Goa’s food scene runs the gamut right from its humblest, sand-at-your-feet beach shacks to its higher-end, sand-at-your-feet fine dining options, with a whole pile of King’s beers and caloric goodness in between of course. Season time is literally just around the corner, so rather than assist your inebriation (something you’re likely to have under your control with or without us) we figured we’d focus our energies on keeping your belly full and your hearts happy with our absolute favourite meals in the beach town, chronicled and compartmentalized for your viewing/ eating pleasure.
Considering it’s that time of year again, where we take off at the slightest rumour of a long weekend, we figured our timing couldn’t be better. Besides, as the ultimate hub for all kinds of tourists over the years, the sheer number of cuisines that can be experienced here is as humbling as the authenticity of them all, right from delectably fresh sushi to perfectly constructed Falafels & Schnitzels, all the way back to our kind of basics—Prawn curry, Goan sausages, and more Prawn curry.
I. Tuna Teriyaki at Sakana, Anjuna
Where: Chapora Road, Near Anjuna Petrol Pump
We’re almost physically incapable of not ordering this gorgeously glazed piece of pink fish in all its Japanese-flavoured glory, now that we’ve tried it. And Sakana’s beautiful aesthetic only adds to the dining experience. Set up by a Japanese lady and her Indian-Israeli husband, it boasts Goa’s most authentic Japanese fare and considering seafood doesn’t get fresher than this, we’re willing to say it’s better than most other restaurants in the country
Another added bonus is definitely their larger-than-usual drinks, generously served at no extra cost, so don’t be shy and drink up!
HGRecommends: Red Snapper Sashimi with Glass Noodles, The Beef Yoshinoya, and top it all off with a Strawberry Panna Cotta.
Cost: Cheaper than the rest of the country for quality Japanese at INR 1200 for two
II. Pork Chops at House of Lloyd’s
Where: Siapem Road, Candolim, North Goa
Lloyd’s never lets us down. In fact, this is exactly the kind of place you want to be taking risks with what you order because we’re yet to be disappointed and we’re already 3/4ths of our way through the entire menu. They work fantastic flavours and textures into absolutely everything they dare to barbecue (in keeping with their fusion continental barbecue theme) and they don’t hold back on their portions either. And while there’s no way you’ll be anything but tearing up with joy after tasting their crispy fried anchovies or their butter garlic crab, once the pork chops hit the table, they sort of take over the show.
Second only to the fabulous food, is Lloyd’s intimate ambience. Tucked away in a stunning 150-year-old Portuguese house, this is definitely a family place and if you’re lucky enough to find yourself a corner on a Sunday afternoon or any other evening of the week, there’s that classic retro karaoke stuff going on too. In Goa, it never makes you cringe.
HGRecommends: The Goan Wild Boar, Xacuti style
Cost: A little on the expensive side @ Rs. 2000 for a meal for two, but remember there’s a whole package involved here
III. Squid Ink Pasta with Salmon at Ciao Bella
Where: Assagao Baden Road, Assagao
Italian rarely excites us anymore. It’s one of the most done-to-death cuisines in India and almost every shack from Calangute to Morjhim will threaten you with pasty strips of spaghetti in overpowering tomato sauces but Ciao Bella has transformed its reputation. A newbie in the culinary scene of Goa, it’s quickly earned the status of serving only the most authentic Italian food in Goa, and the owners, an Italian couple, make sure that each and every person that walks into their idyllic food abyss, has a fantastic dining experience.
The menu here is limited but that only means that each and every offer on that menu is delectably designed to make little holes in your mouth and live there (or at least, you wish that were possible). Besides, it’s also because the owners actually import a fair majority of their ingredients all the way from Italy to do their dishes complete justice. Fair warning—you’re not going to be able to do anything once you’ve been here for a meal for at least 2 hours, so plan accordingly.
