Be prepared for a gastronomic explosion when tasting authentic Sri Lankan cuisine!
Similar to its dynamic colonial past, local cuisine in Sri Lanka is a lovely mix of global cooking styles added with fiery spices and flavors. For those who are particular about spicy food, I’d advise you to eat with care in Sri Lanka. But those who love spices and flavor in their food are sure to have a delicious holiday in Sri Lanka!
While dining at local cuisine restaurants, you will notice that the food is strongly influenced from the neighboring country of India, while there are also traces of British, Dutch and Portuguese favorites brought together to create unique dishes.
Local food in Sri Lanka is known to be one of the world’s most dynamic cuisines.
So what is the kind of food that Sri Lankan’s eat?
Our staple dish usually consists of rice and curry cooked with a blend of spices and a generous amount of chili. These spices are very similar to those used in South India, but a few local ingredients like coconut and Maldive fish is used to make it a signature dish.
For food lovers, Colombo is the best place for eating out in Sri Lanka. While many high end restaurants offer international cuisines including local food, the best place to try the authentic flavor is at one of the many independent eateries. National dishes such as Kottu Roti, String Hoppers, Kiribath and Hoppers are found in the most authentic sense here. You could also try some mouth-watering quick eats such as pastries and rolls from these roadside cafes such as Fab, Sponge and Family Baker.
If you still want a fine dining option to take some guests out for a Sri Lankan meal, The Palmyrah Restaurant at Renuka Hotel or Kaama Sutra at Independence Arcade are good options.
Colombo is also well known for serving delicious Chinese cuisine. Places like Loon Tao, Chinese Dragon and Flower Drum are well known for a great Chinese meal. Additionally, The Lagoon at Cinnamon Grand is particularly known for its amazing seafood options.
Kandy has its own flavor of food and is popular for Sinhalese treats such as Kavum and Kokies, as well as a traditional sour fish curry known as Ambul Thiyal. Just like in Colombo, Kandy too offers a selection of cafes in the busy town centre that offers quick snacks and savory items. Hotels in Kandy cater to both Sri Lankan and Western cuisines. Interesting dining options in Kandy are:
- Helga’s Folly – fusion
- The Muslim Hotel – local
- Kandy House – European fusion
- Devon Restaurant and Bakery – quick savories, Chinese, local
Galle is known for its café style culture as well as the high end fine dining at boutique hotels such as Amangalla and Galle Fort. Due to the great location on the coastline, these hotels also serve fantastic seafood.
For café style dining options, visit:
- Royal Dutch Café
- Mama’s Galle Fort Café
- Rampart Hotel
- India Hut
- Seagreen Restaurant
Jaffna is one location that is strongly influenced by South Indian food, yet has a distinct taste of its own. Prominent ingredients are mutton and seafood cooked with local spices. Crab curries, Rasam, and the tradition Idli, Dosai and Vadai are popular in Jaffna restaurants:
- Cosy Restaurant
- Nila Restaurant
Tips for dining out in Sri Lanka
- Delicious food at incredibly cheap prices can be found at street vendors.
- If you are not a fan of spicy food, simple request for less chili in your dish.
- When at restaurants, look out for western menu for mild spiced options.