I love Sri Lankan food. It’s fun to eat, and the flavors are interesting, complex, and sometimes even fiery. So naturally, when I visited Dubai, I started to look for where I could get it closer to home. There are plenty of Sri Lankan restaurants in Dubai, but many of them aren’t very good and have no ambiance at all, let alone a Sri Lankan ambiance. So began my journey to find the best Sri Lankan restaurants in Dubai.
1. Chef Lanka Restaurant
Chef Lanka was started 22 years ago by a young couple who thought to share their passion for cooking and love of Sri Lankan cuisine with the rest of the world. They took a risk opening a restaurant specializing in Sri Lankan cuisine, but that has paid off tenfold!
Chef Lanka is one of the few restaurants in Dubai serving traditional and authentic Sri Lankan cuisine. That is what separates Chef Lanka from other Sri Lankan eating houses. The owners have also incorporated Sri Lankan design into the décor with the use of paintings and masks.
Chef Lanka serves traditional fare like their rice and curries, which contain a variety of Sri Lankan vegetables. Their signature dish is a koththu paratha, a typical Sri Lankan burrito filled with vegetables, meat, or an egg blended together with some Sri Lankan spice.
- Location: Khazna Centre, 27 B Street
- Opening Times: Open Daily between 7:30am-10:30pm
- Phone: +971 4 335 3050
2. Cinnamon Tree Restaurant
The Cinnamon Tree restaurant, named for the whole spice that grows abundantly on the island of Sri Lanka, has carved a niche in the Dubai eatery world and offers flavorful, authentic Sri Lankan food.
To truly experience a taste of Sri Lanka, you should visit The Cinnamon Tree. Based in the Al Otaiba Building, this family-style restaurant has a wide selection of authentic Sri Lankan foods.
No meal is complete without rice in Sri Lankan cuisine, a staple of Sri Lankan cooking. At Cinnamon Tree, you can try their Polos curry, which is young jackfruit cooked in a delicious blend of spices and served with flavorful rice.
Jackfruit has a texture similar to animal protein for those new to Sri Lankan cooking, making it a great meat substitute. Another firm favorite at Cinnamon Tree restaurant is their chicken curry cooked in a clay pot for extra flavor!
- Location: Ground Floor of Al Otaiba Building
- Opening Times: Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday are open between 8 am to 11:30 pm & Friday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday are open between 8 am to 12:00 am
- Telephone: +971 54 409 4413
3. Thushanis Sri Lankan Restaurant
Thushara and Ruwani, two passionate foodies, decided to share their love of everything Sri Lankan with Dubai and started Thushanis. Sri Lankan cuisine is a mixed pot of tastes from the Indians, Arabs, Portuguese, Malay, and the British.
A particular favorite on their weekend menu is their rice and curry wrapped in a banana leaf. The flavors of Sri Lanka outpour when you open this package of goodness. At Thushanis, you get to experience this melting pot of tastes and flavors in the outstanding foods offered.
- Location: Shop #7, Building No 6
- Opening Time: Open daily between 7:30am to 23:00pm
- Telephone: +971 4 453 9996
4. Food Shack Restaurant
The Food Shack is known for delivering the largest quantity of office lunch packs in Dubai. Other than that, they have also earned their fame by serving the best Sri Lankan cuisine. Their infamous hoppers, a savory crepe’ like a pancake, are served with a range of side dishes to tempt the hungry palate.
A hopper is more like the Ethiopian injera than a traditional French crepe. The tanginess and texture are similar to that of the injera, yeasty with a slight sourness.
Other favorites of this Sri Lankan restaurant are their Lamprais literally translates to lump rice and was presented to Sri Lanka by the Dutch Burgers. At Food Shack, you can have this tasty dish with a selection of curries and accompanying chutneys or pickles.
Suppose you are in the mood for a flavorful, tasty biryani. In that case, visit Food Shack and try their authentic Sri Lankan biryanis, which you will find are vastly different from their Indian counterparts.
