Lucky Fort Restaurant: A delicious selection of vegetarian curries!
We first became aware of Galle's Lucky Fort Restaurant while researching restaurants prior to our trip to Sri Lanka in March 2014. It was ranked #1 of 122 restaurants in Galle at the time (and still is as I write this review two months later).
It was receiving glowing reviews thanks to its large selection of freshly cooked curries at great value prices. The curries (which are mainly vegetarian) vary each day and you get to sample 10 different curries, with rice and pappadams, for just 950 Rs / £4.75 for 2 people.
There was no doubt that this was where we wanted to eat when we visited Galle as a day trip from the nearby beach resort of Hikkaduwa. It took us a while to find it. We knew that it was within the walls of Galle Fort, but I hadn't written down the address as I figured we would just stumble across it at some point while exploring the town. We didn't. We asked several local people for directions, but nobody seemed to know where it was. Eventually, we asked a tuk tuk driver if he knew where it was (surely he would know!). He didn't, but he asked his friend and he was able to give us very good directions. Fair play to the tuk tuk driver, he didn't insist on driving us there and getting a fare from us, and we found it on foot in less than 5 minutes.
The restaurant is located on Parawa Street, just off Pedlar Street and Rampart Street on the western side of Galle Fort.
We arrived, just before 7:00pm, to find the restaurant fairly busy. The semi-covered garden courtyard out front was perhaps three-quarters full. The diners were noticeably western tourists and not locals. We sat at a vacant table and watched the small lizards darting around the walls and between the abundant greenery.
We didn't need to see a menu as we already knew that we'd be ordering the curry and rice selection. That day's curries were written up on a board outside the restaurant and I had taken a photo of it, so we were able to read through the various curries, via my camera, while sitting at our table. There were only 9 curries listed, but we would receive 10 curries.
The curries that we received were:
Pineapple Curry - a great combination of sweet and fruity pineapple chunks with some mouth-tingling spices mixed in;
Dhal Curry - a very tasty lentil curry, spicy enough, but not too spicy for Emma's tastes;
Obijin (aubergine) Curry - this one had quite a kick to it, with sliced aubergine mixed with hot chillies. I enjoyed it;
Frilled Bean Curry - I think the "frilled" reference is in relation to the appearance of the beans, which were cut into frilly star shapes. It was a fairly bland tasting curry (I prefer spicier dishes), not too dissimilar to the Green Beans Curry, and I'll remember it more for the odd appearance of the beans than for its taste;
Yam Curry - a creamy and mild curry, similar to a Thai green curry, with several large chunks of yam;
Green Beans Curry - a mild curry that was a bit bland and unremarkable for my tastes;
Pumpkin Curry - this was probably the most tasty of the mild curries, with delicious flavours and plenty of chunks of pumpkin in it;
Fried Potatoes Curry - potatoes, onions and the occasion hot green chilli to give it a bit of a kick;
Fried Fish Curry - this was the only non-vegetarian curry amongst the ten. It consisted of delicious pieces of well cooked tuna fish, smothered in a spicy sauce that was more like a barbecue sauce than a curry sauce;
Radish Curry - this was the curry that wasn't listed on the menu. We overheard a waitress telling one of the other diners, otherwise we probably wouldn't have recognised it. It was also the spiciest of all the curries, with plenty of green and red chillies giving it a real kick!
To accompany the curries, we got a large plate of boiled white rice between us and a dish filled with pappadams.
The food was excellent value and the portion sizes were ideal. Each curry was served in a sufficient quantity to give us both a taste of it, but not such large portions as to be overbearing. We finished every dish in its entirety...and still had enough room for a little dessert:
We both ordered the local Sri Lankan dessert of Watalappan (300 Rs / £1.50) – an enjoyable coconut flavoured custard pudding.
To drink, I had a "Gunner" cocktail (300 Rs / £1.50), which was a refreshing combination of ginger beer, ginger ale, lemon juice and angostura bitters, while Emma had a smooth pineapple lassi (350 Rs / £1.75) – both of which were ideal accompaniments to the curries.
A delicious and extensive selection of freshly cooked, mainly vegetarian curries. 10 curries, rice and pappadams for 2 people for just 950 Rs / £4.75 – super value for money! Highly recommended!
