Panjim: A guide to experiencing the best of Goa’s capital city

We’ve put together the definitive list to make sure you don’t miss out on the best of Panjim! Restaurants, bars, cafes, shopping, experiences — the historic heart of the state has lots to offer.

Panjim is the vibrant, laidback, and cultured capital city of Goa that you need to know more about. Its wide, riverfront stretch runs for seven kilometres along the entire length of the city. Starting near the Latin quarter of Fontainhas, it continues into the heart of Panjim and then beyond into the green leafy enclaves of Campal and Miramar, finally ending at the residential area of Dona Paula.

The beautiful our lady of the immaculate conception church is an important landmark in panjim goa.
The beautiful Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church is an important landmark in Panjim. Image: Shutterstock/saiko3p.

Along the way, you see narrow lanes that lead into Fontainhas, higgledy-piggledy shops, and local establishments, some dilapidated buildings next to grand Portuguese colonial-era buildings, majestic old trees lining the promenade, the bustling Panjim market, glitzy floating casino boats, cars zipping up and down and the towering Atal Setu bridge.

Fontainhas has heritage homes in bright hues. Image: courtesy make it happen. | panjim goa
Fontainhas has heritage homes in bright hues. Image: Courtesy Make It Happen.

Delve a little deeper, and there are so many more sides of Panjim to explore. There are new places sprouting up that seamlessly blend in with the traditional aesthetic of the city. There are old established places that are more popular than ever. And it seems like this trend is only going to continue. But for now, here is a list to get you planning!

Suggested read: Decoding the DNA of Goa, India’s capital of coolth

Dine

Miguel’s:

Tall glass doors on the ground floor of the Bento Miguel heritage building lead into this distinctly art deco cocktail bar in Fontainhas. The sleek interiors create a refined yet relaxed atmosphere. Perfect for a light lunch or cocktails and an evening graze, the menu focuses on 450 years of Konkan-Portuguese culinary fusion, served in contemporary small-plate formats. The sea bass ceviche and an original take on chorizo pao are must-tries.

Open: Sat-Sun 1-11pm, Mon-Fri 5-11pm, Tuesday closed | Instagram: @miguels.in

Miguels 1
Interiors that meld art deco and bright pops of colour. Image: Courtesy Miguel’s.

Petisco:

This experimental new gastro bar is located just off the Panjim municipal gardens and is popular for its cocktail creations and small plates. It has a fresh, modern vibe and true to its name (Petisco means ‘small plate’ in Portuguese) there are a variety of neat dishes to sample while sipping away. Some cocktails to try: Penicillin (smoked whiskey with a gingery lime finish) and Fennhattan (when Goan feni travels to Manhattan and has a baby!).

Open: Noon to midnight, Mondays closed | Instagram: @petiscogoa

Hospedaria Venite:

Housed in a 200-year-old building, Venite is possibly the most characterful and quirky eatery in Fontainhas. Sit at a table in one of the miniature balconettes overlooking the lane below to get the full feel. The wide wooden floorboards, chequered tablecloths, and extra friendly staff create a homey atmosphere entirely unique to Venite. There’s graffiti all over the walls, thanks to backpackers who stayed here when it used to be a hostel. The food is delicious too: stuffed crab, stuffed bangde (mackerel) fry, Bombay duck, prawn papad, and lots more.

Open: 9am-3pm, 7-10.30pm, Tuesday closed | Instagram: @venite_goa

Venite
The lively balconettes at Venite come alive during a feni and tapas food trail. Image: Courtesy Make It Happen.

Thalassa:

Thalassa is the super popular taverna that has been catering to North Goa’s insatiable appetite for Greek food and hospitality since 2006, and they have now opened up in the city near Miramar. And having access to authentic Greek food on this side of town is exciting! The turquoise roof tiles and whitewashed archway entrance feels resort-like, and you can sit indoors or outside. Start with some delicious Greek dips served with warm pita bread and then order some succulent seafood. We recommend the whole stuffed calamari and the Souvlaki wraps.

