On our trip to Goa, we were on a mission of finding some of the best Goan food, that not only captured the spirit of Goa but also let us experience the fusion of the Portuguese and the Indian influences that make it so unique. So here is a list of Goan restaurants that we think served up the best Goan cuisine, especially around Christmas time. However, when in Goa, just the food is never good enough, you need a sip of beer and some good company to make this a truly memorable experience.
The cuisine of Goa is a delicious mix of its Hindu roots, the influence of the 451 years of Portuguese Colonisation, and the century of Muslim rule that preceded the Portuguese. Rice, seafood, coconut, meat, and local spices are some of the main ingredients in Goan cuisine, creating the famous intense flavours.
So, here are our experiences at 8 Goan restaurants:
This goan restaurant is probably most famous for being where Charles Sobhraj was captured while dining here one evening, but it was famous long before that. O’Coqueiro means “the coconut tree” in Portuguese. With its Portuguese architecture and a long tradition of serving authentic Goan-Portuguese cuisine, it is the perfect place to unwind and get some good food. Also boasting a full bar, O’Coqueiro is the perfect spot for a family meal.
Dishes to Try
The restaurant is known for its Chicken Cafreal (served with fries), which was also apparently Charles Sobhraj’s favourite meal. But there are lots of other dishes to try here, like King Fish or Pomfret fried in rava (semolina) (pictured).
O’Coqueiro also offers vegetarians a taste of Goan-Portuguese food through its ‘Moonga Gathi’ a traditional Goan dish made from sprouted green lentils, that is so delicious that you cannot stop eating it. And, as with so many places in Goa, no meal at O’Coqueiro is complete without some Palm or Cashew Fenni.
Also if you ever find yourself in Goa around Christmas, we recommend you reserve a table at O’Coqueiro, so you can enjoy the live music, and the complimentary plum cake and house wine, along with your delicious food.
Address: NH 17, Near Coqueiro Circle Alto Porvorim, Bardez, Penha de França, Goa 403521
2Martin’s Corner, Betalbatim
Nestled in a rustic Goan setting about 900 meters from the beach in Betalbatim, this open-air restaurant started in 1989. Though it was opened by Mr Martin, today it is Mrs Carafina Pereira and her sons, Pobre, Jose and Bonny, who have put Martin’s Corner on the map as one of the oldest and popular must-try restaurants in South Goa. While it serves Goan, Indian, Tandoori, and Continental food, it is best known for Seafood. Martin’s Corner is also frequented by famous personalities from across the country.
Known for its lively music paired with excellent seafood, this spot is a must in Goa. Especially around Christmas, you will find Martin’s Corner decked in decorations and filled with joy and music. And who knows, maybe you may even catch sight of a known celebrity.
Dishes to Try
The best food at Martin’s is the unquestionably the seafood. When I say seafood I mean the King Crab – also known here as Sachin’s (the Indian cricket player) favourite. You can choose your crab at the table before it is prepared in a spicy masala mix. We would recommend the crab only if you are a large group or if you have a huge appetite. But if you’re not in the mood for some crab, definitely have the prawn curry and rice, Goan pork sausage or the shark amboutik rice.
Martin’s may be a seafood paradise, but it does not disappoint the vegetarians in the crowd. One of the best dishes to try at this spot is the cauliflower or bhindi caldin. A caldin is a dish made of coconut milk and Goan spices, and usually a bit sweetish in its taste, but you can always ask for a bit of extra spice for those with stronger palates. However, one thing you cannot miss at Martin’s is the warm bebinca and ice cream. Made in house, the dessert is a must in Goa.
Address: 69, Binwaddo, Betalbatim, Goa 403713
3Terry’s Restaurant and Pub, Betim Porvorim
Tucked away in the narrow lanes of Betim Porvorim, you’ll find Terry’s Restaurant and Pub located opposite the boat jetty that connects Panaji with the other side of the river Mandovi. Terry’s offers its customers a beautiful view of the river, which is lit up by vivid colours of the river-side casinos in the evening.
Dishes to Try
While also being a multicuisine restaurant, Terry’s is known for its delicious (but spicy) Chicken Cafreal which is cooked in spicy green gravy, and for its Mackarel Recheado – a spicy Goan dish where a spice mix is rubbed on the fish which is then deep-fried with a thin coating of rava. And for vegetarians, Terry’s has some of the best bhindi masala and veg xacuti.
Address: Betim–Verem–Saligao Road Near Betim Ferry Wharf, Behind Petrol pump, Alto- Betim Porvorim, Reis Magos, Goa 403101
4Ritz Classic, Panaji
This multi-cuisine restaurant is famous for its seafood and for its *massive* Goan thali. Armed with his secret recipe, Rohidas “Daad” Dessai made the short journey from his ancestral village in Cuncolim (South Goa) to set up this restaurant, then called the Cafe Ritz Restaurant & Bar, in Panjim, which opened in 1978. This quaint little restaurant soon expanded to the Ritz Classic. Ever since it has been serving up the best of Indian-Goan food.
Dishes to Try
One should make a pilgrimage to Ritz Classic just for its generously portioned Fish Thali. It comes with prawn curry, rice, various seafood curries, sweet, papad and some delicious looking fish fry that is smothered in classic Goan spices.
