If you think that Goan cuisine is only about seafood, then you’re in for a surprise. While crabs, prawns, lobsters and all kinds of fish are a quintessential part of Goan food, chicken and pork are popular as well. Traditional dishes have a touch of Portuguese, Hindu and Muslim influence thanks to the rulers who were in Goa. Combinations of coconut, chillies, vinegar and spices are used liberally and dishes like fish curry rice, cafreal (similar to Portuguese grilled chicken), xacuti (a spicy curry made with coconut), sorpotel (traditionally made with pork and offals, it a spicy dish) and vindaloo (a fiery curry made with red chillies, vinegar and marinated pork or beef) that are staples.
We tell you which restaurants serve some of the most scrumptious and authentic Goan food in town.
Cafe Sussegado Souza, Calangute
In a yellow Portuguese-era house, close to Calangute market area, Cafe Sussegado is the place to come for local favourites such as fish curry rice, chicken xacuti and pork sorpote. Have these with a shot of feni if you like.
One of Panjim’s old-school Goan restaurants, the menu here is traditional, with spicy sausages, fish curry rice and bebinca counting among the must-haves. Their seafood platter is also quite popular.
Mum’s Kitchen, Panjim
In Panjim, this is the place to head to for authentic Goan classics like pork sorpotel, lobster reichado, sannas and prawns of all sizes. They can tone down the spices if you ask them to.
A top choice for Goan food, Avanti serves good fare at low prices. The menu has traditional dishes such as pork sorpotel, fish caldin, five kinds of fish curry and the rarely found mutton xacuti.
Viva Panjim, Panjim
This little eatery, in an old Portuguese-style house and with a few tables on the lane outside, still delivers tasty Goan classics at reasonable prices. There’s a whole page devoted to pork dishes, along with tasty xacuti and cafreal-style dishes, seafood such as kingfish vindaloo and crab xec xec, and desserts such as bebinca.
The restaurant is popular among locals and visitors alike for its amazing fish preparations. Popular items include prawns, chonak (giant sea perch), tamoshi (red snapper), mori (shark), crab masala or xec xec, kingfish rava fry and modxo (white snapper).
Go here for authentic Goan cuisine such as vindaloos, chicken cafreal (marinated in a sauce of chillies, garlic and ginger), fish curry rice and Goan sausages. Some delicately spiced seafood dishes are also among the temptations on offere here.
Dominick, Benaulim Beach
One of the oldest restaurants in Benaulim, this is a favourite with visitors. You get to choose what you want from a display of the day’s catch, and if your palate is not conditioned to try the very spicy Goan recheado, ask your fish to be mildly spiced. The xacuti and vindaloo here are authentic and their fish curry rice is immensely popular.
Simplicity and a chatty air are common characteristics of fish-thali places that Goans love. Anantashram is no different so ignore the packed tables and dim lighting. Head straight for the famed thali or pick from specials – crab xec xec, mori xacuti and modxo masala.
Ku, Morjim Beach
A reservations-only place, Ku keeps it simple by offering only two options on its menu – a Goan fish thali and a Goan veg thali.
Chicken cafreal in Goa cannot get better than in Florentine, period. They also have a range of other tasty Goan dishes, especially the bombil and xinnaneo rava fry and fish curry.
Pork sorpotel is a spicy preparation that almost has a cult following, and it doesn’t get better than at Verandah. You can sit on the balcony of this heritage property (Panjim Inn) and order some fiery sorpotel along with other Goan dishes. Then wash it down with beer as you watch life go by in the Latin Quarter of Fontainhas.
This place is famous for its prawn caldeirada, as well as its tisryo (shellfish) and kismoor (dried prawns). The regular xacuti, cafreal and balchao are also good, but nothing can beat the good old fish curry rice.