• Mario Ng

Colombo Food Guide - Where and what to eat in Colombo

Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, is the gateway to the rest of the country. This could be the main reason why there is such a large variety of food available here. Besides the delicious local cuisine, it also has many eateries and restaurants catering to the different taste buds of tourists. Japanese fare seems to be a big thing here, with many Japanese restaurants scattered all over the city. Western fare is also good, with many places doing a mean brunch. With so many options available, you are unlikely to go hungry when in Colombo. Check out our list below for the places to head to for a good meal in Colombo!

For your convenience, refer to this list of places you should head to for a meal while in Colombo!

1. Cafe Francais

2. Ikoi Tei

3. Galle Face Hotel: Afternoon Tea

​4. Nihonbashi Yakitori Garden

5. Nuga Gama

6. Paradise Road The Gallery Cafe

7. Park Street Mews Restaurant

8. Raja Bojun

9. Zen Restaurant

1. Cafe Francais

Situated at the famous Park Street that is more well-known for its nightlife, Cafe Francais also offers good meal options during the day. If you are heading out and want some traditional brunch fare, this is a good place to start your day.


Breakfast starts from 10 am onwards and last till 1 pm every day. Standard western fare is available, from Eggs Benedict and scrambled eggs with toast to croque-monsieur and smashed avocado & smoked salmon baguette. Quite obviously, this place knows how to serve a proper breakfast!

Outside Café Francais
Outside Café Francais

​We suggest going for the standard American food: Eggs Benedict. Served with either bacon or smoked salmon, you get to choose your choice of protein. Each Eggs Ben also comes with a fresh bowl of salad, which is welcoming in the Colombo heat! The hollandaise sauce is also good, and works well with the poached eggs and smoked salmon, on the brioche.

A simple breakfast of Eggs Benedict at Café Francais
A simple breakfast of Eggs Benedict at Café Francais

What makes this restaurant unique is surely the design of its interior. For sure, it was designed for a night crowd, but it can be seen how much effort was put into designing this place. The bar place is tastefully done with bar stools and high tables. Yet, as one walks in, there are seats for a lunch and dinner crowd. Clean plates and wine glasses sit neatly, waiting for content to be put in them. There is also a wine cellar offering various types of wine, and we can see how it must be a popular place to have a drink, seeing the amounts of alcohol available here!

The interior of Café Francais
The interior of Café Francais

Definitely, this is a nice place for good food and the ambience is fantastic as well. If you have a chance, make sure to head here for a meal, or even better, get some dinner and drinks at Cafe Francais!


Opening hours: 10 am to 1 am daily

Website (includes menu): https://www.cafefrancaisbypourcel.com/

2. Ikoi Tei (no longer in business)

Located right at the heart of the Old Dutch Hospital complex, Ikoi Tei is a fancy Japanese restaurant that serves fresh Japanese cuisine. As one steps into the restaurant, it immediately gives off the vibes of being in Japan. With a menu that offers quite a variety of Japanese fare, one will be spoilt for choice!

Japanese art within Ikoi Tei
Japanese art within Ikoi Tei

If one is new to Japanese cuisine, or simply want to have a simplistic taste of what Japanese fare has got to offer, we suggest trying their sushi set. They have quite a few choices for you to choose from, depending on your appetite. Of course, the usual salmon sushi, maguro sushi, and tamago sushi are all there, and boy are they tasty!


​We also recommend the assorted tempura, which comes with shrimps and vegetables. Wonderfully deep-fried, they were not oily but instead, crispy and hot. Dipped with some tentsuyu sauce, the tempura was delicious.

Fresh sushi at Ikoi Tei
Fresh sushi at Ikoi Tei

For those with a sweet tooth, why not try their vanilla tempura? It is essentially a scoop of vanilla ice cream coated with tempura batter. It is then deep-fried to perfection. What you get is a combination of sweet and savoury, which works well! Sweet honey is then added to this dessert to get the extra sense of sweet perfection!

Tempura ice cream at Ikoi Tei
Tempura ice cream at Ikoi Tei

From our observation, Japanese do come to this restaurant to have their meals, which is probably the best compliment they can give to this restaurant. For sure, head over to Ikoi Tei for a taste of Japan!

3. Galle Face Hotel: Afternoon Tea

Galle Face Hotel
Galle Face Hotel

Afternoon tea at Galle Face Hotel is always fabulous, with a nice view of the Indian Ocean, as well as having the perfect location to watch the sunset every evening.


