If you’re flocking to Goa this holiday season for a day of beach-lazing and a night of wild partying, you may want to look beyond butter garlic calamari and prawn curry rice. Sure, these are staples that most love, but to really taste the sun, sand, and sea, nothing even comes close to the Goan fish thalis — Goa’s traditional lunch.
Bear in mind that this is not a food review, but an attempt to dissect the contents of the meal, venue, price, and most importantly — how to find it. I’ve also given GPS coordinates for each place so that it makes your search just a little easier.The basics are simple and run across all thalis: rice, fish curry, fish fry, pickle, kokum and a vegetable curry. It’s important to remember this is primarily lunch-time fare and therefore not all restaurants will serve you a thali at night.
This Siolim restaurant is nothing short of an institution and anyone who claims to know Goan food will definitely know Anand Bar.Anand has become the benchmark for the fish thali in North Goa. The locals, however, feel that the restaurant is quite overrated and many even keep away from it — Anand’s peers accuse him of having gone commercial. If fish thali joints had a voice, Anand’s would be the loudest in North Goa. Since this is the most popular and the most crowded of all places, it’s better to reach there early and by that I mean before 2.30 p.m.
GPS Coordinates: 15.595921, 73.760349
Price: Rs 90
Don’t miss: clams
If Fat Fish were a person, she would definitely be an outgoing and trendy city slicker who has done well for herself in the Goan countryside. One of the fancier fish thalis outside the five-star experiences, it contains an impressive list of condiments on an equally impressive customised plate. Fat Fish is neat, well-ventilated, and overlooks paddy fields. It effectively veers away from the local bar feel that is so common in Goa.
GPS Coordinates: 15.5565, 73.7636
Price: Rs. 220
Beyond the basics: Clams, Crab Xacuti, Dry Sardines,
Starlight is a favourite among locals and tourists alike. Even though it’s more expensive than the standard thali, the Goans love this place. To the budget traveler, it makes good sense. The one willing to spend can marvel at the efficiency of such optimised manufacturing operations. Unfortunately, Starlight has road repairs happening in front. To keep the dust out of your plate, the management has put up tarpaulins, which makes everything a little too sultry once the food high kicks in.
GPS Coordinates: 15.5654, 73.7649
Price: Rs 180
Beyond the basics: Clams, Fish Curry Ambotik, Tandoori Roti
Vinayak, situated in the middle of fields, is the only contender on this list that is not on a main road. It is run by a charming family and still retains that small-town feel. The clientele is often non-Goans and foreigners who have settled in Goa and want to just gaze into the distance as they absent-mindedly pick at the clams.
GPS Coordinates: 15.5974, 73.7726
Price: Rs 70
Beyond the basics: Clams