For the vegetarians, Ritz Classic also offers various other Goan and Indian dishes, but the one thing that you must try is the Veg Biryani (despite what the haters say, it’s STILL biryani!). Try it with the Pineapple Sukhem, a dry preparation that’s mildly spicy, sweet and sour at the same time (or, if you want a non-veg version, go for the Tisreo Sukhem, which is made with clams).
Address: Building, 1st Floor, Wagle Vision, 18th June Rd, Ozari, Panaji, Goa 403001
Started by Dominic Britto in 1965, this famous beach shack is located on Baga Breach in Calangute. What started as a small restaurant with just four tables is now a multi-cuisine restaurant serving everything from traditional Goan food to Indo-Chinese favourites. Brittos attracts visitors not just from Goa, but from all over the world. With its delicious food and great views of the sunset, it’s best to go here in the evening.
Dishes to Try
Britto’s creates magic with its Butter Garlic Calamari, Pork Vindaloo, Prawn Curry and Crab XecXec. Also do try the Baked Crabs, that is served with fries and a salad. It’s a delicious yet not so heavy meal. But, if you’re a larger group or just *really* hungry, do go for the seafood platter.
Vegetarians, Brittos offers you the traditional Goan experience with its Mixed Veg Baffad, spiced with a combination of freshly grated coconut and spicy Kashmiri red chillies. This is something one must try at Brittos. And if you’re not in the mood for a heavy meal, you can always fill up on beer and the amazing starters Brittos has to offer.
6Mum’s Kitchen, Panaji
The story of Goa can be found in its food, and so Suzette and Rony, the owners of this restaurant, went searching for household recipes. After trying, sampling and collaborating with lots of people, they realised that for the most authentic Goan taste they’d all come from Goan mothers who truly know the best. Mum’s Kitchen is a must for those in search of the traditional Goan experience.
Dishes to Try
To be fair everything on the menu sounds and looks amazing and we would have liked to try all of the Mum’s Kitchen dishes. But, we suggest you try the Chourico Chilli Fry, the Lepo Hooman, and the Sorpotel and Sannas (a Goan bread). The food offers a symphony of various Goan spices that just work together to create a special experience for the person eating them.
And, vegetarians, don’t worry! Mum’s Kitchen has a lot to offer us too. One of the dishes recommended at Mum’s Kitchen is the Thambdi Bhajji and the Cauliflower Caldin. Also do try the freshly prepared Bhindii Bhajji, the dish is a perfect fusion of Goan and North Indian flavours.
Address: 854, Martins Building, D. B. Street, Panaji – Miramar Road, Panaji, Goa 403001
7Viva Panjim, Panaji
This little eatery lies almost hidden in a side street of Panaji’s colourful Fonthinas district. Viva Panjim is in a narrow lane, which is lined with tables and chairs, while the inside features lots of beautiful antique furniture. Opened in an old Portuguese house by Linda and Michael de Sousa, it is known for serving classic Goan food at reasonable prices.
Dishes to Try
Apart from popular dishes like Xacuti – chicken cooked in a red coconut sauce – this goan restaurant also serves rarer and forgotten food like Pork Cabidel, the Peixe Portuguese, a seafood and fish stew, and the Goan Mandeli Fry where the anchovies are fried in rava. You can also ask for the Seafood Sizzler and the Stuffed Karela (off the menu!)
And as for my fellow vegetarians, you must try the Bhindi Solantulem, which is mildly spiced with just the right amount of tartness, and the Vegetable Vindalho.
Address: No. 178, Rua 31 de Janerio, Behind Mary Immaculate High School, Fontainhas, Panaji, Goa 403001
Even though Thalassa is known for its Greek food rather than its Goan food, this spot is a worthy mention in our list. Situated along the waterfront in Vaddy, Siolim, Thalassa is known for its famous sunsets, which can be viewed from the outdoor tables shaded by palm trees. The restaurant was opened in 2006 by Mariketty Grana (whose father ran a restaurant in Corfu) and her son Spiro, before which she used to sell some Greek delicacies at the Arpora Flea Market.
This Greek taverna in Goa is a place where warm Greek hospitality merges with the laid back, free and tranquil atmosphere of Goa. Of course, there are also the amazing live performances of Greek dances, cabaret shows, carnival dances, and fire shows that make your dining experience so much more unique.
Dishes to Try
While Thalassa’s menu has no Goan dishes on it, it is still a part of Goan history. The restaurant features delicious Greek delicacies that have a touch of the Goan flavours. The Chicken Saganaki, Giaoutlou Kebab and the Beef Steak Souvlaki are must-tries, as are the Gyros. Also, the portions are massive and we recommend that you go into Thalassa hungry as heck or even better you can always dance on the gorgeous stage looking across to the ocean to get yourself super hungry
And as for the vegetarians, we recommend you try the Veg Souvlaki, the Stuffed Pepper Augerbine & Tomato, and of course the Kolokithokeftedes (fried zucchini balls).
Address: Plot No. 301, 1, Vaddy, Siolim, Goa 403517
Other honourable mentions that did not make the list but are definitely worth a try are – Hotel Annapurna, Infernos, Goa’s Ark, The Fisherman’s Wharf, Gunpowder and The Black Sheep Bistro.
What do you think? Will you try out these iconic places next time you are in Goa? If you feel some restaurants have been missed out, do let us know in the comments below.