“Every time I refresh my feed, someone lands in Goa,” said a friend while doom scrolling through Instagram. Truer words were not spoken as 2020 draws to a close, and flights are running full to the state that birthed poee, xacuti and King’s beer. It might be impossible to get a table at some of the most well-known restaurants such as Martin’s Corner in Betalbatim, Gun Powder in Assagao and Bomras in Calangute. So, if you want to eat like the locals, and possibly avoid the crowds to some extent, check out these eateries.
Joet’s in Vasco Da Gama
The late fashion designer Wendell Rodricks would frequent Joet’s for long lunches. It is run by a Goan family and the masalas, like xacuti and recheado, are made by them. They have the crispiest fish fries and it’s best to walk into Joet’s in a completely empty stomach for sausage pulao, chicken cafreal and their signature stuffed papad with prawns.
Where: Vasco Da Gama in Central Goa
Contact: 08322538036 and 09860765337
Sanil Bar and Restaurant in Porvorim
As the name indicates, it is as local it can get. This small restaurant that specialises in thalis will give you a taste of Goa like no other. While the world has heard of Goan pork chorizos, a dish closely associated with Christian kitchens in the state, Sanil is run by a Hindu family who serve an array of seafood dishes from spicy coconut crab xec xec, tisreao sukhem (a dry clams dish) and a catch of the day. Their food is such a revelation that you might be tempted to go there twice.
Where: Porvorim, Sangolda in North Goa
Contact: 099237 63452
Saraya Art Cafe in Bardez
Saraya, known for their lip-smacking wood-fire pizzas, permaculture courses and art exhibitions, remained closed for most part of this year. Their cafe with a menu serving smoothies, sourdough and gluten-free pizzas will reopen today for the first time after the lockdown. Be the first to be there.
Where: Bardez in North Goa
Soul Chef Goa in Fontainhas
Momos stuffed with chorizo, street-style noodles from Shillong and pork chops in bhoot jolokiya and jaggery sauce are some of the best-sellers in this restaurant that specialises in food from the Northeast. They remained closed for dine-in through the lockdown. But, they have been actively delivering through Swiggy and Zomato. Although they have a standard menu on these delivery platforms, one can find new updates, like their Christmas special dishes, on their Instagram page @soulchefgoa. For the New Year, they have introduced a Thukpa cooked in the Mongpa kitchens of Arunachal Pradesh.
Where: Fontainhas in North Goa
Ciao Bella Ristorante in Assagao
Homemade pastas, extra large plates of cold cuts and a traditional Italian dessert of ricotta cheese are the highlights of the trimmed menu at this award-winning restaurant. Run by an Italian couple, the restaurant is spacious enough for a socially-distanced dining experience.
Where: Assagao in North Goa
Roboto in Calangute
An izakaya and ramen house is opened for quiet dinners in December. Helmed by Chefs Maia Laifungbam and Sanchit Behl of the heritage property Sole De Goa, Roboto’s menu offers beef tataki with salt-cured egg yolk, pork katsudon with smoked cherry tomatoes and Shoyu Tonkotsu Ramen with 8-hour bone broth topped with Manipuri ghost chilli oil.
Where: Calagute in North Goa
Miguel’s in Fontainhas
Finally, it’s cocktail time. Miguel’s is a brand new restaurant and craft cocktail bar in Goa which specialises in small plates of chorizo, pickled fish and mushroom pate. This is where you should be headed to unwind over Bellinis and Espresso Martinis. To enjoy your drinking experience Goan style, take your pick from their selection of fenis and uraaks.
Where: Fontainhas in North Goa
Contact: 091122 22584