Where to Eat in Kandy (and where not to)

I was only in Kandy for a couple of days. But it was a couple of days so hot that Toni and I had to stop A LOT for refreshments. Meaning that we got to experience Kandy’s best and worst eateries.

What I found for the best value and most authentic experience was to follow my usual rule when visiting new places: Stay local and avoid Lonely Planet like the plague.

where to eat in kandy

Kandy Main Street. Photo by Alice Lee

Where to eat in Kandy

SRI RAMYA RESTAURANT – My best meal in Kandy

After the Kandy Dances we went to Sri Ramya Restaurant. Sri Ramya is located on Kandy’s main street and yet is a million miles from the likes of The Pub just a few doors down and The Devon Restaurant across the road.

Sri Ramya had been recommended to us by the owner of our guest house when we had asked for somewhere authentic. And it didn’t disappoint.

We were led through the packed ground floor dining area and upstairs where there were a few tables free. We were handed two grubby menus and were seated at a table that looked like it had been cleaned sometime last century.

When I asked the waiter to clean the table he looked at me like I was from another planet but he gave it a cursory wipe. He was completely dumbfounded when I asked him to do it properly. With spray. He still did it though!

What we ate at Sri Ramya Restaurant:

It being late, there wasn’t a great deal on the menu that was actually available, so we ordered a strange selection of all they did have.

We got hoppers – the best we had had in Sri Lanka to date. We had an amazing fish curry, a tasty veg curry, roti bread, and the most spectacularly spicy seeni sambol that was at the same time blowing our heads off yet impossible to stop eating.

The whole meal, complete with ginger beers cost us 1,200rs (8€) for both of us.

Read more about this experience in my Tripadvisor review of Sri Ramya Restaurant.

THE DEVON RESTAURANT – My worst meal in Kandy

I broke my golden rule and went to the place recommended in Lonely Planet. I spent the whole meal wishing I’d gone back to Sri Ramya.

I actually went to the Devon Restaurant because I’d read a blog post raving about their devilled chicken. 

At this point I didn’t know what devilled chicken was, but enticed by the exciting name, I just knew I had to try it.

Unfortunately, the name is the only exciting thing about devilled chicken. It is pieces of chicken in a “devilled” sauce, which is a bit like bbq sauce, but sweet. It’s about as interesting as chicken in ketchup. And the version that we had at the Devon Restaurant was quite pathetic.

The Devon Restaurant is massive and we first entered via a staircase which led to a large terrace and huge dining room on the first floor. The terrace was packed so we took a seat in the dining room.

We were handed a menu and realised we were in the Devon’s Chinese restaurant!

We wanted Sri Lankan food so we went back down the stairs to the street and tried again. This time we went into the ground floor restaurant through the bakery and into another enormous dining room. It was packed. I couldn’t help noticing that it was packed with tourists.

The service was awful, the food an embarrassment to Sri Lankan food, and most of the prices were somewhere between high and rip-off tourist prices.

Read more about this experience in my Tripadvisor review of The Devon Restaurant.

What we ate at the Devon Restaurant:

I had devilled chicken and veg rice. The devilled chicken was bone dry and consisted of two tiny pieces. The veg rice was rice that had never even seen a vegetable.

Once I’d eaten my two measly piece of bone-dry chicken I had to ask for some spicy sauce or sambol just to make the rice edible. Which they were unable to provide.

Toni’s devilled prawns and plain rice were marginally more edible than my dish and he even went on to try a dessert, which I missed because I had to make a mad dash to the bathroom.

The best thing about this meal was the ginger beers. The whole debacle set us back 1,430rs and we were still hungry when we left.

THE BAKEHOUSE – it’d be rude not to!

If there is one thing Kandy has no shortage of it’s bakeries. Colourful, mouthwatering cakes and buns line the main street in display cabinets enticing passers by to partake in a slice of sin and a cup of tea.

For our tea and cake session we chose The Bakehouse because it was the most popular and it looked so English!

We were seated at a wooden table and were served a pot of excellent tea (tea in Sri Lanka is always excellent) by a waiter that looked like he’d just stepped out of an English period drama. Then we could go to the counter and choose from the selection of cakes – how to choose?

Unfortunately, as is often the case at these places, the cakes looked far better than they tasted. And we did taste quite a few, just to make sure.

The whole thing wasn’t cheap either: 420rs.

My verdict: do have afternoon tea and cake in Kandy. But it may be better to choose one of the other bakeries on Kandy’s main street – one that doesn’t look so prestigious. I’ll bet you’d find the cakes possibly better and the prices lower. Unfortunately I didn’t have more time in Kandy to try this myself, so do let me know.

THE MUSLIM HOTEL – great short eats

I had read about this place in many blog posts before I left Spain and I knew there was no way it would disappoint. I was right.

My only regret about the Muslim Hotel (don’t forget; in Sri Lanka, hotel means restaurant) is not being in Kandy long enough to try their famous rotis. Please do try them on my behalf and let me know if they are as amazing as they are rumoured to be.

What we did have at the Muslim Hotel in Kandy was breakfast. For breakfast we ordered a pot of tea and short eats. We were served a wonderful selection of pastries, filled rotis and samosas. Everything was delicious.

The place itself was quite charming: a large, old fashioned dining room with simple wooden furniture and bustling with diners and waiters. Service is abrupt and to the point. The emphasis is clearly on the quality of the food here.

*******

(The photo at the top of this page was borrowed from a blog I found useful when I was planning my Sri Lanka trip: On My Way by Alice Lee)

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About the Author: Lisa, born and grew up in England, live in Mallorca, Spain... Have visited more than 20 countries, have twice as many to yet visit, love sharing experiences....

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