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Food, Restaurants & Recipes Sri Lanka

My Favourite Restaurants in Jaffna (& Tourist Map)

You’ve probably heard of Jaffna before. It was the epicentre of the Sri Lankan civil war, so it was off-limits to tourism for a long time.

But now it’s open, and it’s a good thing because it’s a beautiful peninsula with tons to see and great food!

The best places to eat in Jaffna, according to me

Day 1 in Jaffna! What’s Jaffna Really Like? Is It Safe? 🇱🇰

Mangos Indian Veg

Mango’s Special Dosa Rs. 460 is indeed unique! It’s the richest dosa I’ve ever tasted! They drench it in ghee (clarified butter) and then add 2 big lumps of cream cheese that melts all over the mixed vegetable filling.

Don’t miss Mango’s Dosas!

Rio Ice Cream

Rio Ice Cream Shop in Jaffna
The best place for dessert in Jaffna: Rio Ice Cream.

Rio Ice Cream is a famous ice cream parlour in Jaffna. Many imitations have popped up around it. But Rio’s is the original.

They have a vast selection of ice creams and milkshakes. I had vanilla ice cream covered in a hard hazelnut shell Rs. 350.

Vanilla ice cream covered in a hazelnut shell.
Rio’s Hazelnut Ice Cream Rs.350.
Chocolate Sundae at Rios
Rio’s Chocolate Sundae Rs. 250.

Just feast your eyes on their menu:

Ordering is a bit tricky. First, you have to place your order at the order counter, then go to the service counter and hand over your coupon. They’ll then make your ice cream.

Rio's busy order counter
Their order counter gets very busy! Just wait in the queue, and your turn will come.

Valampuri Hotel

Throughout Sri Lanka, Jaffna is known for its Crab Curry.

Valampuri Hotel is not only a fancy hotel next to the Jaffna Station. They also have a popular restaurant on the ground floor filled with locals.

Valampuri Hotel is a popular restaurant for locals.

They have a special Jaffna cuisine menu from which I ordered the Jaffna Crab Curry. You should try the Jaffna Mutton Curry too.

All that comes with your Crab Curry: rice, veg. curry, daal, papadum, and various other dishes I don’t know the name of.

D’Villa Garden House

D’Villa Garden House is the B&B I stayed in, and I’m mentioning it because out of all the recent breakfasts I had in Nepal and Sri Lanka, this was the only hotel that served a beautiful breakfast!

They provide an epic breakfast of locally made dishes like String Hoopers and Pittu, and it costs just a few dollars extra a day!

Yarllini Hotel

Yarllini Hotel was the first restaurant I ate in after arriving in Jaffna. It was recommended by the hotel manager because he eats there, and it was a great choice!

Yarllini Hotel Jaffna

I tried their Chicken Fried Rice Rs. 300. It comes with a chilli sambal chutney that you can mix in for extra flavour and spice. Wash it down with a bottle of Ole (ginger beer).

Their menu is only in Tamil. But basically, what’s on offer is: curry rice, fried rice, kottu, and various filled buns and wraps. The Clerk will help you decide what to order.

Nallur Bhavan Vegetarian Restaurant

Nallur Bhavan is another pure vegetarian restaurant. Very similar to Mango’s. I ordered the Chilli Parotta Rs. 300, but I would not recommend it (it’s too sweet and sickly tasting). Their Dosas and normal Parotta that comes with two curries is better.

Like many places in Jaffna, they only serve plain rice and curry at lunch, and they aren’t fully operational with the full menu until evening time.

My Favourite Beach in Jaffna

In my Jaffna day 2 vlog, I travel throughout the Jaffna peninsula.

Off the top, I know, but I wanted to share the best beach I found in Jaffna.

Manatkaadu Beach is about 1-hour from Jaffna and it’s surrounded by large sand dunes where you’ll find a destroyed church and cemetery.

Just beware because the waves are powerful, so be careful swimming there.

Manatkaadu Beach, Jaffna, Sri Lanka
Manatkaadu Beach, Jaffna, Sri Lanka

US Hotel & Restaurant

I only got takeaway from US Hotel & Restaurant, and it was good. Try their Dosa 5-Set Rs.300 (5 dosas with sambar and tomato coconut chutney) and their Egg Kottu Rs. 300.

They’ll also deliver for free to your hotel.

Not-so-good places to eat in Jaffna

None of the below restaurants are horrible. I just found the food average. But take a look, as some of them may appeal to you.

Malayan Cafe

Malayan Cafe is highly rated, but I found the flavour of their Kottu a bit lacking. Their “Indian Sweets” didn’t taste much like India either. But it is billed as a pure Indian vegetarian option in town, so this place might be right for you.

Lavin’s Vegetarian Family Restaurant

Lavin’s might interest you if you’re looking for pure vegetarian food. My problem is it was a little overpriced, and there are better options like Nullur Bhavan.

If they post helped you, please leave a comment.

