If you are headed to Goa for what’s left of the summer, read on for Sohaila Kapur's list of must-try restaurants
Goa is a holiday paradise not just for its beaches, but also its food. Eateries may be beach shacks, open-air cafes or fancy restaurants, but they are all great on two things: cuisine and atmosphere. Here’s a list of some of the best ones.
Goan / Portuguese Food
Mom’s Kitchen on DB Street, Panjim-Miramar, is dedicated to Goan cuisine. It looks like a prosperous Goan kitchen-cum-lounge, with gleaming copper pots and pans. Prawn Hoonam, Harem Mas and marinated Goan sausages are its highlights. Non-Goan seafood dishes with tomato and vinaigrette base and seafood-stuffed crepes are as popular as their traditional prawn or crab curry.
Martin’s Corner, at Binwaddo, Betalbatim Beach, is a Goa landmark. Starting as a small shop, where local boys came to play carrom, it became a four-table café serving traditional Goan food. Named after the owner’s late husband, the restaurant has swept awards in every category, be it food, ambience or cuisine. One of the reasons is that the kitchen is personally supervised by Carfine Pereira, who keeps high standards of hygiene. She has a dish named after Tendulkar, who often eats here. It was also cartoonist Mario’s haunt, who has sketched it into public memory.
Viva Panjim, on 31st January Road, Panjim, is a darling little place set in Fontainhas, a quaint locale with beautiful Portuguese architecture. A converted old bungalow, it has a wonderful retro feel to it, with Portuguese and Old Goan bric-a-brac lined against amber walls. Opened by Linda de Souza, it’s authentic, home-cooked Goan and Portuguese dishes are value for money. There are a few tables outdoors on the narrow street as well. While their meat, pork and beef dishes are great, we recommend the prawn and fish curries or the lobster, with Goan garlic bread.
A'tona at Betim, Bardez is best known for Goan dishes such as Sorpotel, Balchao, Sunnas and the spicy Xacutti and Vindaloo. Their Pork Chorizo and simple fish curry are recommended too. Also try the Portuguese Bacalhau con Natas, Feijoada and Arroz Marisco. Set by the Mandovi, it offers fun activities such as jam sessions, rain dances or fishing competitions.
La Plage on Ashwem Beach is a chic shack that attracts an international crowd and even celebrities. We found ourselves sitting opposite Jade, the famous Mick Jagger’s daughter, who was shooting for an international fashion magazine. Right next to the beach, the place serves the finest French food in Goa and you have to reserve in advance. The seared tuna with wasabi potatoes and chicken pate is specially recommended, as is the Beef Carpaccio for red meat lovers. If you want tips on what to order, call for the handsome French chef (as we did), who will help you in his charming, accented English.
In the Aesop’s Fables, Thalassa is a woman made of sea water, rising up from it. This restaurant in North Goa is named after her and also rises from the water on a dramatic little cliff, with a breathtaking view of the Little Vagator beach below and the sea beyond. Resembling a Greek taverna, the place has in its owner, Mariketty Grana from Corfu, a typical Greek matriarch who bustles about, checking on the service and occasionally chatting with guests. As expected, it specialises in Greek food. Try the Kleftiko, traditional lamb stew with feta cheese (there’s a veggie version too), prawn or chicken Souvlaki, veg or non-veg Mousakka, and the popular Souvlaki kebabs. At night, the tables are candle-lit with a softly blowing sea breeze.
Café Chocolatti on Fort Aguada Road, Candolim, is a leafy little bakery run by a Londoner. It is a tree-enclosed strip of grass with chairs under umbrellas and serves the most delicious home-made stuffed pancakes, breads, cakes and biscuits. The sinful fare includes brownies, moist carrot cake, ginger cake with lime icing, and a special Chocolatti cake. High-tea specials include home-made scones, fresh bread, and strawberry jam.
The German Bakery in Anjuna is a health food garden restaurant on a tree-lined lane. Guests usually spend the whole day here, with laptops and iPads, as the café offers free WiFi. The eclectic menu has wheat grass, sprouts, fresh tofu, hummus, pizza and sandwiches (from their famous in-house bread), as well as tandoori dishes and dosas. Their home-made apple pies, cheesecakes and ice-cream are popular.
Brittos at Baga Beach, Calangute, set up in 1965, is the oldest restaurant in Goa. Run like a resto-bar type beach shack, you can round off the Pork Vindaloo or Chicken Xacuti with Alpine chocolate mousse. Brittos is known for its butter-garlic prawns. and laidback ambience, with music and the sea breeze gently blowing. At night, it's a candle-lit party .