When the sun disappears from the sky on the rare winter afternoon in the Indian province of Goa, intrepid tourists flee the legendary beaches for a day trip to the old port city of Panjim. Set on the delta of the river Panjovi, it’s a great place to explore colonial neighborhoods where classic architecture coexists with modern concept, cultural landmarks nestle side by side with bustling commerce, and fresh seafood is the name of the culinary game. Goa’s pace—slower than the madcap vitality of megacities like Bombay (an hour by air to the north)—invites leisurely meandering along the tree-lined riverfront, where casino ships wait at the shore for night to fall. The pleasing, humid afternoon air seems more appropriate for picnic-style al fresco dining rather than indoor restaurant experiences.
On a recent walkabout in Panjim, we stumbled upon Chicken Man, who may sound like some kind of a Marvel Comics superhero, but isn’t. A new quick-service restaurant concept for Goa, the just-opened modern storefront caught our attention, and turned out to be the flagship location and first in India under this new brand name. The menu is a simple one, but perfect for the picnic mentality: good rotisserie chicken (spicy or crispy), excellent sides, packed to go, ideal for the park bench feast. There’s fast counter service, a few window tables for those in a hurry, and—unheard of in Goa—free delivery, in case you’re staying in a Panjim hotel. The kid-friendly menu looks like a good value, too and there are free refills on the fountain drinks.
Save your seafood feast for later. Chicken Man turns out to be the ideal grab and go meal for a day of wandering. You need only locate a couple cold Kingfisher beers from any of the tiny neighborhood groceries, and your outdoor banquet is complete.—Stanley Moss, Travel Editor