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. Tuna Teriyaki at Sakana | Anjuna
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!
Other dishes we recommend: Spicy Ebi Shrimp Roll, or any of their sushi options, really. Finish your meal off with their homemade Green Tea Gelato!
Cost: Cheaper than the rest of the country for quality Japanese at Rs. 1000 for a meal for two
Where: Chapora Road, Near Anjuna Petrol Pump, Goa
II. Pork Chops at House of Lloyd’s | Candolim
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 Rs. 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.
Where: Siapem Road, Candolim, North Goa (it’s easy to miss so Google maps wouldn’t hurt)
III. Squid Ink Pasta with Salmon at Ciao Bella | 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 Morjim 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.
Other dishes we recommend: Sage and Butter Ravioli and Chocolate Pasta with Gorgonzola if you’re willing to experiment
Cost: A little steep but you’re on vacation at Rs. 2000 for a meal for two
Where: Assagao Baden Road, Assagao, Goa
IV. Fried Calamari at Café Nu | Pernem
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 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.
Other dishes we recommend: The Blue Cheese vegetable bake is a vegetarian’s delight while the non vegetarians with more sophisticated palates than us, the Yellowfin Sesame Tuna is rolled with sesame seeds and balanced with spring onions, lime leaf, orange segments, and cherry tomatoes in a spicy tangy sauce. The Mega Organic is absolutely perfect for the health conscious too, and is a meal in itself.
Cost: Pretty goddamn reasonable at Rs. 1200 for a meal for two, given the quality
Where: 182, Junaswaddo, Pernem, Goa
V. Blue Cheese Stuffed Beef at Sublime Bistro | 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.
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 Rs. 1400 for a meal for 2 (without alcohol)
Where: Morjim Beach Road, Vithal Das Vado, Morjim, Pernem, North Goa
VI. Kerala Beef Curry + Coorg Pandi Curry at Gunpowder | Assagao
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: Syrian Christian Beef, Chili Pork Ribs with Roasted Tomato and Coconut Chutney + Egg Appam. Drool.
Cost: Worth splurging at least twice as much at Rs. 1200 for a meal for 2
Where: 6, Saunto Vaddo, Assagao, Bardez, North Goa
VII. Crispy Pork Belly Salad at Bomras | Candolim
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 Rs. 1800 for a meal for two
Where: Souza Vaddo, 247 Fort Aguada Road, Candolim, North Goa
VIII. Beef Carpaccio + Sesame-Crusted Tuna Fillet at La Plage | Morjim
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 Rs 1500 for a meal for two
Where: Ashvem Beach, Morjim, Pernem, North Goa
IX. Crab Xacuti at Infantaria | Calangute
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.
Other dishes we recommend: 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 Rs. 600
Where: Umta Vado, Calangute Junction, Calangute, North Goa
X. Roesti, Roesti, Roesti (preferably with Ham & Cheese) at Lila Café | Baga
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.
Other recommendations: 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 Rs. 1000 for 2 (with fresh juice of course.)
Where: Tito’s White House, Arpora-Siolim Road, Anjuna, North Goa
XI. Pork Vindaloo at Bhatti Village | Nerul
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 Rs. 500 for a meal for 2.
Where: Bhatti Waddo, Bardez, Nerul, North Goa.
XII. Baked Crab at Britto’s | 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.
Other Options We Recommend: 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 Rs. 600 for a meal for 2.
Where: Calangute-Baga Rd, Baga Beach, Bardez, Calangute, Goa 403516
0832 227 7331
XIII. Goan Sausages and Mussels Rava Fry at Mum’s Kitchen | Panjim
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 Rs. 1600-1800 for a meal for 2 (But that’s only because you’re ordering everything.)
Where: 854, Martins Building, DB Street, Panjim-Miramar; Tel. +91 9822175559
XIV. Beef Carpaccio At Fiesta | Calangute
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.
Other Options We Recommend: All the Italian is exceptionally high quality so any of the pastas or thin-crust pizzas are incredible. You’d do well to experiment here, though, because we’ve never had a bad meal.
Cost:Expensive but fantastic at Rs. 1600 for a meal for 2 (without alcohol, and you’re going to want some.)
Where: 7/35, Sauntavado, Calangute; tel. +91 832 2281440
XV. Spicy Crab Curry At Starlight Restaurant | Anjuna
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.
Other Options We Recommend: 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 Rs. 350 for a meal for 2 (and you’re getting a veritable feast for that price!)
Where: Calangute-Anjuna main road, Arpora; 9326114423; open daily noon–3.30pm, 7–11pm
XVI. Sunday Brunch at Villa Blanche | Assagao
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 Rs. 800 for 2 if it isn’t brunch
Where: 283, Badem Church Rd, Socol Vaddo, Assagao, Vagator, Goa
XVII. Beef Chilli Fry at Martin’s Corner | Betalbatim, South Goa
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 Rs. 1600 for a meal for 2
Where: Ranvaddo, Salcete, Betalbatim, Goa
XVIII. Fish Thali at Anand Bar | Siolim
A tiny, cubby-hole of a Siolim restaurant, Anand somehow escapes the common bar feel of all the others like it thanks to the yet unmatched quality of it’s fish thali. Despite the hundreds of versions of this that are available all over Goa, Anand’s is truly the ultimate and hundreds upon hundreds of Goa regulars are willing to vouch for it.
The prawns fry and mussels fry is almost celestial and is also partially responsible for making it the most popular local spot to eat in North Goa, so get there early if you want to make sure everything’s still available. Other staples include rice, fish curry, fish fry, pickle and a kokum curry. Pro tip: It’s closed on Mondays.
Cost: Rs. 90 for a thali, and you can always ask for more.
Where: Assagao, Siolim, Bardez, India
[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.]