Meeting over meals: Sun, sand and spreads
Enjoy the best of both worlds—weekdays at work and weekends by the beach
For most people, any mention of Goa conjures up visions of a party capital—or holiday central. Yet this sunny state is the base for many a technology start-up and home-grown venture. Professionals here can enjoy the best of both worlds—weekdays at work and weekends by the beach. Whether you’re looking for a view away from your desk, or whether you’re in town for a meeting, Goa has many cafés and all-day eateries that make for a perfect meeting spot.
10am-7pm (Sundays closed)
All-day breakfast menu
63/C-8, Sunaparanta Centre for the Arts, Altinho, Panaji (2421315)
In the sunny courtyard of the Sunaparanta Centre for the Arts, Bodega is quiet, welcoming and open through the day. The café has a charming ambience with a view of the open outdoors, non-intrusive music, free Wi-Fi and pleasant staff. Given the paucity of places in Panaji where you can get wholesome breakfast, Bodega scores with its all-day-breakfast menu. Peaceful, especially in the mornings, it’s a good place for a breakfast meeting, or to squeeze in a couple of hours’ work before you head out.
The art centre almost always has an ongoing exhibition, so you can browse if you have time to spare.
Eat and drink
The breakfast menu features the familiar and comforting selection of eggs to order. You have choices like Eggs Benedict with Smoked Ham served on Breakfast Waffles (Rs.200). Sides like fried Goan sausages (Rs.60), smoked salmon (Rs.120) and imported bacon (Rs.120) can be ordered separately.
Should you find yourself heading to Bodega well past breakfast time, or feel tempted to linger, the rest of the menu has plenty of options too. Soup and salad options, which change daily, feature a good range of textures and flavours—some of the favourites are Cucumber Gazpacho, Corn Veloute, and Red Amaranth and Coconut Soup (full portion, Rs.150, half-portion, Rs.90, for each soup); and Cous Cous Salad with Roasted Vegetables, Carrot and Raisin Salad and Water Chestnut Salad (full portion, Rs.150, half-portion, Rs.110, for each salad).
The sandwich spread is formidable, with Roast Turkey and Onion Marmalade (Rs.280), and Pulled Pork Burger (Rs.280) among the favourites.
The selection of sandwiches, made on home-made wholewheat bread, changes every week. So make sure you check the café’s Facebook page for the menu of the day.
A large part of Bodega’s charm comes from the incredibly warm hospitality that chef Vandana Naik extends personally. She recommends the Eggs Benedict, and Bagels, Cream Cheese and Lox, or brined, smoked salmon (Rs.280).
The daily soup and salad: You can choose half-portions too—they’re lighter on the stomach and the wallet. Or the Homemade Granola with Yogurt and Bananas and Mixed Fresh Fruit Bowl with Yogurt (Rs.200 each).
Alcoholic beverages and a smoking zone.
Meal for two, Rs.900-1,200.
10am-8pm (Sundays closed)
Ruta’s World Café
House No.48, St Xavier’s College Road, Mapusa (2250757)
Far from the tourist crowd that throngs north Goa is Ruta’s World Café in Mapusa, a breath of fresh air in this otherwise dusty market town. Tucked away in the gardens of an old Portuguese home that also houses a Fabindia clothing store, you’ll find Ruta’s blends in perfectly with its cozy, residential surroundings. There’s a fairly large garden with comfortable outdoor seating as well as an air-conditioned interior space, and plenty of room for parking. Walk in to the welcoming aromas of the day’s bakes neatly lined up in the display and choose your eats from a chalkboard menu. Free Wi-Fi is a definite bonus. Soft music, a clutter-free ambience, the day’s newspapers and the hiss of a coffee machine make for a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
Mapusa is about a 30-minute drive from the northern beach belt that extends from Candolim to Vagator, covering Baga and Calangute. So if you’re on holiday and need a quiet spot for a few hours of work, Ruta’s is your best bet.
Eat and drink
The menu offers a global medley of flavours. While salads like Dan Dan Noodles with Spinach and Almonds (Rs.230) and the Glass Noodle Salad with Crunchy Vegetables (Rs.170) combine global flavours with local produce, gourmet sandwiches like Hot Roast Chicken (Rs.230) and Shrimp Po’ Boy (Rs.290) come with homemade chips and pickles. Daily specials (Rs.300-370) include Laksa Lemak, BELT (bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato) on home-made buttermilk bread, and Spicy Thai Beet Salad. There’s a selection of hot and cold artisanal coffees (Rs.60-100), fresh fruit juices (Rs.110-130) and coolers (Rs.80) made from local ingredients like kokum, mint and seasonal berries.