The hotel itself has a rich history behind it, where it was first opened in 1864. Since then, it has welcomed numerous visitors, including the rich and famous. Among those who walked on the hotel premises include Mahatma Gandhi, Yuri Gagarin, Roger Moore, Richard Nixon, and Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh. It is clear to see that these individuals have a liking for Galle Face.

The Verandah at Galle Face Hotel
The Verandah at Galle Face Hotel

Afternoon teas are held at the Verandah between 4 pm and 6 pm, which has an indoor and outdoor alfresco area. The result is an almost constant sea breeze gently brushing against your face. While they also have ala carte items for you to order, the most popular set has to be the Afternoon Tea set.

Afternoon Tea set at Galle Face Hotel
Afternoon Tea set at Galle Face Hotel

The set consists of the standard offerings that an afternoon tea set should have. The scones were enjoyable, as were the other savoury bites, such as the sandwiches. Sweets were good as well, and they scored with a nice selection of mini cakes and macaroons.

Fresh scones presented in a beautiful manner as part of the Afternoon Tea set at Galle Face Hotel
Fresh scones presented in a beautiful manner as part of the Afternoon Tea set at Galle Face Hotel

A nice touch happened when I first arrived at the Verandah. The server noticed my perspiration and the warm weather and immediately proceeded to offer an iced coffee before I even ordered anything. This was fantastic service by the servers who paid attention to details.


​After you have completed the afternoon tea set, make sure not to go off, but instead relax and enjoy the sea breeze. At approximately 6 pm every evening, just as the sun is setting, there is a flag-lowering ceremony right at the edge of the Verandah. It is a solemn ceremony and many visitors look forward to this event, snapping pictures away as the soldier and bagpiper march towards the flagpole and lower the flag.

Flag-lowering ceremony at Galle Face Hotel
Flag-lowering ceremony at Galle Face Hotel

With all these happening, it suffices to say that afternoon tea at Galle Face is not just another afternoon tea, but one that provides the visitor with an amazing view and an insight into Sri Lanka. Be sure to head over here for a meal!


Afternoon Tea opening hours: 4 pm to 6 pm daily

Website: https://gallefacehotel.com/en/dining.html

4. Nihonbashi Yakitori Garden

Located along Galle Face Terrace just off the main road across Galle Face Hotel, it can be a little difficult to find this restaurant. However, we promise it is all worth it.

Entrance of Nihonbashi Yakitori Garden
Entrance of Nihonbashi Yakitori Garden

Really consisting of 2 different setups, it has a proper indoor sitting restaurant called Honten while a separate outdoor Yakitori Garden is situated just outside the main restaurant. Dedicated to the art of barbecuing food, it has a simple menu that consists of fresh chicken parts, vegetables, and some seafood.

Fresh chicken meat being grilled at Nihonbashi Yakitori Garden
Fresh chicken meat being grilled at Nihonbashi Yakitori Garden

Using only charcoal to heat the food, the chef painstakingly barbecues them each time a customer orders something. The result is a tasty piece of fresh-tasting chicken meat, cooked with excellence.

Freshly grilled at Nihonbashi Yakitori Garden
Freshly grilled at Nihonbashi Yakitori Garden

Among our recommendations include momo niku (leg meat), torikawa (chicken skin), and tsukune (minced chicken meat). The uzura tamago (quail eggs) are tasty, while the ebi (salt grilled prawn) is a must-try. If you do not think meat can be filling, we recommend getting some rice to go along with your food. Being in an outdoor setting, a pint or two will be great as you chat and chill with your friends and family!


Opening hours: 12 pm to 2.30 pm daily; 6 pm to 10.30 pm daily

Website: http://nihonbashi.lk/

5. Nuga Gama

Located at one of the most well-known hotels in Colombo, Nuga Gama is a buffet restaurant that offers authentic Sri Lankan cuisine in a very comfortable setting.


The restaurant is located outdoors, and it gives visitors the feeling of stepping into a traditional village, which must have been what it was like some 50 years ago. You are seated on wooden tables and chairs and walk around on the sand. True authenticity!

Welcome to Nuga Gama
Welcome to Nuga Gama

While lunch and dinner are served, we believe dinner might be more suitable due to the cooling of temperatures as night sets in. While dinner begins at 7 pm, you can actually start strolling in before that, if just to take a seat and grab a drink after a long day out. At 7 pm sharp, the dinner is ready and everyone starts moving towards the counters.


