Sri Lanka food and drink | Colombo restaurants

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Colombo Food

Food is a highlight of Colombo, much more so than you might imagine. You won’t go hungry here with a wide selection of restaurants, fast food outlets and coffee shops serving a range of Sri Lankan, South Asian, Eastern, Western and fusion cuisine. For a true taste of Sri Lankan cuisine, try one of the smaller eateries serving local hawker-style favourites like string hoppers, lamprais, koththu roti and Biryani. Sumptuous pastries are not limited to high tea here in Sri Lanka: patties, Chinese rolls, Seeni sambal buns, chocolate éclairs and crème buns also known as short-eats, are a favourite any time of day and can be found at local cafes and coffee shops. For cafe and restaurant reviews see: www.yamu.lk

Colombo Restaurant Guide

Chinese

There is a wide selection of Chinese restaurants in Colombo with most adjusting the level of spices to suit the local palate. Indeed, there is a distinct "Sri Lankan style" to many of the Chinese restaurants that includes extra chilli. The most popular old-school favourites in this genre include the likes of Flower Drum, 88 and Chinese Dragon. Some of the more authentic Chinese restaurants are No. 168 Seafood Palace off the Galle Road, which is popular with the local Chinese community, the Emperors Wok at the Hilton, Loon Tao located on the beach at Mt. Lavinia, and the Long Feng at Cinnamon Lakeside which specialises in Singaporean style Chinese.

  • 168 Seafood Palace, 8 Sea View Ave, Col 3. Tel: 0112573456
  • 88, 98/1 Havelock Rd, Col 5. Tel: 0114516488
  • Emperor’s Wok, Hilton, 2 Sir Chittampalam A. Gardiner Mw, Col 2. Tel: 011254464
  • Loon Tao, 43/12 College Ave, Mt. Lavinia. Tel: 0112722723
  • Long Feng, Cinnamon Lakeside, 115 Sir Chittampalam A. Gardiner Mw, Col 2. Tel: 0112491000
  • Flower Drum, 26 Thurstan Rd, Col 3. Tel: 0112574216
  • Chinese Dragon, 11 Milagiriya Ave, Col 4. Tel: 7808080


Fusion or European-style Cuisine

For those looking for fusion or European-style food, there are some very special treats. For the quality of its food, especially its meats, Chesa Suisse, a Swiss restaurant, is outstanding. The most popular dining-out experience is at the Paradise Road Gallery Cafe, the restaurant with the most seductive ambience in the island. The owner of the Gallery Cafe, Shanth Fernando, also runs a boutique hotel in Colombo 7 named Tintagel that has a more private atmosphere and serves an excellent fine-dining menu. For those wanting to splash out, Spoons at the Hilton and the London Grill at Cinnamon Grand are our two favourite fine-dining restaurants. Bay Leaf and Park Street Mews, both owned by popular restaurateur Harpo, are popular for Italian cuisine with the latter in a more informal setting with a live band and Jazz Sundays. For those keen to have some hearty, good-value German food then the Bavarian Restaurant & Bar opposite Galle Face Hotel is recommended.

  • Chesa Swiss, 3 Deal Place A, Col3. Tel: 0112573433
  • The Gallery Café, 2 Alfred House Rd, Col 3. Tel: 0112582162
  • Tintagel, 65 Rosmead Place, Col 7. Tel: 0114602060
  • London Grill, Cinnamon Grand, Col 2. Tel: 0112497450
  • Spoons, Colombo Hilton, Col 1. Tel: 0112437177
  • Park Street Mews, 50/1 Park Street, Col 2. Tel: 0112300133
  • Poolside Terrace at the Mount Lavinia Hotel, 102 Hotel Rd, Mt. Lavinia. Tel: 0112715221
  • 41 Sugar, roof top at 41 Maitland Crescent, Col 7. Tel: 0112682122
  • The Bavarian Restaurant & Bar, Galle Face Court, Col 3. Tel: 0112421577
  • HVN, Casa Colombo, 231 Galle Road, Bambalapitiya, Col 4. Tel: 0114520130
  • Havelock Place Bungalow, 6 Havelock Place, Col 5. Tel: 0112585191


Indian

Colombo is the best place in the island for Indian cuisine and the following are restaurants are recommended.

  • Mango Tree, 82 Dharmapala Mw, Col 7. Tel: 0115379790
  • Navaratna, Taj Samudra, 25 Galle Face Centre Rd, Col 3 Tel: 0112446622
  • Agra, 100/10 Independence Ave, Col 7. Tel: 0114723333
  • Chutney’s, Cinnamon Grand, 77 Galle Rd, Col 3. Tel: 0112437437


Italian

Il Ponte at the Hilton poolside serves good quality Italian food and excellent pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven. The Cinnamon Grand’s Italian restaurant - Echo is highly recommended. The Bay Leaf, housed in a colonial bungalow down a leafy by road in Colombo 7, also has a good selection of pasta and pizza dishes, including a great weekly specials menu, all served up at very good value prices. La Trattoria located in Battaramulla - a Colombo suburb, serves up authentic Italian cuisine prepared by an Italian chef.

