Welcome to Kandy, Sri Lanka’s cultural capital and a city known for its beauty, history, and vibrant food scene. Located in the central hills of the island nation, Kandy offers a diverse culinary experience that highlights the rich flavors and unique ingredients of Sri Lankan cuisine. From traditional dishes bursting with aromatic spices to fusion creations that blend local and international flavors, Kandy has something to satisfy every palate.
In this article, we will explore the top five restaurants in Kandy that you simply must visit. These restaurants have consistently impressed both locals and travelers with their exceptional food, ambiance, and service. Whether you’re craving authentic Sri Lankan delicacies or in the mood for international fare with a twist, these dining establishments will not disappoint.
But before we dig into the details of each restaurant, let’s take a moment to appreciate the culinary landscape of Kandy. Sri Lankan cuisine is a fascinating fusion of Indian, Malay, Arab, and colonial influences, resulting in a vibrant and diverse culinary tapestry. Rice and curry, a staple dish that features an assortment of curries served with fluffy rice, takes center stage on the island’s dining tables.
Traditional dishes like hoppers, roti, and kottu are also widely enjoyed. Hoppers, a type of crispy thin pancake, are typically eaten for breakfast or as a snack. Roti, a flatbread made from wheat or rice flour, is often stuffed with various fillings and is a popular street food. Kottu, on the other hand, is a hearty and flavorful dish made from chopped roti, vegetables, and meat or seafood.
With its lush hillsides, tea plantations, and spice gardens, Kandy is blessed with an abundance of fresh produce. Local fruits, vegetables, spices, and herbs are used generously in the city’s kitchens, adding depth and complexity to the dishes. Don’t forget to try some of the tropical fruits like mango, papaya, and jackfruit during your culinary adventures in Kandy.
Restaurant 1: The Empire Cafe
Nestled in the heart of Kandy, The Empire Cafe is a charming eatery that offers a delightful combination of Sri Lankan and international dishes. Housed in a beautifully restored colonial building, the restaurant exudes old-world charm and provides a cozy and welcoming atmosphere for diners.
The Empire Cafe prides itself on showcasing the best of Sri Lankan cuisine. Their menu features a wide range of traditional dishes, including mouthwatering rice and curry options. From fragrant fish curry to succulent chicken curry, each dish is prepared with utmost care and attention to detail, ensuring an explosion of flavors on your taste buds.
In addition to the local specialties, The Empire Cafe also offers an array of international dishes with a Sri Lankan twist. Indulge in their signature Empire Burger, made with a juicy beef patty seasoned with local spices and served with a side of crispy fries. For a lighter option, try their fresh and vibrant salads, which incorporate local ingredients like mango, coconut, and lime.
One of the highlights of dining at The Empire Cafe is their extensive tea menu. Sri Lanka is renowned for its tea production, and this restaurant celebrates that heritage by offering a variety of teas sourced from different regions of the island. Enjoy a cup of fragrant Ceylon tea as you soak in the colonial ambiance and take in the views of the bustling streets of Kandy.
With its attentive service, relaxed atmosphere, and delectable food, The Empire Cafe has earned its place as one of the top restaurants in Kandy. Whether you’re looking for a taste of traditional Sri Lankan flavors or craving familiar international dishes, this charming eatery will leave you satisfied and wanting to come back for more.
Restaurant 2: The Kandy Muslim Hotel
If you’re in the mood for authentic Sri Lankan Muslim cuisine, then The Kandy Muslim Hotel is the place to be. Situated in the heart of Kandy, this restaurant has been delighting locals and tourists alike with its tantalizing flavors and warm hospitality.
The Kandy Muslim Hotel specializes in biryani, a fragrant and flavorful rice dish that is a staple in Muslim cuisine. Their biryani options include chicken, mutton, and vegetarian varieties, all cooked to perfection with a medley of spices and aromatic ingredients. Each bite of their biryani is a heavenly experience that will transport you to the vibrant streets of India and Pakistan.
Aside from their famous biryani, The Kandy Muslim Hotel also offers a wide range of other culinary delights. From delectable kebabs and flavorful curries to mouthwatering samosas and freshly baked naan bread, every dish is prepared with passion and expertise. Their menu reflects the rich heritage and culinary traditions of the Sri Lankan Muslim community.
What sets The Kandy Muslim Hotel apart is the emphasis on using fresh, high-quality ingredients. The spices and herbs used in their dishes are sourced from local markets, ensuring an authentic and robust flavor profile. The restaurant also takes pride in offering homemade specialties, such as their signature falooda, a refreshing and indulgent dessert drink made with rose syrup, vermicelli, sweet basil seeds, and ice cream.
In addition to the incredible food, The Kandy Muslim Hotel provides a warm and inviting ambiance to enhance your dining experience. The friendly staff are always ready to assist and guide you through the menu, ensuring that you have a memorable and enjoyable time at the restaurant.
For those seeking a taste of Sri Lankan Muslim cuisine, The Kandy Muslim Hotel is a must-visit destination. Prepare to indulge in a feast of flavors and discover the culinary treasures of the local Muslim community that have been passed down through generations.
Restaurant 3: Helga’s Folly
If you’re looking for a dining experience like no other, Helga’s Folly is the place to go. Located on a hillside in Kandy, this unique and eccentric restaurant offers not just a meal, but a journey into a world of artistic wonder and whimsy.
