Sri Lankan cusine is a unique experience for many travelers. Surrounded by blue waters,blessed with a tropical climate, Sri Lanka is home to rich flavors, delicious spices, fresh produce and an array of fresh fish and seafood. Whether you’re eating from a street vendor, a roadside cafe or in a hotel restaurant, there’s plenty of delicious food to try.
Lonely Planet picked out some places that is worth trying out while taking that gastromical journey.
Ministry of Crab – Top Choice in Seafood
Crabs are a major income earner for Sri Lanka’s fishing industry, but most are exported. This high-profile restaurant rectifies this loss by celebrating the crustaceans in variations ranging from Singaporean chilli crab to locally spiced crab curry. The garlic pepper preparation is sublime. Two owners are former captains of the Sri Lanka cricket team plus there’s famous chef Dharshan Munidasa.
Bu Ba- Top choice seafood in Colombo
With candlelit tables right on the sandy beach, this seafood pub is a hidden treat. In the heat of the day you can retreat under the grove of palm trees; at night let the sky open overhead and the starlight rain down. To find it, walk about 50m south alongside the tracks from Mt Lavinia train station.
Nana’s- Top choice street food in Colombo
One of the best food vendors on Galle Face Green, Nana’s is a legend for its excellent grilled meats and rice dishes. Choose a battered plastic stool and slightly leaning table and enjoy a fresh meal by the glow of sunset or under the stars. Note that there are numerous copycats with ‘Nana’s’ in the name.
Nihonbashi Honten- Top choice japanese in Colombo
Gird the expense account for an adventure at Colombo’s best Japanese restaurant. The sushi, donburi and Kobe beef are as good as you can find anywhere in Asia. The interior is jewel-like, the service superb. This is where you go when you want an exquisite evening out. Don’t miss the Yakitori Garden, where you can savour sake and cocktails surrounded by bamboo.
Good Market- Market in Colombo
This organic and artisan food market is held in the northeast parking lot of the Colombo Racecourse and attracts a range of high-quality vendors. Breads, prepared foods, organic fruit and veg, smoothies, snacks and much more are on offer. There is live entertainment and some appealing handicrafts for sale. Look for the treasure-filled booth of Deen the Bookman.
T-Lounge by Dilmah- Top choice cafe in Colombo
A product of Sri Lanka’s best tea producer, Dilmah, this gem of a cafe is in an annexe to the hugely successful Old Dutch Hospital. The interior complements the restored colonial exterior. The walls are lined with books about Sri Lanka and tea, while the menu has a range of tasty snacks such as crepes, sandwiches and desserts, plus cocktails.
Hotel De Pilawoos- Top choice sri lankan in Colombo
Just known as Pilawoos, this open-fronted purveyor of short eats is renowned for what may be the best kotthu (rotti sliced up with cheese and other fillings and fried) in town. Expect the mighty and the humble to drop by any time to grab one; take our advice and have the cheese version, and chase it with a fresh juice.
Bombay Sweet Mahal- Top choice sweets in Colombo
Galle Rd boasts many vendors of Indian sweets, but this tiny open-fronted shop is the best. An array of treats sits colourfully in the display cases. We especially like the thick and chewy nut musket. Buy by weight to go or grab a cool juice at a table at the back. The engaging staff will explain the many offerings.
Milk & Honey Cafe – Vegetarian in Colombo
Eating vegetarian never tasted so good; in a simple house shared with a kids bookshop, this groovy little cafe has an ever-changing menu of fresh fare, such as slow-roasted veggies with pesto and a scrumptious mushroom and cream cheese focaccia. Enjoy a fresh juice while perched on an old wooden milk carton.
Barefoot Garden Cafe – Cafe in Colombo
Located in the courtyard of the splendid Barefoot gallery, this casual but stylish cafe serves sandwiches, salads and daily specials that usually include Sri Lankan and Asian dishes. The wine list is good, and it also has fresh juices and tasty desserts. On Sunday there’s popular live jazz in the afternoon.
Beach Wadiya-Seafood in Colombo
Renowned for its seafood, Beach Wadiya has attracted a popular following for decades. The location is a tropical dream; cross the train tracks at the seashore and enter a walled enclave lit by romantic little lights. Waiters describe what’s fresh – there’s always crab, prawns and lobster – then enjoy something cold while your dish is cooked. Book a few days ahead.
Governor’s Restaurant-Buffet in Colombo
The main restaurant at the Mount Lavinia Hotel has buffets three times a day, with themes that change daily. The special Sunday lunch, however, is the local legend: there’s live jazz and blues, and patrons get to use the hotel’s beautiful pool. It’s catnip for expat families. Book a table with an ocean view.