Colombo Food And Places To Eat in Colombo
“What are some must-have local delicacies for a first-time tourist to Sri Lanka?”, “What should I eat in Sri Lanka?”, “What are the cheap places to eat in Colombo ?”, these are some of the common questions we receive from our readers. We get a large number of emails from foreign travellers with this type of questions.
Colombo is a very popular holiday destination among foreign travellers in Sri Lanka and visiting Colombo is on the bucket list of every traveller. Colombo is a fascinating holiday destination and offers a large number of interesting places to visit.
This vibrant city is home to a large number of temples, parks, colonial mansions, museums and shopping malls. Venturing on a Colombo one day tour or a Colombo walking tour is the best way of exploring Colombo.
The food scene in Colombo is remarkable. I don’t think that there is another city or region on the island, which offers so much of variety of food, restaurants, eateries and bars like in Colombo. Colombo is one of the best places to try typical Sri Lankan food.
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 the city.
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More than Rice chicken and beans
The people of Sri Lanka have developed a unique cooking skill and culinary habit with the help of many foreign cultures. The first foreign culture that emerged on the island was the Tamil, who arrived on the island with south Indian invaders. Some of them settled on the island and mingled with the native Sinhalese people.
Other than the invaders, Sri Lanka was visited by a large number of foreign delegates, traders, religious leaders and travellers during the kings time. They came from Arabian countries, China, Greece, Mesopotamia and many other countries. Sri Lanka was also under the colonial rulers of Portuguese, Dutch and English for more than 450 years. All these foreigners have contributed to the vividity of Sri Lankan food culture.
The Kaffir better known as “Kapiri“, now is a small community living in the region of Chilaw are the descendants of slaves, that arrived on the island during the Portuguese rule. They have introduced many colourful dishes such as rice pudding.
The burghers, another small ethnic group that has Dutch descendants living in populated cities like Colombo, Kandy, Galle have introduced many delicious food varieties like biriyani, hearty soups of meat. There are many other such small ethnic groups in Colombo that have contributed to the diverse food culture of Sri Lanka.
A lot of tourists that arrive in Sri Lanka usually say that they ate was chicken, potatoes, and rice during their Sri Lanka trip. But in Colombo, the food is very exotic because it is influenced by many cultures. It is not difficult to find a theme restaurant of your choice in Colombo, Thai restaurants, Indian restaurants, Halal restaurants, Chinese restaurants, Mongolian restaurant…the list goes on. If you drop into a food court, you can find a large number of food varieties belong to many cultures.
The tropical island is home to a large number of tropical vegetable, and fruits. Te cool high altitude areas such as Nuwara Eliya, Welimada supply fruits and vegetable such as Potatoes, broccoli, carrot, leeks, pears, apple, orange, strawberry etc.
All big coastal cities like Colombo are located in Sri Lanka’s lowland, provides many delicious seafood specialities. And seafood is available in plenty without any seasonal differences. Tuna fish, barracuda, shrimps, lobster, crab are some of the popular seafood varieties in Sri Lanka. If you opt to have a mixed seafood platter, it comes with about 10 different variety of fish with different flavours, but it can be too big for a single tummy.
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 that expands along the Indian Ocean. It has a rich multicultural and multi-religious background and visited by many thousands of foreign travellers every day.
If you are also heading to Colombo take a minute and read this blog post and learn how to find the best and cheap Colombo food and places to eat in Colombo.
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 the “garden city of Asia”. Its greenness, neatness and cleanness, rich history, culture and Sri Lankan attitude take most of the tourists by surprise.
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.
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 into 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
- Chinese food (fried rice)
- Short eats
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 dropping into a Muslim restaurant, while you enjoy the sightseeing in Colombo. 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.
Samosa is a triangular shape pie found in all parts of Sri Lanka. It is available in all major food outlets from fine-dining restaurant to street food outlets. However, Samosa is not native to the island, it is a popular food variety in India, Thailand and Singapore as well as many other Asian countries. A samosa can be filled with fish, chicken, vegetable, egg or meat.
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 a busy lifestyle
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.
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 of 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 crisp edges. When an egg is added to the hopper it is called the 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 any appa.
Street food outlet- Cheap places to eat in Colombo
You can get hold of street foods everywhere in 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 adjoining 3 major shopping malls and they are popular places to eat in Colombo, Food court at Crescat, Majestic city food court and food court at Arpico supermarket town hall. 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, which 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 a small boutique among the Cheap places to eat in Colombo
In large cities in Sri Lanka 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 to 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 does not add much travel spirit to 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 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 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, the 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
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.
Several popular eateries to include in the Colombo Sightseeing Itinerary
- The mango tree is certainly one of the most popular restaurants in Colombo. The mango tree group has several restaurants spread across the city and you may find it difficult to cover all of them if your trip to the city is a short one. The best part of these restaurants is that each of them is unique and serves quality and affordable drinks and foods. The interiors of these places are excellent too.
- The Akasa kade is another hotspot you need to head to if you like to have a tasty meal and refreshing drink while having the best view over the city, Colombo harbour and Indian ocean. This unique restaurant is a place to experience old memories, tradition and style. It was started in 1963 and was the centre of a dining experience. It is located on one of the tallest buildings in the city, never failed to leave one mesmerized with a breathtaking view of Colombo’s coastline, harbour and the Beira Lake. It serves delicious Asian and western dishes and it is well known for local cuisines as well. Don’t forget to try local hoppers if you drop into Akasa kade. Another noteworthy highlight of your visit to Akasa kade will be the ballroom dancing and it adds a captivating ambience for a perfect evening.
- While the history of Colombo is much to talk about; the city is popular as one of the liveliest, greenest and cleanest cities in the region. Almost all clubs and bars in Colombo get filled with locals and tourists during all evenings. If you are preparing an itinerary for the Colombo sightseeing tour you can consider starting your trip by visiting Breeze bar as it is well known for its cosy atmosphere.
- The floating market of Colombo is the newest addition to the city for an interesting shopping experience. The floating market is located near the central bus station of Colombo.
- The next on your Colombo sightseeing tour can be the LOON TAO. You can have some of the stunning views of the pristine beaches of Mt.Lavinia while you are seated near the Indian Ocean.
- If night entertainment is what will crave to wind up your day, then KAMA COLOMBO can be your place. This modern nightclub will treat you to lovely music and a delicious meal.