My favorite places to eat and drink in Goa (updated 2016)

It’s a pleasure to present my top eateries and water holes in Goa. Start from the top of my list – and if you are in Goa long enough to complete all of them, start from the top again.

 

We all love Indian food, but Goa also has so much more to offer. Why is Goa so special? People come from all over the world to settle  in Goa, bringing their restaurants with them it seems. Goa was a Portuguese colony until 1961, which has also left a culinary heritage found nowhere else in India.

There are no methods. Not even clear criteria’s. The list is 100% based on feelings. These are simply the places we for some reason keep ending up in, again and again.

The restaurants mentioned is ranging from very simple and cheap, to top end places. The beauty is to enjoy the full range. However, I never eat from street stalls, and hardly from the thousands of beach shacks. I question the hygienic conditions, but it must be lots of exceptions, since most people eating there seems alive and happy. I prefer the established places.

Sorted geographically from south to north in Goa.
Let me know how many of them you are able to visit.

……………………………………………………….
ALILA DIWA
, Majorda
GRAND HYATT, Bambolim beach
BABA’S WOOD CAFE, Miramar
HOTEL FIDALGO, Panjim
DELHI DARBAR, Panjim
VIVA PANJIM, Panjim (Fontainhas)
PANJIM INN, Panjim (Fontainhas)
HOTEL VENITE, Panjim (Fontainhas)
SOL DE GOA
, Nerul
MERMAID, Candolim
REPUBLIC OF NOODLES, Candolim
CHALSTON, Calangute
LE POISSON ROUGE, Baga river
GO WITH THE FLOW, Baga river
SATURDAY NIGHT MARKET, Arpora
JOE BANANA, Anjuna
THALASSA, Vagator
……………………………………………………….

ALILA DIWA, Majorda
Save some stomach space for the last day of the week. Head south for the Alila Diwa Sunday brunch. Really good food. Good selection and several live cooking stations. Why not spend the day? They have a very nice infinity pool, overlooking the rice field and palm trees. I am sure you want to post a photo on Facebook relaxing in one of the in-pool sun chairs. Let me know when you do.

About the only thing that could ruin the enjoyment, is s big conference crowd taking advantage of the all inclusive. Or someone stealing your favorite sunglasses. (I am still angry about that, but the food is too good to not come back)

GRAND HYATT, Bambolim beach
If you are visiting in the middle of the day, don’t miss the signature ham and cheese sandwich at the pool/beach restaurant. Let me suggest a fresh lime soda or ice tea to accompany it.

If you visit around sunset, then you need a sundowner. That’s what the frozen Margaritas are for. I promise they are grand. As the manager Stefan keeps telling; size matters.

Evening: come early and have a drink in the lounge, catching the breeze from the Arabic ocean. You are in for a great food experience at the grill restaurant The Verandah. It doesn’t get better than this. Ask for suggestion and the chef will happily go “off menu” to add to your experience. Top end and comparatively expensive – but so worth it.

Mette at the grill restaurant Verandah at Grand Hyatt, Goa. One of our favorites.

 

BABA’S WOOD CAFE, Miramar
By far the best Italian in town. Run by Italian Maria. As soon as the craving for something non-Indian appears, this is the place to go. You are guaranteed a greet Italian dining-experience. NOTE: They used to be in Mala/Fontainhas but shifted to Miramar! (where Pan Asian Bowl used to be)

HOTEL FIDALGO, Panjim
Go to the hotels THALI restaurant. At least once you have to experience a great Thali meal. The Indian tapas. Waiters keep adding small dishes to your big metal plate, so you won’t go home hungry. I love it. Try it.

The same hotel has a 24 hrs coffee shop; Aunty  Maria. Good for a small snack if you are hungry outside normal hours.

DELHI DARBAR, Panjim
Top Indian food guaranteed. Impressing doorman. The ambience is discussable,  but this is our family favorite for more than 13 years now. Great food and service. Warning: get a table on the ground floor to avoid the one-man-band on the first floor. Starter: mixed kebab platter to share around the table. Main course for me; Rogan Josh. Make sure to order the butter garlic nan bread.  Have a Pan on your way out, so you can spit on the pavement around the corner – the Indian way.

