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Put it down to the seasonal nature of the place, the turbulence of landlords and lease agreements, the overly optimistic dreams of potential restaurateurs, the fickleness of the eating public or the nomadic tendencies of chefs, but Goa’s food scene can be a remarkably unstable beast.

We’ve seen good and bad restaurants come and go in the space of a season, and we’ve seen dreams and best laid plans go up in flames (thankfully, never literally).

To get a foothold here, and then climb to the top, is a mysterious cocktail of hard work, experience, skill and good luck. There are restaurants such as La Plage and Thalassa, they’ve become institutions, now unimpeachable; so much so that it doesn’t even matter about the quality of the food. There are other restaurants, like Sublime, Bomras, and Gunpowder, earning their stripes by virtue of what’s on the plate. And of course there are the local joints like Bhatti Village and Anand, some of which have been around for decades, bypassing the idea of the season altogether, and the vagaries of fashion.

The following two restaurants are relatively new to the scene, but already proving to be big hits.


Go With The Flow – Baga Creek

It’s very possible that this Baga Creek restaurant is Goa’s current favourite. The owners, Brazilian chef Guto Souza and his Dutch wife Neel, originally ran the much-loved Fusion restaurant in South Goa’s Majorda. They sold that business almost a decade ago and had a stint abroad, but returned to Goa, and last season opened ‘Flow’, as it’s known, bringing Guto’s bullish, extrovert and big-hearted personality to North Goa. The menu is wide-ranging, delivering seafood, sushi and pasta dishes, but Guto’s talent is best displayed in the meat dishes, with both the steak and the slices of beef cooked at the table on a hot stone already massive favourites.


Matsya Freestyle Kitchen – Pernem

Israeli chef Gome Galily is a rising star with the potential to go all the way to the top. He’s worked at Noma and trained with David Thompson at Bangkok’s famous Nahm, and in the monsoons works as a private chef in Monaco. The food he delivers to the table in Goa is the kind that’s savoured long after the meal is over, with the pleasure heightened by virtue of not knowing what’s coming your way, since there’s no menu. You call, make your reservation, choose between four courses or seven, state your dietary preferences and restrictions, and then put yourself in Gome’s hands. Standouts from our last visit included beef tataki with Jerusalem artichokes and mushroom ragout, picked zucchini and goats cheese mousse, miso aubergine caviar and mussels and red snapper ceviche with yuzu. The setting is gorgeous too: four kilometers inland from Arambol, past the Bhumika temple, in an open-air space at the Samata Holistic Retreat Center, surrounded by paddy fields and palm trees.