Boho Cafes of Goa

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

By: Anuja Mavinkurve

Part of the global hippie trail, Goa is no stranger to the bohemian culture. The hippies in Goa have shaped a unique Goan culture, which is an eclectic mix of the bohemian vibe with the local flavour.

The hippie subculture began its development as a youth movement in the United States during the early 1960s and then developed around the world. Its origins could be traced to European social movements in the early 20th century such as Bohemians, the influence of Eastern religion and spirituality. Its fundamental ethos — including harmony with nature, communal living, artistic experimentation particularly in music, sexual experimentation, and the widespread use of recreational drugs — spread around the world during the 1960s.

The history of the hippies in Goa can be traced back to the early 1970s when travelling hippies settled in Goa, which was often their last stop on the Hippie Trail. Goans were open to all cultures and all people, and the migrants assimilated into the Goans’ ethos seamlessly.

Over the subsequent decades, the hippie culture has waned out and emigrated to quaint hill towns like Kasol, Malana and a few others up north. But the bohemian vibe still holds strong in the northern beach belt of Anjuna, Vagator, Ashwem, Morjim and Arambol. That has seen the emergence of charming bohemian cafes in this neighbourhood. Let us reconnoiter some picturesque cafes below.

Eva Café in Anjuna

Eva Cafe is an exquisite boho cafe overlooking the scenic Anjuna beach. Perfect for a breakfast bowl or an evening date with some wine and a warm sunset glow, this one’s a slice of Greece that will make you forget that you are in Goa. The location being the trump card, it even allows you to walk down to the rocks below and dip your toes in sea water. Bliss, right?

To be honest, Eva Cafe has won a jackpot with that spot. The scenic views apart, it’s also been done up to look like it belongs in Santorini. Dressed in all-white, with lots of crochet, wooden furniture, deck chairs and an all-out bohemian vibe, it’s an Instagrammers delight. You would love to grab the chairs that overlook the beach and sip coffee for hours. On some days, have a scrumptious breakfast and hit the beach for a languorous walk.

The menu is appetizing and inviting to give clean eating a shot. You will find sandwiches, pasta, juices, crepes, muesli, eggs, salads and other delicacies. The presentation of the food is really something here. Call it granny chic or hipster, it’s charming to be served with their sweet little flourishes. Even the occasional aroma of roasted garlic from their open kitchen, adds to the homely vibe.

Artjuna Café in Anjuna

Encased in an old Portuguese house hemmed in by a beautiful garden, with a large outdoor cafe, lifestyle shop, event area, workshop space and kid’s playground, Artjuna is truly a little world in itself.

Café Artjuna is the brainchild of Moshe, who has travelled the world, worked in the leather industry, retail space and now has made his mum’s recipes come alive in this quaint bohemian café. There is a retail store selling boho clothes, artefacts, accessories & some furniture that is lovely to browse through while one waits for their food.

They even have yoga, Muay Thai and other activities that take place in their beautiful property. The café is spread across a large shaded garden, decorated quirkily with tables that have sand art inside them, to decorative middle-eastern style colourful lamps.

The food is fresh and contemporary, with a great choice of salads, sandwiches and popular dishes from the Mediterranean cuisine. They have some delightful juices, smoothies, coffees, bakes and even a special vegan menu.

Bean Me Up in Vagator

There’s yoga at dawn, under a canopy of aged mango, jackfruit and palm trees in a beautiful, archaic Portuguese villa. There’s a conscious boutique with clothing from organic and fair trade labels from across the globe. And amidst all that, is an intimate bohemian restaurant playing trance and mantra music, serving delectable vegan food, fresh juices and beverages.

Bean Me Up is a community for the nomadic bohemian traveler, who prefers healthy, vegan food. The space offers basic bed and breakfast accommodation, yoga classes and hosts weekly music events by wandering musicians.

Designed keeping in mind, the health-conscious community, the restaurant offers a selection of delightful, organic, vegan dishes that are created using fresh, local ingredients and seasonal produce. Their Soya Station-Salad Bar offers exotic fare with unique ingredients, and a California style salad bar, which comes with its own choice of home-made sauces. The restaurant makes their own tofu and tempeh from scratch, which are a must try eats on their assorted menu. Their avant-garde Middle Eastern platter is one of their specialties and the baba ganoush is to die for. Take your time with the menu. Shawn has carefully crafted the menu taking time to explain every dish and ingredient used, so if you’ve never heard of tempeh or seitan, you’ll have ample opportunity to really know what you’re eating.

Brainchild of Shawn, who himself is a travelling chef with culinary experiences from across the globe, Bean Me Up is a hotspot for the conscious travelers. The cocktail bar serves luscious drinks with bamboo straws rather than plastic, promulgating their environmentally conscious attitude.

