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75 Hotel Road, Mount Lavinia

Charcoal is Mount Lavinia's local coffee shop with really good food, coffee and a charming, cozy space.

Charcoal is a cozy little cafe down Hotel Road in Mount Lavinia, that made us very happy. They've got good food, great desserts, fast service and a perfect little secluded setting. You just don't want to leave.

Edit: Sadly, Charcoal has closed down. Here's hoping they relocate.


While we generally start most of our reviews with the food, Charcoal is as much about the place as it is about what they offer on the menu. If you like art, privacy and good music, we really can't think of a better place outside of Colombo. Some commenters have blamed us for divulging their hideout, and we can see why.

Charcoal is made up of the cafe area with seating for around 15 and the performance area where they host gigs, usually on weekends.

The walls of Charcoal are adorned with different types of art which you can purchase if you like. On the day we dropped in they'd featured charcoal sketches of animals by one artist in the cafe and larger more abstract canvas paintings in the performance area.

If you fancy reading, Charcoal has a decent selection of both new and old books to choose from. All in all it's just very cozy and relaxing. With Sinatra playing in the background we really didn't notice the time pass by, until we looked at the clock and three hours later.


Charcoal doesn't offer a massive ten page menu like many cafes in Colombo. Instead, their menu is a two page hand written menu. It comprises savories, desserts and beverages, about eight items each. The best part is the prices, the most expensive items are burgers at Rs. 550.

It was a pretty warm day so we went with their iced mocha (Rs. 350) which really hit the spot. This was a slightly milkier version of caffè mocha with a good amount expresso, but slightly mild in terms of chocolate. They use Hansa coffee, which was another plus in my books. This one is served with no sugar but you can add it separately.

Their spicy cheese toasties (Rs. 300) were totally worth the money. You get three toasted sandwiches filled with gooey cheese, green chillies and a bit of chilli powder. It's not so spicy that it'll make you tear up, but it's just the right amount to offset the creaminess of the cheese filling. Charcoal substitutes the usual french fries with manioc chips lightly dusted with chili powder which works brilliantly with the carb based dishes.

We also had their chicken and bacon burger (Rs. 550). Once again, we have nothing but good things to say. The picture above really doesn't do it justice. The burger comes with plenty of lettuce, cheese, a slice of pineapple and a side of manioc chips. I'm generally not a huge fans of fruits in my savories but in this case the pineapple added a nice sweet contrast. We tasted plenty of bacon but couldn't really see it, until we realized that it was mixed into the patty.

For dessert we had their strawberry cheesecake (Rs. 350), which was on par with some of the best we've had around Colombo. The only thing that could have made it better would have been the addition of fresh strawberries, which we were told they usually do but unfortunately they were all out. The cream cheese was smooth and creamy with the strawberry topping adding ample sweetness. This one had a thicker biscuit base than usual cheesecakes but that worked out well since it too tasted great.

We were here for like three hours so after a small break we had some ice cream and cookies (Rs. 200). It's not a fancy dessert but the creaminess of the ice cream and the crunch of the choc chip cookies is a combination that always seems to work. This wasn't really on the menu, but they had ice cream and cookies so we just asked them if they could put it together and they were more than happy to oblige.


Charcoal is a small cafe so the service is fast, personal and friendly. The best way to describe is that it feels like you're a guest at a friends house.


After this visit I'll definitely be dropping in to Charcoal whenever I get the chance. You can sit around for hours reading, browsing the net or just having a nice chat with a few friends in privacy, with some great food to boot.


Make sure you don't skip the dessert.


75 Hotel Road, Mount Lavinia


To get to Mount, head down Galle Road till you pass Burger King, then you'll seen a sign for the Mount Lavinia Hotel down Hotel Road. Follow that past St. Thomas, curve right and Charcoal is before the hotel and after La Rambla.


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This place has closed down

Price Range

Between Rs. 200 - Rs. 500

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