A Foodie’s Guide to Trincomalee & Nilaveli

Spicy seafood lovers' heaven

There’s no doubt that Trincomalee has endless delights for visitors, from beaches and surfing to the old Dutch fort and more. But that just means there’s delicious food for you to try while you’re here! Trincomalee offers a variety of food with an equally large budget range, so don’t hide your wallets just yet.

Best Food Experiences

1. Dhal wade at The Wade Cart

We bet you can’t have enough of these chana dal wadas served piping hot with green chilies.

Of course, nothing can beat the homemade ones, but The Wade Cart is something you can trust with the yummiest dhal wadas in wide varieties. Choose your pick from the staples like wade, prawn wade, and sautéed chickpeas.

They also make chili wade for the spice lovers who like it fiery. And let us give you a bonus tip. Buy the wades at this stall and walk over to the harbor to watch the sunset. You can sit out on the now deserted Trinco-Mutur ferry pier and leisurely enjoy your wade as you watch passing boats and the setting sun. Perfect day, right?

2. Kottu

Image of Kottu plate on white dish sri lanka
Kottu plate on white dish sri lanka | Source: Sithu Fen /Dreamstime.com

Ask anyone in Trinco and they’ll say their East coast Kottu is better than the ones in Hikkaduwa. Well, we clearly can’t choose the winner of the both so why not try both?

Order the Kottu at Swyree, which calls itself a Chinese restaurant but is special for the East coast Kottu. The kottu here is lighter and fluffier and it’s generally less leaden and filling. You don’t find much cheese in it unlike its Southern counterpart and it is a good thing for those who keep a health check. Also try the chicken kottu that comes loaded with spicy gravy.

Image of Making kottu roti in srilanka street frastivels
Making kottu roti in srilanka street frastivels | Source: Sithu Fen /Dreamstime.com

3. Crab at Crab Seafood Restaurant

Image of Spicy flat cakes with crabs and prawns on dishes in Colombo
Spicy flat cakes with crabs and prawns on dishes in Colombo | Source:  Dmitry Naumov/Shutterstock.com

If you’re in Trincomalee, it would be an absolute pity to not relish on the crab and prawn dishes, at least once. Trincomalee is known for its signature crab dishes and almost every eatery here serve their own style of crab and other seafood dishes.

For the best experience of seafood when in Trinco, head to Crab Seafood Restaurant. Staying true to its name, this restaurant here swears by the Blu Supreme of Crab, which consists of crabs from the nearby Trincomalee bay, with northeast Sri Lankan spices, gravy and Jasmine rice with a chilled salad. The setting outside on the beach in a little hut with wide vistas of green surrounding it give it a good ambiance. You can also try the prawns in Coconut Indian style and sum up your dinner with banana fritters for dessert.

Fine Dining

1. The Crab, Trinco Blu ($$$$)

Upuvali, Trincomalee | 026 2 222307 | www.cinnamonhotels.com/trincoblubycinnamon/dining/the-crab

Why go for a vacation by the coast if you don’t experience the beauty of dining by the beach? At The Crab, you can dig your toes into sand while you go on a gastronomical journey with their perfectly cooked, juicy dishes. Priding themselves on serving some of the best seafood in town, this place takes dining and luxury to the next level.

2. Jungle Beach Resort ($$$$)

27th Kilometer Post, Pulmoddai Road, Kuchchaveli 31000 | 026 5 671000 | www.ugaescapes.com/junglebeach/dining/restaurant

A perfect end to any day is the perfect meal. The Jungle Beach Resort lets you savour the exotic flavours and spices of authentic Sri Lankan food while you relax and wind down. Their array of mouth watering dishes are a must have. The seafood dishes they serve are out of this world. Overlooking green lands and a pool while the sea breeze gently ruffles your hair, this is the perfect vacation meal destination.

3. Nilaveli Beach Hotel ($$$)

11th mile Post, Nilaveli | 026 2 222071 | www.nilaveli.tangerinehotels.com/dining

Known as one of the best dining destinations in Trincomalee, the Nilaveli Beach Hotel prides itself on serving the freshest and yummiest catches of the day. Lobster, succulent crab curries, and a local speciality, their crispy cuttlefish and giant prawns are must haves. The ambiance is the perfect mixture of luxury and comfort.

4. The Captain’s Deck, Trinco Blu ($$$)

Upuvali, Trincomalee | 026 2 222307 | www.cinnamonhotels.com/trincoblubycinnamon/dining/captains-deck

Serving an immaculate array of dishes all three meals of the day, it’s all hands on deck at this restaurant. Their locally sourced food is delectable and the spices of the island speak for itself while it takes you on a culinary roller coaster. A brightly lit whitewashed affair, this is a great place to try seafood in luxury.

Family and Casual Dining

1. Cafe on the 18th ($$$)

No. 18 Alles garden, Sarvodaya Rd, Trincomalee

Café on the 18th will take you to Europe right on the roads of Trincomalee. Their porridge and honey garlic shrimps are the most raved about dishes. For the health conscious eaters, they also serve vegan food and for a very reasonable price too.

2. Nero Kitchen ($$)

190/5, Nilaveli Road, Alles Garden, Trincomalee

With pizzas as their specialty, this restaurants pride themselves on serving the best in town. The unique taste and mouthwatering aroma makes the pizza worth every penny. Nero Kitchen offers a variety of vegetarian pizzas too. If you ever venture into Trincomalee, this should be on your list.

3. Ceylon Seafood Café ($$)

12, Sarvodaya Road, Alles Garden, Uppuveli, Trincomalee

This is a must visit if you love fresh seafood! They let you choose your own fish from the display and they serve the best rice and curry meals in the area. Since it’s located by a lake, you get to enjoy a picturesque view as well!

Budget Places

1. Cafe Nilaveli ($)

Nilaveli Beach Rd, Nilaveli, Trincomalee

A quaint run of the mill restaurant is what this place looks like, but their food is nothing but extraordinary. Their fresh fish curry and rice is loved by many and their dessert options follow soon after. This is a good place to eat at if you want good old Sri Lankan food.

2. Rice ‘n’ Curry ($)

Sarvodaya Road, Alles Garden, Uppuveli, Trincomalee

Image of Rice and curry sri lankan cuisine
Rice and curry sri lankan cuisine | Source: Ppy2010ha /Dreamstime.com

One of the best restaurants in Trincomalee, this place is also vegetarian friendly and offers gluten free dishes. Famous for fried rice with seafood curry, this is a must try place if you want to experience authentic and delectable Sri Lankan food.

Trincomalee has beaches, temples, and adventure and its food isn’t far behind. You’ll want to worship at the food temples of this city—all the local restaurants! The seafood is divine, the rice and curry is homecooked, and the drinks are cool and sweating. When you stop at a restaurant in Trincomalee, you won’t be disappointed.