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 finally here, 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.
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 and Japanese fare to perfectly constructed Falafels & Schnitzels, all the way back to our kind of basics—Prawn curry, Goan sausages, and more Prawn curry.
I. Pork Chops at House of Lloyd’s
Where: Siapem Road, Candolim, North Goa (it’s easy to miss so Google maps wouldn’t hurt)
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.
Other dishes we recommend: We’d have chosen the Goan Wild Boar, Xacuti style as the main attraction but didn’t want to scare the less experimental people away from Lloyd’s. It’s a little chewy but the smokiness that runs through that boar sets off the slightly sour Xacuti preparation in the perfect balance. If you’re up for eating Boar, this is the only way to do it. Additionally, traditional Goan dishes such as Pork Vindaloo and Sorpotel are never a miss, while the crispy fried anchovies with tomato sauce are a Homegrown favourite. I guess what we’re trying to say is - any order off of this menu is going to be good, so take risks.
Cost: A little on the expensive side at INR 1500 for a meal for two, but remember there’s a whole package involved here and it’s better to be inside of it than the other way around.
II. Blue Cheese Stuffed Beef at Sublime Bistro
Where: Morjim Beach Road, Vithal Das Vado, Morjim, Pernem, North Goa
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.
Other recommendations: Ginger Butter Calamari with Apricot Chutney, Sesame Tuna (though it’s not as good as La Plage’s) Clams with Goan Chorizo in Marinara Sauce and you can wash it all down with a Litchi Lemongrass Vodka Martini though even being drunk can’t make this meal better than it already is.
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)
III. Kerala Beef Curry + Coorg Pandi Curry at Gunpowder
Where: 6, Saunto Vaddo, Assagao, Bardez, 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.
Other dishes we recommend: Chili Pork Ribs with Roasted Tomato and Coconut Chutney + Egg Appam. Drool.
Cost: Worth splurging at least twice as much at INR 1200 for a meal for two
IV. Crispy Pork Belly Salad at Bomra’s
Where: Souza Vaddo, 247 Fort Aguada Road, Candolim, North Goa
BawmraJap 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.
Other dishes we recommend: Black Pomfret with Bok Choy, Poached Snapper with Lemongrass, Jaggery and Fish Sauce Broth, followed by a ginger and lemongrass crème brulèe.
Cost: This chef is worth it at INR 1800 for a meal for two
V. Beef Carpaccio + Sesame-Crusted Tuna Fillet at La Plage
Where: Ashvem Beach, Morjim, Pernem, North Goa
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.
Other recommendations: 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 at INR 1500 for a meal for two
VI. 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, one of our favourite chefs no less, that no place does home-style Catholic Goan food the way Bhatti Village does. No, not even the aptly titled ‘Mum’s Kitchen’ in Panjim.
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.
Other dishes we recommend: Mushroom Rawa Fry, Kidney Beans Curry, Pork Sorpotel.
Cost: Ugh! It’s time to move to Goa at INR 500 for a meal for two.
VII. Goan Sausages and Mussels Rava Fry at Mum’s Kitchen
Where: 854, Martins Building, DB Street, Panjim-Miramar
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.
Other Options We Recommend: Be greedy and order the Goan sausage pulav,extra portions of the fresh and crispy mussel rava fry, beef chilly fry and more. The place demands gluttony.
Cost: You won’t be able to move after at INR 1600-1800 for a meal for two (But that’s only because you’re ordering everything.)
VIII. Souvlaki at Thalassa
Where: Small Vagator, Vagator
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.
However, their Souvlaki has always managed to hit the spot. 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.
Other Recommendations: 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.
IX. Poached Mustard Eggs On Toast at Mustard
Where: 78, Mae de Deus Vaddo, Chogm Road, Sangolda, Penha de Franca
A beautiful blend of Bengali and French cuisines in one fell swoop, this isn’t the kind of fusion you’re used to. Rather than deliberately combining the two cuisines in any kind of form or format, they have two separate menus for each, both of which are incredibly delicious and satisfying. So if you’re traveling to Goa with somebody who’s tastes are different from yours, this place is a pretty great bet. Better still, you can do a little of everything. French for main, and Bengali chocolate sandesh for dessert, anyone?
