The Indian state of Goa may be most famous for its  many seaside resorts, but to my mind, the best thing about this coastal region has nothing to do with fitting into a swimsuit. For me, it’s all about the food. Goan cuisine is very different from the Indian dishes you’ll find around the rest of the country. Here, the food is based on coconuts, chillies, rice, spices, and tons of fresh seafood. And the locals have very strong opinions about where to get the best dishes, from xec-xec to chilli fry. Here are five locals' recommendations for where to get the best Goan cuisine:

 1. Diana Braganza, public relations executive at the Grand Hyatt Goa
“Although there are many places that serve Goan food, not all of them will give you authentic flavors. My favorite place is Bhatti Village, a quaint, cozy joint run by a local family. You will not get a menu here; they just cook whatever is available at the market. My favorite dish has to be their crab xec-xec, a dish of crabs served in a flavorful coconut curry.”

2. Sean Faia, director of Faia Entertainment
“I visit two places regularly for authentic Goan food. The first is is Zeebop By The Sea, a beachfront restaurant that makes the most amazing prawn curry. The second is Sheela Bar, a spot on the way to Goa International Airport. My all-time favorite dish there is the chicken xacuti, a curry made of white poppy seeds, grated coconut, clover, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, and everything nice.”

"A whole lot of spices"
3. Jeswin Castelino, sales manager at the Grand Hyatt Goa
“My favorite local restaurant is Nia’s Restaurant in St. Inez where the chef uses fresh seafood and true Goan masalas (spice mixes). Every time I visit I have to order a plate of kingfish or prawns cooked in rechado masala, a red paste made of dried red chillies, turmeric, ginger, and a whole lot of spices.”

Krushnan Naik, director of the Space Advertising Agency
“Anytime I wish to dig into some Goan food I go to Branco’s. Their best dish is the beef chilli fry served with hot bread and butter, but my other favorites are the chicken cafreal (chicken cooked in a green sauce of chiles, corriander leaves, tamarind, and spices) and chorizo pilaf.”

Larina Fernandes, singer and performing artist
“My go-to place for Goan food has to be Anand Bar in Anjuna. Their  fish thali—a meal made up of small portions of different vegetables, pickles, rice, fish curry, and a nice fillet of crumb-fried fish, all served on a steel plate—sums up the flavors of the region.”

 >>Next: The Best Things We Ate in 2015