VIVA PANJIM, Panjim (Fontainhas)
Multi cuisine. Sizzler and pork steaks seems to be the specialty. The food is average at the most, but the place has a soul. Make sure to get one of the tables inside, but not in the AC room. The owner is quite a character. Don’t be surprised if she is eating too, on her office desk in a corner of the restaurant. If you don’t like spicy food -tell that clearly, since they are generous with the chili powder. Go for the caramel pudding for dessert. Price: cheap! Once we told the owner they had forgotten a bottle of wine on our bill, but it turned out thay hadn’t. The main photo on top is from Viva Panjim.

PANJIM INN, Panjim (Fontainhas)
The favorite of our favorites. Heritage hotel in the Latino quarter. Very steep stairs up to the veranda restaurant overlooking the nearby gallery and old Portuguese houses. Intimate Colonial mansion feel. (if such a thing exists) I love the broken tiles, that they have used even on the pavement outside the hotel. Do you dare to try the red Goa sausages stew with potato? Dangerous, but a favorite of mine. Let me know if you tasted it. They normally have a good selection of fresh seafood. Ask about the catch of the day.

It also works very well just to have a glass of Sula Sauvignon Blanc. Highly recommended.

HOTEL VENITE, Panjim (Fontainhas)
Tons if charm. Romantic verandas overlooking one of the picturesque street of the Fontainhas. Great interiors. Funny lamps. In one of the restaurants rooms of the walls are totally covered by scribbling in all possible languages, made by guests back when this was a guesthouse. The food. Hmmm, I hardly remember it. To busy soaking in the ambience.

Me at the restaurant Hotel Venite, having a light refreshment

SOL DE GOA (Sofala, Sol), Nerul
Well designed boutique hotel in the middle of nowhere. (just before Candolim)The favorite of some of India’s celebrities, according to reliable? sources. Anyhow, a quiet and relaxed place for a good lunch or dinner in nice surroundings.

MERMAID, Candolim
Swedish Katarina is the owner of this multi cuisine restaurant. We visited first in 2003, and since then the restaurant has grown bigger and better year by year.  The place is always fully booked by foreign tourists staying in Candolim, so don’t come too late. The steak specialist in Goa. Make sure you try Katarina’s specialty, the Daim cheesecake.

REPUBLIC OF NOODLES, Candolim
Let’s just go straight to the starter: Barbequed Honey glazed pork spare ribs. Then continue with any of the many mouth watering dishes available on the menu.

CHALSTON, Calangute
If you are in Calangute, looking for the best sunset spot, then head to Chalston. Have a beer in the “almost on the beachk” restaurant and see the sun getting all red before it is eaten by the Arabic ocean. The beach resort is run by Swedish Maria and her Goan husband Chalston. I don’t think they miss a single sunset, so you will see them occupying one of the tables.

LE POISSON ROUGE, Baga river
Great Al fresco dining, just opposite the bride crossing Baga river.  French, but for sure not limited to fish as the name indicates. Assure the French owner is there, or else I suggest you to leave. We came once that he was not pressent and things didn’t seem to work well in his absence.

GO WITH THE FLOW, Baga river
Very popular upmarket place. In the high season you better book a table in advance. Expect a great culinary experience in their garden. Not to be missed.

SATURDAY NIGHT MARKET, Arpora
This is as see-worthy as it gets. The place to be on Saturday nights. Do not miss it. Yes, it’s a market. It is also bands playing. You guessed it, it is also food stalls. Lots of them. Food from any corner of the world – from Italian pizzas to Sushi. It would be horrible if you visit Goa without experiencing this fantastic mix of people, colors, smells, sounds and tastes. (Make sure you go to the right night market. As always, there are copies)

This photo is taken a “few” years back when Morten and Elin from the largest financial daily newspaper in Norway visitied.

 

JOE BANANA, Anjuna
Materialistically this is an extreamly basic place, but the restaurant is loaded with history. This was (still is, if you ask me) the place for the hippies to eat. Experimenting with drugs, peace and love also makes you hungry. This was where Eight finger Eddy, the head of the Goa hippies, used to eat. Joe Banana is located just opposite the Flea market that goes on every Wednesday. Be there!

THALASSA, Vagator
Greek restaurant on a hilltop overlooking Little Vagator beach. Really good food, servcie and ambiance. The view is top. Well run place. Among the very best. A very safe choice – but also very popular, so make a table reservation in advance.

That’s it for now…
Let me know how many of the restaurants you can visit during your Goa stay.