Find yourself in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital city and you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice with the number of places to get really good vegan food. Here’s our Vegan Guide to Colombo to help you make the most out of your stay…
In the past we’ve found the tuk tuk drivers in Colombo to be some of the rudest, dishonest and unfriendliest drivers we ever got a lift with so we were happy to see that Über has taken off here.
You can now get about with other local people offering transport in their own cars.
It doesn’t quite have the same romantic traveler vibe as whizzing about in a tuk tuk, but it’s reliable, easy and stress free, sign up for an Über account here and get a free ride (value varies by location) if you don’t already have one.
Having said that, we noticed that tuk tuk drivers were more used to putting on their meters (always insist on this) and seemed to go in a fairly straightforward route to our destination too, so perhaps the worm is turning?
Where to stay:
We’ve been really well looked after as vegans in the hotels we chose to stay in during our visits to Colombo, mainly due to the well stocked breakfast buffets. For us, these were essential to make sure we ate enough fresh fruit and vegetables in a day as vegan Sri Lankan food (as delicious as it is, can often fall down in this area).
Located in the district of Colombo 3 and well within reach of the train station and lively ‘Fort Area’, Cinnamon Red will give you a taste of ‘Lean Luxury’. It’s a cool, funky hotel with an awesome breakfast buffet that had loads of vegan options for us.
OZO Colombo can be found in the district of Colombo 5. It has the added bonus of being right opposite the sea. It’s not a sunbathing / swimming beach but there is something soothing about waking up to the view of the ocean or heading up to the rooftop pool for some more amazing views. At breakfast, eat everything from Marmite on toast (with vegan spread) to traditional Sri Lankan treats like string hoppers.
Where and what to Eat:
The problem with Colombo is that there seems to be an abundance of ‘Pure Vegetarian Hotels’ which serve the most delicious, local food (much of which is vegan). A hungry, food loving vegan traveller can find themselves unable to choose or (much worse) can miss out on the best places to get your Sri Lankan and Southern Indian vegan food fix.
Welcome to our favourite section of our Vegan Guide to Colombo, where we get to relive what we ate during our various trips and share our experiences with you…
37 Jaya Rd – Colombo 4
When we visited this mid-range restaurant serving North and South Indian food as well as Sri Lankan dishes, the service was painfully slow but the food was extraordinarily excellent. We ordered a masala dosa with a vadai (little deep fried spiced lentil flour donut) on the side and it was possibly the most generously filled dosa that we have ever eaten. Crispy, good coconut chutney, delicious sambar curry on the side and a total highlight for us.
53/3 Ramakrishna Rd – Colombo 6
This is a busy, upscale restaurant serving some Sri Lankan food and a huge range of North and South Indian food too. The service was friendly, efficient and really helpful in picking out dishes we could have with no ghee or milk. In hindsight we didn’t order that well and so we didn’t rate the food that much. We had ‘Bhel Puri’ which was veganised and delicious, “Cauliflower Manchurian” which was covered in too much fake tasting cornstarch thickened sauce and a “String Hopper Pulau” which was OK if not that exciting.
The portions are small and the prices are relatively high.
Having said this, we’d definitely go back if we wanted somewhere nice to eat or to take people we were meeting. The service and setting were so good that we both thought with some better ordering we’d have had more success and other people’s food looked good.
Amrithaa Vegetarian Hotel
1-4/1 Galle Main Rd – Colombo 5
Want a humble, local experience where you eat with your hands and will be pleasantly surprised by the price on the bill at the end? Then go to this little Pure Vegetarian Restaurant. We ate string hoppers with dahl, potato curry and a coconut milk carry that was ladled out by a passing waiter with a stainless steel bucket as we ran out. Other buckets that came by had coconut chutney and a chilli tomato sauce. The ‘short eats’ we ordered were a little past their best (probably best to order these only if you go earlier in the day) as ours tasted like they were on their last legs a bit.
2nd Floor, Liberty Arcade – Colombo 3
We discovered Oro 1889 by accident but we’re really glad we did. Their pizzas are nothing short of amazing. Expect authentic, light and delicious pizzas cooked in a traditional (imported from Italy) wood fired oven.
Indo Ceylon Cafe
Galle Rd – Colombo 3
Another cheap local place, the no frills Indo Ceylon Cafe is an all vegetarian restaurant which serves up a lot of good Sri lankan food. Get your fix of rotti kottu, dosai and dahl, string hoppers and kiri hodi, plus delicious short eats.
Smokey’s – The Brownie Bar
It’s a well known fact that vegan brownies are everyones best friend and luckily you can get some special brownie time in during your trip to Colombo.
A very lovely vegan Sri Lankan has embarked on a mission to fill the world with vegan brownies and set up Smokey’s – The Brownie Bar and let us tell you now that they are really good!
You need to give a little bit of notice and pre-order them, then wait for them to be delivered to your doorstep but it’s all worth it because these vegan chocolate brownies are the bomb. They come with a variety of toppings and in huge ‘you’ll be eating brownies for a week’ servings of six giant brownies but the price (including delivery) is so cheap that there is no excuse to resist.
For more information about travelling in Sri Lanka as a vegan read our other Sri Lankan Vegan Food Guides below:
Or you might want to check out the Vegan Sri Lanka FaceBook group (full of friendly vegans living in Sri Lanka).
So there it is, our Vegan Guide to Colombo with everything that you might need for your vegan travels in this part of Sri Lanka. We hope you find it useful and would love to hear if we’ve missed out your favourite places.
Also – if you’re planning to visit Cambodia at some stage, then come and tell us all about your vegan travels in person and stay in our 100% vegan Airbnb in Siem Reap. When we’re not travelling, that’s where you’ll find us…
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