As for that titular squid ink pasta with salmon? It’s every bit as elegant, as laden with simplicity, and bursting with flavour as it sounds. In case you’re one of those recently converted vegetarians, now might be a good time to start considering pescetarianism.
HGRecommends: Sage and Butter Ravioli and Chocolate Pasta with Gorgonzola
Cost: INR 1000 for two
IV. Fried Calamari at Café Nu
Where: 182, Junaswaddo, Mandrem
We first chanced upon this little beachside café while walking through a quaint by lane in the idyllic Mandrem Village Street. Done up in gorgeous, colourful upholstery and dark wood furniture, it’s already the perfect setting for a good meal but considering most Goan restaurants enjoy this privilege by default, the quality of the food is always the only thing we take into consideration when we make our choices.
The menu is limited and serves up items that are definitely not regular features on most Goa which is why it’s ironic that our absolute favourite thing to order happens to be a common occurrence in most. The fried calamari’s batter is the exact shade of golden brown you’d want to see coating perfectly cooked calamari—which means it’s not too rubbery, and it’s not too raw either. You’d be surprised how few restaurants get this right but that’s the thing about Nu, they’re clearly sticklers for perfection.
HGRecommends: The Blue Cheese vegetable bake and Yellowfin Sesame Tuna
Cost: Pretty goddamn reasonable at INR 1200 for two
V. Blue Cheese Stuffed Beef at Sublime Bistro
Where: Morjim Beach Road, Vithal Das Vado, Morjim
One of the most beloved restaurants in Goa, Sublime Bistro Bar is exactly where you want to head for an intimate dining experience or a special date night. It offers an extensive menu made up of their signature fusion cuisine, combining formal gourmet cuisine with elements of inspiration from Asia and Goa, alongside a lighter day menu and a truly innovative selection of cocktails. The ingredients used are fresh and whenever possible, organic. Plus the relaxed ambience (even the kitchen is a charming little Portuguese villa at the rear of the restaurant) only makes the gourmet experience more sensual.
The beef here is some of the best we’ve ever had in Goa, both of prime quality and preparation, is generally cooked to preference and when paired with that delectable Blue Cheese stuffing, don’t say we didn’t do our homework when the first bite melts on your tongue.
HGRecommends: Ginger Butter Calamari with Apricot Chutney, Sesame Tuna, Clams with Goan Chorizo in Marinara Sauce
Cost: It would be 6 times more in any other metropolitan so suck it up and shell it out at INR 1400 for a meal for 2 (without alcohol)
VI. Kerala Beef Curry + Coorg Pandi Curry at Gunpowder
Where: Anjuna-Mapusa Roa, Vagator, North Goa
When Hauz Khas village’s Gunpowder outlet first shut down, we weren’t sure we could visit the capital anymore. In fact, we may have gone well beyond the acceptable period of mourning because we didn’t rejoin society until their upcoming Goa outlet was announced. That was two years ago and we’ve been revelling in our never-ending love affair with the fiery South Indian cuisine here ever since.
Inspired by the recipes of his childhood and wanting to revolutionize South Indian cuisine, Satish Warier’s Gunpowder can do no wrong under a red-tiled roof and homely Portuguese villa just 10 minutes away from Anjuna. The Malabar parathas are perfectly flaky, the Kerala beef curry’s heat will get you through many a King’s beer. The Gunpowder in Delhi was inaugurated in 2009, and then in a lovely Portuguese villa in Goa in 2012. The food served here encompasses cuisines from the Indian peninsula comprising dishes from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Goa and even Maharashtra. If you have to wait for a table here, which more often than not is the case, you can browse through the tiny but incredible People Tree boutique.