Traditional favourites such as string hoppers and various curries are offered, while the most popular dish has got to be the crab coconut milk curry. The tempered prawn and cuttlefish were delicious, with the cuttlefish still springy, cooked to perfection. Egg hoppers are served as well, and the chef expertly cooks the dish upon request, ensuring freshness and piping hot food.

Throngs of visitors enjoy a meal at Nuga Gama each evening
Throngs of visitors enjoy a meal at Nuga Gama each evening

For desserts, they offer a variety and one must aim to try all of them. Each dessert is unique on its own and is very tasty. You must definitely try the curd for those new to Sri Lanka, where it should be mixed with some treacle. It is a traditional Sri Lankan dessert that is enjoyed by many locals. The result is a combination of sour meets sweetness. Perfect!


Besides the food, there are also performances conducted every night by a local band. While the rest of us partake in the delicious food, the band plays wonderful traditional music to keep us entertained.

Selection of curries at Nuga Gama
Selection of curries at Nuga Gama

At any time if you need something, be it new utensils or plates or just one more drink, feel free to request a server, as all of them are so kind and helpful. Service is top-notch here, and it was truly a wonderful dining experience here at Nuga Gama!


Opening hours: 12 pm to 2.30 pm (weekends only); 7 pm to 10.30 pm daily

Website: https://www.cinnamonhotels.com/cinnamongrandcolombo/experiences/nuga-gama

6. Paradise Road The Gallery Cafe

Located in the former offices of the late Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, he apparently gave his approval to turn his former offices into a gallery and restaurant, under Paradise Road Group. This speaks a lot about Paradise Road, as many buildings in Sri Lanka were designed by him. Think the Sri Lankan Parliament Building and Official Residence of the President, both within Colombo, and you get a sense of how well-regarded this man was.

Paradise Road The Gallery Café
Paradise Road The Gallery Café

Naturally, this restaurant has a reputation to uphold. Fortunately, they have done well so far! True to its international focus, Paradise Road The Gallery Cafe offers a selection of both international and local cuisine. Options such as a grilled fillet steak, duck breast, and seafood risotto are available, while black pork curry and prawn curry are also offered.

Nice surroundings within Paradise Road The Gallery Café
Nice surroundings within Paradise Road The Gallery Café

At the start of the meal, the staff already did something right and good, with a small loaf of warm baguette and butter served. As a bread lover, I can only say that the baguette was heated, and when spread with butter, was fantastic. Yummy!


For those wanting a more local experience, the prawn curry comes recommended. Consisting of kang kung, prawn curry, and onion sambal, it is a spicy option for those keen to have a taste of Sri Lanka. The curry was good, while the kang kung was pretty spicy, in a good way. For sure, the papadam takes it away with its crispiness.

Spicy prawn curry with kang kong at Paradise Road The Gallery Café
Spicy prawn curry with kang kong at Paradise Road The Gallery Café

For cake lovers, you are in the right place. The Gallery Cafe is known for having an amazing selection of cakes, with a focus on chocolate cakes. You just cannot go wrong with this place! Of course, their signature cake is aptly named Paradise Road Chocolate Cake. A lemon meringue pie is good for those wanting something different, while a Double Chocolate Cheesecake (OMG!) awaits.

Enjoying Paradise Road The Gallery Cafe's signature chocolate cake
Enjoying Paradise Road The Gallery Cafe's signature chocolate cake

​It was also nice to know that after you have selected a cake to have, they will serve it to you, with a scoop of ice cream. What good service! It was a pleasant surprise and this surely tops it all.


​After consuming all the food, be sure to take a walk in the walkways and admire the art! They also have a gallery that sells unique products, which have some good additions to your home. Be sure to come down to Paradise Road The Gallery Cafe when you are in Colombo!


Opening hours: 10 am to 11.30 pm daily

Website: https://www.paradiseroad.lk/restaurants/paradise-road-the-gallery-cafe/

7. Park Street Mews Restaurant

Another restaurant located along the famous Park Street in Colombo, this place is actually named after the street it is situated on. A good way to get noticed on the internet for sure! Similar to its neighbour, Cafe Francais, restaurants here are probably known more for their nightlife. Yet, Park Street Mews also serve a good breakfast.

