you have to head to George’s in Panjim. Located just outside Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church, the restaurant offers you the best mussels, prawns, lollypops and of course, Goa sausages, all prepared to perfection. Just beware, when the menu says Sausages, always assume it’s pork. Don’t ask the waiter whether it’s chicken (or even worse, paneer!), lest they laugh and mock you. Also, you should be warned that despite its popularity, the restaurant is rather small, and the tables seem to have been pushed together for lack of space. Nonetheless, Goa is also known for its hospitality, and be rest assured, you will not feel cramped here.
7) Souza Lobo’s (Calangute)
You can find respite from the crowd on the beaches of Calangute at this shack just at the entrance of the beach. More refined than the other shacks that line the beach, Souza Lobo’s has a great combination of Goan and international delicacies. If you find yourself spoilt for choice (which you will), don’t hesitate in asking the waiters to recommend some dishes to suit your taste buds. I, for one, would recommend the potato skins, Goa sausages chilli fry, pork vindaloo and bombil fry. For the alcoholics in you, order a round of chilli vodka. But remember, don’t challenge yourself to drink the cocktail even after squeezing the entire chilli into your drink. Even the spicy Goan preparations won’t trouble your ulcers so much.
So there you have it! Goa’s finest and most mouth-watering delicacies. Served with love, in a land of siestas and sunsets. Goa!