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Goa, especially to the north, is a paradise for foodies, and it’s not just about fish curry and seafood. There’s more choice here than ever but, like most things in Goa, a little local knowledge is priceless and can save you the tourist trap disappointment that so many experience.

Try these 10 dishes if you have time – there’s years of discovery wrapped up in this list! – these are just the tip of the iceberg though, there are plenty more out there for you to find.

1. Pickled tea-leaf salad, Bomras, Candolim, 9767591056

An ancient symbol of peace between warring kingdoms, this Burmese national delicacy now holds a special place in many hearts, including ours. Though it’s not the most obvious choice from a stunning menu, this unique salad is the first thing we order. We take ours with dried shrimp and fish sauce, but veg is also an option.

2. Tuna teriyaki, Sakana, Vagator, 9890135502

Two slabs of tuna that should be big enough to satisfy any appetite (and accompanied with rice, miso soup and salad), we like to order Sakana’s teriyaki so rare that it’s bordering on sashimi. And since owner Mali only buys the freshest and best in the market, the taste, texture and beauty of this dish hit home every time.

3. Prawn rava fry, Anand, Assagao, no phone

Anand is a local legend, famous for its no frills but full-flavour seafood. The rava-fry coating is one of the most satisfying out there, the prawns invariably large and juicy, and the spicy combination of the two a finger licking, lick smacking treasure. Knock back some feni or Kings beer on the side.

4. Black tagliatelle with salmon, Ciao Bella, Badem, 9765718373

A generous helping of squid-ink pasta topped off with pieces of salmon in a rich and creamy sauce, this is the kind of dish that stops all conversation and wraps its arms round you with love. Elegant comfort food, we’d probably eat this every day if only our waistlines would allow.

5. Rotisserie chicken, Saturday Night Market, Arpora, no phone

Crispy on the outside, soft and juicy within, aromatic and loaded with flavour, some people say the chicken is now the best reason to visit the market, and we might just agree. Even the side salad is excellent.

6. Éclairs, Jila bakery, Raia, 0832 2777224

This hidden marvel of a family-run village bakery has been around for years and years but its pedigree is impeccable. With Swiss recipes coming via mid-20th century Bombay, everything here is handmade with no machines in sight. The éclairs are to die for but you have to be here very early, or order in advance, as most items are gone by the time breakfast arrives.

7. Royale pizza, Baba au Rhum, House Nr.1054 Sim Vaddo, Anjuna

Owner Leo’s father ran a pizza parlour in France and it’s clear the knowledge and expertise has been passed on to the next generation. The ham and mushroom Royale, with ham from a local English butcher, is one of their best.

8. Puri bhaji, Café Real, MG Road, Panaji, 0832 2422264

The capital city, Panaji, has many old-fashioned local cafes to choose from, but Real is one of the best, and their puri bhaji is the crowning glory. It may sound unremarkable but they’ve done something with this simple and ubiquitous dish that is just out of this world. It has an almost creamy texture, delicately spiced, without heaviness and oil, and the puris are always hot and fluffy.

9. Indo-Portuguese lunch, Palacio do Deao, Quepem, 0832 2664029

The 5-course meal offered at this restored mansion is one of the best we’ve had in Goa, and we’ve had it several times. While Rueben gives a guided tour of the restoration work (he also restored Fort Tiracol) his wife Celia, a microbiologist by profession, puts the finishing touches to an amazing menu built around old Portuguese recipes. Pumpkin pie and prawn croquettes are just the beginning of a very long and satisfying afternoon.

10. Beef chilly fry, food cart, Anjuna crossroads, no phone

If the Palacio offers fine dining from Goa’s history, this beef chilli fry cart provides punchy, rustic food for every day. We’ve tried a lot of chilly fry and this is one of the most consistent, friendly and full-power tasty. Perfectly located, it’s ideal to grab a bite on the way back from the Pernem (far north Goa) beaches.

*If you’re planning a trip to Goa don’t forget to check out our full listing of the best restaurants.