clock menu more-arrow no yes
A Sri Lankan spread of hoppers, curries and sambals at Hoppers, one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in London Hoppers [Official]

The Best Sri Lankan Restaurants in London

Crispy fried ulundu vadai, fiery, pungent sambals, soothing curries, and more

View as Map

When Hoppers opened in Soho around three years ago in a glory of metaphorical flashbulbs, the gushing was immediate. Sri Lankan food had arrived in London! And it offered a sexier version of dosa! And eggs! This must have been bemusing for Sri Lankan restaurateurs who’d been quietly grating coconuts to make fiery sambals for decades; fashioning rice flour into bamboo-shaped puttu and a tangle of noodles known as idiyappam or string hoppers.

London’s Sri Lankan restaurants are mostly clustered around Wembley and Harrow in the north-west, and Tooting and Croydon in the south, with a few joining forces with south Indian in East Ham. In areas like Wembley, where a large Indian population starts closing businesses because the second and third generation immigrants have moved into white-collar jobs, Sri Lankan shops and restaurants spring up. In Tooting and parts of east London, Sri Lankan and south Indian sit side-by-side singing a duet — same songs, different accents.

Younger Sri Lankans, meanwhile, have been cooking up a storm in supper clubs and street food markets, enticing hungry Londoners with the aromas of chillies, onions, peppers and spices. Yes, Sri Lankan food has arrived. It just happened much longer ago than London might think.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Gana Fine Dining

Copy Link
15 Village Way E
Harrow HA2 7LX, UK

A favourite of the Sri Lankan community, this bright purple-and-green café started life in Wembley over a decade ago, before moving to larger premises in Harrow. Its Wembley namesake is no relation. Gana offers a mind-boggling choice of dishes cooked in the style of Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka, where seafood abounds and the flavours are more similar to south India than anywhere else. Kool, a shellfish soup from the region, makes a rare appearance here; as do rabbit, venison and lamb’s intestines in different guises, ranging from fried to curried. Vegetable curries are available in red or white versions (spicy tomato-based or milder coconut-sauced,) as are hoppers, made from red or white rice. Vendhaya kuzhambu is a stand-out — another rarity in London, it’s a fabulous fenugreek seed curry, its bitterness mellowed by coconut milk. 

Rice and sambal at Gana in Harrow, one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in London Gana/Facebook

2. Virundhu

Copy Link
113 Field End Rd
Pinner HA5 1QG, UK

The Eastcote branch of this contemporary restaurant is attractively done up with framed pictures, flowers and wooden furniture reminiscent of a Sri Lankan family home. The menu is imaginative, based on the Sri Lankan-born chef’s own family recipes. Beautifully presented short eats come accented with cassava and wrapped in filo pastry; devilled dishes are perked up with an extra oomph. The Dutch-Sri Lankan classic lamprais here features rice with meat curry, green jackfruit curry, aubergine pickle, seeni sambal (caramelised onion relish), boiled egg and fish cutlet served on a banana leaf. There’s a notably good choice of vegetarian dishes, including savoury urad lentil and spinach vadai, and a beautifully complex tamarind-laced yam curry. Also spiced with own-made curry powder are chicken curries (on the bone and boneless), mutton-on-the-bone curry, and a sharp, spicy coastal speciality made from squid. Watalappan, a traditional egg and coconut milk custard with nuts, is dense with the distinctive flavour of palm jaggery and perfumed with cardamom and nutmeg.   

