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Insider guide to the best restaurants in Goa
Monday, December 17th, 2012

By Sudha Mathew

I have a shameful confession to make. When I think of Goa, I don’t think of the great beaches or the laid-back vibe or even about my lovely holiday villas. I think about (wait for it) FOOD! That’s right. I think about butter garlic crab at Souza Lobo, prawn patties at Infanteria, anything at Bomras or La Plage and a dozen more lick-the-plate-clean dishes. And if my husband and I haven’t had the chicken cafreal and rava-fried prawns at Florentines then we consider the trip to be a washout. Over the years I have made a list for easy reference. It isn’t easy trying to decide where to eat when you have juicy prawns on the mind, you know.

Here’s a fun fact. Did you know that there are about 5000 restaurants between Candolim and Anjuna beach in season time? And new ones pop up all the time. So this list is split by area to make it easier to choose. I have also mentioned my favourite dishes and insider tips about the restaurants in Goa that I am partial to. A word to the wise, nothing’s predictable in Goa. So before you leave home, check if the restaurant is open and make a reservation if possible.

Restaurant in Goa
Beach shack Goa. Photo courtesy Sue Watkins

I usually share this list only with a few favored clients but this year in the spirit of Christmas generosity, I am putting it up for all of my readers. Get your fork and dig in, I say.

North Goa restaurants

Restaurants in Candolim

  • Bomra’s – Modern Burmese food by Chef Bawmra.  Try the snapper with lemongrass, slow cooked pork belly, tea leaf salad, Bomras special drink. Khao swe on Wednesdays only.
  • Cafe Chocolatti – Good for light food, teatime goodies, short eats. Try the salads and French toast. Avoid the plum cake.
  • Lloyds – Barbeque and home-style finger-licking Goan food reputedly made by Lloyds’ mama. A tiny place with 4 tables, literally by the road. Near Candolim church. (Don’t confuse it with House of Lloyds which I didn’t like)
  • Stone House – Popular with British tourists. Try the fresh seafood. Lively place with live music sometimes.
  • Bono’s and Calamari are among the best shacks on Candolim beach.
Patnem beach restaurants in Goa
Beach loungers at Patnem

Restaurants in Calangute

  • Souza Lobo -Touristy place with a local Goan vibe right on Calangute beach. Great crab in butter garlic, masala crab, tandoori baby kingfish (Two people usually share it). Great for seafood in North Goa.
  • Infanteria Pasteleria – Old Goan style bakery with lots of local delicacies. Try the prawn and beef patties. They do a fairly good English breakfast too.
  • A Reverie – This is THE place to dress up and go celeb spotting. Posh and pricey place. Good food. Contemporary European and fusion food.
  • After Seven – Limited menu but consistently good quality. Run by an ex Taj Hotels manager. Don’t miss the fig ice cream and the cheese soufflé.
  • Travel Bar – A good place for an easy dinner with friends in a convenient location. The food is modern European with a good selection of quick lunches like gourmet burgers, stuffed baguettes and salads.

Restaurants in Arpora

  • Baba au Rhum – This is where the last hippies of Goa are hiding. Very boho place with bench style seating. The breakfast selection is one of the best in Goa with great freshly baked pain au chocolate, croissants and real French coffee. And good omlettes too. I would vote this as the best breakfast in North Goa.

Restaurants in Baga

  • Lila Café – Large cafe overlooking Baga creek. Serves breakfast/brunch/lunch. Try the fresh baked breads and water buffalo ham. Good coffee.
  • J&A’s Little Italy – Their specialty is wood fired pizzas and pastas.
  • Cavala – This is a North Goa institution with mostly Goan food. Very popular with locals and tourists so it’s packed to the gills on weekends in season. Likely to have live music on the weekend.
  • Brittos – Similar to Souza Lobo in ambience but the food is not as good. Very crowded because of the Baga beach location. Try the crab or prawn curry and the sausage pulao as Goan food is their strong suit.
Fine dining restaurants in Goa
In Goa, you can eat as fancy or as casual as you please

Restaurants in Saligao

  • Florentines – Frequented mostly by locals and a few in the know tourists. Plastic chairs and tables. Take only diehard foodies here. Try the simply superb chicken cafreal, rava fried mussels & prawns. Rock bottom prices. Open all year.
  • I-95 – This is a relaxed but still chic version of A Reverie with excellent beef carpaccio, grilled lobster and a good wine list. The menu draws inspiration from around the world but is not one of those awful multi cuisine restaurants.