The poached eggs on toast are wonderful breakfast staple here. Served on their own multi-grain bread, with tomato concise and a dash of pesto and kashundi mustard, it’s an unusual but delicious combination.
Other Options We Recommend: If you are in for some honest-to-God Bengali goodness, you must try their Kashundi Chicken and top that off with some delicious chocolate sandesh. Unless, if you are feeling a little French. Then, do try their Chicken a la Blanquette and Brownie a la Moutarde.
Cost: Anywhere between INR 1500-1800 for two, assuming you want to eat well and without alcohol.
X. Sunday Brunch at Villa Blanche Bistro
Where: 283, Badem Church Rd, Socol Vaddo, Assagao, Vagator, Goa
Only a few eateries, in Goa or otherwise, have an annual tale as gypsy-inspired as this one. At the onset of winter each year, Marco the wonder of Villa Blanche drives a ‘magic blue bus’ from Switzerland right down to Goa, picking up delicious local ingredients along the way for his little Goan restaurant. Whether it’s olives and bulgur from Turkey, feta and mayonnaise from Greece, pasta and olive oil from Italy and more, you can be assured that you’re in for a treat at his restaurant by the time he gets there. Simultaneously, his other partner Yogini comes from a German bakery legacy and puts her dessert skills to equally good use.
As such, their Sunday brunches have become legendary in the beach-town. From lovely forest mushrooms from Europe, smoked black forest ham, purple mango thai curry and Asian prawn salads to dense chocolate cakes, waffles with orange zest and lemon, cookies, and stollen, we’re willing to say this might be one of the best brunch options in the whole of India, let alone just Goa.
Other Options We Recommend: If you didn’t make it on a Sunday, we’d recommend a light but fulfilling breakfast made up of buttered paninos and delicious, fresh fillings, including imported cheese.
Cost: Approximately INR 800 for 2 if it isn’t brunch.
XI. Beef Chilli Fry at Martin’s Corner
Where: Ranvaddo, Salcete, Betalbatim
Quite possibly one of the most iconic restaurants on this list, it’s unlikely to ever fall off the map as far as great food compilations are concerned. And when the ambience is so family-friendly, the offerings so fresh and consistent, the service so efficient and sweet, anyone should be happy with the recommendation.
Best known for its authentic local fare, everything from their Fish Caldin to their deliciously seasoned beef chili fry and prawnpulao always hits the spot. Plus there’s always the delicious live seafood counter and palatable Chinese and Italian food for Goa locals who frequent this joint just as often as the tourists.
Other Options We Recommend: The fish caldin, as mentioned above, is about as authentic as it gets
Cost: Absolutely worth it at INR 1600 for a meal for two
XII. Egg-o-cado at Prana Cafe
Where: Mandrem Beach, Mandrem
Prana Cafe is an extension of the multi-faceted Vaayu Waterman’s Village. We’ve chronicled this place as one of our favourite spots in Goa, located right across the beach in Mandrem. Taking a cue from the current ways of the culinary world, and in line with their core values for health and sustenance, all the produce is locally sourced and incredibly fresh. But better still is the maverick chef behind the menu design, which remains, much like his style of food, incredibly creative and flavourful.
From the delicious baked eggs in avocado, to one of the best burgers we’ve sampled in Goa (think a rosemary-herbed beef patty topped with textural pomegranate, goat’s cheese, mushroom & onion jam) and all their incredibly delicious smoothies that are guaranteed to re-energize you post surfing, this is the only place you want to be if you care about your body and tastes in equal proportions.
Other Options We Recommend: The tropical food salad is pretty spectacular, replete with everything from mango, pomegranate, passion fruit, papaya, pineapple, strawberries and more. Makes for a great dessert too.
Cost: Anywhere between INR 600 - 800 depending on how much you like to pack in.
Since this isn’t technically a meal, we figured we’d chuck it in anyway just for its must-try status in the overall Goan culinary experience.
XIII. 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 Recommend: Beetroot + Carrot or the Pineapple + Orange mixture.
Cost: Anywhere between at INR 45 - 80 for a juice. (But we remember the days it cost Rs. 20!)
[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.]
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