Sri Lankan spread at Virundhu, Pinner, one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in London Virundhu/Restaurant

3. Yaalu Yalu

Copy Link
164 Addington Rd
South Croydon CR2 8LB, UK

Yaalu Yalu? There’s also hathu & batu, hoiya hoya and sticky picky on the menu here — and that’s just the starters. This stylish, unconventional Croydon gem serves attractively presented, modern Sri Lankan food. Many come a long way for the lamprais: here, it’s banana leaf-wrapped rice with fish cutlet, pickled aubergines, onion sambal, seasoned cashews, plantain chips, fried eggs, and a choice of black pork curry or tamarind chicken. There’s also a rich but homely lotus root curry in coconut milk served with ‘red raw rice’ (i.e. not par-boiled), whole seabass baked in banana leaves, slow-cooked goat stew and spicy wild boar. The restaurant offers a rare chance to taste kiri pani in London: a creamy buffalo milk yoghurt pudding topped with palm jaggery syrup. 

Dosas at Yaalu Yalu in South Croydon, one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in London Yaalu Yalu [Official]

4. Hoppers St Christopher's Place

Copy Link
77 Wigmore St, Marylebone
London W1U 1QE, UK

Let’s be clear: Hoppers lives up to the hype. When the first branch opened in Soho, the capital was more than ready to turn its flirtation with South Indian dosas and idlis into a full-blown affair. Add to it the (relative) novelty value of Sri Lankan short eats and devilled dishes, delicate bowl-shaped hoppers and fine discs of own-made string hoppers, and JKS Restaurants’ baby was bound to acquire a younger sibling, fast. This it did last year: this gorgeous branch, all soothing creams, greys, clean lines and polished wood, opened in St Christopher’s Place off Oxford Street. On the menu are banana leaf-roasted bream with samphire sambal, and Jaffna-style lamb chops with cucumber and mooli radish sambal — with other interesting sambals elsewhere on the menu, including beetroot and kale. The drinks, too, are exquisite, including arrack, cocktails made from palm wine and various parts of coconut, bespoke punches, and Sri Lankan tea and coffee. 

Hoppers at St. Christopher’s Place, one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in London Hoppers [Official]

5. Palm Beach Restaurant

Copy Link
17 Ealing Rd
Wembley HA0 4AA, UK

Another brightly coloured, long-established Sri Lankan community favourite — don’t fall foul of the demure exterior: the food here is properly punchy. Avoid generic Indian items on its vast menu, and opt for a great range of fiery devilled dishes; or short eats like mutton roti and fish roll. These are tapas-style snacks served in Sri Lanka’s roadside cafés, beach huts and toddy tavern,; often huddled inside a layer of mashed potato, then bread-crumbed and fried. There’s a great choice of kothu, too — stir-fried meat, vegetables, eggs and spices — with either godamba roti (flatbreads), idiyappam (string hoppers) or puttu (steamed rice cake logs). Not to be missed are two of the capital’s best Sri Lankan food shops: Bestfoods next door, and Ganapathy across the road, that sell groceries like orange-hued king coconuts, banana flowers, Madras cucumbers, speciality baked goods, and dozens of varieties of rice in every shade of red.   

Curry at Palm Beach, Wembley, one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in London Palm Beach [Official]

6. Pavilion

Copy Link
Victoria Park, Old Ford Rd
London E9 7DE, UK

This is Sri Lanka via east London, generously infused as it is with the spirit of both. The café and bakery mini-chain started a few years ago, but has only recently taken owner Rob Green’s work in Sri Lanka as an influence for its cookery. The bakery sells freshly made, fragrant turmeric, cinnamon and cardamom buns in its smaller shops, while the bright, airy café in Victoria Park supplements a small but superb selection of Sri Lankan-inspired brunches. Egg hoppers come with Cornish mackerel, and string hoppers with egg curry. There’s always a tasty dal and coconut sambal on the side.  The entire cafe is meat-free as of last year.

