Colombo Calling: Food Guide to Sri Lankan Dining

by | Oct 21, 2023 | Food Reviews

Colombo, Sri Lanka, is a city with a rich culinary heritage. Influenced by its diverse history and culture, Sri Lankan cuisine is a melting pot of flavors, from spicy curries to sweet desserts. If you’re a foodie looking for a new and exciting culinary adventure, Colombo is the perfect place for you.

Rice and Curry

Rice and curry is the national dish of Sri Lanka and is considered a staple by locals and tourists alike. It consists of a plate of rice accompanied by a variety of curries, typically made with chicken, fish, vegetables, or lentils. The curries are flavored with a variety of spices, including turmeric, cumin, coriander, and chili powder.

Kottu Roti

Kottu roti is a popular street food dish in Sri Lanka. It is made with chopped roti (flatbread), vegetables, meat or seafood, and eggs, all stir-fried together in a wok. Kottu roti is typically served with a side of curry or chutney.


Hoppers are a type of pancake made with fermented rice flour and coconut milk. They are typically served with a side of curry or sambal. Hoppers can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.


Lamprais is a Dutch Burgher dish that is popular in Sri Lanka. It consists of a rice and curry meal that is wrapped in a banana leaf and baked in the oven. Lamprais is typically served with a side of frikkadels (rissoles) and pickled vegetables.

Street Food

Colombo is a great place to try authentic Sri Lankan street food. From kottu roti to hoppers to wadeis (savory donuts), there is something for everyone to enjoy. You can find street food vendors all over the city, but some of the most popular spots include Pettah Market and Galle Face Green.


If you’re looking for a more upscale dining experience, Colombo has a wide variety of restaurants to choose from. Colombo’s culinary landscape is as diverse as the city itself, offering an array of flavors and experiences to satisfy every palate. Whether you’re a fan of spicy curries, fresh seafood, or international cuisine, Colombo has something special to offer.

The top restaurants and local eateries in the city truly provide a taste of paradise, making it a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts from around the world. So, when you find yourself in Colombo, be sure to embark on a gastronomic journey that will leave your taste buds singing with delight. You can find restaurants serving traditional Sri Lankan cuisine, as well as international cuisine from all over the world. Some of the most popular restaurants in Colombo include:

  • Ministry of Crab
  • Upali’s by Nawaloka
  • The Gallery Cafe
  • Nihonbashi
  • The Kingsbury Colombo
  • Cinnamon Grand Colombo


Sri Lankan desserts are just as delicious as the main courses. Some of the most popular desserts include:

  • Watalappan (a custard made with coconut milk, jaggery, and eggs)
  • Kiribath (milk rice)
  • Aluwa (a sweet made with cassava flour, coconut milk, and jaggery)
  • Konda kavum (a crunchy sweet made with rice flour, coconut milk, and jaggery)
  • Bibikkan (a steamed cake made with rice flour, coconut milk, and jaggery)

Tips for Dining in Colombo

  • Be prepared for spicy food. Sri Lankan cuisine is known for its use of spices, so be prepared for your food to be on the spicier side. If you can’t handle too much spice, be sure to ask for your food to be made milder.
  • Try the street food. Street food is a great way to try authentic Sri Lankan cuisine at a fraction of the price of eating at a restaurant. Just be sure to eat at reputable vendors and avoid food that has been sitting out for too long.
  • Be adventurous. Sri Lankan cuisine has a lot to offer, so don’t be afraid to try new things. You may be surprised at how much you enjoy them.

Colombo’s Food Market

Pettah Market: A Chaos of Colors

Pettah Market is a bustling, chaotic, and colorful bazaar that embodies the heart and soul of Colombo. As you navigate the narrow lanes and alleyways of Pettah, you’ll be greeted by an astonishing variety of goods, including fresh produce, spices, street food, textiles, and more. The spice market within Pettah is a standout, where the air is filled with the intoxicating scents of cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, and other exotic spices. It’s a sensory experience like no other.

Manning Market: A Paradise for Fresh Produce

Located in Pettah, the Manning Market is a haven for fresh fruits and vegetables. From vibrant tropical fruits like mangos and papayas to an array of vegetables, this market showcases the incredible bounty of Sri Lanka’s agriculture. The vivid colors and lively atmosphere make it an ideal spot for photographers and anyone who wants to immerse themselves in the vibrancy of local life.

Good Market: Sustainability and Deliciousness

Good Market is a remarkable initiative that combines sustainability with scrumptious treats. Located at various venues throughout the city, this market focuses on promoting organic and sustainable products. Here, you’ll find everything from organic fruits and vegetables to artisanal bread, homemade jams, and handmade crafts. It’s not just a place to eat but also a platform to support ethical and environmentally conscious businesses.

Galle Face Green: An Evening Delight

Galle Face Green, a picturesque seafront promenade, transforms into a food lover’s paradise as the sun sets. Local vendors set up their stalls, offering a wide variety of Sri Lankan street food. The enticing aroma of kottu roti sizzling on hotplates, the crunch of isso wade (shrimp fritters), and the sweet and savory allure of achcharu (pickles) fill the air. It’s the perfect place to savor the flavors of Colombo while enjoying the coastal breeze.

Pettah Floating Market: A Unique Experience

The Pettah Floating Market is a relatively new addition to Colombo’s food market scene. Built on the banks of the Beira Lake, it offers a unique shopping experience. You can find local street food, handicrafts, and clothing in colorful stalls while enjoying a waterside view. It’s a great place to sample Sri Lankan snacks and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere.

Delightful Street Food Stalls

Throughout Colombo, you’ll encounter numerous street food stalls and carts selling an array of tempting treats. From savory short eats like samosas and vadai to sweet delights like jaggery sweets and sweet hoppers, the streets of Colombo are filled with culinary gems waiting to be discovered. Don’t miss out on the chance to sample these mouthwatering street food offerings.

Exploring Colombo’s food markets and bazaars is not just about eating; it’s a journey that engages all your senses. The lively ambiance, the vibrant colors of fresh produce, the wafting scents of spices, and the mouthwatering flavors will leave a lasting impression on your taste buds and memories. These markets are a testament to the diversity and richness of Colombo’s culinary heritage, and they offer a unique opportunity to connect with the heart and soul of the city. So, when you find yourself in Colombo, be sure to embark on a sensory adventure through its bustling food markets and bazaars for an unforgettable experience.

Colombo is a foodie’s paradise, with a wide variety of delicious and authentic Sri Lankan cuisine to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a quick street food bite or a more upscale dining experience, Colombo has something for everyone. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your food trip to Colombo today!

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