Anura's Restaurant: Pleasant little restaurant in Galle Fort
We stopped for drinks at Anura's Restaurant during our visit to Galle in March 2014.
This small restaurant is located on Lighthouse Street, just a couple of minutes walk from the main entrance into the fort.
Signs out front boast of the fact that the restaurant is "Featured in Lonely Planet" and has won awards for excellence from TripAdvisor. It is apparently renowned for the quality of its curries and its pizzas.
Against this backdrop of accolades, we were never going to do justice to Anura's. We were merely looking for somewhere to shelter from a brief rainstorm and grab a drink – and Anura's was simply the first place we arrived at.
When we first arrived, a number of the tables were occupied by a large party of Chinese tourists. We managed to find a vacant table underneath a bright piece of artwork on one of the walls. There was lots of artwork displayed throughout the restaurant; all of it for sale.
I had a bottle of Lion Ginger Beer (100 Rs / £0.50) and Emma had a very smooth Mango Lassi (350 Rs / £1.75).
Fort Dew restaurant: Decent food, abysmal service.
One parti8cular evening, my preferred eating house in the Fort area of Galle was shut. It is the excellent Sea Green restaurant which forms the basis of a separate tip. I took a little walk and came upon the Fort Dew restaurant which I had walked past several times before, so that sounded like a plan.
When I walked in there was nobody there other than the staff which should have put up some warning flags for me. Well, I say staff and I use the term in it's loosest possible form as none of them seemed in the slightest bit interested in serving me. It was not as if they had not seen me, they obviously had, but apparently their card game and the European football on the TV took precedence over the paying customer.
Eventually, I managed to order a beer and had a look at the menu which offered the usual Sri Lankan / Chinese mix and I opted for the devilled chicken which is always a safe bet. At least the chef, talking from his open kitchen, which I always like, was prepared to talk to me. The rest 9of them could not have given a damn about me. I know that service in Sri Lanka is not what we expect in the UK and I am quite happy with that, I am in a different country, but this really was a different league of indifference towards the person who effectively pay their wages.
The food, when it arrived (I brought it myself from the serving hatch) was delicious and I mused on the thought, whilst eating it, that such an obviously decent kitchen was being destroyed by the shameful idleness of the front of house staff. An absolute shame.
In conscience, I really cannot recommend this place. The food is excellent if you are prepared to be treated as a cash cow. I am not.
Due to it's upstairs location, this place is totally inaccessible for mobility impaired visitors.
Apologies for the images, I do not seem to be able to upload some images at present, I shall rectify it asap.
Favorite Dish: The devilled chicken was excellent when I served myself with it!
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Vinn's restaurant: Part samba, part cooking, all brilliant.
I had read about a dish called kottu rotti before I arrived in Sri Lanka and yet, after about a month there I still had not had one which was a situation I was determined to rectify. Coming back on the bus one evening from nearby Hikkaduwa I was a little hungry and so I dropped into an obviously locals place. I was certainly the only white face in there at that time of night. It is really close to the bus station and very easy to find, it is right opposite the main bus station.
There did not appear to be a menu, certainly not an English one and so, dragging something out of the disordered space that calls itself my brain I asked for the aforementioned kottu rotti. There didn't appear to be a lot of English spoken but that brought a spark of recognition to the guy's face. I should add that there is no full waiter service as such here, you order at the counter and it is brought to you. I was aksked beef, chicken or fish (I think I have that right) and opted for the beef. I was asked, "spicy"? and answered in the affirmative, indicating by means of mime that chef could go as hot as he liked. He was not to disappoint me!
What followed next was pure culinary theatre and I thoroughly loved it. Kottu rotti is effectively a type of bread served usually with meat or fish and vegetables but battered into an almost mince consistency by means of the use of two things that I can only describe as looking a bit like oversized paint-scrapers. If you imagine the type of things a magician uses to prove he has "sawed a woman in half" only about six inches by four then you will have the idea.
I have had dishes flambeed at table and done so brilliantly, and seen all sorts of public creative pantomime in restaurants but this is really something else. The young cook proceeded to chop all the ingredients on a hotplate with what I can most closely describe as a samba beat. The lad could have easily played percussion in a decent band if he can make a sound like that. The whole thing was mesmeric in the proper sense of the word which is probably why I didn't take a photo. I will get a video of one of these blokes in action before I leave and post it when I get back to UK, I promise. You have never seen anything like it.