Open: Noon-11.30pm, Wednesday closed | Website: thalassaindia.com

Verandah:

Situated on the first-floor balcony of the Panjim Inn heritage hotel in Fontainhas, the breezy, open space is the perfect spot for a leisurely meal while you watch the world go by in the lanes below. The round marble-topped tables, ornate Portuguese carved chairs, and charming service create an air of old-world Goan hospitality. Some Goan favourites are the pork sorpotel, vegetarian caldine with poi, and the sambarchi kodi (prawn curry). Also, try the feni that is made at the hotel’s farm. Open: 10am-10.30pm | Instagram: panjiminn.com

Viva Panjim:

Located down a little side lane of Fontainhas that’s easy to miss unless you are looking, it’s a red and black Indo-Portuguese style house with cosy seating both indoors and outside. This famous family-run eatery has remained the same for years and serves delicious Goan food to its loyal customers. Try their xacuti, cafreal, vindaloo, balchao, seafood and sizzlers, and if you like pork there, is a whole page devoted to it on the menu!

Open: Noon-4pm, 7-11pm | Instagram: vivapanjim.com

Mum’s Kitchen:

This homey place in Miramar has been serving Goan dishes from Hindu and Catholic ancient culinary traditions for 25 years. Their mission is to bring back the ‘lost’ food of Goa, so you will discover dishes here that you won’t find anywhere else. The kitchen employs real mothers from different Goan villages, who cook in earthenware pots with handpicked ingredients. The menu is incredibly detail-oriented – the Goan seafood curries alone include 12 distinctly different types. There is also thought given to wine pairings, so feel free to enquire.

Open: Noon-10pm | Website: mumskitchengoa.com

Mums
The table is set for authentic Goan food and wine pairings. Image: Courtesy Mum’s Kitchen.

Black Sheep Bistro:

BSB is the mainstay of Panjim’s modern fine dining scene. It has recently moved from its original city-vibe Panjim location to its sister premises, Blackmarket, in Campal. The new space is large and luxurious, with multiple rooms, moody lighting, and art deco-inspired interiors. The menu focuses on global soul food, but the ingredients are sourced locally. The multi-cuisine fare ranges from Burmese and Mexican to Continental and Chinese, sprinkled with a bit of Indian fusion as well. They also make some great handcrafted cocktails.

Open: 12-4pm, 7-11pm | Instagram: @theblacksheepbistro

Antonio @ 31:

The buzz surrounding this year-old Goan tapas bar is entirely justified. Located on 31st January Road in Fontainhas, its bright-blue-and-rainbow-themed exterior invites you in. Walk down the narrow alleyway that leads up to the entrance under a canopy of multi-coloured fabric strips and fairy lights. There are white shutters thrown wide open against primary-coloured walls, exposing friendly gatherings within. Upbeat Latin music mixes effortlessly with the aromas of Goan tapas galore and heady cocktails.

Open: 1-11pm | Instagram: @antonioat31

Tataki:

Tataki offers an immersive Asian dining experience, next to Miguel’s. If you are looking for a happening vibe that caters to both local clientele and travelling foodies, then check out Tataki. Perfect for a dim sum lunch, drinks and sushi later in the day, or just a hearty pan-Asian meal anytime, the extensive menu will spoil you for choice. The dumplings are especially mouth-watering i.e. charcoal, white cream cheese and truffle or prawn and chive with Goan butter garlic.

Open: Noon to midnight | Instagram: @tatakigoa

Drink and walk:

Make It Happen’s Goan Feni & Tapas Food Trail is a night of delicious food, premium feni and exotic feni-based cocktails that are sure to leave you in high spirits (quite literally)! And don’t worry if you’re vegetarian or teetotal, they have fun options for both as well in this moveable feast.

