Every time people asked me about my recommendations for Goa Restaurants – good places to eat, I drew a blank. It was my own mental block as a vegetarian that kept me restricted to home food. Last few months I decided to test my hypothesis. I explored a few Goa Restaurants, primarily in North Goa and Panaji. Outcome – a list of recommended good food options in Goa for vegetarians. Yes, what else do you expect from a Vegetarian travel blogger !
Best Vegetarian Goa Restaurants – To Explore
Lotus Blossom, Tito’s White House, Anjuna
When I first heard the name Lotus Blossom, it sounded like a beauty parlor. My friendly PR lady told me that it is the brand new Thai restaurant in the tourist belt of Anjuna in Goa. So one fine day, this vegetarian set out to explore the Thai Cuisine. The restaurant is located in Tito’s white house, which is like a small bohemian kitsch market with all kinds of restaurant, curio shop, and yoga and tattoo studios. The decor comprised mostly of flea market furniture. In one corner on a wall, some lotus buds curiously floated on a green painted wall.
The furniture seemed simple but as soon as we sat on the wide-based green seats, we were comfortable. We started sampling the food with a curious salad that was to be self-made by filling things like peanuts, onion, galangal, chilli flakes, kafir lime, and a chutney. It was followed by raw papaya salad that is something that I live on when I visit Thailand. Starter platter had corn fritters, lovely crisp spring rolls, roasted mushrooms, and tofu. I tried two kinds of soup Tom Yum – the tomato-based soup and Tom Kha – coconut milk based soup. I could decide which one I liked better – both of them were just yum.
In the main course, we tried the traditional Thai green curry. And for dessert, we picked the water chestnut in coconut milk that I had tried earlier at Thai Pavilion and loved.
My verdict: This is the yummiest food I have had in Goa so far.
Cuisine: Thai but made with local ingredients as far as possible
Must Try – The Soups
Meal for Two (without drinks) : Rs 800-1200
Black Sheep Bistro, Panaji
Black Sheep Bistro is the most happening casual fine dining place in Panaji Goa. If you live here, or even if you are just visiting, this is a place where you can lounge around. And catch up with friends or entertain your guests or conduct business deals. Now the irony is that it took me almost 2 years of living in Panaji to visit Black Sheep Bistro. No, it is not without reason. I always thought of them as a bar primarily and in fact, it is the impression that you get when you first enter the place. However, they are a full-fledged restaurant with a unique concept for their cuisine. World cuisine made from ingredients sourced from within 100 miles of the restaurant.
We started with some colorful drinks – I had a Paan or betel leave based, anise-flavored green drink while my friend has a pink Pomegranate based one.
The starter was a Red Salad, made from everything red – the red leaves Tambdi Bhaji that you get all over Goa, pomegranate seeds, beetroot puree and pieces, tomatoes and some feta cheese for the flavor. I loved the concept – color based eating – not sure when was the last time I tried that.
The main course was an experimental Zucchini stuffed with rice that has been cooked inside it floating in the tomato based curry. Accompanying this was rice with a mushroom-based dish.
For desserts, we took a platter with chocolate brownies.
I have not mentioned the names of the dishes because the menu changes very frequently at Black Sheep Bistro. So, unless you visit them very frequently, you would not get the same dishes again. I loved their experimental character and look at their blackboard for their funnier side.
Must try: Whatever fancies on the Menu of the Day 🙂
Meal for Two (without drinks) : Rs 800-1200
How often have you come across a restaurant that offers two authentic cuisines and when the cuisines are as far from each other as French and Bengali can be. No, Mustard does not offer you a fusion cuisine combining the two. It has two independent kitchens serving the two cuisines independently keeping it as authentic as possible.
Set in an old Goan Bungalow and its lawns carry a rather unusual color for a Goan house it is not very difficult to locate. We started with a lovely Bengali Tamarind drink called Tentul Joler Sherbet from their collection of Bengali drinks. It was something I fell in love with and am still looking for a recipe for it to try at home. They of course also have a great selection of Tea’s – remember Darjeeling is in Bengal too. Incidentally, we were there on a day when they play love music and sitting in the open gardens was just perfect.
In starters, we tried the Cocktail Lucchi with Alu dum – a new look version of quintessential Bengali Lucchi Aaloo. I also tried the vegetable chop and the icing here was their tangy mustard sauce. I was so full at this time that for the main course we stuck to the simple rice and Bengali Daal. Must confess I was keeping some buffer for the Bengali sweets. And yes, the dessert was caramelized version of Mishti Doi and a fruit flavored Kheer Komola. If you think I was more inclined towards Bengali than French cuisine, you are right. For the French one, I need to make another visit perhaps.
I loved their microgreens garden where they grow their own herbs and spices and the creative use of empty beer bottles to demarcate the boundaries.
Open : 11 AM – 11 PM
Must Try : Tentul Joler Sherbet
Meal for Two (without drinks) : Rs 1200 onwards
Koi is located right on the main road in the busiest tourist quarters of Goa in Calangute and it carries the quintessential bright yellow color of Goa with a élan. Literally meaning fish, Koi intends to take you through the silk route through its menu that has representations of the Far East and the Asian Cuisine. Buddha can be felt all around this restaurant that has both indoor and outdoor seating. There is a giant Buddha on the wall, there is a Buddha in the bar and if you look intently you would find him in small nooks and corners. Colors go from eclectic to sober to bright as you move from bar to dining to outdoor seating.
I was hoping to get a choice of a couple of dishes in an Asian cuisine restaurant, but I was so glad to see their dedicated vegetarian menu. It does not happen too often that I can order everything from the menu on hand unless I am eating at a pure vegetarian restaurant. What a delight it is!
The food was nice but more than food I liked the ambiance where you can just sit back and enjoy a long meal. However, their lotus stem starters and their Thai green curry deserve a special mention – both were just perfect. The soup was nice too.
Website : http://koigoa.com/
Must Try : Nadru starters
Meal for Two (without drinks) : Rs 1000 onwards
Nero Barcode, Porvorim
This is a year old restaurant that was recommended to me by a food blogger friend. Nero Barcode is located right on the main highway that connects North and South Goa, bang opposite the Holy family church. As another casual fine dining restaurant, they offer a melange of cuisines and more often than not with a Goan twist.
I liked their Kokum Martini – though it can do with less of Sugar. I tried many starters and enjoyed them all.
The icing was the Goan thali that came in unconventional rectangular shape. I posted this picture on social media and it went viral. People wanted to try the thali and I learned that a bit of quirky innovation can be your best marketing tool. They also host a lot of events so check out before
I loved their barcode inspired wall murals in black and white, which I was told have been done by a local art student. How wonderful it is when businesses support local talent.
Must Try: Goan Thali
Meal for Two (without drinks) : Rs 700-1000
All the above Goa Restaurants also serve non-vegetarian food.
That is it for now. Will keep looking out for more good vegetarian food options in Goa Restaurants and keep sharing the good ones with you guys.
Recommend you read following travel blog posts on Places to visit in Goa.