My first visit to the charming land of Goa was from Feb 5 to 8, 2016 for the annual carnival – VIVA CARNEVALE ! Since then I’ve been fairly regular in visiting not just the capital city of Panaji but the interiors of North Goa and the edge of South Goa. While there’s enough to write about its churches, temples, beaches, bars and festivals, this post is dedicated to the foodies of the world! Yes, my focus is on Goan cuisine, seafood in particular and specifically, the fabled Fish Thali! I write about some of my favourite places to have fish curry and rice! This list is not exhaustive, but an account of my gourmet exploration in Goa over the years.
Fish Thali is a sumptuous offering that has a variety of seafood – prawn curry, a vegetable dish, crab masala and a rava fish fry. Needless to add chilled beer is a MUST to complement the spicy fare.
1. SHARDA Bar & Restaurant, Bambolim. On your way to Panjim from the airport, you’ll notice a massive Church in Bambolim. Take the adjoining right turn and after 50 metres to your right, you will find an unpretentious board SHARDA Bar & Restaurant.
A Konkani family runs this place. I landed by 12.30 pm with the smell of fresh fish frying wafting through my nostrils!
I ordered a Fish Thali that came with prawn curry, Rava Pompfret fry and a crab dish ( seasonal)
And by 1.15 pm the placid environs were jolted by a steady stream of automobiles discharging eager customers and within minutes it was literally a fish market!
Moral of the story: Land up by 12.45 pm latest or you’ll have to w a i t…..
Incredibly popular with prince and pauper SHARDA restaurant is a MUST visit for fish lovers.
2. CAFE RITZ RESTAURANT & BAR
Don’t, don’t, don’t ever confuse this for RITZ CLASSIC which is another iconic restaurant for Goan seafood which is upmarketish.
Cafe Ritz is a rundown, cramped space and the crowd is certainly not the fine dining, hushed tones tribe. Instead, you will find a beer boisterous crowd indulging in loud banter.
But you will forgive all this and focus ONLY on the food because, arguably, they serve the best Fish Thali in Panaji.
Simply divine !
And the packed line up of customers waiting outside both to be seated and for takeaway orders is a telling testimony.
A unique feature about Cafe Ritz – While most other eateries serve Fish Thali only for lunch, Cafe Ritz serves it both for lunch and dinner.
Location: Duarto Pacheko road. Phone: 0832 – 2227335.
3. DHANANJAYS, BAGA BEACH
I was inspired by an episode of Highway on My Plate to visit this place.
Directions: Located on the way to Baga beach. You need to ask for Santiago resort and Dhananjays is quite close to it. It’s an expedition and you need to ask for directions at every stage of doubt
No name board. A ramshackle thatched hut and the only indication of it being a food joint is the incessant stream of customers waiting for lunch. I believe they have a pucca building now.
I particularly loved their watery fish gravy. Unlike other places where they serve prawn curry with rice, Dhananjays serves ONLY fish curry with rice. Again, a no frills place more than compensated by homely taste and feel.
An established eating house, very popular with office goers who pack the place during lunch. Very reasonable rates.
Remember to have their speciality dessert YERRA DURRA, a pudding.
Sumptuous and fulfilling !
Location: 31st January Road, Fontainhas, Opposite Hotel Venite, Panaji, Goa. Phone: +91 9823195245.
Another useful landmark is it is bang opposite another heritage Hotel Vinete, which also serves Goan delicacies, but not in the Thali form which is the subject of this post.
5. CASA BHONSLE
A country cousin of the famous Cafe Bhonsle, a veg joint famous for their Goan snacks and lunch. Situated on the first floor of the cafe, Casa Bhonsle has plush interiors and seats overlooking the bustling market area. A decent attempt at the Thali. No complaints.
Location: Near the now defunct National theatre. Well known. Just ask for Cafe Bhonsle.
Well, one might curse me for not including RITZ CLASSIC near Municipal market, which is what every website will point out when you talk about seafood.
End of Part 1. 😎😜😜 Which means I still have a lot to share about the hotspots in Anjuna, Madgaon and other places. Stay tuned!