1. Joe’s River Cove
Spread out in the cool shade along the banks of the River Sal is charming Joe’s River Cove family restaurant. It has the idyllic setting to enjoy your lunch or dinner when you’re in the mood for an escape from hectic city life and want to be surrounded by Mother Nature instead. This eatery’s environs bring back memories of a touch of village life interrupted only by the call of the kingfisher. The restaurant boasts a multi-cuisine menu but stick to Goan starters and check out the Goan food section in search of your favourites. Try the Chicken Chilli fry, Stuffed Mushrooms, Prawn and Vegetable papad rolls and Butter Garlic squid. For mains, you can’t go wrong with Masala fried Modso or Kingfish or for a vegetarian option try the Vegetable Caldinha with local bread.
Price range: Rs 1500 for two
Address: Near the Ferry, Pasos Ward, Cavelossim, Salcette
Open from: 11am to 3pm, 7pm to 11pm daily
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When Britto’s first started in 1961 it had only four tables. Five decades later, Britto’s reputation for using fresh, excellent quality ingredients has spread far and wide. Tourists and celebrities alike flock to eat sumptuously at this restaurant. Try the Vindaloo or the Crab curry, for something different. The seafood platter, which includes fresh crab, mussels and shrimp, is a specialty here and make sure you leave some space in your tummy for dessert. The restaurant has live entertainment, karaoke nights and BBQ evenings so call ahead to plan your perfect night out. The restaurant is well located on the beach, so after a great dinner you can head out to hit the popular bars and clubs that Calangute and Baga are known for.
Price range: Rs 1500 for two
Address: Baga Beach, Santo Vaddo, Calangute
Open from: 8.30am to 11.30pm
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This little Indo-Portuguese house has been converted into an eatery that is completely booked out during lunch and dinner. Viva Panjim is tucked away in a by-lane of Fountainhas veering off 31st January road. The restaurant is decked with nostalgic items like vintage mirrors and antique Portuguese furniture and there’s a small clutch of tables set out in the balcony. If you have a hankering for Prawn Curry and rice then you’ve hit the jackpot because this joint ladles up a mouth-watering curry concoction that will haunt your dreams long after you’ve mopped up the last morsel with pao. Head here after a hard day’s shopping in Panjim.
Price range: Rs 800 for two.
Address: House no. 178, 31st January Road, Fontainhas, Panjim
Open from: 11.30am to 3.30pm, 7pm to 11pm
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A feeling of cosy warmth envelops you as you enter Nostalgia, and the odd knick-knacks on the wall just add to that feeling that you’ve entered a home rather than a well-established restaurant. Nostalgia is redolent of Goan hospitality and the food is a great testament to that fact. This is where you can order the harder-to-get-a-hold-of Goan dishes like Rissois and Apa-de-Camarao, local vegetarian favourites like Ambadeanchem (hog plum) and Veg pulao as well as home-made Alle-Belle and hard to find Sans Rival. Don’t miss the musical evenings from Thursday to Sunday. There’s an excellent winelist. The welcoming, homely atmosphere makes this a great place for group gatherings. If you’re on a girls holiday, book a table at Nostalgia for a great night out!
Price range: Rs 1200 for two
Address: 608 Margarida’s Haunt, No Bairo Ozro, Raia
Open from: 11am to 3pm and 7pm to 11pm
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Calling all seafood lovers! This elegant beach-side structure is like a large shack by the sea but with plenty of shade and open enough to let the sea breeze run through your hair. You can listen to the waves lap against the shore while you sip an Urrak cocktail and enjoy your choice of seafood, Zeebop’s specialty. This is the place for crab, prawns, lobster, oysters, mussels and other seasonal shellfish that you might be craving. The chicken steaks are juicy, tender and wonderfully prepared. Choose from a variety of desserts including the layered coconut dessert Bebinca and Creme caramel, two Goan favourites. Zeebop is also a popular wedding venue, so check it out if you’re planning a destination wedding!
Price range: Rs 1500 for two
Address: Near Cooperation bank, Uttorda beach, Salcette
Open from: 11.30am to 11pm
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7. Mum’s Kitchen
Goans head here if they’re in the mood to reminisce about their grandmother’s cooking. This is the definitive place in Panjim for food fresh from a Goan kitchen. The soothing, refined ambience will distract you for only a moment before you get tempted by the menu of Goan favourites from both the Hindu and Christian kitchens, blended with Portuguese style items. Vegetarians will enjoy sampling local vegetarian cuisine – order the Tambde bhaji (red spinach) or Bimbli Udamethi made with roasted coconut and spices. The non-veg and seafood options are fantastic too. For something really rich and special try the Lobster Recheiado which is lobster stuffed with hot, red local masala ground with tamarind and vinegar.
Price range: Rs 1800 for two
Address: Near the Times of Indian office, 854 Martin’s building, DB Marg, Miramar
Open from: 11am to 11pm
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People flock to Furtado’s for the seafood and stay for the laid-back ambience and the irresistible sea view. There’s not much else around so you can enjoy a lovely uninterrupted lunch or dinner while sipping a cold beer after your dip in the sea. Key recommendations are the Kingfish Rawa masala fry, the Beef steak and the Butter Garlic calamari. Furtado’s also run a small, no-frills attached guest house – perfect for beach-bum wannabes. That’s one way to enjoy breakfast on the beach!
Price range: Rs 1000 for two
Address: Furtado’s beach house, Sernabatim beach, Colva
Open from: 8am to midnight
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TIP: For souvenirs and gifts to take home, buy boxes of Bebinca, roasted cashwenut bags, Port wine bottles, rings of Chourico pork sausages and packets of prawn balchao.