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11 Best Sri Lankan Restaurants in Melbourne

If there’s any cuisine we’d call underrated, it’s Sri Lankan. Expert at flying under the radar, Sri Lankan food is some of the tastiest out there, and Melbourne is leading the way with a host of authentic and fusion restaurants lining its streets. The Victorian capital is renowned for its diverse culinary landscape and while South East Asian flavours often dominate the foodie landscape, North Asian, Indian and Sri Lankan fare has certainly come alive over the past few years. From fine dining to hole-in-the-walls, there is an option for every occasion, budget and taste.

Best of Melbourne Sri Lankan Restaurants

  • Best for Selection: Citrus
  • Best for Atmosphere: Elephant Corridor
  • Best for Drinks: Araliya
  • Best for Take-Away: Okra Sri Lankan Cuisine
  • Best for Fine Dining: INDU

How We Chose This List of Best Sri Lankan Restaurants

This list was compiled through personal experience and online research, plus through commentary from food critics and expert restaurant reviews. We only looked at restaurants with a rating of 4.0/5 on Google Reviews and took into account the major gripes and positives from the public. We also studied a series of reviews from prominent critics and online publications such as Australian Good Food Guide, allowing us to cull it down to the Best Sri Lankan Restaurants in Melbourne.

Best Sri Lankan Restaurants in Melbourne

If you’ve never sampled Sri Lankan food before, or you’re simply looking to recapture the flavours you had on a trip to a far away land some years ago, you’re in luck. Melbourne is littered with terrific institutions that deliver outstanding food no matter your budget or preference. Without further ado, here are the best Sri Lankan restaurants in Melbourne you simply have to try.

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INDU Melbourne | Image: INDU

1. INDU

Best for: Fine Dining

If you’re looking for an intimate Sri Lankan restaurant in Melbourne, look no further than INDU. Nestled behind a Victorian terrace frontage, this Sri Lankan and South Indian restaurant is all about authentic food and that village culture hospitality, which shines through in the service and food. You can really taste the passion. Beyond just good food, INDU also puts its money where its mouth is, partnering with the accredited grassroots organisation Palmera to establish its Village2Markets program. Through this initiative, the restaurant supports Sri Lankan villages by helping to fund the building of vital infrastructure, so you can feel good about spending your hard-earned dollars on a good feed here.

Speaking of, the menu is loaded with modern takes on traditional dishes, with a vast array of seafood on offer. While there are a lot of meat dishes on the menu, INDU is still a great option for vegetarians, with a long list of dosas and hoppers available without game or poultry included. There’s also a hefty drinks list and a few key cocktails to look out for (including a G&T flight). For food, we recommend the dosas with bacon jam, for a modern spin on a traditional dish.

What we like: Intimate and traditional hospitality
What we don’t like: Can be a bit pricey for what’s on offer
Address: 86A Collins St, Melbourne
Hours: Monday – Saturday 12 pm – 11 pm
Contact: (03) 9671 4376

Indu

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Araliya Sri Lankan restaurant | Image: Araliya

2. Araliya

Best for: Drinks

Combining traditional Sri Lankan cuisine with innovative techniques and a contemporary dining experience is what makes Araliya stand out from the rest. Located in Kew, the restaurant matches the vibe of the town, with an impressive array of nibbles as well as an equally important drinks menu with plenty of spiced cocktails for you to try. The High Street eatery is the brainchild of Sri Lankan-born chef Sam Wedande, who previously overlooked Melbourne’s Hilton in the 1980s before turning his hand to the restaurant game.

This Melbourne staple is a recreation of Wedande’s Hawthorn institution of the same name, albeit with a slightly more modern feel. Here, the chefs get a little more experimental, dishing out innovative dishes littered with spices and oozing with decadent flavours. For food, we can’t go past the hoppers with egg, duck and mushroom varieties up for grabs. However, Araliya also has a killer drinks list, from Bloody Marys to Basil Martinis, there’s no shortage of flavours to explore here.

What we like: Large takeaway menu, good for groups
What we don’t like: Can lack atmosphere
Address: 1/118 High St, Kew VIC 3101
Hours: Monday – Wednesday 5 pm – 11 pm, Thursday – Sunday 1 pm – 11 pm
Contact: 0403 533 951

Araliya

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Fusion Ceylon in Werribee | Image: Fusion Ceylon

3. Fusion Ceylon

Fusion Ceylon is one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in Melbourne if you’re looking for an Asian-fusion experience. Its menu shines with the combination of exotic flavours and Sri Lankan cuisine with a contemporary, modern twist. The long-time family-run restaurant is known for its good vibes and delicious food –  the wild boar stew is not to be missed, or if you’re not feeling that brave, the Lankan Chinese-fired rice dishes are also a hit. While definitely not as up-market as some of the other Sri Lankan restaurants on this list, Fusion Ceylon is still one of the best places to score authentic food in a hurry. Definitely a winner if you’re chasing take-away.