Restaurants in Vagator

  • Thalassa – popular Greek restaurant in Goa located on a small hill with a stunning sea view. Go early to catch the sunset. Popular with the Bombay crowd and celebs. Amitabh Bachchan visited in its first year. Run by a Greek lady so try the authentic souvlaki.

Restaurants in Panjim

  • Mum’s Kitchen – Strange fact but it is hard to get authentic Goan food in Goa. Mum’s Kitchen fills this need perfectly. Try the Crab xec-xec and Pomfret Recheado.
  • Ernesto’s – The thing to have here is anything off the barbeque. The pork ribs are perfectly done. Located in the garden of an old house in Mala, Fontainhas, Ernesto’s is hard to find but worth the effort. (Update: Ernesto’s is closed)
  • Hotel Venite – Tiny old place with seating in wooden balconies on 31st January Road. Go for Chicken Xacuti and fried fish.

 Shore Bar restaurant in Goa

Restaurants in Anjuna

  • Shore Bar – An elevated bar on the beach with a great view. The food is good though not outstanding.  Good place for drinks.
  • Basilico – Run by an Italian, it’s as authentic Italian food as you can get in Goa. Try the wood fired pizza.

Restaurants in Ashwem

  • La Plage – Run by a French trio of friends. It is often called the most stylish beach shack in Goa. Everything is good here but I especially recommend the beef carpaccio and the desserts. Menus change regularly and feature innovative combinations. Combine this with a day out at lovely Ashwem beach.

South Goa restaurants

I usually stay in North Goa so my knowledge of South Goa restaurants is limited. Nevertheless, there are some real finds to be devoured in the short list below.

Restaurant in Patnem

  • Home – By far the best vegetarian food in Goa. There’s a half a post dedicated to this restaurant since it was the first time I ate at a vegetarian restaurant in Goa. Fabulous food with fresh local produce and great desserts. And by the way, Patnem beach is my favorite beach in Goa.

Restaurant in Raia

These two restaurants are yet to be visited but I have heard great reviews so I’m adding it to the list.

  • Nostalgia – Started in his home by legendary Goan chef Fernando Da Costa (who is no more), this eatery specializes in authentic and in many cases forgotten Goan recipes. Go by the chef’s recommendations.

Restaurant in Quepem

  • Palacio do Deao –A very special experience where you tour a heritage home and then sit down for a specially prepared meal with traditional Goan dishes not seen in restaurants. Advance booking necessary.

Don’t judge me but I might as well come clean on everything now. I count my Goan holidays by the number of meals to be had. So it’s not a week in Goa, its actually 14 meals in Goa. *blush*

 —————————————————————————————————————————————————

I’ve come clean but what about you? Do you have a food addiction story to confess? Or do you know a fabulous Goan eatery that should be on this list?

Cheers

Sudha


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Posted by Sudha at 11:28 pm
2 comments
    Comments ( 2 2)
  • Sudha

    December 19, 2012

    Update from Julia in Goa: Ernesto’s has closed and in its place is a new place, Baba’s Wood Cafe with a European menu. Thanks, Julia!

  • Deepak Shinde

    August 9, 2013

    Time Out Mumbai carried a full page article on a heritage dining experience in Goa similar to Palacio Do Deao … Its in a very old majestic mansion, food is traditional Portugese – Goan .. multi-course meal, run by a grand old lady with a very long Portugese name which I can’t recollect … I think Lonely Planet also ran an article on it … just can’t find it on the net … any chance you know about it … please share if you do
    Cheers
    Deepak

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About me

The wise man travels to discover himself - JR Lowell

 

My name is Sudha Mathew. I'm an ex-banker who quit the rat race after a decade to follow my passion for travel and to combine it with my experience in understanding client requirements and exceeding their expectations.

 

While our content is mostly about the holiday experience, the accommodation and services, there's so much more to a journey. I have discovered a whole new me through travel. So I've reserved this corner of the website to share the unexpected aspects of travel. This space is also to hear from you about your journeys and discoveries. Bon Voyage!

 
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