Where to Eat Sri Lankan Food in Colombo

There is some truly mouthwatering cuisine to be enjoyed amidst the ever growing restaurant scene in Colombo. From a diverse fanfare of international favourites to Sri Lanka’s specialty of rice and curry (both traditional and fusion), there’s something to stimulate everyone’s senses in the city.

As an enthusiastic advocate of curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner, its my pleasure to introduce my tried and tested ‘go to’ destinations to enjoy the wonders of Sri Lankan food in Colombo. 

(Traditional Sri Lankan)

Left to right: Chicken vauwal (Jaffna style) hathmaaluwa (7 vegetable curry) and wood fire oven baked roast paan. On the plate: rice, dhal, beans, potato, aubergine and a fish cutlet.
Sri Lankan dessert, Wattalapam.

Everything about Upali’s reminds me of the Sri Lanka I fell in love with many years ago.  The food, decor and ambience give me nostalgia. Over 80% of the workforce has been scouted locally (no qualifications, simply raw talent) with the curry powder for each dish sourced from the relevant locale (i.e the curry powder used in the Jaffna chicken curry brought all the way from Jaffna itself), both of which as you can imagine enhance authenticity.

There’s no cutlery on the tables as you arrive, although they will likely bring them over if you’re not local- my preference is by hand. Upali’s hosts a generous menu for meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans alike, all extremely good value for money.

Highlights: Try their 2000 year old recipe signature 7 vegetable curry, traditionally made by locals with any vegetables families had available. They also do a great lime juice with bits. In simple terms, its all very good!


Palmyrah at Renuka Hotel
(North Sri Lankan)

Jaffna crab curry with seafood infused pittu, brinjal (aubergine) and pol sambol with shrimp

Since opening in 1971, Palmyrah has offered Northern Sri Lankan cuisine for over 45 years, with many of the popular signature recipes remaining completely unchanged to this day. The decor is spacious and modern with Jaffna-esque pops of colours contrasted against the muted tones of brown and gold.

Highlights: The egg hoppers with a perfect orangey yellow yolk and the Jaffna crab curry- which I can confirm lives up to the rave reviews! My personal highlight however was the jaggery hopper with vanilla ice cream. It’s not the most photogenic of dishes but one of the most delicious sweets I’ve ever had!

Other recommended Sri Lankan Restaurants:

Other recommended Sri Lankan cafes (more affordable local eats):

  • Pilawoos ($)- Local kotthu roti joint
  • Yarl ($) – Jaffna style rice and curry. The crab curry is fantastic.

Published by

Alice Luker

I'm a photographer and travel blogger based in the UK, venturing across Sri Lanka since 2004.

7 thoughts on “Where to Eat Sri Lankan Food in Colombo”

  1. Hey there!! I just have one day (2.5 in Sri Lanka for work – Fri afternoon – Sunday evening) but I think I would not be able to take a night off and spend outside Colombo, hence just Sat for exploring.. Though I feel happy to read your post and can as a default spend the day in Colombo, but would you suggest any close by destination that I can do morning-eve around Colombo? Thanks for your suggestions in advance 🙂

    1. Saturday morning head to the Good Market in the Racecourse…there’s food & drink and lots of local craft to on sale as well as a really lovely atmosphere to wander and relax. Hope this helps!

  2. If u really want to tast real sri lankan food go to a village and they will show u much more tasty nutritious food,specially u will love different varieties of grean leaves.those fancy shops mentioned above not the real real sri lankan food.

    1. I love village restaurants and have been to many however in Colombo I also like to sample something different for diversity- these are my personal recommendations. Style in Sri Lanka embraces both local and luxury- more local style posts are in the pipeline soon. Let me know if you have any recommendations!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s