All this is well and good but if the end product doesn't taste good then it is merely window-dressing. No fear of that, it was absolutely delicious and very spicy as I had asked for. The cost of this whole dining experience, for that is what it was? Well, it came in at a bit under £2 sterling (perhaps $3US). Absolutely brilliant. Get over your hesitancy about the lack of your own language and dive in here, they are friendly as anything and the food really is as good as it looks. Also, there is only one very small step to the front which should render it accessible to mobility impaired travellers, always a good thing. If you want a taste of authentic Sri Lankan street food, this is as good as it gets. It is, regrettably, unlicensed.
Favorite Dish: The kottu rotti as described above.
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Sea Green restaurant: A great find.
I was initially introduced to this place on my first night in Galle by another traveller who had been there for a couple of days and I am very grateful to him for that as it became a great favourite of mine and I place I returned to several times.
The restaurant is attached to the guesthouse of the same name and is up a flight of stairs which regrettably maces it inaccessible for mobility impaired travellers but this really is the only drawback. The man who runs the place is very friendly and his good lady wife does all the cooking at which she excels. I tried various dishes here which were all of the highest quality and not overly expensive. It is a fairly simple place as the image shows although pleasant enough and with a cooling breeze.
The menu is a fairly standard Sri Lankan one with Western or Sri Lankan breakfasts, various pancakes, salads, soups omelettes, sandwiches and so on as well as a selection of curries, chopsueys, fried dishes, noodles and rices. I am actually surprised at how common what I would describe as "Chinese" food is on menus here. Naturally there are an assortment of desserts and beverages.
The first night we visited, my new friend Mike did the sensible thing and didn't even bother looking at the menu but asked the owner what was good that day. We were told that prawn curry was recommended and he ordered that with me following his lead. Well, Mike obviously knew what he was about and I am always willing to take a recommendation from the proprietor. Besides, I love prawn curry! We were asked did we want it spicy or not and I opted for spicy as I do like a bit of a kick with my food but, even then, it was not ludicrously hot as can happen here sometimes.
On another occasion when I visited alone, I asked for a suggestion, a practice I had more or less adopted as standard here as it never failed, and was told the fish was particularly good that day. The owner even brought it for inspection before I decided to order and it was certainly fresh. It duly appeared cooked to perfection and served with chips (fries) and salad. It was absolutely gorgeous. Incidentally, the salad was tossed in a vinaigrette that had pineapple juice in it which I had never had before and it was absolutely divine. Definitely something I am going to experiment with at home and again, hopefully the image does the whole dish justice.
I really cannot speak highly enough about this place and suggest the traveller seeks it out.
Favorite Dish: This is a very difficult choice as all the food is excellent but if I absolutely had to choose I think it would be the whole fish with chips (fries) and salad which was superb.
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Lady Hill restaurant: Top class food, stunning views.
I had read in my guidebook about a great place to go for a bit of a sundowner drink that boasted excellent views. Well they certainly were not lying about that and I also managed to eat one of the best meals I have had in Sri Lanka so far and there have been some memorable ones.
The place in question is the Lady Hill Hotel which sits, as the name suggests, on a hill overlooking Galle. Fortuitously, it was a mere ten minutes stroll from my excellent guesthouse ( see separate tip) so I thought I would wander up one evening. I was greeted at the gate by an immaculately dressed gateman who welcomed me with a deep bow and Sinhala salutation which I obviously returned in kind. Well, the bow anyway as I still don't speak any Sinhala, to my shame. I informed him that I would like a drink and asked him to direct me to the bar whereupon I was immediately handed over to another equally charming and wonderfully turned out young man who greeted me similarly. I know Sri Lanka is a very friendly country but this was the most formal greeting I had experienced. Walking through the delightfully appointed foyer area of the hotel I thought that this was way out of my price range and subsequent research has proven this to be the case.
The young man took me to a staircase at the rear of the building and basically pointed upwards. OK, I can take direction so up I went. Up, up and seemingly ever up. I think it must have been four or five levels. Slightly breathless, I reached the top to be greeted by a completely empty although very pleasant bar and one young man obviously setting up for the evening. A beer in hand, I set to looking at the views I had been promised and they certainly did not disappoint. One one side you could overlook the old Fort area and on the other seemingly endless palms and small settlements stretched away to the horizon.
