The 4 Best Sri Lankan Restaurants in Los Angeles

Mutton curry from Cafe Lanka | Photo by Cafe Lanka

Sri Lankan food is extremely similar to South Indian food. This makes sense. Sri Lanka is an island off of the coast of India and Indian traders have settling down in Sri Lanka for 2,500 plus years. The main difference in the food: Sri Lankan dishes do not use any dairy products. Coconut is used liberally instead.

The island also uses a greater proportion of spices in their food and the consistency of the curry is not as thick or oily as their Indian counterparts. Arab, Malaysian, Portuguese, Dutch, and British influences can also be detected in the cuisine due to a history of trading and colonization.

Sri Lankan restaurants are hard to come by in Los Angeles. There are only a handful of these eateries at a time and most of them are located in the Valley. And, a fair warning, like South Indian fare, the food is extremely spicy.

Here are four:

Apey Kade | Photo credit: Clarissa Wei

Apey Kade
Apey Kade is a family operation. It's located in a small strip mall in Tarzana. Walk in and chances are, you'll see some of the family's children hanging out behind the counter. The regulars are friends and the owners are perfectly friendly. They're known for a killer buffet special; it's $10 a person. If you're ordering a la carte, do give the deviled chicken a try. The poultry is infused with curry leaves, lime juice and a liberal splash of fresh and dried chilies. 19662 Ventura Blvd, Tarzana, CA 91356.

Curry Leaf | Photo credit: Clarissa Wei

The Curry Leaf
Curry Leaf is an airy diner right in Reseda touting Sri Lankan and Indian specials. The food is served buffet-style and if you make it for lunch, it's $8.99 per person. They serve great hoppers - a crepe-like dish fashioned with a fermented batter of coconut milk, rice flour, and palm wine. It's great with an egg inside and The Curry Leaf has entire evenings dedicated to this classic dish. 17734 Sherman Way, Reseda, CA 91335.

Seafood combo at Cafe Lanka | Photo credit Cafe Lanka

Café Lanka
Tucked in the hills of La Crescenta, Café Lanka is manned by husband-and-wife team Subodha Dharmathma and Mahesh Berera. Their avocado juice is a crowd favorite. No powders are added; they use only fresh avocados. If you're a first-timer, the shrimp biryani bowl or mutton curry is a good way to start. Spice levels can be adjusted to taste. For dessert, try their Sri Lankan flan, called wattalappan, made with coconut milk, jaggery (a type of sugar), and eggs. 3436A Foothill Blvd., La Crescenta, California.

Baja Subs Sri Lankan Plate | Photo credit Baja Subs

Baja Subs Market & Deli
Baja Subs Market & Deli is many things. First and foremost, they're a market and a deli. They also sell Mexican food and double as a Sri Lankan eatery on weekends only. Any of their devilled dishes are great but the Sri Lanka biryani is their star dish. Cool fact: Biryani was brought over to Sri Lanka by South Indians in the 1900s. The main difference? The Sri Lankan version sometimes serves it with string hoppers, which are thin steamed rice noodles. 8801 Reseda Blvd, Northridge, CA 91324.

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