Hoppers and dal at Pavilion Bakery Victoria Park, one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in London Pavilion [Official]

7. Jaffna House Restaurant

Copy Link
90 Tooting High St
London SW17 0RN, UK

This amazingly pocket-friendly Tooting stalwart started as a small café and takeaway nearly 30 years ago, but has grown in popularity and stature. Avoid the generic Indian items: there are plenty of south Indian-style Sri Lankan delicacies here. Pithu, here made from wheat and brown rice flours and steamed in the cavity of a bamboo, as is traditional, is fried in butter with seafood. Banana fritters can be found alongside prawn and lentil fritters, and sweet ones made from moong beans and fresh coconut. Devilled dishes include devilled beef and liver; there’s also assertively spiced fried potato pirattal. Sri Lankan omelettes with onions and green chillies lurk in the menu’s depths, as do beef, squid and crab curries accompanied by wonderfully spiky carrot sambal.

Medu vada at Jaffna House in Tooting, one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in London Jaffna House [Official]

8. Dammika’s

Copy Link
3 Lower Grosvenor Pl, Westminster
London SW1W 0EJ, UK

Perched on a busy intersection, this small, new venue is on the former site of Sekara, the Hoppers of its day. Well, not quite — but 15 years ago, most Londoners knew of only one Sri Lankan restaurant, though many couldn’t remember its name and referred to it as “that smart Sri Lankan near Victoria.” It wasn’t particularly smart, and neither is this — though the word can loosely describe a white table-clothed venue that’s not particularly cheap and cheerful. Here there’s a standard menu of good hoppers served with curries, and godamba roti with a choice of dal, curry or sambal. A few surprises include devilled wild boar, seerfish curry made from the mackerel-like fish, and a mellow, green chilli-laced kiri hodi, in which the ubiquitous coconut gravy is improved by the addition of eggs. Sekara was renowned for its Sunday buffets and — although this restaurant has a different ownership — it has continued the tradition.  

Stuffed lentil balls and salad at Dammika’s, Westminster, one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in London Dammika’s [Facebook]

9. Sambal Kitchen & Diner

Copy Link
247 Northolt Rd
Harrow HA2 8HR, UK

Part of the Sambal Express chain of no-frills grocers and fast food joints located across the capital, this small café sits next to its South Harrow branch. It’s popular with expats, who come for the Sri Lankan dosas with eggs, chicken or mutton, poriyals (sautéed vegetable dishes) with anchovies, curries served with red rice puttu, and Sri Lankan Muslim biryanis. To drink, there’s nelli crush, the signature fruit cordial of Jaffna made from local gooseberries, a small range of Sri Lankan spiced teas, and sukku coffee made with dried ginger and coriander seeds that’s hard to find elsewhere in London. 

Dining room at Sambal Kitchen and Diner, Harrow, one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in London Sambal Kitchen and Diner [Facebook]

1. Gana Fine Dining

15 Village Way E, Harrow HA2 7LX, UK
Rice and sambal at Gana in Harrow, one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in London Gana/Facebook

A favourite of the Sri Lankan community, this bright purple-and-green café started life in Wembley over a decade ago, before moving to larger premises in Harrow. Its Wembley namesake is no relation. Gana offers a mind-boggling choice of dishes cooked in the style of Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka, where seafood abounds and the flavours are more similar to south India than anywhere else. Kool, a shellfish soup from the region, makes a rare appearance here; as do rabbit, venison and lamb’s intestines in different guises, ranging from fried to curried. Vegetable curries are available in red or white versions (spicy tomato-based or milder coconut-sauced,) as are hoppers, made from red or white rice. Vendhaya kuzhambu is a stand-out — another rarity in London, it’s a fabulous fenugreek seed curry, its bitterness mellowed by coconut milk. 

