Undoubtedly, every Goan Catholic will relate to the phrase “Chao marya mare?” (“Let’s grab a cup of tea?”) after Sunday Mass or anytime the susegad Goan needs to take a break (which is virtually at any point of the day). But for people in Panjim in particular, the phrase changes, somewhere along the lines of “Tatyager chao marya” (“Let’s go have a cup of tea at Tato’s”).
Within the proximity of the famous tourist attraction of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church, is a restaurant that has been standing sturdily, withstanding the vagaries of time. The memorable taste of their famous puri bhaji lingers on years after it has been relished.
Café Tato, which began business in 1913, is now almost 109 years old! The family-run business has been passed down almost four generations and is currently being run by Pradeep Govind Dhuri. Informing us of the origin of the eatery’s catchy name, he told us, “Tato’s got its name after my grandfather's pet name. Everybody used to lovingly address him as ‘Tatya’.”
Although they initially started small, serving only tea, bhajiya, and bhaji with bread, they have expanded in recent years. “The location of the restaurant has been the same since the start. I believe that it is this place that gives the food its flavour,” Pradeep added. The premises have a well-lit, ground plus one area with a lot of seating. The ambience is cosy enough to remind one of home, with the restaurant’s hygiene being top-notch.
‘Tato’s’, as it is commonly known today, has a wide range of vegetarian cuisine. Their speciality is their mouth-watering puri bhaji, which has a range of options to choose from. Right from sukhi bhaji (potato), chana bhaji (chickpeas), salaad bhaji (onions) and mix bhaji (a mix of all the bhajis together). Their wide menu also includes other bestsellers such as vegetarian thalis, buns, sheera, samosas and batata vadas.
“It is like a chain,” said Pradeep, as he reminisced about how generations of people have been loyal customers to his restaurant. Right from having their morning cup of tea to grabbing a quick bite while they run their errands with their children, Café Tato makes it into their to-do-list effortlessly.
WHERE: Café Tato, Souza Towers, No. G3, Dr RS Rd, Near Municipal Garden, Panaji, Goa 403001
TIME: 7:00 am to 8:30 pm
PRICE RANGE: ₹50 - ₹250
MUST TRY: Sukhi bhaji, samosas and sheera