While the rest of Goa goes through its yearly ebb and flow, Agonda (just 20 minutes North of Palolem) seems to have been largely over-looked. Boasting one of the cleanest beaches in Asia, a stunning array of day-trips, enough bars to quench a British-sized thirst, the secret to staying here is the food. Peppered along the "main road" are a huge variety of fantastic restaurants to tempt you in day and night.
Below are some of our favourites after staying for more than 2 months.... yes... Agonda has that effect.
Sublime Lebanese cuisine in a garden in Agonda? A resounding: YES!
Saed and his clan of Beirut-avoiders (winter months) have created something magical in a garden behind Sonny's shop down south on the beachroad. Hidden under an umbrella of trees and palm branches, rugs scattered around supporting low tables, a stage for live music performances or DJ's, and a tiny bar where you can prop yourself up if you want to just sit and comprehend life's intricacies.
Our advice here is try the tasting menu, and be prepared for your taste-buds to be dazzled but not your wallet. The food is safe (even the greens, which is a feat in itself in India), the meze is balanced and varied. They have a guy working who's only job it is to make pita bread all night, yes, he churns them out like nobodies business.
The service can be a bit slow on busy nights but this is a place thats worth waiting for. Grab some drinks, listen through the hit-and-miss live music offerings, and prepare to be taken back to Beirut.
I'm not the biggest vegan on earth, but staying in Agonda for almost 2 months has turned me into a part-timer. The options on hand are stunning, with many restaurants vying for the tourist/yoga rupee so competition is stiff. Zest is spread over a few different areas, one communal area by the road, a thatched roof restaurant behind and a side-room which seems to be perpetually filled with 30-something women drinking juices all with matching yoga bags.
Not only is the food here excellent, but for once the music adds a nice touch, playing World Music in a calm backyard off the road. Pretty much everything we've had here has been delicious. The vegan ramen was a hit, with it's deep shitake broth although the tofu was like tofu always is: tasteless marinated flip-flops. The salads are fresh and crunchy, we tried to order the avocado with poached egg (not vegan) a few times but they were always out. The service is slightly better than the regular laid back vibes, and the prices are agreeable.
Tip: Try the Vegan Ramen!
My Friends Place ($$)
Not only do they have good drinks, and super happy-hour prices on cocktails, but the food here is legit. Run by a couple of Brits abroad, the standards are high, the service is surprisingly quick and cheery, and there is always an opportunity for meeting strangers due to the way the bar is shaped.
The pizza's are good, as are their wings.
This bar is on the upper side of the beach, near Ramro. Run by a family of Nepali brothers and cousins, the youngest seemingly only 15 or so, it's another good spot to meet new people and they have live music some nights of the week too. I'd personally avoid the live music nights and sit here when its quiet and there isn't a 30-something German man barking into the mic thinking its "artistic".
Cola Beach is a great daytrip to do from Agonda. However, make sure if your scooter abilities are not up to scratch, take a taxi. The road is incredibly steep and dusty.
Palolem is a chaotic hell-hole, but if thats your kind of thing by all means head down there for a day trip too.
All these recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.