By Karl Rock

Karl Rock, is a Hindi speaking Kiwi ex-pat who take viewers behind the scenes of incredible India and its neighbours. He has visited every state and union territory in India, and its culturally similar neighbours – Pakistan and Bangladesh, and aims to make others fall in love with India and the subcontinent.

5 replies on “My Favourite Restaurants in Jaffna (& Tourist Map)”

Hi Karl,

I’ve been following your adventures in India before and now I’m just enjoying this new Sri Lanka series you’re beginning because of / thanks to the ordeal you are going through for political reasons you evoked earlier. It will be over soon hopefully but you can successfully profit from it, as I can see, to make incredible things like your recent trips.
I’ve been in Jaffna myself before the lockdown so I’m now happy to discover that you are visiting the place yourself. I also stayed at the D’Villa, in my case, Guest House not the Garden House, which is the newer property held by the owner. The latter is an extremely sympathetic (strong) person that invited me to the D’Villa Garden House for Pongal so I had the chance to experiment the good vibes coming from that place as well. I can only confirm what you mentioned about the incredible breakfasts proposed there. They’re both visually attractive and extremely tasty! I also went to several other places you are showing us here and missed a few others. Like I went to the Malayan vegetarian restaurant which I found quite decent but did not try the Nallur Bhavan. It makes me want to give Jaffna another go now. Also I went to the Yarllini Hotel and that time I had converse impressions as yours: The promises of the food from the pictures outside were amazing but I found the diversity and the quality quite average once inside. Moreover, I did not go to Rio Ice Cream but the Lingan Ice Cream nearby the temple. This time, maybe I missed something. Similarly, if I may recommend something, at the junction between Navalar rd and Jaffna-Point Pedro rd immediately to the left when going to the centre on Jaffna-Point Pedro rd, there was a new fruit juice store held by a young guy where I found the juice amazing, so if you’re still around, you might give it a try if you want.
I understood that in the next episode you’re going to show some of the incredible beaches around Jaffna. I hope you could find about the Hindu temple where hot water springs out of the earth (a.k.a. sand) a few meters before the sea! (Keerimalai Naguleswaram Kovil) There are pools there, one for men, another for women, where you can swim. Some people believe those waters have medical properties. Beware that this spot is not on the main road from Jaffna but a step more to the West otherwise you end up in a military resort zone where foreign tourists are not necessarily well appreciated.

As for the northernmost point of Sri Lanka, Point Pedro, there is nothing exceptional there, apart from its geographical location. Very soon, however, there will be a bicycle race starting from there and traveling all the way up to Point Dondra (southernmost point of Sri Lanka) crossing the all island North to South by the middle. 600km that the racers are supposed to do in 24 hours for the most champion among them! Therefore, quite a challenge! This event is called ‘Race the Pearl’ and it will be held on the next 5th and 6th Februrary. In Colombo, there is a spot called ‘Spinner Cycling’ (Pitakotte-Talawatugoda rd) which is both a café and a bicycle repair shop. They’re trying to promote cycling in Sri Lanka and the owner of the place is also the organiser of ‘Race the Pearl’. You can rent bicycles from there and the meals of the café are both dietetic and very tasty. I know all of this because I cycled Sri Lanka myself and was amazed by the cycling culture in Jaffna which is even more developed than in Colombo. Riding a bicycle is an activity performed equally by both men and women in the northern province which is very different from the rest of the country and possibly from the whole subcontinent in general.
Sri Lanka, in my experience, is really a wonderfull country. I would mention two other places that are worth to visit. First Sigiriya, not only for its cultural legacy but also for its ambiance. it is currently the most visited site of the country and possibly the most touristic which might act as an authenticity seeker repellent, yet it has kepts its natural charm for the jungle is everywhere around. At night, wild elephants are roaming and nobody is supposed to stay outside alone. But you might try to observe them from a distance or at least you’ll hear them from the safety of your room. In second, I would recommend visiting Nuwara Eliya (pronounced ‘Nurelya’ by the locals) in the mountains where, by taking 2000 meters of altitude you just find yourself in a totally different country!

I wish you many other incredible experiences in the region and a lot of luck in the future!

Kia Ora.
Thanks Karl for the updates.
I am Indian born Kiwi living in Houston, TX USA. I have been thinking of making monthly trip to Sri Lanka with family. I have not made any and yet. Your guide helps a lot. How much a airbnb or hotel costs per day. Are there hosting families over there?
Thanks a ton
Shiva

Hey Karl!

It’s awesome to have you in Lanka, and seeing the island through your lens is a privilege. Wish you had focused more on the amazing seafood recipes handed down over the centuries by the granny’s in Jaffna. Unfortunately there is a shortage of variety in seafood now due to poaching by Tamil Nadu fishermen. We are have no aversion to sharing our waters with our brothers, but the harmful practice of bottom trawling is turning the seabed into a desert and future generations will be affected for decades to come if this continues. I hope your reporting will shine a light on this issue, not just for the sake of the livelihood of the northern fishermen but also for the sake of the beautiful culture that the whole world deserves to enjoy and know.

Wish you success in all your endeavors

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