Big and busy though it might be, Colombo is home to a whole host of hip hangouts, chic cafés and brilliant brunch spots. You’ve just go to know how to find them.
Good news: we’ve done the hard work for you. Be it brunch, lunch or a seriously good brew, each of these eight establishments is a firm favourite of ours for chilling in the city.
So, whether you’re in need of a trendy place to pen your next Instagram essay, a chilled spot to catch up with friends or somewhere soothing to shelter from the monsoon rains, caffeine fiends and brunch-lovers alike should enjoy our top café picks.
32 A1 Dickmans Road, Colombo 5 | Open 09.00 – 22.00 Tuesday to Sunday (closed Mondays) | @kikucolombo
Perched above Shirohana Flowers, glass-walled KIKU is a modern, Japanese-inspired space serving tasty treats, tea and coffee all day long. Whether you’re in the market for an marvellous miso scrambled eggs or scrummy grilled salmon with sesame dressing, these guys have you covered. Also a workshop studio, KIKU regularly hosts creative events — see their calendar for anime evenings, guided meditation, poetry nights, great guest DJs and pop-ups of all kinds. Music’s high on the agenda here: come for a cinnamon bagel, stay for an iced matcha latte and groove along to the beat in air-conditioned bliss. And whatever you do, don’t miss the donuts – available Wednesday to Sunday.
60 Horton Place, Colombo 7 | Open 08.00 – 17.30 every day | @seedcafesl
Seed Café is housed in a beautifully renovated century-old villa in the heart of cool Colombo 7. Adjoining trendy yoga and wellness centre Prana Lounge – which also offers five cosy rooms at lovely Prana Home – this is a smart, soothing spot to kick back with an iced coffee, dark chocolate granola or a yummy plate of poached eggs on toast. Polished wooden tables and cosy seating in an airy, plant-filled room overlooking the garden make it a pared-back but ambient area to relax after a yoga class, or before continuing your city wanderings.
11 Wijerama Mawatha, Colombo 7 | Open 08.00 – 21.00 every day | @blackcatcolombo
A long-standing Colombo favourite, Black Cat serves up cracking Western fare in the lovely, laid-back setting of a heritage house. Chat to wonderfully friendly staff as you nab a yummy Aussie-inspired brunch (available ’til midday), or a big speciality burger. Foodie highlights include chilli prawns, Eggs Hemingway and the Downpayment. A popular workspace due to its excellent Wi-Fi and relaxed vibe, this urban eatery attracts a crowd every day of the week. Relax amidst old-school posters in the air-conditioned indoor space, browse the bookshop for selected second-hand titles or perch at tables fashioned from old Singer sewing machines on the terrace. Open into the evenings, this is also a great spot to grab an early dinner at a table in the garden.
3/1 Thambiah Avenue, Colombo 7 | Open 09.00 – 18.00 Tuesday to Sunday (closed Mondays) | @cafekumbuk
Attracting a steady stream of friends catching up over tropical hotcakes, Kumbuk is notable for its bohemian vibe and leafy interior – ideal for lounging with a laptop or one of these brilliant books. Devour a prawn wrap, sip a terrific tropical smoothie or enjoy a naked burrito bowl whilst nattering away at the big communal table or flopping on the sofa. This laid-back hangout prides itself on using local, seasonal ingredients – organic where possible – and focusing on sustainability. Having relocated to a new address just off Independence Avenue, the revamped Kumbuk, with its verdant courtyard and small artisanal shop, is proving as popular as ever.
Culinary Craft by Villa Raha
33 Macleod Road, Colombo 4 | Open 11.00 – 23.00 Monday to Friday, 8.00 – 18.00 Saturday & Sunday | @culinarycraftbyraha
A little oasis tucked down a leafy residential street, Culinary Craft is a chic foodie offering from boutique hotel Villa Raha. Too often overlooked, this courtyard café is a properly chilled place to hang out, with superb fresh juices, excellent coffee and delicious dishes to boot, from stacks of pancakes drizzled in melted chocolate to granola bowls topped with yogurt, mango, peaches and coconut honey for the perfect breakfast. Feast on mouth-watering fresh seafood, hefty chicken bao and delectable raspberry cheesecake amidst the greenery in the courtyard, or treat yourself to a hype-worthy high tea – with all the trimmings – in the recently refurbished, air-conditioned basement area. Villa Raha is also one of our top spots to stay in the city – check out our full review of the hotel here.
Milk & Honey
44a Horton Place, Colombo 7 | Open 09.30 – 18.00 Tuesday to Saturday, 10.00 – 17.00 Sunday | @milk_cafe_colombo
Hidden in the back of a children’s toy shop, Milk & Honey makes some of the tastiest baked treats of all the city’s cafés. From brownies and cookies to banana bread and coffee cake, there’s plenty of the good stuff on offer. Perch in the little indoor area with an energising juice or an iced latte, or park yourself at one of the outdoor picnic tables if you can’t get enough of the sun. Sweet snacks aside, Milk & Honey is also hugely popular for its healthy brunches and lunches – think big salads of sweet potato, hummus, lentils and leafy greens with vegetable fritters and the like. Delicious and nutritious – until you follow up with another slice of cake.
Barefoot Garden Café
704 Galle Road, Colombo 3 | Open 10.00 – 19.00 Monday to Saturday, 11.00 – 18.00 Sunday | @barefootceylon
A Colombo icon, Barefoot tops many a traveller’s city itinerary. Browse the bookshop, stock up on stunning handloom clothing and homeware in beautiful tropical colours, then admire the gallery’s latest exhibition. Bags suitably brimming with mementos, grab a seat in the gorgeous courtyard café for a well-earned rest. Sip a mint and lime soda while tucking into the curry of the day, or unwind with a beer in the early evening. With a great mix of local and international dishes in a striking indoor/outdoor setting – complete with giant bell – this is a wonderful spot to hang out. There’s a pub quiz every Wednesday evening, and toe-tapping lunchtime jazz on Sundays – come early to nab a table before the place packs out.
505/1 Union Place, Colombo 2 | Open 08.00 – 18.00 Tuesday to Saturday, 08.00 – 15.00 Sunday (closed Mondays) | @thegrindlk
Treat yourself to beautiful french toast, smoked salmon with avocado and freshly pressed juices in this cool, contemporary café in historic Colombo 2, now a bustling business district. Join office workers, travelling typers and brunching couples for generous vegan power bowls, grilled barramundi fillets on beds of quinoa and crowd-pleasing slow-cooked beef with pumpkin purée on sourdough. A slick, modern space that looks out on bustling Union Place, friendly staff and scrumptious grub make this is a superb spot to stop for a bite and a cool-down before exploring nearby Viharamahadevi Park or the heritage architecture of the surrounding area.