- Location: G3, Moroccan Cluster, International City
- Opening Time: Open daily between 8 am to 12 am
- Telephone: +971 4 368 3001
5. Thambapanni Restaurant
Thambapanni brings the authentic taste of Sri Lanka to Dubai. It bears the original name of the island nestled in the Indian Ocean. What sets Thambapanni apart from other Sri Lankan restaurants in Dubai is the delicious fare prepared and served and that all staff is from Sri Lanka! This accounts for the authenticity of all foods prepared.
Thambapanni is a family-owned restaurant with franchises across Dubai, but the tastes and flavors remain authentically Sri Lankan.
For a taste of something different, perhaps try their Ceylon dosa. As I understand from the owners, Ceylon Dosa is very different from other South Indian Dosas in that they have a more significant portion of lentils to rice, which packs a powerful punch! The Ceylon Dosa is served with a traditional dhall or sambar and a selection of chutneys. It makes for an ideal breakfast!
- Location: Culinary Journey Shop2/3, Dulf Tower, Al Nahda
- Opening Time: Open daily between 7 am to 10:30 pm
- Telephone: +971 6 526 6636
6. Lakwil Restaurant
If you are searching for a restaurant with the ambiance of Sri Lanka and with the sea breeze wafting through then, Lakwil is definitely the place you want to visit. Located on the Marina, it avows patrons of stunning views of the bay while enjoying scrumptious traditional Sri Lankan meals.
A must-try at this Sri Lankan restaurant will obviously be their traditional fare. They are rumored to have the best Lampairas, but besides these, you cannot leave without giving their mud crab curry a try! Spicy, with a touch of heat from the chilies, but you can opt to have a milder curry.
Besides the superb Sri Lankan food, Lakwil’s also offers live music and outstanding entertainment with a fully stocked bar that compliments your leisure evening.
- Location: Donetalla Hotel, Al Barsha
- Opening Time: Open daily between 12:00pm to 3:00am
- Telephone: +971 55 970 6133
7. Araliya Restaurant
Araliya is another restaurant in Dubai that has withstood the economic recessions other eateries faced and came out stronger. The reason for surviving the troubling years can be accredited to their appetizing meals at affordable prices.
They serve a wide variety of traditional Sri Lankan breakfast, lunch, and dinners that satisfies any hunger pangs!
This restaurant, once nestled away, is now at a more accessible location opposite the City Center Al Shindagha and is a reflection of Sri Lanka, from the décor to the spicy, flavorful foods prepared fresh daily.
- Location: Near Vasantham Hotel, Meena Bazaar
- Opening Time: Open daily between 9:00 am to 11:30 pm
- Telephone: +971 4 393 1622
8. Kandy Klub Restaurant And Bar
As a cricket fanatic searching for a sports bar to catch the latest cricket match, I came across Kandy Klub. Kandy Klub is not just a restaurant serving tantalizing Sri Lankan meals, but they also have a happy hour, making this quaint restaurant the perfect place to unwind and watch my favorite teams battle on the greens.
While I scream at the wicketkeeper for missing a catch, I can enjoy a plateful of their Sri Lankan crab curry or prawns in a hot butter sauce. I also snack on their starters of fried chickpeas or devilled soya chunks, which, as devilled meals go, are out of this world! Despite being vegetarian!
- Location: Ground Floor of Chelsea Plaza Hotel, Al Satwa
- Opening Time: Open daily between 9:00 am to 11:30 pm
- Telephone: +971 54 401 2710
9. Ayubowan Restaurant
Situated at the Lake Point Tower, Ayubowan restaurant is named after the traditional Sri Lankan greeting, “may you be blessed with long life.” The restaurant is homely and comfortable, like being back home on the island of Sri Lanka.