What we like: Innovative spins on classic dishes
What we don’t like: Food can be too oily at times
Address: 27 Watton St, Werribee
Hours: Wednesday – Friday 11,30 am – 8.30 pm, Saturday – Sunday 9.30 am – 8.30 pm
Contact: 0433 696 726

Fusion Ceylon

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Okra Sri Lankan Cuisine | Image: Okra

4. Okra Sri Lankan Cuisine

Best for: Take-Away

If you’re in the mood for simple, no-frills Sri Lankan dining, then Okra is the place for you. Priding themselves on offering a variety of Sri Lankan cuisine from various regions, generous hospitality and passionate cooking, the Okra team rarely disappoints. Their menu is focused on meat curries and fresh vegetable dishes like Eggplant Salad and Coconut Sambal. Once again, this one is more of a food court-style experience, so there’s no need to dress up and get yourself too fancy. If you’re looking for good old fashioned Sri Lankan cuisine done right, you can’t go past Okra.

What we like: Simple, fuss-free dining
What we don’t like: The menu is fairly small
Address: 166 Rathdowne St, Carlton
Hours: Monday – Tuesday 8.30 am – 2.30 pm, Wednesday – Saturday 8.30 am – 2.30 pm/ 5pm – 8.30 pm
Contact: (03) 8590 9661

Okra

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Upali’s Sri Lankan restaurant Melbourne | Image: Upali’s

5. Upali’s

Casual dining with a fresh, contemporary touch, Upali’s is one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in Melbourne. It’s a popular spot for lunch,  traditionally the biggest meal of the day in Sri Lanka, with a set lunch menu that consists of rice, three vegetable curries, one meat or seafood curry, papadams and sambols, all for just $14.50. It’s no wonder Melbourne’s Sri Lankan community flocks to Glen Waverley for this one.

What we like: Perfect for hearty and affordable lunch
What we don’t like: Atmosphere can be lacking
Address: 248 Blackburn Rd, Glen Waverley
Hours: Wednesday – Thursday 11.10 am – 9pm, Friday 11.30 am – 10 pm, Saturday 11.30 am – 3 pm/ 5.30pm – 10 pm, Sunday 11.30 am – 3pm/ 5.30 pm – 9pm
Contact: 0480 031 313

Upali’s

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Citrus restaurant in Fitzroy North | Image: Citrus

6. Citrus

Did someone say buffet? This Sri Lankan restaurant is a long-time favourite of locals and visitors alike to the trendy streets of Fitzroy North. Opened by the Somaweera family back in 2019, Citrus boasted a hybrid menu of American burgers and Sri Lankan specialties, which is one of the strangest combos we’ve encountered in a while, and the locals agreed. Pretty soon after opening, the Fitzroy North establishment ditched the burgers, instead delivering more traditional Sri Lankan food via a generous buffet. The buffet is delicious and affordable, with plenty of authentic dishes to fill up on. We can’t go past the classic dahl and the fish curry and with many of the dishes under $20, it’s really hard to go wrong.

Best of all, many of the dishes at Citrus have been adapted to better suit Fitzroy North’s growing vegan and vegetarian population. There is even a solid section of the buffets dedicated to Sri Lankan street food, which is a welcomed bonus for anyone who has travelled to the sub-continent.

What we like: Buffet style means plenty of food!
What we don’t like: Sometimes the food is a little cold
Address:  252 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 11.30 am – 3 pm/ 5 pm – 9.30 pm
Contact: (03) 7012 7601

Citrus

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Maalu Maalu restaurant | Image: Maalu Maalu

7. Maalu Maalu

This all-you-can-eat buffet fever dream in Brunswick, run by husband and wife Minuri and Matt Adams, is just as affordable as it is delicious. For just $20, you can enjoy all the rice, noodles, dal, sambol and curries you could dream of. Plus, there are unlimited hoppers for an extra $5 from Friday to Sunday. Say no more.

