6 of Goa’s Oldest Restaurants – ThatGoanGirl Guide

With new restaurants constantly opening up in Goa, it’s so easy to forget those that have long-held their own in what is now a cut-throat industry. Goa’s oldest and most characterful restaurants still make their mark on the state’s ever-changing dining scene and while culinary trends may come and go, they do occupy a special place.

I’ve personally visited all the restaurants I’ve featured here, in my list of Goa’s oldest restaurants. They are at least 2 decades old, and not only serve up lip-smacking fare, but also give patrons an insight into Goa’s foodie roots. Whenever I dine at these places, it makes me wonder what stories the walls could tell, if they could talk. Just like your Grandpa after he’s had a peg of whiskey, I’m sure they’d come up with a fantastic tale or two.

O’COQUEIRO (Porvorim) – The old-timers in the Saligao-Sangolda-Porvorim look back at the good ol’ days with fondness when they think of how there were a precious few other dining options apart from O’Coqueiro, a few decades ago. This iconic restaurant in Porvorim has stood steadfast, as rapid commercialization took place all around it – and they recently celebrated their Golden Jubilee, an event I was fortunate to have been a part of.

 

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Most Goans know the sensational news of how a notorious killer, Charles Sobhraj, was apprehended here as he indulged in a meal of Chicken Cafreal, one of the restaurant’s specialties. But apart from that, it is popular among locals and tourists for being one of the few restaurants open until 4 am! And of course, it does serve up some of the best Goan food (even though many say that it isn’t as good as it used to be, given the fact that the chefs have changed over the years).

GOENCHIN (Panjim) – Goa’s love for Pan Asian food may have started around 1982, when Goenchin was born, but the trend is hotter than ever. Another much-loved eatery, Goenchin serves up flavours from China, Burma, Thailand, Korea and Orient, at large. Most locals have been frequenting this restaurant for years, and the addictive, tantalizing flavours served up at this Chinese restaurant in Panjim are hard to resist. Remember to make reservations before you go!

VENITE (Panjim) – Enter Venite and you’ll find the place almost always full to capacity with European tourists. The restaurant has built a reputation for serving up the wonderful Continental fare, after all. Rickety tables inlaid with colourful tiles, narrow windows opening out to tiny balconies that seat two, wall-to-wall graffiti and mismatched furniture are some of the elements that give Venite its warm ambiance and cosy charm. They serve Goan food with equal gusto and their specials on the board are worth glancing at. While the portion sizes are generous, I found the food slightly underwhelming, given the fact that I went with high expectations.

 

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Being established in 1954, Hospedaria Venite, as it is also called, it was one of Panjim’s oldest lodging and boarding inn in Panjim. If you’re one of those travelers who look for one-of-a-kind experiences in Goa, you’ll find it here.

CAFE S. F. XAVIER (Mapusa) – Smack dab in the middle of the chaotic Mapusa Market is Cafe Xavier, an eatery that’s nothing short of being an institution. Named after the patron saint of Goa, this restaurant is famed for its delicious biryanis, Goan food and of course, its snacks! A visit to Mapusa for many (including me) isn’t complete without a trip here, where plates of egg chops, samosas, croquettes and delicious prawn rissois are placed in front of you. Once you eat your fill, the remaining snacks are taken back and you’re billed for what you consume. If you haven’t visited Cafe Xavier, you probably live under a rock.

MUM’S KITCHEN (Panjim) –  Mum’s Kitchen has consistently been rated as one of Goa’s best restaurants for serving up fantastic Goan food since 1997. You won’t find fusion creations or fast food at Mum’s Kitchen in Panjim. In fact, a meal here is as it should be – a long-drawn affair.

Great care has been taken to revive lost recipes and dish up Goan delicacies that are home-style, comforting and authentic. Their extensive menu even features variations of the same dish as prepared by different local communities. From the ubiquitous fish-curry rice to universal favourites like beef croquettes and fish cutlets, and from fried Moira bananas sprinkled over with sugar to Tamdi Bhajji and Ambot Tik, you can bet that you’ll find each and every Goan dish on their menu.

 

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FLORENTINE (Saligao) – Think ‘Florentine’ and their ever popular Chicken Cafreal comes to mind – made with a secret recipe that had patrons visiting from far and wide since 1985. Being down the road from where I live, I’d been quite a regular at Florentine as a child – their fried Chonak happened to be my favourite pick from their menu. Today, you will find a lot of mixed reviews about the place, but its better to try it and form your own opinion.

While there are several other old restaurants in Goa, not many come to mind, and even fewer have an online presence. So if you do know one that should feature on this list, drop me a comment. I’d love to try it out and feature it here, on Goa’s best food blog!

You may also like to read some of my earliest restaurant reviews in Goa – Cafe Cotinga in Anjuna, Mustard in Saligao and Black Sheep Bistro in Panjim.

Bye for now!

4 Comments

  1. April 16, 2019 / 3:17 am

    Loved this article . I think Cafe bhonsle which will finish a 100 years next year I think and cafe central which is 76 years old should feature . Also Ritz I think 1982. And maybe riorico ….

    • Jade DSA
      Author
      April 16, 2019 / 4:30 am

      Thanks a ton Kuheli! I hadn’t considered Ritz and Cafe Central at all! Cafe Bhonsle slipped my mind too. Knew about Rio Rico but haven’t visited yet, will add after visiting. Super helpful!

  2. April 16, 2019 / 3:51 am

    Good advice and I wish I was going to Goa tomorrow.

    • Jade DSA
      Author
      April 16, 2019 / 4:31 am

      Its too hot to visit right now, Kalpana. Wait for a few months. The heat is unbearable to even think of stepping out.

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