  • Il Ponte, Hilton, 2 Sir Chittampalam A. Gardiner Mw, Col 2. Tel: 0112544644
  • Bay Leaf, 79 Gregory’s Rd, Col 7. Tel: 0112695920
  • Echo, Cinnamon Grand, 77 Galle Rd, Col 3. Tel: 0112497485
  • La Trattoria, 80 Pannipitiya Road, Battaramulla. Tel: 0112885881


Japanese

Japanese cuisine is popular with Sri Lankans and the many expats living in Colombo. Recommended restaurants include Nihonbashi, Ginza Ohsen and the more informal Sakura.

  • Nihonbashi, 11 Galle Face Terrace, Col 3. Tel: 0112323847
  • Nihonbashi, ODEL, 5 Alexandra Place, Col 7. Tel: 0114718758
  • Ginza Hohsen, Hilton, 2 Sir Chittamplam A. Gardiner Mw, Col 2. Tel: 0112544644
  • Sakura, 14 Rheinland Place, Col 3. Tel: 0112573877


Seafood

The Ministry of Crab set within the colonial period Dutch Hospital shopping precinct in Colombo Fort, is a popular seafood restaurant specialising in crab dishes. The Lagoon at the Cinnamon Grand is also highly recommended. They buy high quality fresh fish which you can personally select while choosing your preferred style of cooking. The Seafood Cove at Mt. Lavinia Hotel is popular for its informal ambience on the beach but, be careful to avoid big events as the service and ambience suffers.

  • Ministry of Crab, Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct, Col 1. Tel: 0112342722
  • The Lagoon, Cinnamon Grand, 77 Galle Rd, Colombo 3. Tel: 2437437
  • The Fat Crab, 53 Haig Rd, Col 4. Tel: 0727777755
  • Seafood Cove, Mt. Lavinia Hotel, 102 Hotel Rd, Mt. Lavinia Tel: 2715221


Sri Lankan

If you are searching for authentic Sri Lankan food then choose from the iconic Green Cabin Restaurant on Galle Road, Palmyrah Restaurant at Renuka Hotel, Hilton’s Curry Leaf, Upali’s, or the Nuga Gama restaurant at Cinnamon Grand set in a traditional village setting in the heart of Colombo. For Lamprais and other traditional favourites of Dutch origin, head to the cafe at the Dutch Burgher Union. Opened in 2014, Kaema Sutra set within the colonial period buildings of the Independence Arcade in Colombo 7, serves up traditional Sri Lankan cuisine with a modern twist.

  • Green Cabin Terrace, 453 Galle Rd, Col 3. Tel: 0112588811
  • Palmyrah restaurant, Renuka Hotel, 328 Galle Rd, Col 3. Tel: 0112573598
  • Curry Leaf, Hilton, 2 Sir Chittampalam A. Gardiner Mw, Col 2. Tel: 0112544644
  • Nuga Gama, Cinnamon Grand, Col 1. Tel: 0112497370
  • Upali’s, 65 C.W.W. Kannangara Mw, Col 7. Tel: 011 2695812
  • Dutch Burgher Union cafe, 114 Reid Ave, Col 4. Tel: 0112584511
  • Kaema Sutra, Independece Arcade, Col 7.
  • Cafe on the 5th, 108 5th Lane, Col 3. Tel: 01124713261
  • P & S, 17 Galle Rd, Col 3. Tel: 0112323295 (Branches island wide)


Thai

The Royal Thai at Cinnamon Lakeside hotel serves sumptuous Thai dishes in a more formal setting. Siam House in Dehiwela off the Galle Road is an old favourite offered great value for money. The more contemporary Jack Tree opened in 2009 and is getting good initial reviews.

  • Royal Thai, Cinnamon Lakeside, 115 Sir Chittampalam A. Gardiner Mw, Col 2. Tel: 0112491000
  • Siam House, 17 Melbourne Ave, Col 4. Tel: 0114720249
  • Jack Tree, 200 Park Rd, Col 5. Tel: 0115747788

Colombo’s cafes & Coffee Shops

For a more informal open-air dining experience, the Barefoot Café is ideal especially after a bit of shopping at the Barefoot shop which is at the same location. The Commons and Café Che, two more establishments managed by Harpo, are popular and serve a range of light meal, including a Koththu Roti cart that serves sumptuous savoury as well as sweet rotis. Three local favourites are P & S, Fab and Chariot for their cheap short eats and pastries. The Jagro cafe serves up delicious juices, cakes and desserts made with fresh locally grown strawberries from their own estates in the hill country. The Urban Kitchen in Colombo 2, adjoining the Arpico supermarket, bustles with activity and is the closest Sri Lanka has to a proper Asian-style food court. They have an extensive menu of Middle Eastern, Chinese, Sri Lankan and western dishes. The Cricket Club Cafe is an old favourite serving up a very reliable and consistent range of dishes all named after famous cricketers. It is also Sri Lanka's best sports bar. The latest addition to Colombo’s list of cafes is `Ginger’ managed by Sri Lanka's larger-than-life celebrity chef Koluu, whose signature dishes include Mediterranean and Asian influences.

