Winner winner chicken dinner
Top 8 Foodie Haunts in Colombo
26 July 2019 by Maddie Rawles.
The delicious mild chewiness of roti. The fiery cream of Dal that we all go absolutely coco-nutty for. And of course, the crunch of your first bite into a good ol’ Sri Lankan hopper, filled to the rim with steaming curry. It’s no wonder that capital city Colombo is so well-renowned as a kind-of heaven for us foodies. Luxurious lit-up hotels boasting beautiful ocean vistas? Check. Buzzing markets with a rainbow of traditional street food and chatty vendors? Yep. Even the not-exactly-glamorous neighbourhood joints which end up serving the best food you have ever, and will ever taste? (don’t take it from us, ask the locals.) You’re not gonna be short of places to eat, that’s for sure. But where to start? With the deliciously diverse buffet that we know as Sri Lanka’s vibrant capital, we’ve selected the 8 best foodie haunts so that you’ll be munching and sipping your way through this larger-than-life culture in no time.
Ministry of Crab
Nestled in Colombo’s 400 year old Dutch Hospital lies the gastronomical dream we call Ministry of Crab. You’re not gonna find larger or fresher crabs anywhere else on the island, with the smallest crab weighing 500g and the biggest, ‘crabzilla’ at a whopping 2kg! We doubt you’d be scuttling home after that one... From the menu you can choose from the likes of pepper or garlic-chilli crab (to name a few) dripping in rich gravy. We’re sure you wouldn’t mind getting your claws into that.
Galle Face Green
Deemed by many as one of Colombo’s absolute must-gos for a sample of Sri Lanka’s rich culinary tapestry, we’d be fools to leave out the thriving food market at Galle face green. Watch and smell every street food classic being made just for you in this urban park- isso vadei (cripsy prawns atop spicy lentil cakes), the savoury packages of joy we know as traditional samosas (apparently the best from the Bombay Sweet Mahal) and kottu, a sri-lankan version of bubble and squeak, which may be made from leftovers but certainly won’t create any more. So sit on the side of the beach in front one of Colombo’s mesmerising amber and royal purple sunsets, lion beer in hand, and go ‘n’ have a good browse.
Situated in Colombo’s affluent and extremely attractive quarter, Cinnamon Gardens- yep, as good as it sounds- lies the surprisingly inexpensive Nuga Gama restaurant. This stunning rustic haven provides an unforgettable dining experience- candlelit tables under emerald-green banyan trees, musicians tinkling away at romantic tunes, extremely fun staff and a huge straw hut with every delicious dish imaginable waiting for you to pile your plate high. And if feeling like you’re in a cosy Sri Lankan village square (somehow) doesn’t win you over, the food definitely will. This place is widely-known as having some of the best authentic Sri Lankan nosh in Colombo. So tuck into village chicken, wild mutton and jackfruit in one of the most beautiful spots the city has to offer.
Don't think for one second we'd forget the bars. Deep within Fort Colombo’s bustling streets lies the magical alfresco experience of Sky Lounge rooftop restaurant-cum-bar. Sit under the twinkling constellations with one of the ‘best cocktails in Colombo’ and a plate of delicious nibbles on the table (don’t worry, we’re coming back to them.) Not to overdo it with this whole ‘absolutely unbeatable sunsets’ thing, but it’s just TRUE- prepare for ‘stellar’ crimson vistas over the city lights below- the type that nobody seems to be able to stop yapping about. And we don’t think you’ll be yapping much either, as you’ll be gorging on heavenly nibbles like the Sri Lankan Spicy Bite platter with its tuna cutlets and crispy samosas or grilled hot butter cuttlefish dripping with oyster garlic sauce…Dribbling a bit? It’s okay, we’re not judging.
Now- the funny thing is, this hotel isn’t actually a hotel. Many of the little nondescript restaurant joints in Colombo are called ‘hotels’, and whilst you might get a shock at the no-frills appearance of this ‘hotel’, you just have to go here for a bona fide Lankan experience. Rub shoulders with the locals in their favourite joint as you’re served steaming masses of some of the most delectable food in Sri Lanka - hearty prawn stews, warm and peppery thick seafood soups, the best Jaffna-style crab that you’re going to find (sorry to break it to you.) Although the crab curry is this place’s claim to fame, the butter-fried pancakes aren’t too bad either (they’re to die for.) So be a bold tourist and get the most out of your Sri Lankan experience in the raging heart of traditional cuisine, all served in banana leaves (this place is too cool for plates.) The locals are going to LOVE you.
Kopi Kade- this place is Kool. Honestly, this little coffee shop, situated in the heart of the painstakingly trendy Stratford Avenue provides the most glorious contemporary twist on Sri Lankan cuisine. For when you’ve stuffed yourself with curry and hoppers, the bite-sized tapas take on classic Sri Lankan food is extremely refreshing. Enjoy mind-blowing mutton and prawn sliders, roti crisps served with eggplant puree, Jaffna-style mutton kofta, and the most divine salted kithul ice cream. All served by dedicated barista Mr. Namasivayam who started this place from scratch, and who won’t take anything less than 5 star coffee for an answer. Even the minimalist bronze-n-cream cosy warehouse setting is worryingly aesthetically pleasing. So why deprive yourself of one of the most exciting places in Colombo’s culinary scene to date?
Saving one of the greatest ‘til last- introducing Upali’s. Also in lavish Cinnamon Gardens, Upali’s boasts straightford renditions of Lankan classics- however there’s nothing basic about this place. Regarded as one of Colombo’s pioneering restaurants, enjoy the embodiment of Sri Lanka’s diverse cuisine- spicy, tender mutton curry with spongy bread, fluffy rice with Jaffna-styled chicken varuval, marinated jumbo BBQ prawns and deep-fried caramelised eggplant, shallot and green chilli seasoned with vinegar for you veggies. And then cooling coconut icecream for the separate pudding stomach- could you get any more Sri Lankan? (well no, you can’t.) And all in the absolutely stunning green of the Viharamara Devi Park- an absolutely enchanting scene at night.
The t-Lounge by Dilmah
Here’s the tea- you HAVE to take a trip to Colombo’s own t-Lounge. Offering the chance for you to become your own Ceylon-tea connoisseur of brands from every corner of the world, this elegant, creative and comfortable setting is simply a dream. Sample designer leaf teas, delicious tea-based mocktails, bubble teas, iced teas and even tea-inspired food like adorable little finger burgers with tea buns and lashings of chilli jam. And word on the street is that the t-Kitsch, a milky and frothy tea spiced with cinnamon, is an absolute MUST. It’s no wonder this blissfully dim airy hangout is known as providing a ‘renaissance in tea’, it will also cause a renaissance in you- you’ll be SO much cooler.
Have you stopped drooling yet? Us neither. The bad news is that you won't be able to try any of these deliciously scrumptious cuisines and bevs tonight but the good news is you can certainly give 'em a go when you begin to feel peckish during your travels in Colombo. Winner winner chicken dinner is all we have to say!