I perused the menu the waiter had given me although at that point it was merely an exercise in being inquisitive as I had decided to eat in a lovely little place in the Fort that I knew. I had expected to pay a premium for a location like this but was pleasantly surprised to find that whilst slightly more expensive my beer was not excessively over-priced. If I recall correctly, it was ether 350 or 400SLR which equated to just under £2 ($3US) at the higher figure.
After a few minutes I was joined in the bar by a group of obviously well-heeled Sinhalese men and shortly thereafter by a couple of young Japanese women and, with the exception of a Sinhalese couple who arrived much later on, this was the sum total of the clientele all night. This seems like a bit of a shame as both the bar and the food (which I am coming to, believe me) were excellent. As usual, I felt considerably underdressed but nobody seemed to mind. I find Sri Lanka an excellent country to travel in if you are living out of a kitbag with a very limited wardrobe.
I spent a happy little time taking snapshots, including the appallingly stylised one I have included here. OK, I know that I am no David Bailey! The sun went down and my faithful little compact camera was no longer up to the task, excellent as it is. The menu I mentioned earlier had looked very good and not overly expensive. Time was wearing on although I still would have had time to wander down to the Fort or call a tuk-tuk but, well, I just didn't feel much like moving, why would you? The prices were not at all excessive for what is obviously one of the classier joints in town and certainly well with in my budget and so I decided to dine there.
I appreciate that rice and curry (never curry and rice as the rice is deemed to be the predominant component here) is a dish normally taken at lunch rather than the evening meal but I decided that was what i fancied and so I ordered it. The waiter did explain that it may take a little while (it always seems to do in the evening as I presume they are making it from scratch) and I informed him that it was no problem. He also enquired whether I wanted spicy and I went through the usual pantomime of explaining that I could eat hot etc. etc.
I waited a not unreasonable amount of time and at one point glanced up to see not one but two waiters approaching me. I was sure they were carrying an order for another table but, as explained, there were no other diners! Oh, Holy Heavens, all that food was for me. It was laid out as you see in the image and I sat for a moment trying to decide where to start. Certainly, as is my way, I had not tried to secdond guess the chef. I knew from experience that there would be more than one dish presented and, as you can see by the image, there were considerably more than one!
I'll try to talk you through them as best I can, beginning at 12 o'clock in the image.. Obviously, the main event is in the middle.and then we have a couple of gorgeous condiments. Moving round, there is a dhal, another curry that I cannot name, some cleverly cut and presented papad, what I think I now know to be a dish of kankun and another very tasty curry based upon the humble potato. Each was an absolute delight and prepared beautifully. Picture this if you will. This is a top-notch hotel with excellent service and gorgeous food and the whole thing came to 800SLR if I recall correctly. That is about £4 sterling or maybe a touch under $6US. Welcome to Sri Lanka folks.
It was absolutely delightful and I did it full justice even if I am generally no trencherman and do not have a huge appetite at the best of times. This food was just too good to leave. Well satisfied and after another drink, I left the place for the long trek down the stairs again. Trust me it is well worth the trek.
I was unsure about eating in such a posh place but I need not have been, the service was faultless, the food sublime and you really cannot get a better view in Galle.
At present, whether due to an internet failure where I am or some VT failure, I cannot upload images. I shall do so asap.
Favorite Dish: The rice and curry as described in the main text.
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The Heritage Cafe: The must visit cafe in Galle Fort
this place is famous for seafood and sri lankan rice and curry. this is the only place in Fort where they have a place for kids, lots of books, toys and colouring material. it also has the fastest WIFI in Galle. This cafe used to be an old bakery in fort during colonial period. The Barista Lavazza Coffee outlet is also in the same building. It serves the best coffees.
Favorite Dish: Seafood Platter, this platter has a very good portion of fish, prawns and cuttlefish nicely grilled.
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punto Cafe.: Brilliant little restaurant inside the fort area.
During my stay in Galle i ate several times at the Punto Cafe cause i really liked the food and the service there.
The restaurant is a small place with only 5-6 tables and is run by a young family.
They were always very welcoming and service minded and the food was excellent.
I had their vegetable curry twice when i was there and it was really a feast and only set me back 500 rupees.