  • Barefoot Garden Café, 704 Galle Rd, Col 3. Tel: 0112553075
  • Cricket Club Café, 34 Queen’s Rd, Col 3. Tel: 0112501384
  • Whight & Company, corner of Aloe Avenue & Marine Drive, Col 3. Tel: 0114383236
  • Ginger, Cotton Collection outdoor food court, 145 Dharmapala Mw, Col 7
  • Jagro, Cotton Collection outdoor food court, 145 Dharmapala Mw. Col 7
  • Panino’s, Cotton Collection outdoor food court, 145 Dharmapala Mw. Col 7
  • Mitsi’s Delicacies, 34A Bagatalalle Rd, Col 3. Tel: 0777163090
  • Milk & Honey, 12 Barn’s Place, Col 7. Tel: 0112696286
  • The Commons, 39A Sir Ernest De Silva Mw, Col 7. Tel: 0112694435
  • Urban Kitchen, 69 Dr. Colvin R. de Silva Mw, Col 2. Tel: 0114734709
  • Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, 2 Maitland Crescent, Col 7. Tel: 0114734980
  • Coco Veranda, 32 Ward Place, Col 7. Tel: 0117635635
  • Delifrance, at ODEL, 10 Alexandra Place, Col 7. Tel: 0112676860
  • Fab, 474 Galle Rd, Col 3. Tel: 0112573348 (has several outlets in Colombo)
  • Chariot, 308 Galle Rd, Col 4. Tel: 0112580569 (has several outlets in Colombo)
  • P & S, 17 Galle Rd, Col 3. Tel: 0112323295 (Branches island wide)

Colombo’s Night Clubs & Pubs

Colombo by night can be fun with a scattering of pubs and nightclubs that come alive especially on Friday and Saturday nights and features live bands or DJ music. The Library and 7 degrees North at Cinnamon Lakeside and the Breeze Bar at Cinnamon Grand are popular night clubs with Amuseum, Silk, Kama Lounge and White Horse usually frequented by the younger lot. Characterful pubs in Colombo include the Cheers Pub at Cinnamon Grand, Cricket Club Café, and Inn on the Green at Galle Face Hotel in Colombo 1. 41 Sugar with views across Colombo 7, is an upscale bar and restaurant with a live band. The popular Sky Lounge located at the roof top of The Kingsbury hotel in Colombo Fort, has fantastic views of the Indian Ocean and Colombo’s sky line.

  • Sky Lounge, The Kingsbury, Col 1. Tel: 0112421221
  • 41 Sugar, Roof top, 41 Maitland Crescent, Col 7. Tel: 0112682122
  • Silk, 41-2/1 Maitland Crescent, Col 7. Tel: 0112682122
  • Clancy’s, 29 Maitland Crescent, Col 7. Tel: 0112682945
  • Cheers Pub, Cinnamon Grand, Col 1. Tel: 0112497450
  • Breeze Bar, Cinnamon Grand, Col 1. Tel: 0112497370
  • Inn on the Green, Galle Face Hotel, Galle Rd, Col 1. Tel: 0112394440
  • Cricket Club Café, 34 Queens Rd, Col 3. Tel: 0112501384
  • The Library, Cinnamon Lakeside, 155 Sir Chittampalam A. Gardiner Mw, Col 2. Tel: 2544200
  • 7 degrees North, Cinnamon Lakeside, 155 Sir Chittampalam A. Gardiner Mw, Col 2. Tel: 0112544200
  • White Horse, 46/42 Nawam Mawatha, Col 2. 2304922
  • Amuseum, at Taj Samudra hotel, 25 Galle Face Centre Rd, Col 1. Tel: 0114894477
  • Kama Lounge, 32 B Sir Mohamed Macan Markar Mw, Col 2. Tel: 0112339118
  • The Loft, Colombo Courtyard, 32 Alfred House Avenue, Col 3. 0114645333
  • Retro Bar, Bay Leaf restaurant, 79 Gregory’s Road, Col 7. 0112695920
  • Zaza Bar, Casa Colombo, 231 Galle Road, Col 4. Tel: 0114520130
  • On 14, roof top bar at Ozo Colombo, 36 Clifford Place, Off Marine Drive, Col 4. Tel: 0112555570

Casinos & Karaoke bars

  • Marina Colombo, 30 Marine Drive, Col 3. Tel: 0114922733
  • Bellagio, 430 R.A. De Mel Mw, Col 3. Tel: 0112575271
  • Bally’s, 14 Dharmapala Mw, Col 3. Tel: 0112573497
  • Sopranos, 29 Maitland Crescent, Col 7. Tel: 0112676752

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