rice and curry sri lanka
About Sri Lanka with valuable information for your Sri Lanka tour

Best And Cheap Colombo Food And Places To Eat in Colombo

We are getting questions like “For a first-time tourist to Sri Lanka, what are some must-have local delicacies?”, “What should I east in Sri Lanka?”, “what are the cheap places to eat in Colombo ?”, very often. Therefore I thought of crafting this article for travellers, who need some information about Sri Lankan food and find cheap Colombo food and places to eat in Colombo.

Find The Best And Cheap Colombo Food And Places To Eat in Colombo

It is a well-known fact that travellers are very keen on food and drinks when they touring in foreign soil. Eating food not only helps you to be healthy but also eating native food is one way of learning the culture of that particular country. Therefore it is a common practice among the travellers, to gather information about food and drinks available in the destination they plan to visit. Especially most travellers are very inquisitive on the local food and drinks.

Colombo Sri Lanka is a beautiful city expands along the Indian Ocean. It has a rich multicultural and multi-religious background and visited by many thousands of foreign travellers. If you also heading to Colombo take a minute and read this blog post on how to find best and cheap Colombo food and places to eat in Colombo.

  • Highlights- Gangarama temple, Galle face green, BMICH, Wolvendaal church, Viharamahadevi Park, Townhall, and many more
  • Duration-6 Hours
  • Places- Colombo
  • Start/End-Colombo
  • Transport-Private vehicle

Special Price US$ 65, save $30, Regular Price US$95

The history of Colombo is going back to the pre-Christian era. Any Sri Lanka tour package is not complete if someone omits the commercial capital of Sri Lanka known as Colombo. Colombo is a bustling metropolis with a rich historical past. Fast modernizing city transforming into one of the full-fledged commercial hubs in Asia.

Modern Colombo is given a facelift during the last several years and named as the “garden city of Asia”. Its greenness, neatness and cleanness, rich history, culture and the Sri Lankan attitude take the most of the tourists by surprise.

Sri Lanka food tour

Colombo can be easily explored on a tight budget, with a large number of free attractions even the most frugal-minded traveller is happy, being in Colombo. There are plenty of opportunities in Colombo to find great cheap food. Even though your budget is very limited, you are able to find some awesome food for a couple of dollars or rupees on the narrow streets of Colombo. In this blog post, we talk about several Colombo food so that you can keep the cost down while exploring the city.

How do you stay healthy while enjoying Sri Lankan foods? Cheap places to eat in Colombo
This is a typical Sri Lankan lunch, which comprised of rice, vegetable and fish

Affordable food in Sri Lanka

These are some food varieties that you can get hold of at a good price. However, the prices can be varied depending on the restaurant or hotel you go to because different hotels and restaurants have different price. The hopper which cost 15 Rs (USD 0.1) can be 150 Rs (USD 1) in a star class hotel. However, there are many differences between a hotel and an average restaurant in the city such as quality of food, food safety and the environment.

  • Rice and Curry
  • Thosai
  • Chinese food (fried rice)
  • Short eats
  • Kottu
  • Hoppers

Eating Rice and Curry in Sri Lanka

Rice is the staple food of Sinhalese people, the major ethnic group in Sri Lanka. If you arrived in Colombo with a tight budget, you’re well on the way to pick rice and curry menu at least once, and you cannot say “I was in Sri Lanka” unless you have sampled this spicy but tasty dish. Rice with vegetable and seafood curry is available everywhere in Colombo because local people love this combination.

Rice and curry include steamed rice with several varieties of vegetable, meat, fish, egg, papadam and chutney. This package can be slightly varied depending on the restaurant. Mix the ingredients and eat it is that simple and that delicious. Sri Lankan curries are very rich in spices, cardamom, nutmeg, chilli, pepper, cinnamon, saffron, fenugreek seeds, turmeric and many other spices are added to the curry. Therefore the curries are not only nutritious and delicious but also inherited with other qualities such as germ-killing power, boosting the immune system, easy to digest.

Don’t forget to experience fish, crab, prawn or cuttlefish curry with rice, it is delicious and in fact, seafood is so prevalent here, you should not avoid this opportunity. As far as price is concerned Rice and curry is very cheap compared to many other food varieties available in Colombo and it is one of the best and cheap eats in Sri Lanka.


