Sri Lanka maybe the size of a peanut when you compare it with the rest of the world, but, Colombo is actually quite large when you really get to think about it.
With 15 separate subsections, finding your way through the myriad that is Colombo can be a bit of a toughie. That's essentially where we come into play, as your friend in the city. So, the next time you're in the Pettah and its vicinity (from Galle Face Green, through Fort, Pettah and Aluthkade) here's a guide to get your fill at starting from the absolute basics.
Bits and Bobs
This has probably got to the easiest category on this entire blog post. When you're in a mood for some solid street food, here's where you turn to.
Murukku and such is available at pretty much every street corner, ranging from your usual isso wadey and kunisso wadey to manioc chips (both in the form of chips and giant mushy almost pillow-like chunks) are pretty much there no matter what side you turn your head to.
Another delicacy of Pettah is their cheap range of imported fruit, whether it be oranges, pomegranates, apples or grapes, the streets of Pettah have got you covered.
Hotels and Cool Spots
The finer establishments you could peek into in terms of getting something a bit more filling than just chips are the roadside cool spots.
From sodas to pastries, Indian sweets to faluda, you're bound to get a filling (albeit slightly greasy and not all that healthy) meal from one of these places. 1 drink, 2 jalebis and a bunch of short eats cost Bilaal and I a solid Rs. 240, see what we mean?
However, if you're looking for a good place to grab some rice and curry but don't want to break the norm try.
Doing some pretty good rice and curry and a bit more, Hotel Bankshall didn't promise us a lot, but we wound up happy nonetheless.
Our next selection for when you're looking for something a bit on the very unhealthy and not all that cheap but unique nonetheless category is Galle Face Green.
All this happened to cost us almost a full Rs. 2000. So, no. We really don't think it's worth the amount you pay.
Not that we're posh or anything, just, spending Rs. 2000 on a bunch of dishes that included a kottu that smelt and tasted like it was made a week ago isn't ideal. smh.
When it comes to street food, Hulftsdorp takes the tea on it by far. Affordable eating at it's finest, Hulftsdorp does it like no other on this particular subject and we can vouch for that, no doubt.
If you're looking for some better than decent biriyani in this particular side of the fence and you're not sure about the places, we suggest checking out Mr Biriyani, it's on the side of the road and they do a pretty good job at it.
Look out for Biryani Bite as well, if you're a bit low on cash. With large quantities and delicious flecks of rice, we happened to love it.
Saving the best for last, The Biriyani Restaurant is the safest bet for authentic Biryani comes from here. Doing some of the nicest takes on a biryani in Colombo, The Biryani Restaurant might be a tad out of budget, but it's worth it.
Vegetarian – Indian Food
This particular part of the country actually happens to have quite a few veg restaurants, but, if you're looking for a chosen few that we've been to, you might want to keep watch for these ones.
Cheap food, a better than clean ambience and prices that won't have you wondering about what happened to eat cheap, Sri Rudra is a pretty good option to go with. Plus, they do a killer Masala tea, so make sure you give that a look if you do happen to check them out.
We haven't been to Sri Suryas in a while, but, if you're looking for good Indian food at its finest, Sri Suryas is a worthy opponent in this hunt of yours. They also happen to do a bizarre take on Ulundu Wade which is great if you like food adventures but not so great if you like your wade straight off the fryer.
If all these don't cut it, you can always go to a high-end hotel where you're bound to find something a bit fancier than what you're used to but is usually guaranteed a good meal.
Rice & Curry
Rice & curry isn't hard to find, but here are some of our top picks.
A hidden gem in the heart of Fort, The Colombo Food Court offers their customers a pretty hearty meal which doesn't require you making a very large or noticeable dent in your wallet, that's unless you don't have more than Rs. 200 with you, of course.
Finding a fancier rice and curry spot in the area can be tough, but the Curry Leaf at Hilton is bound to offer you decent Sri Lankan fare even if it isn't as cheap as you would have liked.
Cafe Fort may sound like a Cafe but it really isn't. Instead, it looks and feels exactly like any other "hotel" in the city but offers decent rice and curry during lunchtime. Thus, ending up on this list.
As of now, Chinese Dragon Cafe down Hospital Street is the one spot for this. Shang Palace in Shangri-La Hotel recently recommenced their business too.
If you're looking for a nice place that you can low-key count on to deliver a nice ambience with food coming hand to hand, rejoice, for there is a Commons at Hatch, Colombo. It can be a tad expensive though.
Churros Colombo (previously The Gourmet Station) in Kingsbury is undoubtedly a solid place to grab a cup of coffee and the tidbits to accompany it.
With a lovely shiny interior, this is a good place to get a cup of coffee at, if you prefer it in a fancy way.
Heladiv Tea Lounge may refer to the alcoholic aspect of it, but, if you're looking for a slightly fancier restaurant to get lunch at, this just might be it. Found in Dutch Hospital, they do a pretty good range of food and they serve alcohol.
Everyone is pretty much aware of Ministry of Crab and what they have to offer, serving some of the best seafood (particularly crab) in Colombo, Ministry of Crab is one of the fancier places in the area where you're guaranteed a hole in your wallet and some bloody good food to go with it.
Yet another spot to get a slightly fancier lunch than the norm is TGI Friday's. A bit steep in terms of pricing, yes, but, we managed to have a pretty good experience here a while back so we suggest you check them out as well and let us know how that goes.
Getting your drank on in this particular vicinity is easy. With a literal host of places you can check out, here are our chosen few.
If you like tea and you also happen to have a soft spot for alcohol, well, we've got just the right place for you!
Yet another spot in everyone's favourite Dutch Hospital Precinct, The Dutch Pub offers everyone a chance of getting their drank on whilst not making a giant dent in their wallet in terms of food.
A view of the sea, by the pool and a cocktail of your choice to kick off your evening, Honey Beach Club at Kingsbury Hotel is one of Colombo's favourite watering holes for when you want a bit more than alcohol on a night out.
The Steuart is a pretty popular spot for many to get their drink on. With decently priced food and drinks, we're not really surprised as to why so many people go there.
Botanik has a mix of reviews from people, our experience happened to be a mix as well, some very good bits and some rather mediocre bits and a rather ridiculous scenario involving coconut cream, it's your choice, this one.
Hotels & Such
This part of Colombo happens to be a den of Hotels and such, but with most hotels like Cinnamon and such coming under the likes of Colombo 2, we decided to stick to this area only thus limiting (not really) ourselves to just these few.
With a diversified array of restaurants to satisfy almost every craving you might have, The Hilton has is one luxury dining space in Colombo. The multi-cuisine buffet at their Graze Kitchen is highly recommended.
The Kingsbury offers a range of cuisines for your perusal. From a delightful range of seafood to a diverse high tea, it more or less speaks for itself this one.
Offering one of the best high tea spreads in the city, Shangri-La always keeps its high-quality food and service intact.
If a meal with a view of the city is what you have in mind, this is the place.
One Galle Face is an article in itself. With every cuisine imaginable finding some sort of nook or cranny in at least some part of the building, the variety here is quite wide. From Chinese to Italian to Gelato to Sri Lankan to cafes and every other sub-category imaginable, One Galle Face is pretty much your safest bet in terms of finding something you're going to like.