Hi Travelers ~ I have joined forces with Tenisha Buell (@lankanfoodist), a local Sri Lankan foodie who spends her free time tasting the latest and greatest culinary creations in her spicy and sweet country. From Colombo down along the stunning southern coastline all the the way to Arugam Bay on the east coast, we have put together a list of our favorite “western-style” restaurants and coffee shops (read: we are not including curry, rotti, and juice stands as this blog post would quickly become a book if we did)
Ready, set, eat!
Black Cat Café
A café, a shop and a place to stay all in one! Recommended as a place to stay because of it’s convenient location in Colombo but recommended more often for the fabulous food and the eye-catching interior. Must try: From the breakfast menu, the Blueberry Pancakes, The Misson. On the dinner menu, the Eggplant and Yoghurt Mankoushe.
One Up All Day Breakfast
Sitting just one floor up from Tom Yum, One Up is truly a Colombo favorite. Although it is slightly on the expensive side, its truly worth your money. Must try: Margot Robbie, Collins Street, Isla Fisher (some dishes are named after famous Australians)
Café Kumbuk and/or Kumbuk Good Market
One of the first restaurants that serve tasty, vegan friendly options. If you’re looking to find purely vegan/vegetarian items on a menu, I would recommend the Kumbuk Good Market. Must try: Vegan Salted Caramel Cacao Stack; Coconut Bread; Vietnamese Sea Bass
If you’re looking for a taste of this island, Nuga Gama is the spot for you; serving a buffet of authentic Sri Lankan cuisine whilst you’re seated under Sri Lanka’s national tree – Nuga Gaha. The layout is small glimpse of what Sri Lanka looked like before the west colonized.
Whight & Co
Over looking the stretch of Marine Drive and the lovely shore along with a cup of some of the best coffee you could find in Sri Lanka; Whight & Co is one of my favorite coffee stops and it serves some great food! Must try: Eggs Benedict; Burrito, Tiramisu AND don’t forget to try their spectacular coffee, particularly my favourite – the affogato!
Probably one of the best pizzerias in Colombo! Although slightly pricey, it is somewhat worth your money. They also serve a range of non-Italian foods! Must try: Diavolo pizza, Italian Blue Cheese and Mushroom Gnocchi, Baked Crab; Tiramisu.
A restaurant in a container serving an array of western inspired dishes; if you’re looking for a cozy chill spot away from the traffic and noise of Colombo, this is the spot!! Must try: Jerk Chicken, Quesadillas; Naarang Iced Tea, and Frozen Hot Chocolate
Live music & good food with a fantastic rooftop, the ideal place for a few drinks and tapas before a night out! Must try: Lamb Bolognese Spring Rolls, Hot Butter Calamari, Tamarind Chilli Prawns
Milk and Honey Café
Specializing in plant-based and wheat-free meals and sweet goodies, M&H aid those who advocate cruelty free eating along with deliciously rejuvenating juices and smoothies, perfect for Sri Lankan heat!
Translating to ‘Coffee Shop’ in Sinhalese, they certainly live up to their name as they serve up some of the best coffee in town along with Sri Lankan short-eat inspired niblets. If you are vegan/vegetarian, they will gladly tweak their menu to suit your dietary requirements.
Surf shop & restaurant in one! If ever in Hikkaduwa, this should be at the top of your list when you’re in Hikkaduwa! Although they close up the restaurant when peak season is over so it is advised that you visit between December and April. Picking a favourite dish is tricky because everything is rather fantastic!
Tiki Burger Hut
A family run burger hut along the Colombo-Galle road that deserves to be notices but flies way too far under the radar! They serve some truly mouthwatering burgers and fries! Absolutely incredible!
Must try: Kermit
A gorgeous gem tucked away behind a lil boutique store on Pedlar’s Street in Galle, serving plant-based feel-good food in the most beautiful setting! One can lose track of time completely in this transcendent restaurant.
A boutique hotel and a restaurant holding architecture of the year 1700 and serving delicious European and South American inspired dishes. Must try: the Fajita
The Original Rocket Burger
A little corner road shop that serves some of the best burgers in Sri Lanka – the perfect pick up whilst browsing around the streets of Galle. Must try: Gringo burger; Lighthouse burger; Mac & Cheese Balls; BBQ Chicken Fries
If you’re looking for a great place to swim but are ready to eat, Wijeya Beach is your calling! They have great wood-oven pizzas and drinks as well as a superb beach right in front of the restaurant to swim in. Favourite dish/es: Bacon pizza; Smoked Chicken pizza
Big and Spacious Cafe Ceylon is located near Kabalana along the southern coast highway. With a great lunch and dinner selection and even a good wine menu to top it off. Cafe Ceylon keeps it’s Sri Lankan charm while catering to western tastebuds.