On a quaint blackboard behind the bar titled ‘Bean of the Day’, the chef’s special dish that features a new bean as the hero of the dish each day is listed. For those looking for a chilled out boho vibe and a slow–travel experience, combined with soulful music, Bean Me Up is where you need to head to.

Mojigao in Assagao

Set in the heritage village of Assagao, Goa, down a quiet road, is a stunning property of enchanting cottages surrounded by lush tropical gardens and forested slopes, which has a picturesque bohemian cafe serving piquant and earthy food.

What happens when you take Artjuna’s love for healthy food and transfer it to a furtive spot that’s all green and wild? That is Mojigao for you. If you have not guessed it yet, the Artjuna group is behind the new micro village, Mojigao in Assagao. It’s got a cafe, yoga classes and charming cottages for a peaceful stay. And, the all-time favourite Artjuna coffee is on the menu too.

The fact that it’s so minimalistic, rustic and laidback makes it one of the sweetest spots in Assagao, celebrating the quintessential bohemian life, with trippy live music and a casual vibe. The cafe, with a sweet rescue dog, amazing coffee and breakfast bowls, envelops you in a green paradise, away from all the mindless hustle around you.

Salads, smoothies, granola, juices, eggs, coffee, desserts, everything here has a healthy bent and why not? You wouldn’t want to do yoga in the morning and stay in self-sustaining huts in the day and be eating deep-fried burgers by the night. Right? Their delectable Mediterranean fusion cuisine menu has an interesting variety of Tapas, cocktails and sangria.

It’s a compact set-up with three eco-huts, an eco-pond and a yoga shala. The yoga shala is plonked on a tiny hill, with views of the surrounding greenery as far as the eye can see. They also host music gigs every other day, so the whole valley reverberates with the sound of the music.

Baba Au Rhum in Anjuna

Sitting among paddy fields, under a canopy of billowing cotton fabric and mango trees, Baba Au Rhum is perfect for breakfast: try a hot almond croissant or a cup of piping hot tea. Go for a table on an elevated platform, lie back on the cushions and peer at the sky through the leaves. The homey, bohemian vibe of the place is unmissable, with sumptuous breakfasts, which are amongst the best in Goa. Baba Au Rhum is a cool hippie joint, with an unhurried, bohemian vibe.

With its extensive menu, in an array of choices that range from soft baguettes, ciabatta and croissants to eggs cooked to your choice (including shakshuka and eggs benedict), to quiches and crostinis, to hearty, customizable English breakfast, to rich smoothies and shakes, Baba Au Rhum has it all.

To add to it, the lovely bohemian café also has a varied spread of mains like pastas, pizzas, burgers, as well as, the appetizing filet mignon, cooked to your choice.  If you’re feeling snacky try their entrees, and after a night of heavy drinking there’s almost nothing as good as one of their healthy leafy salads. You will literally be spoilt for choice here, whether you’re a vegetarian or a meat eater. They also serve beers on the tap, and host live music nights on the weekends.

Set up in 2006, over the years Baba Au Rhum has grown quite the patronage in Goa as well as among travellers. Situated atop a small hillock, it is named after a special dessert concoction and is run by Leo Michaud, in what is a quiet bylane of Anjuna. The restaurant is spread over a large open space, overlooking some gorgeous fields, and easy, relaxed, bohemian seating. The space itself has a lively upbeat energy that is complemented both by the guests as well as by the peppy in-house music. They also have a small pop-up shop with a display of artistic hippie jewellery from CocoRoots.

Bistro Bohemiaa in Vagator

Gently ensconced in a beautiful garden, laden with hammocks and bean bags, Bistro Bohemiaa has a chilled out boho vibe that is hard to miss. You can spend the day, sipping a hot cuppa of coffee, read a book and unwind. Vagator beach is just a two minute walk from the bistro.

The boho décor is multifarious and artistic. The walls are hand painted with some creative wall art. Aesthetic upcycled and DIY décor makes the bistro a visual treat for the eyes. The backyard garden has tents for an enjoyable camping experience for those who want to stay over.

The menu is a heady mix of breakfasts, burgers, sandwiches, quick bites, pastas, bowls, steaks, Indian and Chinese. An interesting blend of cocktails, mocktails, coffees and beverages complement the menu.

Staying true to its name, Bistro Bohemiaa scores a perfect ten on the tranquil, chilled out bohemian vibe. Great music and a wonderous setting add to the experience.

Goa is the last stronghold of the fading hippie past. You can see the last remnants of this multifarious hippie culture in these little corners. Many local hippies hang out here, bringing authenticity to the vibe. It’s easy to see what Goa must have been like in the 1960s, and easier still to get into a conversation with them about the old days. You will find a slice of the bohemian culture in these ornate and vibrant cafes, and good food is just an added bonus.

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Author: Planet Goa Team
For us at Planet-Goa, our team is driven by that feeling of exhilaration that one gets when discovering that something ‘unique’ and ‘new’ about Goa for our ever-so-discerning readers.

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