Ayubowan has received accolades from the Department of Dubai Tourism, voting it one of Dubai’s Top Ten Hidden Gems. It has also received the JLT award for best street food restaurant in 2017.
They offer a traditional Sri Lankan lunch buffet that’s sure to tempt your senses and palate’. Another special night that draws in crowds is their hoppers night. They serve a variety of hoppers, like their egg hoppers or their spicy hopper, which takes you back to Sri Lanka.
- Location: R2A Lake Point Tower, Cluster N, Jumeirah Lake Towers
- Opening Times: Open daily between 10:00 am to 23:00 pm
- Telephone: +971 56 253 5455
10. Al-Sham King Restaurant
Sri Lankan expats living in Dubai leave with tears because Al-Sham King reminds them so much of being back in Sri Lanka. The foods are prepared by skilled cooks in the traditions of Sri Lankan cuisine, so they know all about what goes into preparing a spicy, wholesome and flavorful Sri Lankan meal.
Their string hopper Kothu (beef) is much loved and a favorite amongst Sri Lankan expats. Another favorite dish served here is their Kothu Roti or beef roti. It has plenty of beef chunks and spices, both ground and whole, that adds to the flavor of this dish. The accompanying roti is soft and flaky, perfect for soaking up the gravy.
Al-Sham King offers quality and affordable Sri Lankan food for those on the go. It is not a restaurant in the traditional sense; instead, it caters to workers on the go. A grab-and-go sort of place. But the food is definitely worth visiting this little place tucked away from the busy streets of Dubai.
- Location: 16 20A Street Al Rashidiya
- Opening Times: Open daily between 4:30am to 23:00pm
- Telephone: +971 4 285 8171
11. Red Box Restaurant
There isn’t a single culture that attributes itself to Sri Lanka; instead, it is a mixed pot of cultures spread across Europe, Asia, and Africa. Red Box reflects this mixed pot with its unique blend of foods that have come to be recognized as traditional Sri Lankan fare.
A must-try is their dry fried tempura prawns. A delightful light starter served with pol sambol, a traditional Sri Lankan coconut chutney, a flavorful dhall or lentils, and a slice of toasted bread. Quite a big meal for a starter, so perhaps go easy on the starters!
At the start of the pandemic, Red Box introduced a Go Green meal, which is guaranteed to boost any comprised immune system. Comprising vitamin-enriched spinach, water spinach or Kang-Kung, green beans, and peas, it is packed with Vitamins A, B, C, iron, and other minerals and antioxidants.
You can have this Go Green salad mix that boosts your immunity and metabolism with a slice of your favorite beef. As an added bonus, each serving comes with a roast chicken drumstick. Now that’s a meal I would dive into!
If this is insufficient to tempt you to visit this hideaway Sri Lankan restaurant, then I have something else that unquestionably will do the trick! Red Box has a heavenly selection of donuts. They aren’t traditional Sri Lankan food but hey! They hit all the right spots when you have a sweet tooth.
- Location: Damascus Street, Qusais
- Opening Time: Open daily between 8:00am to 12:00am
- Telephone: +971 4 258 3313
12. Colombo Bakery
You cannot visit Dubai without making a stop at this bakery! It was opened way back in 2000, catering to Sri Lankan expats who missed traditional Sri Lankan baked goods. Twenty-two years later, it recently opened a branch in Ajman City and delivers across Dubai from Ajman to Sharjah.
What we in the West would call finger foods, Sri Lankans refer to as short eats. At Colombo Bakery, you will find a wide selection of short eats like egg rolls, which are very different from the Chinese version.
You can also try fish bun or their chicken and mushroom pie, which is not traditional Sri Lankan food, but it contains typical Sri Lankan spices with just the right blend of chili to add a bit of heat.
- Location: Shop 1,2 and 3 Ajman Industrial Area, Ajman
- Opening Time: Monday to Friday between 10:00am to 10pm & Weekend: 8:00am to 22:00pm
- Telephone: +971 50 386 4249