HGRecommends: Syrian Christian Beef, Chili Pork Ribs with Roasted Tomato and Coconut Chutney + Egg Appam
Cost: Worth splurging at least twice as much at INR 1000 for 2
VII. Crispy Pork Belly Salad at Bomras
Where: Souza Vaddo, 247 Fort Aguada Road, Candolim, North Goa
Bawmra Jap is one of the world’s best Burmese chefs and you probably wouldn’t expect to find him in Goa. Taking inspiration from his time growing up in Rangoon, the menu at his restaurant, Bomra’s, is teeming with classic Burmese dishes, inspired by the native food eaten by the Kachin tribe, with a modern twist. This small but amazing restaurant boasts a loyal clientèle and pristine reviews. All in all, don’t be fooled by its quaint, unembellished set-up, there’s a reason it’s developed such a strong reputation over the last 8 years, and that’s the reason you should go there. Also, this is your ultimate go-to if you’re craving Asian flavours of any kind.
The salad in question is bursting with flavours and textures, rife with citrus-y fruit like pomelo and pomegranate, crunchy seeds and lots of crispy, crumbly pork. That’s what we call synergy.
HGRecommends: Black Pomfret with Bok Choy, Poached Snapper with Lemongrass, Burmese Tomato Salad, The Ginger and Lemongrass crème brulèe.
Cost: This chef is worth it at INR 1800 for two
VIII. Beef Carpaccio + Sesame-Crusted Tuna Fillet at La Plage
Where: Ashvem Beach, Ashvem
Conceived in 2003, 1/3rd of the Homegrown team’s been going there 12 times a year ever since and has chalked it up to being possibly her favourite restaurant in India. Ok, that person is me but it had more impact in third person. Seriously though, this is the kind of food you save up for if you can’t afford it. Fresh, zesty, innovative and limited, considering it’s only available 6 months of the year!
The menu’s filled with some of the best French food you’ll ever eat anywhere outside of France and like a few other restaurants on this list, you’d be hard pressed to find anything on it that you don’t want to make sweet love to. The gratinated mussels come soaked in a buttery, garlick-y broth that you’ll be swabbing off with chunks of freshly baked bread; the carpaccio is perfectly seasoned, and never enough in portion no matter how much you order; the tuna’s sesame crust is so painfully well-suited, you’ll wonder how you ever turned your nose up at the fish in canned form and that molten chocolate ganache or the strawberries with whipped cream?
There’s no sense in us naming the whole menu. Make a reservation because it’s always crowded and then sing for your supper. Just do it.
HGRecommends: Chicken liver pate with onion jam, the chocolate thali (a platter with eight different kinds of chocolate desserts) and the squid in carbonara sauce are all mouth-wateringly satisfactory.
Cost: We almost feel a little guilty paying this little @ Rs 1100 for a meal for two (without alcohol)
IX. Crab Xacuti at Infantaria
Where: Umta Vado, Calangute Junction, Calangute, North Goa
Sitting on the throne of the infamously over-crowded Calangute/Baga strip, Café Infantaria might just be one of the only good reasons to navigate that mess. Even post its Russian makeover (the language of the menus in Goa are a keen indicator of which mafia is the most powerful) the place has pride in its legendary status and still serves up a mean crab Xacuti, among several other Goan specialities and Italian classics. Just not at the same prices it became famous for too, so don’t go there hoping to grab those 3 cans of beer under Rs. 100, things have changed a little.
Better still, their little bakery full off desserts and savoury pastry options is a great stopover for a quick snack and their sausage rolls are still some of our favourites.
HG recommends: Kahlua Mousse Cake & Chocolate Walnut Date Tart in desserts ; Goan sausage pulav and pork vindaloo in savouries.
Cost: Still extremely pocket-friendly (especially for this kind of legacy) at INR 600
X. Roesti, Roesti, Roesti (preferably with Ham & Cheese) at Lila Café
Where: Tito’s White House, Calangute-Arpora-Siolim Road, Anjuna
Post a night full of standard Goan debauchery at every party within your radius of reality, you could probably use another 24 hours of partying but not without refuelling with about 6 orders of crisp, salted, Swiss-style potato pancakes with all kinds of cheeses and meats of your choice. I mean, really, you’d be crazy not to make a pit-stop here on your way back home, especially now that the dark can’t hide just how wired you really are.