Chill

Cream Choc/Baba Au Rhum:

This Italian-style gelateria and French European café have both been hugely popular in Anjuna for years. They have now opened up in Miramar, and are sharing a tranquil, pink-hued space just off the main road. Perfect for some city relaxation, snack on Baba Au Rhum’s sandwiches, salads, quiches, and pizza, and end with the best gelato in town.

Open: 8am-midnight | Instagram: @creamchocgoa & @babaaurhumcafeanjuna

Padaria Prazeres:

This is the new local bakery in the neighbourhood of Caranzalem, close to Miramar Beach. This standout blue-and-yellow azulejo-themed café has a vibrant buzz about it, mainly due to its constant supply of freshly baked pasteis de nata. These deep-yellow Portuguese egg custard tarts match the colour scheme, taste divine and are totally worth making a trip for.

Open: 9.30am-6.30pm, Mondays closed | Instagram: @padaria_prazeres

Cafe Rasa:

Cafe Rasa is a new creative co-working space in the middle of Panjim. The cafe area has panoramic views overlooking the Mandovi river and is filled with natural light, making it the perfect spot to get some work done while having breakfast or a light lunch. There are eggs benedict, aloo parathas, ragi dosa, smoothie bowls, sandwiches, and wraps.

Open: 9am-8pm | Instagram: @caferasagoa

Rasa
There’s a multitude of spaces to pick from. Image: Courtesy Cafe Rasa.

Teal:

It is tucked away in a private and secluded corner of Fontainhas. It’s quiet and peaceful with a small courtyard at the back, under the shade of a karipatta (curry leaf) tree. There is a long list of different coffees, and the food menu is refreshingly different. Egg dosa with desi guacamole, prawn miso omelette, cold soba and miso dashi, clam fettuccini. You can also walk straight into the O.M.O boutique from here.

Open: 8am-8pm | Instagram: @teal.goa

Cafe Bodega:

It is in the indoor courtyard of a purple and white Portuguese mansion that is part of Sunaparanta Centre for the Arts, at Altinho. It is a chef-run alfresco café that specialises in omelettes, eggs benedict, freshly baked artisan breads, and cakes. A visit here must be combined with a look around the art centre.

Open: 10am-6.30pm, Sundays closed | Instagram: @cafebodegagoa

Confeitaria 31 De Janeiro:

This 100-year-old bakery is the oldest and quaintest in the area. There are a few small tables and benches outside and being such a photogenic spot, it gets slightly overcrowded at times. Try grabbing a seat and/or a local prawn or chicken patty!

Open: 8am-8pm | Instagram: @confeitariagoa.31

Caravela Café:

This indoor cafe/bistro is popular for all-day breakfast and has the best coffee in town. They started their own coffee brand in 2019, called Latin Quarter, and you can try it here. It’s now one of the best homegrown coffee brands in India. This is a great place to kickstart a day in Fontainhas and the ross omelette here is really good (omelette in a spicy gravy) – a Goan street food favourite.

Open: 8am-7.30pm | Instagram: @caravelacafegoa

Drink

For The Record:

For The Record in Fontainhas is India’s first vinyl bar. The inside bar is an intimate space where folks gather to listen to records played on handcrafted speakers. The outside courtyard is laidback under a large bimbli tree and ideal for chatty evenings and some serious feni sampling. FTR serves triple distilled artisanal feni, aged for five years and they make different cocktails with it too. Alternatively, there are a few other Indian crafted spirits and brews to try.

Open: 6.30-11pm, Sundays closed | Instagram: @ftr_vinylbar

SOHO

This city bar-meets-club is located on the top floor of a stunningly restored building, painted rust orange and dark green and lit up beautifully at night. You can’t miss SOHO’s huge neon sign on the roof, and its retro hipster vibe and late-night scenes are popular with the local millennial crowd. It has a cute outdoor balcony area overlooking the small Patto bridge if you need a breather.

