Bar Godinho, where the taste of Goa lingers on

A family affair in the kitchen, this Panjim restaurant is still a favourite of many families and the many tourists who want to savour a Goan meal
Bar Godinho in Panjim tells the culinary tale of Goa.
Bar Godinho in Panjim tells the culinary tale of Goa.Photo: Augusto Rodrigues

Bife em sangue – in English known as beef steak – a dish learnt from the Portuguese by Goans was the favourite for diners from the menu of Godinho Bar and Restaurant, better known as just Bar Godinho.

Panaji, the capital of Goa, has always had a huge floating population and as a result always boasted of some fine restaurants and Bar Godinho was one such that still communicates the taste of the land.

Bar Godinho in Panjim tells the culinary tale of Goa.
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Bife em sangue is made of veal meat, well marinated with salt and pepper added for flavour and cooked sparingly with oil. Two fried eggs were tossed on top and served with potato chips. The customer had lunch that brought memories of the food cooked at home. 

As offices relocated, for instance the Goa Medical College (GMC) found a new abode in Bambolim, visitors skirted out and with them the cuisine of most restaurants changed or many simply shut shop. But the utensils in Godinho’s kitchen kept rattling.

Joao Nazareth Godinho and family keep the taste of Goa alive.
Joao Nazareth Godinho and family keep the taste of Goa alive.Photo: Augusto Rodrigues

Opened in 1938, Godinho began by feeding the Portuguese. The locals followed and today it caters to the taste buds of all who come to experience the fun in this land of sun, sea and sand.

Godinho is unique to Pinho because it awakens the youth in him when he drops by for a bite of pork. “I have been living alone for long but when I come here for a meal, it brings alive memories of the laughter we shared after drinks and meals,” says Pinho.

Many people live to eat and others eat to live but the chef at Godinho makes eating a journey to the past where cooking gains essence through the movement of hands.

Many people live to eat and others eat to live but the chef at Godinho makes eating a journey to the past where cooking gains essence through the movement of hands.

Good things don’t come free but good food at Godinho is reasonably priced with pork and beef dishes varying between Rs 350 to Rs 400. Food at Godinho tickles the taste buds, gets the salivary glands churning at the first bite because most recipes are in house. 

Bar Godinho in Panjim tells the culinary tale of Goa.
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“I learnt from our chef who lived with us till the end. He thought me to make green and red masala and how food needed to be marinated to soak the spices. Our emphasis is on retaining the taste of the meat whilst flavouring with minimum spices,” confesses Joao Nazareth Godinho who inherited the place from his family.

Pork sorpotel, pork vindalho or pork balchao are dishes found in most restaurants serving Goan food but the pork chops in Godinho tell a different tale – the meat is succulent with the fat being a permanent dipping.

Pork sorpotel, pork vindalho or pork balchao are dishes found in most restaurants serving Goan food but the pork chops in Godinho tell a different tale – the meat is succulent with the fat being a permanent dipping.

Joao is assisted by his two sons – Kenneth and Kaizer – and the siblings have added glamour to the menu by concocting a chicken steak, which though not very Goan, embodies imagination in the kitchen.

Finding a table at Godinho today is not as difficult as it was in the past  due to its proximity to the Immaculate Conception Church. Tourists from all over, as well as locals, still hop into Bar Godinho to smell, taste the flavours and many times to etch memories of the past .

Bar Godinho in Panjim tells the culinary tale of Goa.
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“The biryani here has a unique taste. I do not know how to describe it but the best I can explain is that it is not heavy. It is not too spicy or flavoured but blend just like food found in Europe,” explains Sumeeta as she leaves the restaurant searching for paan.

Godinho Bar and Restaurant is still run by the Godinho family with helping hands from outside the State. “My sons oversee work in the kitchen and make sure the taste of Goa does not get lost,” says Joao.

Guests having a good time at Bar Godinho.
Guests having a good time at Bar Godinho.Photo: Augusto Rodrigues

The ambience at Godinho is laid back with tables interspersed, respecting the space of all guests. The furniture is quaint and the walls, tie one to the colours of a Goa gone.

“The idea has been to keep not just Goan cuisine alive but our service and sharing the feeling of family,” recounts Joao, whilst taking pride that Godinho is still the citadel of great times out.

Good food never lasts but memories of good food linger on especially when one passes by Bar Godinho.

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