Run by a German couple that settled down in Goa over 20 years ago, it’s got years of reputation to its name and its located well away from the bustle of Baga, just over a little bridge that looks over a littler brook. There’s heaps of natural light though so if you’ve had a hard night, make sure you carry your sunglasses.
HGRecommends: Hungarian Goulash, Fresh Croissants, Sourdough Bread, Pumpernickel Bread, Fried Leg of Chicken, Beef Steak
Cost: You’re not going to get it anywhere else at INR 1000 for 2 (with fresh juice of course.)
XI. Pork Vindaloo at Bhatti Village
Where: Bhatti Waddo, Bardez, Nerul, North Goa.
This one’s a special find and you’d do well not to take it for granted. We haven’t personally been there ourselves, but have it from the highest authority in our world, a hipster chef no less, that no place does home-style Goan food the way Bhatti Village does. Tucked away in a narrow lane of quaint Nerul Village, the family-run restaurant is a novelty in intimate/ familial dining experiences. The owner, Patrick, personally discusses food preferences with you and makes recommendations so you don’t feel the absence of menus (something we happen to love) while his wife cooks, and their children wait tables. You know it’s going to be good when there’s an entire family pouring their hearts into making you happy.
HG Recommends: Mushroom Rawa Fry, Kidney Beans Curry, Pork Sorpotel.
Cost: Ugh! It’s time to move to Goa for this meal at INR 500 for 2.
XII. Pepperoni Pizza at Fellini’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria
Where: Arambol Beach, Pernem, Near Chilli Guest House
A pizza at Fellini’s will have you reconsider all you favourite pizza eating joints elsewhere in the country. Almost hidden amidst a sea of options in Russian-appropriated Arambol, their décor is completely no-nonsense (think fold-up tables and chairs and easily packed up) and we prefer it that way because in that case, there’s no distraction from the main event—the pizza! Thaali-sized and oven fresh, not only are they positively huge, each and every mouthful has the perfect proportion of home-made dough, balanced tomato sauce, and the well-seasoned toppings of your choice. But the basics are so right, you’d enjoy it just as much even if you gave all the pepperoni and salamis and jalapeños a miss, and just settled for a large margarita. Now that’s the sign of a great pizza.
HGRecommends: Well, pizza’s pretty much it. Get any kind you like.
Cost: Pretty standard for Goa at INR 800 for a meal
XIII. Baked Crab at Britto’s
Where: Calangute-Baga Rd, Baga Beach, Bardez, Calangute
Much like Infantaria, heading over to Britto’s at any time of day or night during peak season time can prove to be a hellish experience. But it’s one that’s well worth it once you’ve sampled their rich, hot, crusty, cheesy goodness of their baked crab, served up in finger-bowl sized portions. And that’s not the only great thing on the menu. For all the pseudo-hippies who turn up their noses at its overtly commercialized status, remember that Britto’s has been around longer than you’ve been growing your dreadlocks. Which means it’s probably with good reason.
HG Recommends: Pork Vindaloo and Prawn Curry for the less experimental, Seriously Spicy Crab Curry for the daredevils.
Cost: It certainly won’t be dampening your experience at INR 600 for 2.
XIV. Goan Sausages and Mussels Rava Fry at Mum’s Kitchen
Where: 854, Martin’s Buiding, Dayanand Bandodkar Street, Panaji
It would have been borderline blasphemous to leave what’s become one of Goa’s most well known family-style restaurants over the years. It doesn’t matter what airline you’re flying, all their magazines will tell you to make a pit-stop here and for once, we’re happy to report it hasn’t been hyped up. It’s just a little lucky to have received quite as much adoration because there are many others who are up to the mark in their category.
Either way, it’s a great place for a Sunday feast in the heart of Goa, and is always better with more than 4 people, so that you can order over half the menu.