15 Village Way E
Harrow HA2 7LX, UK

2. Virundhu

113 Field End Rd, Pinner HA5 1QG, UK
Sri Lankan spread at Virundhu, Pinner, one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in London Virundhu/Restaurant

The Eastcote branch of this contemporary restaurant is attractively done up with framed pictures, flowers and wooden furniture reminiscent of a Sri Lankan family home. The menu is imaginative, based on the Sri Lankan-born chef’s own family recipes. Beautifully presented short eats come accented with cassava and wrapped in filo pastry; devilled dishes are perked up with an extra oomph. The Dutch-Sri Lankan classic lamprais here features rice with meat curry, green jackfruit curry, aubergine pickle, seeni sambal (caramelised onion relish), boiled egg and fish cutlet served on a banana leaf. There’s a notably good choice of vegetarian dishes, including savoury urad lentil and spinach vadai, and a beautifully complex tamarind-laced yam curry. Also spiced with own-made curry powder are chicken curries (on the bone and boneless), mutton-on-the-bone curry, and a sharp, spicy coastal speciality made from squid. Watalappan, a traditional egg and coconut milk custard with nuts, is dense with the distinctive flavour of palm jaggery and perfumed with cardamom and nutmeg.   

113 Field End Rd
Pinner HA5 1QG, UK

3. Yaalu Yalu

164 Addington Rd, South Croydon CR2 8LB, UK
Dosas at Yaalu Yalu in South Croydon, one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in London Yaalu Yalu [Official]

Yaalu Yalu? There’s also hathu & batu, hoiya hoya and sticky picky on the menu here — and that’s just the starters. This stylish, unconventional Croydon gem serves attractively presented, modern Sri Lankan food. Many come a long way for the lamprais: here, it’s banana leaf-wrapped rice with fish cutlet, pickled aubergines, onion sambal, seasoned cashews, plantain chips, fried eggs, and a choice of black pork curry or tamarind chicken. There’s also a rich but homely lotus root curry in coconut milk served with ‘red raw rice’ (i.e. not par-boiled), whole seabass baked in banana leaves, slow-cooked goat stew and spicy wild boar. The restaurant offers a rare chance to taste kiri pani in London: a creamy buffalo milk yoghurt pudding topped with palm jaggery syrup. 

164 Addington Rd
South Croydon CR2 8LB, UK

4. Hoppers St Christopher's Place

77 Wigmore St, Marylebone, London W1U 1QE, UK
Hoppers at St. Christopher’s Place, one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in London Hoppers [Official]

Let’s be clear: Hoppers lives up to the hype. When the first branch opened in Soho, the capital was more than ready to turn its flirtation with South Indian dosas and idlis into a full-blown affair. Add to it the (relative) novelty value of Sri Lankan short eats and devilled dishes, delicate bowl-shaped hoppers and fine discs of own-made string hoppers, and JKS Restaurants’ baby was bound to acquire a younger sibling, fast. This it did last year: this gorgeous branch, all soothing creams, greys, clean lines and polished wood, opened in St Christopher’s Place off Oxford Street. On the menu are banana leaf-roasted bream with samphire sambal, and Jaffna-style lamb chops with cucumber and mooli radish sambal — with other interesting sambals elsewhere on the menu, including beetroot and kale. The drinks, too, are exquisite, including arrack, cocktails made from palm wine and various parts of coconut, bespoke punches, and Sri Lankan tea and coffee. 

77 Wigmore St, Marylebone
London W1U 1QE, UK

5. Palm Beach Restaurant

17 Ealing Rd, Wembley HA0 4AA, UK
Curry at Palm Beach, Wembley, one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in London Palm Beach [Official]

Another brightly coloured, long-established Sri Lankan community favourite — don’t fall foul of the demure exterior: the food here is properly punchy. Avoid generic Indian items on its vast menu, and opt for a great range of fiery devilled dishes; or short eats like mutton roti and fish roll. These are tapas-style snacks served in Sri Lanka’s roadside cafés, beach huts and toddy tavern,; often huddled inside a layer of mashed potato, then bread-crumbed and fried. There’s a great choice of kothu, too — stir-fried meat, vegetables, eggs and spices — with either godamba roti (flatbreads), idiyappam (string hoppers) or puttu (steamed rice cake logs). Not to be missed are two of the capital’s best Sri Lankan food shops: Bestfoods next door, and Ganapathy across the road, that sell groceries like orange-hued king coconuts, banana flowers, Madras cucumbers, speciality baked goods, and dozens of varieties of rice in every shade of red.   

