Goa has a reputation for serving up stellar seafood, booze and sea views. Add to that a slew of new and excellent dining destinations, and you have just the right mix for an exceptional holiday.
Here’s our pick of the quaint, the ever-busy and the quirky new restaurants of Goa:
Pisco by the Beach
A beautiful backdrop can take a meal from good to sublime. The menu at this new restaurant on Anjuna beach is by Rohan Dsouza.
Reserve the sea deck hammock for a ringside view of the sunset over fantastic cocktails.
The stars among the menu include baked mud crabs, charcoal miso yogurt mutton ribs and blue corn tacos.
Don’t miss the fresh catch of the day dressed up in subtle butter garlic or the robust salsa. Whatever you choose, end it with a Pisco Sundae.
Address: Anjuna, Goa
For reservations call: 9920539790
Also read: Goa’s growing appetite for Japanese food
Dining at this 100-year-old Portuguese bungalow is like travelling back in time. The distressed walls, chandeliers, antique furniture and sepia-toned photographs make Maai a welcome relief from the beach shacks of the sunshine state.
The menu is a delicious mix of small plates and curries in the Goan and Portuguese style.
Must-try dishes include the chorizo hummus, pepper-spiced mutton and braised piri piri clams.
The drinks, too, channel the spirit of Goa in the form of feni-based cocktail Casa de Maai. Whisky fans might like the smoky and intense cocktail – Feels Like Home.
Address: Baunta, Gumal Vaddo, Assagao
For reservations call: 9699772306
Built like a modern tribal village, Totem offers tapas, tacos and salads. The bar features zero-proof cocktails that imitate traditional beverages like gin, rum and beer with no alcohol and fewer calories.
Of course, there are regular cocktails too.
The ambience is casual yet elegant. Choose to chill at the alfresco or pull up to the bar. There are tables under the shade of a gigantic tree, too. It’s beautiful with a good dose of the wacky.
Address: Asvewada Ashwem, next to Stonewood Resort.
For reservations call: +91 87938 68232
This easy-going and chic spot by Zorawar Kalra and Aman Anand is a scenic and delicious addition to the Goa culinary landscape.
The people-pleasing menu holds Thai, Italian, Japanese and Chinese dishes.
Dive straight for the chicken dimsum in Thai chilly oil, Hokkaido Scallop Carpaccio and Crispy Lotus Stem.
Do check out the cocktails at the 80ft bar (Goa’s longest bar). I recommend the rum-based drink Take Your Shoes, Always.
The Coconut Crème Brulee served in a coconut shell is the perfect ending to a meal at Bo-Tai.
Address: Ozran Beach, Vagator, Goa
For reservations call: 091452 32322
Raeeth means rejuvenation, which is what this place offers. Expect an Ibiza-style experience with cabanas and poolside dining
The restaurant and lounge is right next to the popular club Antares in Vagator. There is a VIP section for those looking for seclusion and elevated treatment.
The menu by chef Rakesh Talwar includes mezze platters, wood-fired pizzas and Goan delicacies.
Stars include a sweet and sour narangi kofta curry served with chilli garlic naan, mushroom poi toast paired with a glass of Chardonnay and habanero chicken roulade.
Skip the dessert and grab the seesha.
The drinks are delicious and the music great for dancing. What else can you ask for?
Address: Opposite Vagator Football Ground, Vagator, Bardez, North Goa
For reservations call: +91 96193 65454/ 96193 99117
If you are looking for some soulful Tamil food in Goa, Tamil Table is your best option.
Set in a Portuguese bungalow, this charming space has a beautiful garden with mogra blooms and shaded by a canopy of bougainvillea. Quite a dream setting for an alfresco meal.
Start with the bite-sized medu vadas with coconut chutney.
Then choose between piping hot dosas served with a selection of chutneys (sweet sour mango, smoked chilli, tomato, coconut and roasted peanut chutney), a slow-cooked mutton with ashgourd and madras onions or the fish curry. Finish off with the lemon cheesecake.
Address: No 261, Socolvaddo, Assagaon. Open only for dinner, 7pm onwards. Closed every Tuesday.
For reservations call: 7499922517
Located in Panjim’s iconic Fountainhas area, António is known for its tapas and drinks. Our recommendation: start with the Tamarind Whiskey Sour and some wonderfully moist Truffle Mushroom Rissois.
Next, try the Hay-smoked Mackerel. Served in a cone and on a bed of peppercorns, it is an umami bomb. But wait till the Bone Marrow lands on the table – it’s a thing of beauty!
Don't miss the urrack cocktails, and get ready for susegado state of mind.
Address: Rua 31 de Janeiro, Altinho, Panaji.
For reservations call: 8380057888
For The Record
How about listening to vinyl records while sipping on some wonderful cocktails? Sounds fun? Then head to For The Record (FTR) in Panjim.
This intimate bar draped with record covers on the wall is the brainchild of a audiophile, architect and a jazz musician Buland Shukla, and is inspired from the vinyl bars of Tokyo.
A specially-crafted vacuum tube HiFi system makes the sensory experience a pleasurable one.
So grab a bar stool, order the signature cocktail Goencho Dukar and sway to Ella Fitzgerald. Life is good!
Address: H no 49, Jukebox, Nr Maruti Temple, Mala, Fontainhas, Panjim.
For reservations call: 075074 72587
Also read: Craft spirits blend with high-end audio at For The Record, Goa's first vinyl bar
Lush, by the Cliff
It’s the unbeatable view of the sea and the setting sun that’s a real draw here.
The menu here is "multi-cuisine". Try the cheese-stuffed mushrooms, grilled chicken salad, butter garlic prawns or butter chicken.
Truth be told - everything tastes better when you have the front-row seat to the best view in town. The cocktails are delicious too.
Address: St Anthony Praias Waddo, Anjuna, Bardez.
For reservations call: 8010993209
This Burmese restaurant (pronounced Zway and meaning perseverance) is just 2-minutes' walk from Calangute beach, and serves the best Khowsuey in Goa.
If you are looking for more reasons to visit, the grilled brinjal garnished with mixed herbs and spices, pomello salad tossed with lime and jaggery and lotus stems sauteed in miso will do the job.
There is an alfresco section with a charming garden and Burmese music on record.
Address: Holiday St, Calangute, Goa
For Reservations call: 080076 65572
This family-run restobar wows you with its rustic setting, fairy lights and inviting hammocks.
A massive Meghalayan fishing boat doubles up as a cool bar while driftwood is upcycled into lamp stands. Empty bottles, discarded jute ropes, waste clothes… all find their way creatively into the bar design.
The food is simple - fishcakes, vegetable caldin, masala fried prawns, caramel custard…
Pet parents will love the presense of the inhouse dog. And before you call it a night, do check out the washroom!
Address: No. 562/1, Vagator.
For reservations call: 09326746848