HG Recommends: Be greedy and order the Goan sausage pulav, extra portions of the fresh and crispy mussel rava fry
Cost: You won’t be able to move after this meal at INR 1600-1800 for 2
XV. Thalassa’s Souvlaki Station at the Saturday Night Flea Market
Where: Casa Babu, Arpora
By now, we’re sure loyals have been wondering why Thalassa, one of Goa’s best reputed restaurants hasn’t made our list. Honestly, we love going there and all, as far as the ambience is concerned. Nothing can beat it in those departments but we’ve been far from wowed by the food on more than one occasion, especially for the price it comes at.
Still, we do have great things to say about their Souvlaki station at the Saturday Night Flea Market. Full of hidden treasures, their grilled meat and veggies on skewers are absolute perfection and the ideal snack break between bargains. Squeeze the right amount of lime over your grills and order up a second portion before you’re done with your first because it’s likely you’ll be hungry for more.
HGRecommends: If you go to the restaurant version anyway, we can vouch for the deliciously addictive profiteroles. The pastry here is light and fluffy, while the custard cream fillings are rich and smooth.
Cost: We couldn’t quite remember or verify this but somewhere around at INR 350 (but it might be more because the night market has ridiculous prices.)
XVI. Clam Chowder Followed By Chocolate Fondant At Sur La Mer
Where: Morjim-Ashwem road, Morjim
A day at Morjhim’s Sur La Mer is almost as good as traipsing across 3 different countries. Italian in style, and Spanish and Moroccan in influence, its owner Aneel Verma spent years travelling the globe learning how to prepare fancy food before bringing it all back to home turf. And we’re really glad he did because whether it’s the wonderfully fulfilling creaminess of their clam chowder, the delicate seasoning of the beef carpaccio or the balance of the baked goat cheese salad with balsamic sauce, rucola and cherry tomatoes, everything here is on the money.
HGRecommends: The ridiculously well textured Chocolate Fondant is quite possibly our favourite dessert in the whole of Goa.
Cost: Maybe a bit over-priced at INR 2000 for 2 but we usually give in.
XVII. Beef Carpaccio At Fiesta
Where: 7/35, Saunta Vaddo, Baga Beach, Baga
We may be more than a little biased here, considering we’ve been visiting this restaurant relic for over a decade now and it’s become one of the only fine dining options in North Goa it’s worth dealing with the crowd for. Originally run by the best-looking couple you’re likely to see, Yellow and Manek, their once-adorable toddler is too old to ogle at now but luckily for us, the menu’s always young, as Yellow insists on keeping it fresh, innovative and changing with the times.
Still, some dishes are timeless and we’d probably throw a tantrum if we weren’t able to enjoy a plate of carpaccio here because quite frankly, we’ve never had anything like it. Precisely cured and delicately seasoned, the raw beef leaves behind just the right traces of juices and olive oil (and let’s not forget those parmesan shavings) to be mopped up with the home-made hunk of bread it comes served with.
HG Recommends: All the Italian is exceptionally high quality so any of the pastas or thin-crust pizzas are incredible.
Cost: Expensive but fantastic at INR 1600 for 2 (without alcohol, and you’re going to want some)
XVIII. Spicy Crab Curry At Starlight Bar & Restaurant
Where: Calangute-Anjuna main road, Arpora
This is an honest-to-goodness local haunt (probably one of the most popular) that you’d be a fool to miss but the truth is, you probably wouldn’t give it a second glance as you drove past it on your way to Anjuna. Nothing about the cement walls look appealing, nestled squarely at the side of the road, no beach view or particularly lush fields to distract you during your meal. But once you’ve sampled their crabs…those fresh, tender, masala-laden claws of goodness, or their fried fish thali with everything you could ever want on a plate, the place might as well turn into a palatial restaurant fit for kings. And you’ll never drive past it again.