Park Street Mews Restaurant
Park Street Mews Restaurant

​You have western fare available for your breakfast, while there are also some local delights offered. The sweet pancakes that come with bananas and maple syrup must be any sweet tooth lover’s fantasy. A stack of fluffy pancakes that are soaked with maple syrup, with banana slices in between the pancakes, a cut into the stack is basically a start to a sweet adventure!​​​

A stack of fluffy pancakes at Park Streeet Mews Restaurant
A stack of fluffy pancakes at Park Streeet Mews Restaurant

We also recommend going for some french toast if you are still feeling hungry. Available as an extra for any main dish ordered, it has 4 triangular slices of french toast served to you. Mixed with the leftover maple syrup from your pancakes, this is surely a good way to start your day proper!

French toast at Park Street Mews Restaurant
French toast at Park Street Mews Restaurant

The ambience is also good, with its high ceilings and fans spinning away. Even though it does not have air conditioning, the airy environment more than compensates for this. Be sure to head down to Park Street Mews Restaurant for some good ol’ western breakfast!


Opening hours: 10 am to 11 pm (Sundays to Thursdays); 10 am to 1 am (Fridays and Saturdays)

Website (includes menu): https://www.parkstreetmewsrestaurantcolombo.com/

8. Raja Bojun

Raja Bojun is a buffet restaurant that specialises in Sri Lanka cuisine. Located in a downtown shopping mall in a simple setting, this is not the typical high-end hotel buffet restaurant that offers food and service at a premium price. Rather, this place focuses on the food and has only one price for all customers.

Inside Raja Bojun
Inside Raja Bojun

It really has a wide variety of local food, from the egg hoppers to the different types of paratas. The fantastic thing about those hoppers is that they are located at an action station, which means they are freshly cooked each time a customer wants one.


Your choice of rice? Choose from white rice, red rice, or some fried rice. Chicken curry and fish curry are available. Want something not too common in your own country? Try the jack fruit with dry fish curry, or how about the mango curry? Really, there are so many types of food that one does not know where to start! Of course, the crab curry is a good place to begin!

Tasty crab curry at Raja Bojun
Tasty crab curry at Raja Bojun
Wide variety of food at Raja Bojun
Wide variety of food at Raja Bojun

Papadam is probably every child’s favourite food, and it is available free flow here! Usual western fare for desserts are also available, but one must surely try the curd with treacle. A traditional Sri Lankan dessert, it has a sour taste that works well with the sweet treacle. Once you start, you can’t stop!


​Be sure to head over to Raja Bojun for an authentic Sri Lankan experience!


Opening hours: 12 pm to 4 pm daily; 7 pm to 11 pm daily

Website (includes menu): http://rajabojun.lk/

9. Zen Restaurant

Located slightly away from the city centre, this restaurant is situated on the grounds of Zylan Luxury Villa. As can be seen, one of the reasons why this restaurant comes recommended is probably because the entire building is owned by a person dedicated to all things Japanese. Even for the villa itself, it was created to highlight the Japanese influence. For sure, this can only mean good things food-wise.


The restaurant itself is on the roof of the villa, located at the third storey. It has an open-air concept, where the cool night breeze brushes against your face ever so lightly.

On the grounds of Zylan Luxury Villa
On the grounds of Zylan Luxury Villa

To get the party going, we recommend going for the chicken gyozas as a starter. Lightly pan-fried, the dumpling was generously stuffed with a lot of minced chicken and goes well with the ponzu sauce.


As with any Japanese restaurant, prawn tempura is a must, and we thought this restaurant served one of the best tempuras in the city. This is no exaggeration. The prawn tempura tasted so crispy while the colour of the batter showed that the oil was clean and not reused. A bite into the tempura confirmed our belief: fresh prawns were used for this dish. Combined with clean oil and only lightly deep-fried, this was the best dish we tasted that evening.

Prawn tempura at Zen Restaurant
Prawn tempura at Zen Restaurant

The chicken teriyaki was also a good choice, with a generous amount of meat suitable for at least 2 people to share. The teriyaki taste was evident, while the meat tasted fresh. With the sesame seeds used as a garnish, the overall taste of the chicken was delicious.

Delicious selection of Japanese fare at Zen Restaurant
Delicious selection of Japanese fare at Zen Restaurant

While the restaurant is quite dark due to its outdoor nature, this means that it is also suitable for romantic nights out with your partner. Service was excellent and the cool breeze was also good to allow each other to relax and chat the night away!


Opening hours: 11.30 am to 11 pm daily

Website (includes menu): https://www.zylan.lk/zen

Google Maps: List of attractions and food places in Colombo!

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