Chilled wines (Rs.200 a glass), a selection of beer (Rs.70-110) and Ruta’s cocktails (Rs.200) also find a place on the menu.
Chef Ruta Kahate’s global approach to food is simple but flavourful and hearty, and this is reflected in the menu. She recommends the Pulled Pork Sandwich with Coleslaw (Rs.250) for non-vegetarians and the Dan Dan Noodles with Spinach and Almonds (Rs.230) for vegetarians.
The Italian Wedding Soup loaded with greens (Rs.60 for a cup, Rs.120 for a bowl) and the Glass Noodle Salad with Crunchy Vegetables (Rs.170).
A dinner service.
Meal for two, Rs.800-1,000.
TEA & SNACKS
Rua 31 de Janeiro, Altinho, Panaji(6517606)
Located in Fontainhas, Panaji’s Latin quarter, with its narrow lanes, colourful facades, cramped balconies and doorways opening right on to the street, Urban Cafe fits right in with the cheerful, hand-painted exterior. It’s the café within the Old Quarter Hostel, an affordable stay option for backpackers. Predictably, the ambience is casual, with comfortable couches to sink into, cosy lighting and windows usually left open. Spread over two floors, with free Wi-Fi and large work tables, it’s a popular spot for travellers to catch up on work and emails.
Fontainhas is one of the oldest areas in Panaji, filled with history and character, and makes for an excellent destination for an afternoon amble to take in the old-world sights and sounds of Goa. The area has several boutique hotels and art galleries, as well as boutiques and stores where you can shop for souvenirs and knick-knacks.
Eat and drink
Urban Cafe is not big on large meals or elaborate food. A selection of nibbles like pita wraps (vegetarian, Rs.80; non-vegetarian, Rs.100), chicken sandwiches (Rs.100) and sweet stuff like brownies (Rs.80) is on offer.
The pluses are the good selection of teas by gourmet label Tea Trunk (Rs.50-90) and the excellent coffee (Rs.80-100), both available in hot and iced variants. All the snacks have a healthy twist, replacing processed and preservative-laden ingredients with wholesome, wholegrain counterparts, natural sugars and local produce like coconut and semolina.
The Veggie Pita Wrap and Chocolate Oats Brownie (Rs.80 each).
Air-conditioning. Parking could be an issue since the alleys of Fontainhas are really narrow. Park on the main road and walk instead.
Tea and snacks for two, Rs.400-500.
DRINKS & DINNER
The Black Sheep Bistro
Swami Vivekanand Road, Altinho, Panaji (2222901)
One of Goa’s most loved restaurants, The Black Sheep Bistro presents a menu that is globally local—inspired by global trends and food cultures but brought to life with a unique Goan touch. Using local varieties of fish, seasonal vegetables, lesser-known spices and reviving dying Goan food cultures, the menu changes ever so often. Everything on it comes from a deep commitment to the farm-to-table philosophy. The selection of tapas or small bites, and the list of truly inspired handcrafted cocktails to go with it, are the highlights of the menu.
Conveniently located in the heart of Panaji, it’s just the right place for a meeting over a meal, a quick business discussion over a drink or two. Efficient, helpful service and the warm presence of owners Prahlad Sukhtankar and his wife Sabreen Shariff are a definite bonus.
Eat and drink
The truly innovative cocktails, a carefully balanced blend of heady alcohol with different flavours, beg to be tried. The Cinnamon Whiskey Sour, Sangria and Dill Fling (Rs.275 each) are favourites.
The tapas is the highlight, with a wide variety that includes Fish Cakes, Mango Summer Rolls and Prawn Plancha (Rs.240 each). Whether it is seafood, poultry or vegetarian options, the items are perfectly sized and priced well so you can order multiple rounds and still have space for mains.
Ask for a recommendation for the seasonal specials because the seafood changes every now and then. The Black Sheep Bistro does excellent Seafood Paella, made with local shrimp, and Lamb Ossobucco (Rs.450 each), braised slowly over 3 hours in a deeply flavourful stew.
Most of the catch-of-the-day specials are excellent. Happy hours, from 4-7pm, feature all cocktails at a tempting Rs.199.
Sukhtankar and Shariff recommend Squid and Prawn Plancha (Rs.225) and Crudo of Seasonal Fish for starters (Rs.240) and Stuffed Fish of the Season and Malwani Mushroom Stroganoff for mains (Rs.300).
Harissa Polenta, a creamy polenta made from fresh corn and feta with a generous serving of seasonal vegetables tossed in Homemade Harissa (Moroccan spice pesto; for Rs.320).
There’s no Wi-Fi.
Meal for two (including drinks), Rs.1,800-2,500.
This is the fourth in a series on where executives and travellers can meet and catch a bite while at work. For the previous stories, click here