HG Recommends: Anything Goan, but we’d stick to seafood so go for the rawa fried fish, mussels and prawns. Crispy, crunchy, and flavourful all around.
Cost: Ridiculously Cheap at INR 350 for a meal for 2 (and you’re getting a veritable feast for that price!)
Since these aren’t technically meals, we figured we’d chuck them in anyway just for their must-try status in the overall Goan culinary experience.
XIX. Freshly Squeezed Strawberry juice at Ganesh Juice Centre
Where: Chapora Market road, Chapora
We’ve never figured out what made it such a hub, but even without the salty sea breeze or the old-world charm of décor, everyone flocks to Chapora’s Ganesh Juice Centre, usually at the oddest hours of the night. Perhaps it’s because everyone is welcome here, and they all see the power of great juice and good people.
It doesn’t make our actual list because we rarely eat here (even if the shawarmas can really hit the spot if you’re hungry enough) but the juice is still good enough to write home about. The fresh strawberry and avocado juice is always the right consistency without any hint of the artificially sweetening travesty that every other juice place in the country seems to succumb to. They let their grade-A ingredients shine and we couldn’t be happier for it.
Other Options We’d Recommend: Beetroot + Carrot or the Pineapple + Orange mixture.
Cost: Anywhere between @ Rs. 45 - 80 for a juice. (But we remember the days it cost Rs. 20!)
XX. Any Desserts At Pink Orange, Morjim
Where: Beach Village, Morjim-Ashvem Beach
Owners Jai and Alex, a lovely, dreadlocked couple, are far from the hippie stereotype you’re used to as far as their hard work is concerned. A simple, friendly beach shack on one of our favourite beaches—Morjim—it’s 100% vegetarian menu stands out so you can expect to find lots of vegan hippies lounging around but they make up for the culinary sin with their rich, loaded desserts. There are always a couple of regulars like brownies and apple pie with ice cream but if you ask, there’s always something special they might have cooked up in the kitchen too whether it’s a refreshing, fruity parfait, designed to take the parch out of your throat or some ridiculously chocolate-y pancakes. A Goa staple perhaps, but they don’t taste this good anywhere else.
HGRecommends: The Spinach Lasagna.
Cost: Keep on ordering at INR 400 for 2.
XXI. Desserts at Astrid’s Cafe & Bistro
Where: Chopdem bridge, on the way to Mandrem
If dessert spelled backwards is stressed, then we’re not having it! This welcoming bistro has made an indelible mark on those who’ve sold their soul to the dessert gods. Chef Astrid’s hands are skilled in pastry making and has catered to the wonders of many clients for personalised desserts too. My favourite pick? the sinful dark truffle. But by all means feel free to delve into the varied assortments, you cannot go wrong.
Cost: At INR 300 for two people, try not to overdose on gluttony.
XXII. German Sausage Platter At Villa Blanche’s Bistro
Where: 283 Socol Vaddo, Assagao, Goa
Nestled inside the picturesque village of Assagao, this gem is more than just a stop on your gallery. Run by a German woman named – Bingo, you guessed it! (Blanche) This divine Bistro is aesthetically themed and inculcates elements of nature into your dining experience, it’s more than just eating inside of a concrete box. Do prepare your taste buds to be seduced by the scrumptious delights that this European cafe has to offer. Sink your teeth into the goodness and indulge yourself in the guilt of gluttony. From freshly baked pretzels, bagels baguettes, what’s not to like?! The famous german sausages though, are to die for. I personally haven’t been disappointed so here’s hoping you’d enjoy this gastronomic wonder too!
Cost: Approximately INR 1000 for two people, without alcohol.
[We’re good but we’re not that good. If we missed out on a favourite that you think warrants mentioning, let us know in the comments section below. Also, in case you want a lovely bed and a roof over your head once you’re done eating everything in sight, take your pick from any of Goa’s top 9 Airbnb rentals.]
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