Flanked by the Arabian sea on the west and the imposing Sahyadri mountains on the east, Goa is visited by a large number of international and domestic tourists for its beaches, places of worship and world heritage architecture. Being a former Portuguese province, the state exhibits a strong Portugal influence in its way of living – be it dressing, celebrations or food. Here are some culinary gems that will make you eat like a true blue Goan when in Goa.
Apleasing mix of the east and west, Goan cuisine is dominated by the flavours of chilli pepper and kokum and is cooked traditionally in clay pots on firewood to attain a smoky flavour. Goa is probably the only ancient city that conditions you not only to eat (and eat everything) but also make it memorable (good or not so good, irrespective). It’s little surprise then that when it comes to Goa and eating out, there are options aplenty ranging from the cool shacks marking the Baga beach, to the tastefully done restaurants in Candolim, to icons like Bomras that serve the best Burmese food. One thing amazing about Goa is that finding restaurants, bars and lounges here becomes easy with the city being home to the largest residential restaurants. But finding that single, amazing place that serves finger-licking yummy food is a daunting task, until and unless you traverse the known territory with locals. Next time you visit Goa, make sure you befriend a local and visit these popular eateries.
Southern Deck, Benaulim
Not to be confused with the more stately looking The Southern Deck or De Baga Deck, this food lovers paradise is a homely place on the beach and has the reputation of serving Goan traditional food, grandmother-style. In fact, a generous clientele of this really old eatery are the locals of the place who swear by the food – and its authenticity.
Dishes to try: They serve one of the best dry prawn balchao and beef croquettes, prepared in colonial style.
Spice Goa, Mapusa
If you ever wondered how a fresh catch really tastes, head to Spice Goa. One of the few restaurants to work on the principle of sea to table, Spice Goa has had a repute of serving a fascinating spread of the original Goa delicacies – in other words the Kokani Goan and the Saraswat Brahmina’s. Consistency is one of the reason for this little space to stay on top of the foodlover’s list.
Dishes to try: Their fish thali (given that it’s made from fresh catch you can pick) and succulent koftas that are often referred to as kebabs.
If your many visits to Goa have left you with an impression that Goan food is laced with heavy sauces, this little place run by Sabita Fernandes is a must-visit. Functionally designed, this place is known for its delicious fare and use of masalas. In fact, locals vouch for the masalas used here, which is made fresh daily using traditional recipes and techniques even today.
Dishes to try: Even though locals flock the place to eat the prawn curry and rice, served in interesting-looking old world plates, it is known to make a terrific tempering that gives most of the Goan food, its addictive zing.
The Minion Food Truck, Anjuna
One of the best ways to explore what locals eat is to either stop at those little handcarts doling out tea, poee (Goan bread) and food or spot a food truck. Like this minion sporting food truck run by three brothers who bring in Goan tiffin box alive that parks at Anjuna junction near the petrol pump. Whatever is served has been made at home by their mum, and includes that pinch of memory that every child growing in Goa (and otherwise) would connect to. Like the sausage pao and processed meat pao, which is to Goans what vada pav is to a Mumbaikar!
Dishes to try: Sausage bread and cutlet bread, one of the best in Goa.
Irami Stall, Caranzalem
Based at St Inez, Irami Stall too explores the daily food table of a typical Goan family. What makes their food taste different is their cooking style, which is heavily influenced by East Indians, so their meat croquet has more potatoes than meat. The gravy plays a big part in all the dishes.
Dishes to try: Their close to grandma style of chicken cafreal and their interesting processed meat crumb fillet poee burger.
Café Lazy Day, Calangute
It’s easy to say when in Rome eat like the Romans, but when it comes to Goa, sooner or later, one does crave for comfort known food like pizza and pastas and a damn well done French toast and strong coffee. That’s when you dunk the regular cafes and head to this home-like space for some good food, Goan-style music and relaxed mannerism.
Dishes to try: Whatever suits your mood.
Bhatti Village Family Bar & Restaurant
Also called Bhatti Wado, it’s yet another resident eatery in Goa. Though what makes it different from all the other family run restaurants is not only the antique collection of bottles and artefacts but also the Portuguese Goan menu, most of which, reflects the portal delights like pada, samaranchi kodi, feijoida, sukhi sunta and paddo.