What we like: Vegetarian and gluten-free friendly
What we don’t like: Family-style buffet, so not a lot of spice
Address: 246 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
Hours: Tuesday – Wednesday 5 pm – 9 pm, Thursday – Sunday 11 am – 3 pm/ 5 pm – 10 pm
Contact: (03) 9380 6311

Maalu Maalu

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Cinnamon’s restaurant in Melbourne | Image: Cinnamon’s Sri Lankan Cuisine

8. Cinnamon’s Sri Lankan Cuisine

Home-style Sri Lankan cooking at its finest, Cinnamon’s in Melbourne’s CBD offers fuss-free Sri Lankan fare and we love it. The menu provides an extensive selection of the most popular dishes from different regions of Sri Lanka, including Sinhalese, Muslim and Burgher. A popular spot for Sri Lankan natives – that says something.

What we like: Focus is all about the food
What we don’t like: Often not open
Address: 1/530 Little Collins St, Melbourne
Hours: Monday – Friday 12 pm – 3 pm
Contact: 0438 540 995

Cinnamon’s

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Coconut Tree restaurant in Wantirna South | Image: Coconut Tree

9. Coconut Tree

If you like your Sri Lankan with a side of Thai, then Coconut Tree is your dream come true. Serving up authentic Sri Lankan and Thai food in a cosy restaurant in Melbourne, they pride themselves on using only the freshest locally sourced ingredients. Our top picks from the menu include the roasted cashew nuts and fried curry leaves with chilli and a hint of lime juice for an entree and the goat or lamb vindaloo (if you can handle the spice!)

What we like: Wide variety of flavours and dishes
What we don’t like: Can lack authenticity
Address: 197 Stud Rd, Wantirna South
Hours: Monday, Wednesday 5 pm – 10 pm, Thursday – Sunday 11.30 am – 3 pm/ 5 pm – 10 pm
Contact: (03) 9800 3104

Coconut Tree

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Elephant Corridor Sri Lankan restaurant in Glen Waverley | Image: Elephant Corridor

10. Elephant Corridor

Best for: Atmosphere

One of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in Melbourne specialising in both Sri Lankan and North Indian food, Elephant Corridor is a popular spot for Glen Waverly locals and visitors alike. The menu is seasonal, so you never get bored, and with an extensive a la carte menu, it’s a great spot to come with your mates and share the deliciousness. Try the mud crab curry for something different, and they even have a cocktail menu for you to choose from.

What we like: Fun, casual vibe
What we don’t like: Service can be slow
Address: 179 Coleman Parade, Glen Waverley
Hours: Monday, Wednesday – Thursday 5 pm – 10.30 pm, Friday – Sunday 12 pm – 3 pm/5 pm – 10 pm
Contact: (03) 9561 8810

Elephant Corridor

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Ambula Sri Lankan Restaurant Berwick | Image: Ambula

11. Ambula Sri Lankan Restaurant Berwick

Located in the heart of Melbourne, Ambula Sri Lankan Restaurant Berwick is known for its authentic Sri Lankan dishes with a passion and love for cooking you can taste. Plus, they offer buffet lunches and dinners during the week for just $15, which sounds almost too good to be true!

What we like: Casual dining at its best
What we don’t like: No atmosphere
Address: 240 Clyde Rd, Berwick
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 11 am – 9 pm
Contact: 0439 565 090

Ambula

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Image: INDU

Types of Sri Lankan Food

A traditionally underrated cuisine on the international market, Sri Lankan food is much more than meets the eye. While there are common elements, the rice and curry foundation that most meals are built upon is actually very different from those you see at some of the other international venues across Melbourne. Specifically, Sri Lankan food plays off a combination of sweet and spicy, characterised by big bold flavours such as coconut, bitter melon, caramelised onion and dhal.

In terms of the curries for which the cuisine is famous for, they tend to be a little thinner than Indian offerings and employ a far more spice-orientated approach. According to Serious Eats’ Naomi Tomky, the cuisine is more inclusive of non-native ingredients, a result of burgeoning international trade moving through the island. Importantly, Sri Lankan food is not for the faint of heart. The curries are fiery in nature and the flavours are heavy on the palate.

“Sri Lankan food is not for the timid eater: the fiery curries, sweet caramelised onion in seeni sambal (onion relish), and sour lime pickle are all dominant, powerful flavours that startle awake senses dulled by the thick, hot island air,” Tomky writes. “While visitors to the island—or those eating in Sri Lankan restaurants outside the country—may find watered-down versions, most Sri Lankan cooking is unapologetic, punch-you-in-the-face, get-the-adrenaline-pumping flavoured.”

