There's a new optimism in the air, a much-needed respite to a country that has been through turbulent times. First the pandemic and then political upheaval brought the country to the brink. The tourists are back and Colombo, the city is seeing a resurgence of sorts. It was at Park Street Mews, one of Colombo's hottest F&B zones that I could sense this new energy. Colombo is one of my many comfort zones, a city I keep coming back to. Almost every time I'm back, there's a new dining experience in store. The city's food and drink scene combines the best of local Sri Lankan flavours including authentic flavours from Jaffna in the North and the best International experiences. If you're planning a visit to Sri Lanka, do stop by one of these fascinating F&B hotspots:
Here Are Some Of The Best Restaurants In Colombo:
1. Park Street Mews
You might struggle to find a table at most restaurants and bars in Colombo's happening weekend destination. This was once a warehouse district and has now morphed into a vibrant nightspot that's tucked away in a cul-de-sac \with cobbled floors and fairy lights. It's a slice of Europe in Colombo. My favourite new spot here is Uncle's, a quirky bar that keeps dishing out wicked cocktails. Do stop at Monsoon for their live music and flavourful Asian curries.
2. Curry Pot
I still remember my first visit to Curry Pot a few years ago. I barely ran into any tourists at this popular lunch spot that is a hub for locals looking for a home-style meal. There's a buffet of sorts with a mishmash of fiery Sri Lankan curries and sides (plenty of options for vegetarians too). You pick your plate and ask the team to fill it with the dishes that fancy you and the pricing depends on what you pick from this array of dishes. If you need to work off some of the calories after your meal, take a walk from the restaurant along the coastal railway line and Colombo's stunning Galle Face Road.
Kollupititya Road, Marine Drive
3. VOC Cafe, Dutch Burgher Union
My friends in Colombo tell me that I keep coming back here for the Watalappam. They're probably right - I don't think I've tasted a better version of Sri Lanka's most iconic dessert anywhere else. VOC Cafe is part of the section of this colonial-era club that is open to the public. It's a showcase for Burgher cuisine from the small but influential Dutch Burgher (translates to citizen in Dutch) community - with mixed Sri Lankan and Dutch descent. Aside from the watalappam, I'd also recommend the lamprais (that takes its name from the Dutch word lomprijst or packet of food), which features meat, curry and rice wrapped in a banana leaf and baked in an oven.
4. Water's Edge
This dining destination is more than half hour away from the CBD but is worth the drive for the beautiful views. It's a popular weekend destination with locals and offers a choice of dining venues. There's Thunapaha for local cuisine and Pranzo for Italian delicacies. I'd recommend this if you're part of a large group and are looking for a great value buffet option with a wide variety of cuisines
Ethul Kotte Road, Battaramulla
5. Ministry of Crab
Arguably Sri Lanka's biggest restaurant success story. Ministry of Crab or simply MOC is a venture of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawaradene, two of the country's most accomplished cricketers. The location is special - MOC is located in the historic Dutch Hospital Building that's steeped in old-world charm. Diners keep coming back for their king-sized crab dishes like the Garlic Chilli crab.
Dutch Hospital, Fort.
6. Shang Palace, Shangri-La
More than 5 years after its debut, the Shangri-La is still Colombo's premier luxury hotel with its unique location that offers sweeping city vistas and ocean panoramas. Shang Palace is Shangri-La's signature dining experience (their dim-sums are legendary) and delivers the same standards in Colombo with authentic Cantonese and Sichuan cuisine in an elegant setting. The restaurant also offers two luxurious private dining rooms for larger groups
Galle Face Road
7. Vistas Bar Movenpick
The name says it all. This rooftop bar at the Movenpick is one of my favourite spots for a sundowner in the Lankan capital. The music swings from retro hits to Tropical house and deep jazz. But it's the views that make Vistas a must-do spot, especially on a clear evening when a fabulous Colombo sunset is a given.
Srimath Anagarika Dharmapala Mawatha
8. Black Cat Cafe
If I had to pick one cafe; in Colombo it would be this hipster magnet in the heart of Cinnamon Gardens, one of the city's swish neighbourhoods. It's walking distance from Odel (Colombo's best-known destination store); expats and the city's trendsetters converge at Black Cat. The coffees are spot on; their all-day menu also offers some scrumptious desserts. But this place deserves a visit for its unique setting - in a large mansion and chic vibe.
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About Ashwin RajagopalanI am the proverbial slashie - a content architect, writer, speaker and cultural intelligence coach. School lunch boxes are usually the beginning of our culinary discoveries.That curiosity hasn’t waned. It’s only got stronger as I’ve explored culinary cultures, street food and fine dining restaurants across the world. I’ve discovered cultures and destinations through culinary motifs. I am equally passionate about writing on consumer tech and travel.