Sri Lanka’s busy and vibrant capital Colombo is home to a thriving restaurant scene, perfect for indulging in all of your breakfast related desires. From high-end restaurants at five star hotels offering a fusion of Asian and Western cuisines, to local haunts and quirky cafes where you can start the day the traditional Sri Lankan way, we’ve scoured Colombo’s streets to find the best. Here are the top ten brunch and late breakfast spots in Colombo.
The Barefoot Garden Cafe in Colombo. At dusk..
Architect: Amila de mel | Courtesy of Barefoot Garden Cafe
Barefoot Garden Cafe is one of the favourite brunch spots and hang-out places among tourists and locals alike, situated in a stone-paved open courtyard, surrounded by a lush and leafy frangipani garden. This spot offers more than just food: diners will find an excellent bookshop with a surprisingly wide selection of Sri Lankan authors and books on Sri Lanka; an exquisite fashion boutique, showcasing hand-woven textiles; and a spectacular art gallery, where cultural events such as film screenings, art and photography exhibitions, concerts and poetry readings take place on a regular basis. On Sundays, guests can enjoy jazz whilst feasting on tasty sandwiches and great falafel bites, or more hefty prawn dishes and pork curries.
Harbour Court at Kingsbury Hotel specialises in contemporary seafood and international cuisine, ranging from traditional Indian and South East Asian dishes to modern takes on European and American cuisine. On Sundays, the restaurant features a luxurious and mouth-watering caviar & oyster brunch. Whilst exploring a wide variety of Asian cuisine, guests can enjoy live music and a refreshing glass of champagne. Both the indoor or al fresco seating offer spectacular views of the Indian Ocean and the hotel’s pool, further contributing to the sophisticated yet relaxed atmosphere of Harbour Court.
Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, Santore Bistro Bar is set in the gardens of the Sri Lankan tennis association. Considered to be one of the best Italian restaurants in Sri Lanka, both due to the food and delightful ambience, the Santore Bistro features traditional Mediterranean and Italian cuisine. Situated within walking distance of the National Museum, this authentic Italian bistro and bar offers classic clay oven pizzas with a large selection of toppings, ranging from fresh seafood and fish to bacon, blue cheese and capers, specially imported from Italy. If pizza doesn’t take your fancy, try Santore’s other bistro specialities, such as hefty lasagnas or tasty cannelloni, filled with spinach and ricotta cheese.
Bakery, Pastry Shop, Sri Lankan, Dessert, Pastries
The English Cake Company -The Cakery, Colombo | Courtesy of English Cake Company
Family-owned English Cake Company has been offering delicious homemade cakes, sweets and savouries since it first opened in December 2012 at the Good Market at Battarmulla. From brownies and elegant pavlovas, to hearty pizzas and tasty quiches, to homemade yoghurts and custards, the bakery offers a great brunch alternative if you’re looking for well-priced European tastes. The use of fresh local produce, environmentally friendly packaging and no artificial colours, flavours or additives makes English Cake Company an almost guilt-free dining choice.
Considered one of the best brunch spots in town, Taprobane restaurant at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel offers a truly lavish brunching experience. The restaurant features international cuisine, with over 70 different Eastern and Western dishes. From freshly prepared cold seafood and fish platters with a selection of fish pate, Japanese sushi, Nordic gravlax and South American ceviche alongside diversely prepared mussels, oysters, crabs and prawns; to sizzling hot South East Asian, Chinese, Indian and European dishes, ranging from Asian noodles and rice dishes to roasted pork, Taprobane has something for every diner. The desserts are equally impressive, with flambeed fruit with caramel sauce among the favourites.
Situated within the Hilton Colombo Hotel, the elegant Spices restaurant is stylishly decorated in warm colours, with dim lighting and lush greenery, ensuring a relaxed and welcoming feel. The large windows offer a stunning view of fountains, waterfalls and tropical plants of the courtyard garden. On Sundays, the restaurant serves a variety of Sri Lankan, Indian, Chinese and Western cuisine, including seafood, roasted duck, pork and beef fishes, as well as 30 different desserts, including a must-visit crepe station. Families are particularly welcome, with a family brunch which includes a glass of sparkling wine for the parents and access to the swimming pool, face-painting and popcorn for the kids.
Cafe, Restaurant, European, Asian, Sri Lankan, $$$
The Gallery Cafe is both a restaurant and art gallery, regularly showcasing emerging talent and well-established local Sri Lankan artists. Before opening in 1998, the colonial bungalow housed the office of the Sri Lanka’s most famous architect, Geoffrey Bawa; thankfully, the Gallery Cafe maintains his charm and vision. Beautifully decorated, with a reflective pool in the courtyard garden, the restaurant features international fusion cuisine, with several local favourites such as lemongrass and ginger chicken, black pork or prawn curry with sauteed kankun, known as water spinach. Make sure to check out the spectacular cocktail menu, with specialities including tamarind chili martini and homemade ginger beer.
Situated near the Gallery Cafe, Mitsi’s Delicacies charms its guests with its friendly and relaxed atmosphere, warm hospitality and great European cuisine. Ranging from American and Moroccan, to Mediterranean, Italian, French and Greek cuisines, Mitsi’s Delicacies offer a large selection of delicious homemade breads, light savouries, hearty meals, and beautifully decorated desserts, perfect for a weekend brunch with friends. From chicken quesadilla, pepper steak and mozzarella burgers to fruit macaroons and strawberry meringues, accompanied by cappuccino or a fruit smoothie, the restaurant offers something for every taste and culinary whim. For more adventurous guests, the restaurant also features regular cooking classes.
Situated in one of the oldest buildings in Colombo, the Old Dutch Hospital, the Ministry of Crab is the most unique dining setting on this list. Ministry of Crab is a joint venture of Sri Lankan cricket icons Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, together with master chef Darshan Munidasa. Built in 1677 and severely neglected during the civil war, the Old Dutch Hospital is now a shopping enclave, filled with fashion boutiques, restaurants and art galleries. The Ministry of Crab offers a diverse range of very fresh crab dishes, including chilli crab, garlic crab, ginger steamed crab and even butter crab, and aims to be one of the lowest ‘food mile’ restaurants in the world. Choose the size of your crab based on the size of your appetite: starting with small crabs of 500 grams up to two kilogram giants.
Situated within the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, South Indian restaurant Chutneys offers a great alternative to traditional European brunch. The restaurant serves a large selection of South Indian dishes from the four main South Indian states of Andhra Paradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, with separate vegetarian and non-vegetarian options for each state. Chutneys is a must-visit for dosa lovers: choose from 45 vegetarian and 55 non-vegetarian options of the traditional South Indian breakfast dosa, a fermented crepe or pancake from rice batter and black lentils, served with your choice of fillings and chutneys, sambar and Indian pickles. Chutneys is also the first in Colombo to serve dosa thali, a more substantial dosa dish for lunch or dinner.