It is well worth to drop into a Muslim restaurant, while you enjoy the sightseeing in the city. Most of these restaurants are serving vegetarian customers. After all, it is healthy to have a casual vegetarian meal.  Thosai is the main food in these restaurants and served with Sambar, Sambol, wade and several other accompaniments. It is not only very tasty but also one of the most affordable meals in Sri Lanka.

Chinese Restaurants-places to eat in Colombo

Even though Colombo is a multiethnic city, the presence of Chinese citizens is limited compared to most other ethnic groups such as Sinhalese, Tamil, and Muslim. But Chinese styled foods have to be able to make a strong presence among all ethnic groups in the city. Try some Chinese fried rice, and Chinese styled vegetable dishes they are not only very tasty but also pretty good for your pocket.

Short Eats for busy liefstyle

Short eats is another popular method of relieving you from hunger. You can buy short eats at fast food joints in the city. It is the best method to save time while having a good meal; Short eats are well popular among the office workers and popular as a cheap foodie option.  These are pre-prepared items and can be obtained without any waiting time. Short eats stalls and restaurants are located in busy areas of the city, therefore, they can be found very easily. Some of the popular short eats items are Chinese rolls, Cocktail Eggs, Cutlets, Dhal Vade, Patties, Fish/Meat Bun, Vegetable/Meat roti, Samosa.

Kottu Roti

Back to Sri Lankan style food, this delicious food is mostly served in the evening for the dinner plate. Kottu is one of the most popular Colombo food speciality and it is a mixture of vegetable, flour, spices, egg, meat or fish and spicy sauce. You can obtain a portion Kottut for $2.00.  It is prepared on a large iron dish while heating with the blaze, the rhythmic noise generated at the preparation of Kottu, due to the bashing of iron plates against each other, is a clear sign of the places, where Kottu is prepared. The noise can be heard for about 30-40 meters. If you go for a Kottu, you will be rewarded with a typical Sri Lankan styled spicy taste.


Hopper is one of the popular cheap Colombo food items and it is very popular all around the country, which is made of rice flour and coconut milk. Hoppers are prepared with the shape of a small bowl with crispy edges. When an egg is added to the hopper it is called egg-hopper otherwise plain hopper. This light staple served with curry, chutney or with chilli paste. A sweet variation of hoppers is also available and called honey hopper or pany appa.

Street food outlet- Cheap places to eat in Colombo

You can get hold of street foods everywhere in the Colombo, even in the busiest areas. It is a good source of furnishing cheap Colombo food and popular places to eat in Colombo. Vade (deeply fried lentils), samosa (triangle-shaped deep-fried vegetable with a coating of flour) are the most popular street foods in Colombo. Corn is also very handy if you are on the move and boiled corn is most available in the countryside and in the Colombo suburb. It is one of the cheapest forms of street foods in Sri Lanka.

Places to eat in Colombo, Food courts

  • Majestic city food court
  • Arpico food court
  • Crescat food court

The food courts are not only the best places to buy good and cheap Colombo food but also places to choose from a large number of suppliers and varieties. There are three popular food courts and they are popular places to eat in Colombo, Food court at Crescat, Majestic city food court and food court at Arpico supermarket townhall. Each place is equipped with several dozens of restaurants and all these restaurants offer a large number of choices for customers, you can choose whatever you need from a large number of varieties.

Most restaurants at food courts prepare food and drinks spontaneously on orders, means the freshness is at its best. They serve local food, Thai food, Chinese, European and many Asian specialities. Here you can buy food at a reasonable price and foods are handled with care. Crescat food court is to be found in the basement of the cinnamon grand hotel while the basement of the majestic city mall is reserved for a large number of restaurants. A portion of the ground floor of Arpic supermarket is occupied by the food court.