The newest hipster coffee stop on the southern coast is drawing a crowd with all the surfers in bustling Weligama. Quickly growing fame all over the the island (and instagram) for their iced lattes, they have some amazing food selections on the menu as well. Owned by genuis bloggers and stylie surfers Petter and Linn who know good food and coffee perhaps better than anyone. Also a surf shop and a guesthouse!
This little Russian-run place just across from Good Story in Weligama is serving up some very nice dishes. It can be a little loud and busy, but their Ahi Poke Bowl with tons of fresh avocado has me coming back nearly everytime i pass by. Smoothies, coffees, cakes, they do it all pretty good.
Another location with great vibes serving superb cocktails and food, perfect for a pre-night out in the beautiful bay! Must try: All their cocktails are spot on!
There are a lot of roti shops in Sri Lanka, but this one holds a special place in my heart. For a little taste of the very popular local snacks, grab a tuk tuk or walk inland from Mirissa beach. 5 minutes later you will find yourself at a very modest looking local home that has quickly become perhaps the most famous roti shop in all of Sri Lanka. This female run establishment is insanely good. Dont miss an avocado shake and of course, a roti.
Here we are again talking about coffee. Outside of Colombo a good cup of jo is just a little less common than one would think. I must admit this espresso stop staple is an all time favorite. Less a place to eat and more a place to relax and sip, once you find it off the small side street in the quaint little village of Madiha, you wont want to leave.
This eclectic outdoor Australian-run pizza park seems to have been put together by old tsunami rubbish, yet its all done so well you want to take pictures of it. With a damn good pizza and a mojitto to go with. This is a pretty incredible spot for the thirstiest drinkers and the hungry surfers. Top all this off with a sweet oceanfront setting.
A gorgeous little vintage themed restaurant in the centre of Matara serving delicioius bites and nibbles as well as full fledged meals. The seating area expands right up to the shore of the sea; we’re 100% ‘shore’ you’ll love it! Must try: Their coffees and juices are super good, best pineapple juice in my opinion! Their chilli cheese fries; hot butter cuttlefish; and chicken tenders are a definite!
Salthouse Cafe and Guesthouse
Guesthouse, yoga shala, and thoughtful cafe and bakery, the Salthouse might be a bit prricey compared to other places, but if a western breakfast is what you are after then you will be pleased to find this little spot in the sweetest little surf town of Hiriketiya. “Hiri” feels a little like Thailand, with its gorgeous waters and relaxed vibe. When the pointbreak is working its our favorite spot in the world.
A surfer’s paradise! With good vibes and great waves, what more could you ask for? Their food is out of this world, which is truly an added bonus however its advised to book 6 months in advance as they’re very popular and always booked during peak season!
The first coffee shop in Arugam Bay, Hideaway Blue is the creation of talented surfer, surf photographer, and barista Yanik Tissera. This is the sister cafe to Salty Swamis in Hikkaduwa. The boys know their waves as well as they know their coffee, so pop in and talk surf and grind. I promise you it will be a highlight of your day.
Gecko Restaurant & Rooms
An adorable little guesthouse and restaurant overlooking the incredible beaches of Arugam Bay, run by the loveliest family with an adorable daughter and son! Very homely and comfortable and serving great food! Must try: Their home-made buffalo milk based ice cream is one thing you MUST try when in Arugam Bay
Walk in, sit down, (say hi to Thili our favorite waiter/ bartender) and order the roasted vegetable plate with the most amazing pesto dipping sauce. It is my favorite dish in all of Sri Lanka. This English-run establishment has great beers, imported wines and cocktails ready for you after a long day of surfing Arugam’s incredible point breaks. Not into a veggie dish, then get the pizza (and ask for a side of pesto, because their pesto is perhaps the best we have ever had!)
If you have a favorite that we havent listed, please shoot us a message and we would love to try it out! Dont forget to give our Sri Lankan food-lover Tenisha a follow on Instagram @lankanfoodist! Thank you for all special local recommendations.