These are some of my personal favorite places in Colombo. Not saying they're the best, these are just the places I actually go to.
My wife and I go for double dates here, or for group celebrations. You can bring your own wine, order a succession of small plates and have a wonderful time. They have mains which look great, but we essentially order a bunch of appetizers and share. My favorites are the vegetarian dishes - the halloumi, the hummus, the cauliflower. Lebanese food is my jam any day, but Mama Aida's is, to me, the best Arabic food in the city, and one of the chillest, warmest locations. We always have a great experience here.
Black Cat is actually owned by friends of ours so I've never reviewed it directly. I love Black Cat because A) the coffee is good and B) the food is good. Seems basic but that's what it is. Good coffee is rare in Colombo and Youssef is obsessive about both the beans and the preparation. I'm not an expert by any stretch, but I know what I like and I like the coffee here. I am a heathen and will often order an affogato, which is basically coffee for children (with a scoop of ice cream), but my usual Americano is quite interesting served quite black. The food started as a limited selection which has grown - it's not a menu of every food every possible Sri Lankan would want. There's a simple range of sandwiches, a limited dinner, and excellent breakfasts done well.
As an added bonus, the location is full of thoughtful touches, from the sewing machine base of the tables to the lovingly curated bookshop in the back room. We often go here for brunch as a default because we know the experience will be good.
Kuuraku is good Japanese, but it ain't too fancy about it. I've never been to Japan but this is what I imagine a Japanese family dining outlet would be like. You can order the whole range of yakitori (meat on sticks), sushi (raw fish), teppanayaki (grills), and in my experience it's all quite tasty. It's fun to look thru the photo menu and try a few different things besides the usual tekka maki.
Another major plus is its location the Park Street Mews. This is Colombo's most happening street with a range of bars, restaurants and events all within walking distance - and no cars allowed. After dinner you can walk next door for whiskey ice cream at Il Gelato (inside Trattoria), or actual whiskey at Curve.
I like noodles and Asian stuff, as long as it doesn't have peanut and kill me. Noodles has a range of South-East Asian fare, from the Vietnamese to Malaysian to Thai. They may not be doing all of it authentically, I don't know, but for me it hits that sweet spot of being savory and spicy without being another meal of rice. A lot of it is also soup-based, which makes it feel healthy though, honestly, no idea about that either. Best of all it's cheap, so you can order more stuff.
Kumbuk, first off, is one of the most beautiful place to eat in Colombo. It's very post-colonial hip. The food is also tasty and healthy, and the place is buzzing. It's nice eating around other people, and Kumbuk is always busy. It's a fun place for a weekend.
This is my favorite option on YAMU Delivery. The do one thing (prawns), and they do it well. My favorite is the Jaffna style, and people at office go cray for their sweet potato fries. It's not bad for dining in, but for me it's really a delivery thing. Also their containers can be washed and re-used, so bonus.
This is my go-to place to take people from out of town, as a treat. Ministry Of Crab is a product of the obsessive focus of Dharshan Munidasa on a meal from ocean to plate. He sources the best crab and serves it in classic preparations. They also serve a giant prawn dish, it feels like a lobster. It isn't cheap, but this is one place I can reliably catch a food high in Colombo.
I love Barefoot. I've always loved Barefoot. The place has a consistently chill vibe, good food, drinks and the attached bookstore is quite good. Add in constant art exhibitions, concerts, and my friendship with the family that runs it, and Barefoot is a very special place to me. If you walk into you can immediately catch the feeling.
So those are my favorites. What are yours?