17 Ealing Rd
Wembley HA0 4AA, UK

6. Pavilion

Victoria Park, Old Ford Rd, London E9 7DE, UK
Hoppers and dal at Pavilion Bakery Victoria Park, one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in London Pavilion [Official]

This is Sri Lanka via east London, generously infused as it is with the spirit of both. The café and bakery mini-chain started a few years ago, but has only recently taken owner Rob Green’s work in Sri Lanka as an influence for its cookery. The bakery sells freshly made, fragrant turmeric, cinnamon and cardamom buns in its smaller shops, while the bright, airy café in Victoria Park supplements a small but superb selection of Sri Lankan-inspired brunches. Egg hoppers come with Cornish mackerel, and string hoppers with egg curry. There’s always a tasty dal and coconut sambal on the side.  The entire cafe is meat-free as of last year.

Victoria Park, Old Ford Rd
London E9 7DE, UK

7. Jaffna House Restaurant

90 Tooting High St, London SW17 0RN, UK
Medu vada at Jaffna House in Tooting, one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in London Jaffna House [Official]

This amazingly pocket-friendly Tooting stalwart started as a small café and takeaway nearly 30 years ago, but has grown in popularity and stature. Avoid the generic Indian items: there are plenty of south Indian-style Sri Lankan delicacies here. Pithu, here made from wheat and brown rice flours and steamed in the cavity of a bamboo, as is traditional, is fried in butter with seafood. Banana fritters can be found alongside prawn and lentil fritters, and sweet ones made from moong beans and fresh coconut. Devilled dishes include devilled beef and liver; there’s also assertively spiced fried potato pirattal. Sri Lankan omelettes with onions and green chillies lurk in the menu’s depths, as do beef, squid and crab curries accompanied by wonderfully spiky carrot sambal.

90 Tooting High St
London SW17 0RN, UK

8. Dammika’s

3 Lower Grosvenor Pl, Westminster, London SW1W 0EJ, UK
Stuffed lentil balls and salad at Dammika’s, Westminster, one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in London Dammika’s [Facebook]

Perched on a busy intersection, this small, new venue is on the former site of Sekara, the Hoppers of its day. Well, not quite — but 15 years ago, most Londoners knew of only one Sri Lankan restaurant, though many couldn’t remember its name and referred to it as “that smart Sri Lankan near Victoria.” It wasn’t particularly smart, and neither is this — though the word can loosely describe a white table-clothed venue that’s not particularly cheap and cheerful. Here there’s a standard menu of good hoppers served with curries, and godamba roti with a choice of dal, curry or sambal. A few surprises include devilled wild boar, seerfish curry made from the mackerel-like fish, and a mellow, green chilli-laced kiri hodi, in which the ubiquitous coconut gravy is improved by the addition of eggs. Sekara was renowned for its Sunday buffets and — although this restaurant has a different ownership — it has continued the tradition.  

3 Lower Grosvenor Pl, Westminster
London SW1W 0EJ, UK

9. Sambal Kitchen & Diner

247 Northolt Rd, Harrow HA2 8HR, UK
Dining room at Sambal Kitchen and Diner, Harrow, one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in London Sambal Kitchen and Diner [Facebook]

Part of the Sambal Express chain of no-frills grocers and fast food joints located across the capital, this small café sits next to its South Harrow branch. It’s popular with expats, who come for the Sri Lankan dosas with eggs, chicken or mutton, poriyals (sautéed vegetable dishes) with anchovies, curries served with red rice puttu, and Sri Lankan Muslim biryanis. To drink, there’s nelli crush, the signature fruit cordial of Jaffna made from local gooseberries, a small range of Sri Lankan spiced teas, and sukku coffee made with dried ginger and coriander seeds that’s hard to find elsewhere in London. 

247 Northolt Rd
Harrow HA2 8HR, UK

Related Maps