Petti Kade or small boutique among the Cheap places to eat in Colombo

In large cities such as Colombo “Petti kade”, the most basic type of shop in the country, a small boutique by the side of the road, which is built with wood, is the most common place to find the best Ceylon Tea and traditional food items. It has the most affordable rates and serves from millionaires to beggars. But their main segment of the customer is from the middle class of the country. Mudalali or the owner of the boutiques does take care of the whole business from preparing the food and tea for collecting money. You may be sitting next to a TUK TUK or rickshaw driver or a road cleaner wearing a dirty uniform. The typical Sri Lankan tea has a unique, strong flavour that keeps you glued to the taste.  You have the opportunity to have a seat outdoor and see how it is being prepared, enjoy your tea or meal while observing the busy world out there.

How do you stay healthy while enjoying Sri Lankan foods?

After airline ticket and accommodation, food is the most expensive requirement for most travellers, while travelling in foreign countries. In fact, you tend to get tired and hungry more often than usual due to the activities such as walking and travelling.  You have the freedom to pack some canned food, biscuits etc and live on it, but being a traveller, thousands of kilometres away from home in a foreign nation, it does not add much travel spirit into your plate. After all, trying local food is part of the holiday. However, on the other hand, food is one of the main reasons for being sick for most people during the holidays. Then, how do you stay healthy while enjoying the local food in Sri Lanka?  This article may help you to find the answer for you.

Avoid the peeled fruits sold on the roads

Sri Lanka is a country in the tropics; therefore it is warm and humid in most part of the country, the most microorganism can thrive well with the environmental conditions that prevail on the island. It is advisable to avoid peeled fruits during your short holidays.  Peeled fruits are one of the few methods that transmitting microorganism to the human body. The fruits are peeled and then open to the air in most cases, making it possible for the germs to anchor on the fruits. Some people wash them before eating however you can’t guarantee that it is totally free of germs, because of water itself can be contaminated with harmful bacteria. If the fruits are sold without peeling, it is quite safe while the natural skin keeps the foreign particles away from the fruits. Sri Lanka is a country with a large number of tasty tropical fruit varieties, so try to buy fruits with their natural protective skin and don’t leave it in the open air for a long time.

Stick to mineral water

Water is the most common method of transmitting harmful bacteria and viruses that cause diseases such as diarrhoea. Waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea spread fast and can be dangerous. Drinking mineral water is the best way to avoid most of the waterborne diseases.  Mineral water is sold all around the island and can be bought at a very reasonable price. Running water is safe to drink once they treated properly by boiling and filtering.

Cooking your meals

Food poisoning is another way that makes you suffer during the holidays in foreign countries. The hygiene of local restaurants is not up to a satisfactory level on some occasions in the country. The foods may be very cheap in those places but there is a doubt about their quality. If you are a foreigner, it may be a good idea to avoid the local eating places, when it comes to consuming foods in Sri Lanka.

Avoid the wayside food stalls

There is a large number of wayside food stalls in most of the cities in Sri Lanka. They are small huts fixed onto wheels. They are usually anchoring near the main roads, where lots of people are gathering. Foods are prepared at the same spot and sold at hot. The vendor cooks the food and sells the foods. These foods are usually varieties of short eats such as wade (deeply fried dhal). Usually, these cooked items are exposed to the surrounding area for several hours. Since they are kept in crowded, busy places and near the main roads, chances of being contaminated with germs are very high and consuming these foods can make your tummy sick.

Take meals in a quality restaurant

It is a very healthy practice to consume foods in quality restaurants. Restaurants are categorized into many categories on the island; tourist board registered and so-called A-grade restaurants are the best places to buy quality and hygienic foods in the country. Prices may higher than the other restaurants but it is worthwhile, due to the high quality and hygiene.

Eating in a tourist area

There are good quality restaurants in tourist resorts such as Bentota, Beruwala and Kalutara. Most of these restaurants are registered with the national tourist board of Sri Lanka. These places are being monitored by the government authorities often and monitor for the high standard of foods. Therefore consuming foods in these places is very safe against the cheap foods sold at very low in other places.


Sanjeewa Padmal (Seerendipity)

This blog is all about travelling in Sri Lanka. I am trying to share my knowledge and experiences as a traveller, who had been to most parts of Sri Lanka, with my valued readers. My sole intention is to help my valuable readers to plan their most memorable Sri Lanka trip. Please feel free to contact me at any time if you need more information. Furthermore, I can organize your holiday package or any travel related requirement in Sri Lanka.