Helga’s Folly is not your typical restaurant. It is a living art installation, curated by the owner herself, Helga de Silva Blow Perera. The walls are adorned with vibrant paintings, eclectic sculptures, and an array of curiosities that intrigue and mesmerize visitors. The restaurant’s interior design is a reflection of Helga’s artistic sensibilities and her love for the bizarre and unconventional.
When it comes to the food, Helga’s Folly offers a fusion of international and Sri Lankan flavors. The menu features a variety of dishes that cater to different tastes and dietary preferences. From signature seafood dishes like calamari and prawn curry to gourmet burgers and pastas, there is something for everyone.
One of the highlights of dining at Helga’s Folly is the panoramic view of Kandy it offers. The restaurant’s terrace provides breathtaking views of the city skyline, lush green hills, and the iconic Temple of the Tooth. Whether you choose to dine indoors, surrounded by the artful chaos, or outdoors on the terrace, the stunning view adds an extra layer of magic to your dining experience.
What truly makes Helga’s Folly special is the enchanting atmosphere it creates. Live music performances, themed parties, and art exhibitions are hosted regularly, transforming the restaurant into a vibrant hub of creativity and entertainment. It’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in the artistic energy of Kandy while enjoying a delicious meal.
Helga’s Folly is more than just a restaurant; it’s an extraordinary sensory experience. If you’re looking for a dining adventure that ignites your imagination and leaves a lasting impression, venture into this artistic wonderland and let Helga’s Folly take you on a whimsical journey like no other.
Restaurant 4: The Old Empire Hotel
Situated in the heart of Kandy’s bustling city center, The Old Empire Hotel stands as a testament to the city’s colonial past. This historic establishment has been serving delicious food and providing a glimpse into Kandy’s rich heritage for over a century.
The ambiance of The Old Empire Hotel takes you back in time with its elegant colonial architecture, antique furnishings, and vintage decor. As you step inside, you’ll be transported to an era when Kandy was under British rule, immersing yourself in the charm and nostalgia of yesteryears.
The restaurant’s menu captures the essence of both British and Sri Lankan cuisines, offering an enticing blend of classic favorites and local specialties. Indulge in traditional Sri Lankan rice and curry, featuring an array of delicately spiced curries accompanied by fragrant rice. The flavors are authentic and reflect the culinary traditions of the island.
In addition to Sri Lankan dishes, The Old Empire Hotel also offers a variety of British classics. Feast on a hearty English breakfast with bacon, eggs, sausages, and baked beans, or savor a comforting shepherd’s pie packed with tender meat and topped with creamy mashed potatoes. Each dish is prepared with care, ensuring a memorable dining experience.
One of the highlights of dining at The Old Empire Hotel is the warm and attentive service. The staff is dedicated to providing top-notch hospitality and ensuring that guests feel welcome and well taken care of. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a regular patron, you can expect impeccable service and a personalized dining experience.
As you enjoy your meal, take a moment to explore the surrounding area. The hotel is conveniently located near popular attractions such as the Temple of the Tooth and the Kandy Lake, making it an ideal spot to refuel and rest during your exploration of the city.
The Old Empire Hotel offers more than just good food; it provides a glimpse into Kandy’s vibrant history and cultural heritage. So, if you’re yearning for a culinary journey that combines the flavors of two different worlds, step into The Old Empire Hotel and let its timeless charm and delectable dishes transport you to a bygone era.
Restaurant 5: The Royal Bar and Hotel
Located in the heart of Kandy, The Royal Bar and Hotel is a vibrant dining establishment that seamlessly combines great food, lively entertainment, and a touch of elegance. This iconic restaurant has been a favorite amongst locals and tourists for its diverse menu, lively atmosphere, and exceptional service.
The Royal Bar and Hotel is renowned for its extensive menu, which offers a wide range of cuisines to cater to every palate. From traditional Sri Lankan dishes to international delights, there is something for everyone here. Indulge in flavorful Sri Lankan curries, made with locally sourced ingredients and aromatic spices, or try their mouthwatering seafood options, featuring fresh catches of the day.
In addition to the delectable food, The Royal Bar and Hotel is famous for its lively entertainment. The restaurant features live music performances, cultural shows, and even karaoke nights, ensuring that diners are entertained throughout their visit. The vibrant atmosphere and energetic performances create a memorable and enjoyable experience for all.
The restaurant’s stylish and contemporary decor adds an element of sophistication to the dining experience. Whether you choose to dine in the main restaurant area with its sleek furnishings or opt for a more intimate setting in one of their private dining rooms, The Royal Bar and Hotel provides a comfortable and elegant ambiance for all guests.
The attentive and friendly staff at The Royal Bar and Hotel go above and beyond to ensure that every diner has a memorable experience. They are always on hand to offer recommendations, assist with menu choices, and provide exceptional service. Their dedication to guest satisfaction sets The Royal Bar and Hotel apart as a top dining destination in Kandy.
As the name suggests, The Royal Bar and Hotel also offers a well-stocked bar with a wide selection of local and international beverages. From signature cocktails to fine spirits, you can enjoy a drink of your choice while immersing yourself in the lively atmosphere of the restaurant.
When in Kandy, a visit to The Royal Bar and Hotel is a must for food lovers and those seeking a vibrant and entertaining dining experience. Soak in the lively ambiance, indulge in delicious dishes, and make lasting memories at this renowned restaurant in the heart of Kandy.