There is always something new in Goa. Be it a hotel, a shack or a restaurant or bar with each offering unique flavours. Some are cool, hip and artsy, some are experimental, others serve amazing cocktails by the beach - but the one thing that's common is the delectable food from around the world served in a relaxing ambience in tune with this seaside destination. So add these places to your list next time you head to Goa.
Never had I thought that I could get some delicious pan-Asian fare in South Goa, but the meal I had at Mama Miso was something I won’t forget. From the delicious pepper prawns, sushi and the dim sums that started off the evening to the main course of butter garlic crab fried rice and my favourite Thai basil chicken (Pad Krapow Gai), it was a finger licking experience that gave me the best of Chinese, Japanese and Thai cuisines. The scenic outdoor seating looked attractive, but being summer, I chose to be inside the cheerily done restaurant. I wrapped up the meal with vanilla ice cream and oh those heavenly fried crispy honey sesame curls. The warm, attentive service reflected the ethos of Goa. This restaurant is another example of how the Goa food scene is becoming truly upscale.
Where: Arossim Beach Road, Cansaulim, South Goa
For those who love sundowners and dreamy sunsets, this chic restaurant is a must visit. Located on Anjuna beach, it serves ‘resort’ cuisine with different menus for day and night. While the day menu is more expansive with burgers, sandwiches, tacos, pizzas and of course seafood – the dinner menu is focused on small plates, grills and bakes. Though you can get a view of the sea from practically any table here, the hammocks in front are the most sought-after seating because you are literally on the beach. Do order the Pisco cocktails – after all the place is named after this popular Peruvian drink.
Where: St Michael Vaddo, Flea Market, Anjuna
Tucked away in the by-lanes of upscale Assagao, is this charming restaurant serving a mix of Goan and Portuguese cuisine inspired from the travels and conquests of the Portuguese. Ingredients such as tomatoes, pineapple, cashew nuts and guavas which were introduced by the Portuguese play an important role here. Raw banana cutlet, vegan beetroot galette, chorizo hummus, pepper spiced mutton and the braised Piri Piri clams are some of the must-orders. Their cocktail menu is interesting too as kokum, cashew feni, guava find their way into the drinks, giving plenty of varied choices.
Where: H.No 491 Baunta, Gumal Vaddo, Assagao
Along the beaches and rolling greens of Goa, boasting about heights is not common, but that’s where Raki stands apart – it is the first and highest rooftop bar in the state. Located on the 11th floor of Hotel Crescent, it overlooks Miramar beach, so you can watch a glorious sunset sipping a cocktail. Offering Mediterranean food with a modern twist, there is a selection of hot, cold and warm mezze, kebabs and pide. The name Raki comes from the national drink of Turkey so the cocktail menu is equally interesting.
Where: 11th floor, The Crescent Hotel, Near Goa Science Center, Kamat Kinara, Miramar, Panaji
One of its kind in Goa, quite a few dishes at this café are vegan - apparently more by chance than intent. “I didn’t design the menu to be vegan but it just happened because of the ingredients that we used,” says chef Sandeep Sreedharan. Taking a holistic approach to food, it focuses on seasonal produce. Thus in the land of cashew plantations, a lot of this healthy nut is used – for example the crostini has cashew cheese and the sweet potato served with Goan recheado sauce has dollops of cashew cream. There is seafood on the menu but only small local fish will make it to your plate. This earth-based café also has coffee and cocktails.
Where: House Number 1069, Gawaddi, Anjuna
Coming all the way from Pune, this popular gastropub will spoil you for choice – from breakfast options, bar nibbles, salads, sandwiches, small plates, flat breads, the menu is really varied. Some of the cocktails here get a local twist – their take on a classic Negroni, called Feni-groni is whipped up with the famed Goan feni. The Goan touch extends to some dishes too. Karan Khilnani the founder says, “The menu is different from Pune.” The easy going and relaxing vibe is perfect for a chilled out meal.
Where: House no. 1049/2, Survey no. 16/1 Grand Pedder Field, Peddem, Anjuna
Mumbai’s much-loved Japanese restaurant is now in Assagao. The menu includes signature ramen bowls, fresh sushi, sashimi, small plates, gyoza, rice bowls and there’s an outdoor yakitori grill as well. But don’t just focus on the food - the innovative cocktails also use Japanese ingredients. For example the Harakiri cocktail is made with shiso infused gin and Hokkaido comes with black tea rum, miso whisky and togarashi. This 60-seater restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating.
Where: 45, Mapusa - Anjuna - Chapora Road, Assagao
Sly Granny first opened in Bangalore, then in Delhi followed by Dehradun and now their fourth restaurant has arrived in Reis Magos. The large restaurant on Coco the beach takes its cue from Goa’s once-famed shacks in its decor, and there are loungers as well. The exhaustive menu is a mix of wood-fire pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, salads, small and large plates. A central area for live music enhances the mood as you sip some interesting in-house cocktails and ponder over what to order.
Where: 789, Nerul - Reis Margos Road, Nerul
Beer battered gruyere vada pav, shark croquette, crab uttapam and oysters with kokum and green apple granita – the food at Vedro is unique or as they like to call it ‘eccentric’. In fact, the sign at the bar says ‘Eccentricity is encouraged’. Designed by Sussanne Khan, this quirky restaurant spread over two floors in Panjim has a pleasant tropical vibe. While the menu isn’t too extensive, each dish comes with a twist.
Where: House No 1/26, 31 January Road, Fontainhas, Panaji
After feeding coastal food to Mumbaikars for years, Soul Fry has made its way to Goa at the same place where Baga Beer Garden brewpub was located. The spacious restaurant that has eight Susegado beers on tap, is spread across different levels. The lower section and seating area overlook the bar and the Susegado brewery while the airconditioned upper level has a section for live music and Karaoke. The food is pretty much similar to Soul Fry in Mumbai with Malvani, Mangalorean, Goan and Bengali dishes.
Where: Milkyway, 181B, Khobra Waddo, Calangute