Geography and religion also play important roles in Sri Lankan food, with 75 per cent of residents Sinhalese (mostly Buddhist), while Tamils (mostly Hindus), especially those in the north, use slightly different spices and ingredients in their curries. The format of the dishes is similar, however, there is a stark difference in flavour profile and heat across the palate.

Typical ingredients

In Sri Lankan cooking, you’ll generally find a few key ingredients tend to pop up. For most restaurants, the cuisine will focus on spices like black pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, garlic, pandan leaves and curry leaves. However, they’ll also be elevated by a series of fragrant herbs. Typically, Sri Lankan cuisine makes use of  pandan leaf, shallot, goraka, lemongrass, tamarind, garlic, ginger, curry leaf, lime, cayenne pepper and tabasco pepper.

In terms of protein, the food takes a very simple approach, employing whatever meat source is readily available. In most instances, this includes fish – typically Maldive fish, dried fish, mackerel, tuna, shark, sprats and fermented preserved fish – along with chicken, pork, goat and beef. To complete a dish, Sri Lankan chefs will look to fill it out with grains such as white rice, red rice, finger millet, hog millet and olu haal, along with various seasonal greens and fruits. Almost all food cooked in the traditional Sri Lankan style will use coconut oil, sesame oil, cow ghee, buffalo ghee or mustard oil.

Classic Sri Lankan Dishes

Similarly, you can expect to find some old favourites at most Sri Lankan restaurants in Melbourne. These dishes are staples in the sub-continent and offer a range of different flavours that explore tradition, heritage and the language of food in Sri Lanka.

  • Rice and curry – Different from the traditional Indian rice and curry, this meal is generally thinner and relies far more heavily on spice for flavour rather than rich, creamy textures.
  • Kiribath – Traditional Sri Lankan dish made from rice and coconut milk. It is similar to rice cake or rice pudding.
  • Kottu – A delicious dish that contains diced roti stir-fried with scrambled egg, onions, chillies, spices, and optional vegetables or meat, such as beef and chicken.
  • Hoppers – A type of pancake, originating from South India, made with fermented rice batter and coconut milk.
  • Lamprais – Sri Lankan dish made of mixed meat and rice, wrapped in a banana leaf.
  • Pittu – Breakfast dish native to the South Indian states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and parts of Karnataka, as well as Northern Province in Sri Lanka. It is made from coconut and rice flour.
  • Roti – Rund flatbread native to the Indian subcontinent that is made from flour and wholemeal wheat.
  • Sambal – Chilli sauce or paste, typically made from a mixture of chilli peppers with secondary ingredients such as shrimp paste, garlic, ginger, shallot, scallion, palm sugar, and lime juice.
  • Mallung – Shredded vegetable Sri Lankan dish that comprises lightly cooked/sautéed greens, with fresh coconut and any number of spices and chilli.
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Image: INDU

Things to Consider for Melbourne Sri Lankan Restaurants

  • Ambience – Consider whether you like a buzzing and pulsing restaurant experience, or something more intimate and quiet.
  • BYO – Can you bring your own booze? And is there a corkage fee?
  • Vegetarian options –  Most Sri Lankan restaurants are super vego-friendly and are therefore great at catering to vegans and vegetarians, but it’s best to check the website before you go to avoid disappointment.
  • Price – Sri Lankan food ranges a lot in terms of precise range depending on the style of restaurant and type of menu, so it’s important to think about how much dosh you’re willing to spend, or not.

Alternatives to Sri Lankan Food in Melbourne

If you don’t feel like stepping out of your comfort zone and giving Sri Lankan cuisine a try just yet, that’s OK. In the meantime, why not check out our rundown on the best steakhouses, Italian restaurants, burger joints and Asian fusion restaurants in Melbourne?

General FAQs

What is the best Sri Lankan restaurant in Melbourne?

The best Sri Lankan restaurant in Melbourne is Indu. The modern restaurant has a lively atmosphere and a great selection of foods, along with an extensive drinks list.

Where can you get Sri Lankan food in Melbourne CBD?

You can get Sri Lankan food in the Melbourne CBD at Cinnamon's and Indu.

CONTRIBUTOR

Aimee O'Keefe

Aimee O’Keefe is a Sydney-based freelance writer with a background in content marketing, lifestyle, architecture and travel coverage. She completed a Bachelor's degree in Media and Communications at the University of Sydney and has worked with Universal Magazines, various leading digital marketing agencies and The Local Project.