Open: 7pm-1.30am, Fri-Sat 7pm-3am | Instagram: @sohogoa

Joseph Bar

Joseph Bar literally overflows with character. A warm glow emits from this watering hole-in-the wall that has been open in Fontainhas since the 70s, and once you get inside you feel transported to another world. It can get crowded and a little chaotic yet somehow the crumbly walls and low ceilings contain the shenanigans smilingly. They have some great feni, urrak and craft beers, and also a few local snacks. The friendly barman Gundu will help you choose!

Open: 11am-11pm | Instagram: @josephbarpanjim

Shop

Marcou
Image: Courtesy Marcou Artifacts.

Marcou Artifacts:

Pick up some ceramic Goan souvenirs at this cute store. Giant capsicums, starfish, seahorses, azulejo tiles, and a big ceramic cashew nut-turned bowl!

Velha Goa Galeria:

Find some beautifully designed azulejo tiles here, crockery imported from Portugal, hand-painted plates and Mario Miranda art.

Thomas the Potter:

This brand-new gallery sells ceramic creations handmade by Thomas the potter himself. There are many experimental pieces, mainly inspired by sea creatures and marine life. The wall installations are a highlight.

Instagram: @thomasthepottergoa

Omo
Image: Courtesy OMO.

O.M.O:

Take a browse around this quiet clothes and accessories boutique. Lots of soft cotton bohemian garments for men, women, and kids. They also have some cute jewellery. Walk out the back of the store and into the courtyard of Teal Cafe.

Sacha’s Shop:

This boutique sells resortwear and curated collectibles. Run by Sacha in a corner of her ancestral home in the heart of Panjim, you will find all sorts of goodies here.

Instagram: @sachatheshopkeeper

This gallery and shop showcases the work of the genius cartoonist Mario Miranda. His caricatured and comic portrayals of Goan life and culture are found on T-shirts, mugs, bags, plates, and other merchandise.

Wendell Rodricks Studio:

Visit the studio shop of the famous Goan designer Wendell Rodricks. Located in the old heritage part of Campal, the store sells his designer wear. There are pictures on the walls of iconic photoshoots and other memorabilia.

Suggested read: Offbeat food trails in Goa with Soul Travelling

Experience

This gallery and cultural centre in Fontainhas exhibits both local and international art as well as contemporary and tribal/ethnic art. The space includes an art studio, a cafe and it also hosts events, talks and workshops throughout the year.

Website: gallerygitanjali.com

Fontainhas
Experienced storytellers offer interesting perspectives into Panjim’s heritage and culture. Image: Courtesy Make It Happen.

Fontainhas Heritage Walk:

If you want to dive deeper into the history and soul of this area, then book a spot for the Fontainhas Heritage Walk with Make It Happen. They have a team of storytellers from various walks of life — historians, archaeologists, culinary experts, artists — who will take you to all the key areas, regaling you with interesting anecdotes and lesser-known facts along the way. The tour takes around 2.5 hours.

Website: makeithappen.co.in

Sunaparanta Centre for the Arts:

Sunaparanta is well-known within Goa’s art circles as a cultural hub for exhibitions, theatre, talks, musical performances, book releases and so on. Situated in the elegant hillside neighbourhood of Altinho, it is worth a visit if you are interested in immersing yourself in this aspect of Goa. Don’t forget to visit Café Bodega in the courtyard while you are there.

Website: sgcfa.org

Vibrant Tales of Panjim – Bicycle Tour:

Take an e-bike tour with BLive, India’s first e-bike tourism initiative. A trained captain will conduct the tour, telling you everything you need to know as you ride past all the sights: Panjim Church, Altinho Hill, Maruti Temple and around Fontainhas. The tour takes around three hours.

Website: blive.co.in

E-bike tours are a great way to cover panjim's many aspects. Image: courtesy blive. | panjim goa
e-bike tours are a great way to cover Panjim’s many aspects. Image: Courtesy BLive.

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