Dishes to try: While the place is perfect to sample local table delights with all its culinary authenticity, popular dishes are ambotic, procesed meat amsol and gaboi.
Soi Un Aguada, Candolim
Think Goa, and its hard to come up with vegetarian dishes. One reason, most restaurants are replete with popular menus that revolve around chicken, beef and pork – not this easy going place. Housing close to Fort Aguada, Soi un Aguada is known to serve great vegetarian Goan food. Enough reason to hit the paddle and reach this lesser known address.
Dishes to try: The thali, with a special request for the laal math saag.
Goa is dotted with some beautiful wonders around it.
Located in North Goa, the Arvalem caves were encarved in the 5th or 6th century AD. Cave 2 has a Shivalinga with a circular top with Sanskrit and Brahmi characters. They have 5 compartments and the middle one holds a ‘linga’ which has been regarded with great respect
This magnificent Dudhsagar Waterfall in Sanguem is a sight to behold especially during the monsoon. From a distance, the waterfall appears like streams of milk rushing down the mountainside. At 600m, Dudhsagar overlooks a steep, crescent-shaped head of a valley carpeted with pristine tropical forest, which is only accessible on foot or by train.
Situated on the banks of the Terekhol River, 45 kms from Panjim, Terekhol fort was originally commissioned by the Maharaja of Sawantwadi. By 1764, this fort became an integral part of Portuguese maritime forces. Visit the Church of St. Anthony built within the fort. You can also stroll at the nearby Jeri Beach.
Situated in the north eastern side of Goa, Chorla Ghat is a monsoon paradise for travellers. The green deciduous forest and meandering monsoon fed streams offer stunning looks. Bordering the Western Ghats, this place is popular as a weekend getaway for its biodiversity. While Goa is more about beaches and historical attractions, this place is more about greenery. The Twin Vajra Waterfalls and Peak of Lasni Temb are two popular attractions in this region. Tourist can engage in jungle walks, hiking and trekking.
Also called as the Bubbles Lake, this is a popular lake located in the vicinity of the Gopinath Temple in Netravali, Sanguem. It is commonly observed that bubbles in the lake magically increase as you clap with a loud noise. Legend says, the bubbles in the lake are because of the magic of a local deity, however, as per scientists, they are formed due to sulphur dioxide or limestone.
kajur & mauxi
The discovery of rare stone age rock carvings at Kajur Panasaimol of Pirla village in Sanguem taluka and Mauxi in Sattari has opened new vistas and thrown up new challenges to historians and archaeologists. The State Museum of Goa in Panaji has created a model of this entire site of Panasaimol.
Bascilica Of Bom Jesus
Built in the 16th century, this magnificent church stands as a superb example of Baroque architecture. On the southern side is a chapel where the sacred relics of the body of St. Francis Xavier are preserved in a silver casket.
Palacio Do Deao
This 213 years old mansion was built by a Portuguese, who was the Dean of the Church, and founder of Quepem town. The house faces the Church he built and is on the banks of the wildly beautiful Kushavati River. It is built in an unusual style blending elements of Hindu and Portuguese architecture.
A lovely golden beach of soft sand gridled with palm trees facing the blue Arabian Sea, is very near to Panjim. It was originally known as the Gasper Dias Beach. It provides an excellent view of Fort Aguada. The Dhempe College of Arts and Science is located here and so is the memorial of Goa’s first chief minister, the late Dayanand Bandodkar
Located in Ponda, 21 kms from Panjim, the temple has a fascinating legend attached to its name. The architecture is a mix of Hindu, Christian and Muslim influences and is lit up in magnificent lights during the annual fair which is held in January.
The lake is located in Bicholim taluka in north Goa, east of the market town of Mapusa. The region, in which the lake is located, is mostly unspoilt countryside full of sleepy villages. Birdlife is plentiful here, with a variety of birds making their home on the shores of the lake. The placid waters of this lake are ideal for boating. A short drive away from the lake is the residence and chapel of the erstwhile count of Mayem.
This beautiful beach adjoining Anjuna is secluded, crescent shaped and situated on the Caisua bay along the Chapora river basin, in the shadow of Chapora fort. It’s a favourite venue for night parties. Its a part of a 30 km stretch along the west coast of Goa that begins at Fort Aguada beach to Sinquerim, Candolim, Calangute, Baga, Anjuna, Vagator and ends at Chapora beach fort.
Written By: Madhulika Dash