Colombo is hot. Thankfully, we have ice cream, gelato and froyo aplenty. Here’s some of our favorite places.
Local Ice Cream
These are the local classics. They veer towards artificial tasting, sometimes downright weird (the seasonal durian ice cream at Carnival) but they’re generally cheap and, with the exception of Carmello, in fun locations.
Carnival in Colpetty is a classic. It’s a beautiful building, stubbornly unchanged between highrises. Note that this building is currently a construction zone, but you can still get a decent seat. It has ample parking and – when in form – is a lovely place for casual date. The ice cream itself is not gourmet or anything but it’s cold, sugary and quite cheap (Rs. 100 for a scoop). The seasonal durian ice cream is, well, interesting but not for date night.
Rio’s is actually a Jaffna institution, but they’ve set up a shop on scenic Marine Drive. Their ice cream comes in colors which do not occur in nature, but the place is damn fun. They let you make crazy sundaes and mix in a lot of jellies, nuts, and toppings. Plus you can walk across the street and have your ice cream by the ocean.
Carmello is another outstation import that serves up affordable (Rs. 60 for a basic scoop), sweet and simple ice creams. It’s in an obscure location across from Havelock City apartments and has no ambience to speak of, but the ice creams (and gelatos) are nice.
Designer Ice Creams
Now the designer stuff. This are posh concoctions which can compete on an international level. With the exception of Il Gelato, they don’t specialize in ice cream, but dish it out.
These guys are the Dons of the icey gelato underworld. Expensive, but available all over and always of high quality, Il Gelatos gelatos are really good. We’ve linked to the ODEL outlet above, but they have outlets in Bambalapitiya, Havelock Town, Battaramulla, Negombo, Galle and more.
These guys don’t even have a permanent store, but they’re killing it. Butter Boutique makes their own ice creams including an excellent salted caramel. You can find them at the Good Market (Wednesdays in Battaramulla, Saturdays at Racecourse). They also do a tasty range of cakes and now brunchy savories.
Cakery is another Good Market veteran who, as the name implies, specializes in cakes. They just started doing ice creams served in edible bowls and, like everything they do, they’re creative, original and amazing. The ice creams are, as much as this is possible, cakey.
Carino’s does ice cream and that’s basically it. It’s a bit hard to find but it’s really good and we recommend seeking it out. The salted caramel is to die for and they have new flavors like roasted almond and walnut and fig. Available at Arpico (Battaramulla/Hyde Park), Keells Crescat, Tsing Tao, and at their factory in Rajagiriya.
Havelock Bungalow is the spot for a rendezvous, and they do great ‘bespoke’ ice creams. By bespoke we mean that they change them them up and the menu varies. Go for the arrack option if it’s available.
Curve is a tapas bar, but the best thing on their menu is the ice cream shots. They’re usually less than Rs. 200 and you get a shot of proper international alcohol (cognac is nice) and delicious ice cream. Win.
How could we forget about you frozen yoghurt, of course we didn’t forget. Froyo is relatively new to Colombo, but we do it well.
Yo-Mo started in the World Trade Center and now they have an outlet in ODEL. They’re quite good but a bit expensive. They have self-serve, but it’s really easy to go overboard and end up spending Rs. 500 on froyo. Still the best in terms of quality.
Avirate Cafe is a sleeper here. This small cafe next to the Avirate on Maitland Place does a solid froyo, and it’s pretty chill to hang out in. It’s a hidden gem.
Swirl is a little shop on Isipathana Mawatha (AKA Dickman’s Road above Havelock). They do just froyo and they’re pretty affordable and good.
And that’s our ice cream list. Keep it chilly.