On the last day of my hasty one-week trip to Sri Lanka, I could not pass on the opportunity to dine at Upali's by Nawaloka - a posh dining spot hailed as the best Sri Lankan restaurant located in the heart of Colombo. Scroll down for Chef's recommendations and to know which dishes to order when you dine at the top restaurant in Colombo!

THE BEST Restaurants in Sri Lanka
Best Restaurant in Colombo, Sri Lanka: Upali’s by Nawaloka

Upali’s by Nawaloka: Best Restaurant in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Located in the heart of the capital Colombo, Upali’s faces the serene ViharamahaDevi Park and is adjacent to popular attractions such as the city’s Town Hall and the Nelum Pokuna Theatre. It was rather quiet when I visited the restaurant at 4pm, but as soon as the clock struck 6, the crowd started pouring in and soon the restaurant was filled with chatters and buzz.

This top restaurant in Colombo is run by David Cruse and Upali Dharmadasa - both whom are high profile individuals in the Sri Lankan business community as well as veterans in the hospitality industry.

Upali’s by Nawaloka, colombo
Upali’s by Nawaloka is voted as the best Sri Lankan restaurant
Upali's by Nawaloka Colombo
 Upali’s by Nawaloka is the winner of Tripadvisor's Certificate of Excellence from 2015 to 2019

Upali’s takes the effort to stand out. From the way the restaurant is elegantly decorated to the little special touches to its recipes, it is dedicated to bringing its patrons the best of Ceylonese hospitality and cuisine.

For starters, the spices used in Upali’s are all sourced locally from Sri Lanka’s northern city of Jaffna as well as from the southernmost city of Matara to ensure diversity yet effectively preserving authenticity. Its elaborate menu showcases its wide array of signature and well-flavored dishes that are unique to the country only.

sri lankan restaurant near me
Spices used at Upali's are sourced from Jaffna and Matara
Best restaurant in Colombo
Tastefully designed interior at Upali's by Nawaloka.
Upali's by Nawaloka price menu
Upali’s by Nawaloka is voted as the best restaurant in Sri Lanka

Popular Dishes at Upali’s by Nawaloka, Colombo

All the dishes listed below are recommended by the Chef at Upali's - a few being its signature dishes while the others being the crowd's favorites. Remember to add them to your list when dining at Upali's at Nawaloka the next time you're visiting Colombo!

Our Sri Lankan culinary adventure at Upali's started with refreshing sips of organic homemade ginger beer that is concocted using ginger and aromatic lemongrass. This drink is both sweet and spicy yet not overly gassy. Its taste makes it the perfect palate cleanser between dishes.

For the main courses, our palates were delighted with a few local favorites - starting with Mutton Varuwal. The mutton pieces are sautéed Jaffna-style to the perfect tenderness in all the right spices. You can hear the server stepping out of the kitchen doors with the sizzling platter in hand - making a grand entrance across the room and to your table. The next dish is Thora Maalu Stew - a creamy seared fish in mustard cream, onions, garlic, ginger, curry leaves, green chili, coconut milk, potatoes, capsicum, tomatoes and spices. The dish is slightly on the bland side for us, but it gives an interesting and much-needed flavor contrast.

Hathmaluwa was next on the table, which is a traditional 'seven-in-one' vegetable curry. The recipe for this dish dates back 2,000 years. Not only is it brimming with flavors from the traditional spices used, this multi-nutrient meal is also claimed to be great for health! As rice and bread are two staple foods in Sri Lanka, it was only expected that our meal is accompanied with Roti Parata (served with chicken gravy) and Themparadu Bath - steamed white rice with onions and curry leaves tempered in ghee.

Upali's by Nawaloka
Organic Homemade Ginger Beer Rs.560
Upali's by Nawaloka colombo
Mutton Varuwal Rs.850
Upali's by Nawaloka colombo
Thora Maalu Stew Rs. 850
Upali's by Nawaloka colombo
Hathmaluwa Rs. 650
Upali's by Nawaloka colombo
Roti Parata Rs. 395
Upali's by Nawaloka menu price
Themparadu Bath Rs. 325

We ended our meal on a sweet note with two of Upali's most popular desserts. Sandhya's Wiskothu Pudima is a recipe created lovingly by Upali's wife. It is a divine concoction of baked biscuit pudding layered with chocolate sauce and topped with vanilla ice cream. The second recommended dessert is Watalappan, which is a delightfully sweet pudding made using jaggery and coconut milk, topped with nuts.

Upali's by Nawaloka colombo
Sandhya's Wiskothu Pudima Rs.390
Upali's by Nawaloka colombo
Watalappan Rs.300

Upali’s by Nawaloka Menu & Price

Upali’s offers a wide array of dishes with the best of Sri Lankan flavors. Every visitor will have the opportunity to immerse in a truly local and unique culinary experience. Prices of dishes are incredibly reasonable, ranging from US$3 to US$10.

During our trip, we were looking to taste traditional, authentic Sri Lankan food and we found it at Upali's by Nawaloka. As the restaurant caters to mostly expats and curious travelers, the chefs are careful when it comes to adjusting the hotness of the dishes. If you are one who loves your food spicy, remember to tell the waiter your preference to avoid being disappointed!

Upali’s by Nawaloka

Address: 65 Dr C.W.W Kannangara Mawatha, Colombo 00700, Sri Lanka
Contact number: +94 112 695 812
Opening hours: 11.30am-10.30pm

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Upali's by Nawaloka colombo
Which dish would you like to try at Upali's? Let us know below in the comment box!