I also had breakfat there twice where i chose the oriental style breakfast and it was really good too.
This restaurant is totally my kinda place.
A small quiet restaurant with friendly service and where i can sit an hour after dinner and read my book in peace.
This is the kinda place i like to go to when i am on holiday.
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Seagreen Restaurant: Tasty meals for resonable prices!
I had a great stay at the nearby Seagreen Guesthouse and enjoyed the food at Seagreen Restaurant a couple of times. The breakfast was very good - with fresh fruit juice, tea, coffee, fruits, eggs, toasts... or curries, stringhoppers... everything what you need!
For luch, they offer homecooked rice and curry - so fresh and delicious!
It was hard to choose what to have for dinner because there are so many tasty things on the menue. We had seafood more than one time and it was simply great!!!
Favorite Dish: We loved the homecooked rice and curry for lunch. But the best is the seafood!!! Fresh king-prawns with garlic butter and pineapple salad - simply delicious!!!!
Sahana Coolspot: The locals' favourite lunch spot
Sahana Coolspot is a great place for lunch after you've visited the shops and markets along Main Street in Galle. You'll find it just behind the large standing Buddha next to the vegetable market. The friendly staff will offer you fresh fruit juices and a wide array of "Short eats". These are a selection of different pasteries, Chinese rolls, mini pizzas and patties. If you don't fancy that, they do fried rice with chicken and egg. The prices are really cheap and you'll be full on 2-300 Ruppees. The locals also flock to Sahana for their cakes which are all made fresh by Mr Saman and his staff.
Favorite Dish: My favourite dish are the fish cutlets which are small fish balls which are quite spicy and very tasty!
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Hard Rock Restaurant: Unawatuna Beach
This is one of many restaurants along the beach front in Unawatuna. The 3-wheel driver reccomended it to me. The tables or on the sand, with the surf not far away.
They serve a good variety of food and drinks. The service is good, as is the food.
Favorite Dish: Devilled Chicken with rice
- Budget Travel
The Rampart Hotel: For sea views
The Rampart Hotel restaurant offers tasty food with nice views of the fort walls and seafront. Prices are reasonable and the staff are friendly. We only had sandwiches and fries here as a snack before a heavier dinner, but it was a nice relaxing place to have a meal!
Favorite Dish: Sandwiches and fries.
Seagreen Restaurant: Best food in Galle Fort
Entering the New Gate near the clock tower of Galle Fort and following the Rampart Street down to the sea you will see the Seagreen Restaurant on your left side. It´s small - just 4 tables - but you will be surprised! The menue is great - for everyone`s taste! I´ve eaten the best king-prawns in my whole lifetime! There is also a big variety of fresh fruit -juices. The staff is very friendly and the owner is always willing to tell you lot of things about Galle and Sri Lanka while waiting for the food. If you travel individually, the owner also can organize transports or small roundtours with his own van. The prices are really good. All in all it`s a wonderfull place to have a relaxed evening in the beautifull old town of Galle. Or try to have a fried rice for lunch before starting to visit the Fort!
Favorite Dish: Fried king prawns with chips and salad... DELICIOUS!!!
Fried Rice - vegetarian or with chicken/seafood... GREAT AND CHEAP!!!
Fresh fruit juices... Refreshing, tasty and full of vitamines
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Seagreen Fresh Fruit Juice Bar: Great seafood at a nice price
We were very happy to find this place which fills a void in Galle Fort, where we had a hard time finding budget restaurants. It is small and intimate with just three tables, and it has a very nice view of the ramparts, good food, cheap prices, and friendly service. It began in October 2005 as a juice bar (hence the name), but people kept requesting food so they started serving that too, and they do a very good job of it. They do not add tax or service charges onto the bill, which is unusual in Sri Lanka.
Favorite Dish: Grilled Tuna with Salad Rs 200
Grilled Prawns with Chips or Salad Rs 250
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Aruna' s Restaurant: Cheap pizzas and curries
Apart from the guesthouses, Aruna's restaurant is one of the few budget options for eating in Galle Fort. It's a tiny family-run place with just four tables. They do pretty good pizzas and curries, and the service is quick and the price reasonable. Since there is no staff other than the couple who live there and run the place, they may close unexpectedly if they have something else going on (even if that something else appears to be nothing more than standing in the doorway watching the world go by).
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