Sri Lankan food is like no other, the layers of spice and flavour is so delicious, its pure foodie heaven. Traditional Sri Lankan food normally consists of rice, curry and vegetables. But there are some other dishes you can try while travelling around Sri Lanka.
So, as you travel around the capital, you should check out these cheap restaurants in Colombo, that you won’t be disappointed with.
And once you have the taste for Sri Lankan food, why not take a cooking class, so you can cook some of your favourite dishes back home. Shams makes traditional Sri Lankan food regularly and I have made a few traditional desserts such as Watalappam.
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Cheap Restaurants in Colombo
Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, is a budget friendly city to visit, with cheap places to stay, affordable restaurants and plenty to see and do.
You’ll either stop in Colombo at the beginning of your itinerary or before you head to your next destination. And if you haven’t eaten enough Sri Lankan food around the island, then you must stop at these affordable restaurants in Colombo.
Cheap street food vendors in Colombo
For quick and cheap food on the go, then check out these cheap street food vendors in Colombo:
Galle Face Green
Spending time at Galle Face Green is thought to be one of the unmissable things to do in Colombo. The city’s waterfront is a nice place to go for a late afternoon walk, and the beach below is a pleasant place to cool off after a day of work, and still very much a favorite of locals – so if you have a thing for photography and city life, it’s an excellent spot.
Yet, the best reason to visit Galle Face Green is that you will be able to taste all sorts of local street food – freshly prepared daily, local and with perfect views of the ocean.
You will have plenty of options for food – from basic ice-cream and popcorn or freshly fried potato or cassava chips (which are similar to potato chips but even crunchier) to other more elaborate foods.
Snacks you should look out for include samosas; ulundhu vadai, which looks like a thin bread fritters but it’s actually made of dhal and spices; and – the absolute best – dhal waddae, AKA lentil curry fritters topped with shrimps.
The latter dish is actually typical of the area, so you should definitely try it while there or you may miss your chances!
Contributed by Claudi Tavani, at My Adventures Across The World
Best Restaurants in Colombo Sri Lanka
Foodies will have to visit these best restaurants in Sri Lanka, that offer great food but at cheap prices:
This has to be our favourite spot to visit for authentic tasting Sri Lankan food at a budget friendly price. We love the food so much here, that we make a point of visiting Nelum Kole, each time we are in Colombo.
Starting out in a small hut in Maharagam, a suburb of Colombo, serving authentic Sri Lankan rice and curry. It has since expanded over the years, extending the premises to accommodate their growing business.
With plenty of seating available, you don’t need to book a table in advance. Just turn up and enjoy your food.
Very few tourists know about Nelum Kole, but if you bypass this place, without stopping you will be disappointed. Choose from a large selection of meat, fish, dried fish and vegetable curries, that’s packed with flavour and spice.
Sri Lankan dishes are spicy, both Shams and I struggle with spicey dishes. So, if you are anything like us, who can’t handle the spice, there is a small selection of curries that are mild and flavourful. Just ask the staff and they will point you in the right direction.
This low-key restaurant in Colombo, hasn’t yet seen the tourist trade, so you can eat great food at local prices and the portion sizes, means you won’t be leaving Nelum Kole hungry.
Contributed by Bev & Shams Adventures
This family friendly restaurant in Colombo offers eat in or take way food.
Sit back in this cool, neutral restaurant and enjoy tasty Sri Lankan food. Order from a selection of meat, fish and vegetable curries at the counter, before tucking into a satisfying meal.
Take away dishes in Sri Lanka are called a lunch packet or some may call it a rice packet. Your lunch packet will be wrapped tightly, ready to eat later or while on the road.
A meal or lunch packet from Ranbath will set you back as little as Rs250.00, that is less than £2.00 ($2.37, €2.37) per person for one meal and it will definitely fill you up.
Fancy a traditional Sri Lankan dessert, then you must try the Watalappam. A very sweet set custard pudding made from Coconut milk, jaggery (a sweet sap that’s taken from palm trees), eggs and cashew nuts.
You can’t go wrong at Ranbath.
Contributed by Bev & Shams Adventures
Family Friendly Restaurants in Colombo
Looking for family friendly places to eat that will keep the kids happy. Then check out these places to eat in Colombo:
At first sight you might find it strange to see the name of an international food chain as a recommended place to eat in Colombo. But Sri Lanka adds its own spin to the dishes that you can find worldwide. It adapted them to the local taste and culture.
Where else in the world could you find pizzas like Chicken Sausage Meat with Nai Miris, Devilled chicken or beef, Tandoori chicken, Butter Masala Chicken or Spicy Seafood?
Vegetarians will not starve either, as they can choose between a Veggie Pizza, Margherita and Spicy Veggie Pizza.
Pizza Hut has even thought about the days when one doesn’t feel like eating pizza and offers chicken wings with different flavors, from international ones like barbeque to more local ones like peri peri and sriracha. Of course, it wouldn’t be Sri Lanka if you couldn’t accompany them with rice.
