ELLE Exclusive: Set Against The Glimmering Chapora River, Issa Welcomes You With Its Community Dining Spirit & Sundowners In Goa


Mumbai isn’t the only city where there’s a new dining spot that opens every week. Goa is catching up too. The sunny state that is now frequented by more people than ever and doesn’t have a “season time” for tourists is satisfying everyone’s culinary needs, one new restaurant and bar at a time. There’s a fresh one on the block for you to sip on cocktails, dig into flavourful plates and groove to live music. And no, it isn’t another villa transformed into a restaurant. Say hello to Issa, which faces the glimmering blue waters of the Chapora River in Siolim and invites you to be a part of its golden hours, sundowners and lazy brunches. 

On a blazing day, when the heat had almost managed to suck the life out of me, Issa’s vibe and a warm welcome from one of its founders, Srishti Khanna, lifted my spirits. I was ready to dig into some indulgent meals against a picturesque backdrop.


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The Vibe 

Spread across two storeys, Issa’s interiors and structure bring a blend of Mediterranean charm and modern European vibes. Keeping in mind the surrounding homes, the lower level is an enclosed, soundproof space which is ideal for groovy lunches and quick bites, without disturbing the peace of the neighbourhood. The upper deck, on the other hand, transports you to a cruise with a nautical setup and breathtaking views of the blue Chapora River. 

Fascinating artworks inspired by European travels, brought to life by local artists keep the spirit of Goa alive. Conceptualised and illustrated by Shiva Kant Vyas of Open Art Project, and executed by Goan artist, Vola, you’ll find a captivating mural by the wall that leads upstairs. It is inspired by Sandro Botticelli and the Portuguese art of making Azzulejo (painted blue tiles). Another wall features a typical chintz design, again designed by Open Art Project, which architects Lets Think Design First added a 3D touch with the help of artisans who do relief works at temples. 


And then, of course, there’s the river that shines in the sun and eases your senses instantly. Pro tip: sit at the tables that are close to the river because you’ll be in for sunkissed pics and ‘grammable photo dumps. 


Whenever I visit Goa, I dive straight into vacay mode and grab a chilled beer. “I got here last night and haven’t had a single drink yet,” I complain to my friends who had accompanied me for lunch. “Well, let’s change that, then,” they said. And the next thing I know is that we were beating the heat with a cocktail fest of our own. I enjoyed both the feni cocktails on the menu – Grand Union (a perfect blend of coconut feni, peppers, lime, pineapple foam, and coriander dust) and Peru Picante (feni, jalapeno cordial, acid mix, guava soda).


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The gin-based Ribbons Like River – aptly named so as its colours blend with the river across – is a refreshing one with cucumber cordial and kaffir lime. If you love theatrics, the colour-changing Butterfly Effect is a good pick and serves as a smoother substitute for a LIIT. You’ll also enjoy the classics like the Negroni, Whisky Sour and Margarita. 


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On Your Plate

Issa’s extensive menu draws from European and Asian influences and blends it with Goa’s local produce. For instance, it was refreshing to see a ceviche made of the local fish Chonak as opposed to an imported tuna or salmon. The finely cut chonak slices were placed on a bed of ginger-tomato jelly, accompanied by avocado creme, lemon-feni granita, and chilli soy, making it a delightful combination. I also enjoyed the Roast Butternut Squash salad which featured red quinoa, goat cheese, pumpkin seed mousse and charmoula. A Dozen Mussels came in a pool of green Thai curry and king chilli–another must-try dish. The highlight for me, however, was the Umami Green Beans and Shrimps tossed in chilli-sichuan sambal and paired with prawn crackers. I found myself rather addicted to it and TBH, I would go back to Issa just to dig into that bowl again. Other standouts include the BBQ Pork Ribs, Beef Carpaccio, Jackfruit Tacos and the comforting Stack of Potatoes. 

Chonak Ceviche

Hungry for more? Then head into the mains with a selection of fire-grilled skewers and charcoal grills crafted from meat as well as the freshest sea catches, including kingfish, lobster, and tiger prawns. You can also choose from their hearty rice bowls, burgers, wraps, pizza and pasta (my favourite being the ravioli that came immersed in tomato basil ragu, warm spinach and black garlic). 

A Dozen Mussels

I don’t have much of a sweet tooth but the desserts had me going back for more. Issa proves you can never go wrong with classics. We started with a Tiramisu, which had the right balance of bitter and sweet; we then moved to an indulgent chocolate mousse that was portioned just right for the amount of sweetness it had. The Coconut panna cotta is an ideal pick if you’re looking for something light. But it was the plate of crispy, melt-in-your-mouth churros with chocolate sauce and fresh creme that emerged as the winner in the sweet department. 

Coconut Panna Cotta

What’s More? 

From live performances by renowned artists to curated music sets by acclaimed DJs, Issa is set to have many entertainment experiences. Its very first gig featured Midival Pandits and Karsh Kale, setting the tone for the perfect sundowner party. 

ELLE’s Verdict

Issa isn’t just another restaurant with good food, cocktails and location. It’s a community-driven space where high-energy vibes mingle with sophisticated dining, creating a haven for artists, food lovers and beverage connoisseurs under one roof.

- Lifestyle Editor


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