This post is a part of the What’s On My Plate series
Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva
The Crabs fried with Butter-Garlic are to die for
For a while now, I’d gotten a few calls from my friend and compatriot, Vasco Alvares. Known as Vasquito, to anyone who knows him longer than 5 minutes, the chef is a household name in Goa. While we share many a call on all matter of things fruitful, and pointless, the reason he was calling in more recent times, was to let me know that he had recently teamed up with Calangute’s most iconic establishment, Souza Lobo, to work on its promotion for the season.
Souza Lobo’s biggest sell, is also its biggest setback, in my opinion; the fact that it is in Calangute. One needs to wade past all the countless tourists to get to the restaurant, and that can perhaps be a tad tedious. However, once you get to the premises, all complaints go straight out the large and airy windows. Someone once said that Souza Lobo isn’t a restaurant or shack, but much rather, a state of mind. I’m hard pressed to agree, because despite all the clutter along the strip, which is no fault of the restaurant’s, but rather the governments, one can’t help but visualise all that this restaurant must have been, standing majestically along the Calangute shore, when it first began, the better part of a century ago.
For first timers to the place, Souza Lobo is a large and airy restaurant, with an un-pretentious homely Goan charm about it. Established in 1932, and now managed by the third generation of the Lobo family, this large, airy no-frills restaurant sits flush upon the chaotic Calangute beach. However, when it comes to the food, I’m going to start by emphasising upon one very critical point. Souza Lobo is a place designed for those with MASSIVE appetites. This is the USP of the place, as adhered to by Jude Lobo, the current incumbent of the establishment, who truly believes that size DOES matter.
The seafood here is par excellence, purely because of the quality of the produce at hand. It’s straight up from the coast and while Souza Lobo doubtlessly caters to its more western clientele too, I would recommend that due to the homely nature of the restaurant, that one sticks to more Goan fare, as it delivers a far greater level of authenticity and a true Goan experience. The prawn curry is something that I would vouch for in a heartbeat, and one will very often find Jude, sitting in a little corner of the restaurant, partaking of it himself. That, in my opinion, is enough said for the quality of that dish. Vasquito has also brought to the kitchen, his famous peri peri marinade, which goes extremely well with skewered chicken, but does just as well, with fresh kingfish, which is served whole. Now I’m normally not a big fan of kingfish due to the way that it is generally filleted in Goa. However, the way that the restaurant plates it here, with long swooping strokes, actually ensures that the flavour of the marinade permeates, and it looks much better on a plate too.
Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva
The Chocolate Meringue, which is rather compelling, and worth looking into
Other Goan favourites on the menu here include the likes of Goan Masala Fried Prawns, Squid Ambot Tik and Prawn-Stuffed Pomfret. However, it is my belief that Vasquito’s Suckling Pig appetiser will be a fast favourite too, at least with the locals that frequent the restaurant.
Lastly, I would like to make a very special mention of the dessert section of the menu, which I quite like. The Alpine Mousse has been something that I have returned there for (in its entirety), very often. However, this time around I tried something called a Chocolate Meringue, which is rather compelling, and worth looking into.
All in all, Souza Lobo is a place that ensures that you are fed and watered, to the brim. It isn’t pretentious or Michelin-starred, but if you’re looking for that feeling of being at home, even when you’re miles away, it’s just the place you need to be.
Getting to Souza Lobo can perhaps be a tad tedious, but the food is well worth it.
Order judiciously here, as the portions are well-sized.
The average cost of a meal for two, minus the libations, is ₹1,500 (at the time of publishing this review).
How to get there
Calangute Beach, Near Bandodkar Statue, Calangute, Goa 403516
Food is a huge part of any culture and for me, chancing upon a good meal is synonymous with having a great day. The What’s On My Plate series of posts is where I discuss food, great places to eat, and anything gastronomically moving. This could be anything from a great place to eat, to an obscure kind of food, to an origin story. After all, there is no love like the love of eating.