Pricing is where Pizza Hut stands out, with a small pizza starting at around Rs500 (£2.00, $2.37, €2.37), which is less than 3 dollars. A large pizza, that can be shared by 4 persons, will only set you back Rs1500 (£6.00, $7.11 €7.11).
The quality and standards are appropriate to what you might expect from any Pizza Hut restaurant.
Orders are usually ready within 15-20 minutes, staff is friendly and service is good. Locals go there on weekends and evenings with their family and friends to have a pleasant time and chat.
Let’s be honest! No matter how much one likes to try local dishes while travelling, sometimes homesickness makes its way in, as well as the desire to eat something familiar.
Next time you are looking for a budget place to eat, take it into consideration. After all, it’s were the locals go and they know the best places.
Contributed By Raluca Silvia from Travel With A Spin
Seafood Restaurants in Colombo
An island, often has some of the best seafood and Sri Lanka is packed with plenty of fish and shellfish to enjoy. So here are the best seafood restaurants you’ll find in Colombo:
Ministry of Crab – Colombo, Sri Lanka
Ranked amongst the 50 best restaurants in Asia, The Ministry of Crab in Colombo is a haven for crustacean lovers.
The seafood restaurant’s star is the legendary lagoon crab that ranges in size from 500g crab to 2kg and is prepared in the following ways- pepper crab, chilli crab, curry crab, garlic crab, garlic pepper crab, butter crab and baked crab.
You will be delighted by the tender meat, delicious flavour and incredible experience. The servers provide you with the tools and guidance to savour your crab, especially if it’s your first time eating one. Just ask them to help!
In case, you’re not in the mood for crab, you can also order king prawns, oysters, clams, seer or chicken.
Vegetarian options can only be found in the form of sides, bread and beverages.
The restaurant is set up by chef-restaurateur Dharshan Munidasa and cricket legends Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara in a 400-year-old Dutch Hospital, now a commercial complex.
At the restaurant, the beautiful crab-claw plant serves as the only décor. This simplicity gives rise to a sophisticated yet romantic and relaxed ambience.
Since the restaurant has a no freezer policy, the crab is absolutely fresh. However, because of that, you may not find the crab size of your choice as the evening progresses. So if you’re particular, reserve a table for earlier in the evening.
Also, ensure you reserve a table here as early as possible because the restaurant is renowned enough to always be at full occupancy.
You must note that the restaurant is an expensive one with crabs ranging from Rs6100 (£24.40, $28.90, €28.90) for 500g to Rs39,400 (£157.60, $186.65, €186.65) for 2kg. To put things in perspective, we shared an Rs14,600 (£58.40, $69.16, €69.16) priced Kilo Crab (1kg crab) between two people but could have easily eaten one Kilo Crab per person.
That said, eating at the Ministry of Crab is surely a bucket list affair. Though the brand is now also present in Shanghai, Manila, Mumbai, Maldives, and Bangkok, the food is definitely most authentic at its flagship restaurant in Colombo.
It is a once in a lifetime culinary experience that should definitely be included in your Sri Lanka Itinerary.
Contributed by Trisha Agrawal from Try Wandering More
Colombo Food tours
Booking a food tour is one of the best ways to learn about the country’s cuisine. We have selected some of the best food tours around Colombo.
Book your tour today to avoid disappointment!
Want to eat some traditional Sri Lankan dishes on your return home, to keep those memories alive. Then book yourself onto one of these awesome cooking classes in Colombo.
Book your cooking class today!
As you know, we visit Sri Lanka annually and Colombo is our home for the short time we are there. Of course, eating homemade Sri Lankan food is always the best, but we also try to eat out occasionally and this is where we find the top restaurants to eat in Colombo.
As you plan and travel around the capital, we would highly recommend making a pitstop at these recommendations, all offering great food at an affordable price.
This leads us onto how much you should expect to pay for a dish in Colombo.
Much of it will depend on which restaurant you order from. If you’re on a super tight budget, then you don’t want to be paying anything more than Rs2000 (£5.00, $5.90, €5.92) per dish. If you have set a bigger budget, then you can be a bit choosier on where you eat.
Avoid restaurants in a large tourist hotel, the food might be good but will be expensive. The best places to eat in Colombo, are the authentic Sri Lankan restaurants, that cater for the locals. The food is far better, that’s packed with flavour and spice. And the price will be ideal for you budget traveler.
You can’t beat a good Sri Lanka dish, locally made.
What was your favourite restaurant or place to eat? Have you eaten somewhere that you recommend that we haven’t mentioned? What place would you eat at first when you get to Colombo? Leave a comment below we would love to hear from you!
Continue your Sri Lankan travel planning, with these useful posts:
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- What to Pack for Sri Lanka + FREE Packing check list
- How to Apply for a Tourist Visa to Sri Lanka
- Hotel Sigiriya Review
- Do I need Travel Insurance?
- Wales Park Residence Review
- Things to do in Galle
- Things to do in Colombo
- Travel Guide to Sri Lanka
- Temple Etiquette – Do’s and Don’ts
- Yala National Park, Sri Lanka