Juice journeys: In search of the best smoothie bowl in Sri Lanka
One thing you should know about me is that I have a serious love affair with my Vitamix. A Vitamix is rather high priced, high powered blender that works so well you might consider dating it! I take my blender seriously. Needless to say, smoothie making is a pleasure and a passion of mine. Beyond the garden variety of juice in a glass and into the realm of combination with granola, coconut, and a fruit floater- the smoothie bowl is a treat I sorely miss here in Costa Rica. I have yet to find a smoothie bowl anywhere on a menu in the Puerto Viejo Area EXCEPT for in my kitchen!
In my house I struggle in the tropical heat and 100% humidity (yes I am serious) to create bowls with a creamy consistency that is close to frozen. To eat a smoothie with a spoon you need a base of fruit that’s extra thick, less liquid, and more fruit. Subsequently, I deeply appreciate places that make more than visually appealing smoothie bowls. I get excited when a restaurant serves a solid and flavorful base, crunchy granola, and fruit on top beyond the garden variety. Needless to say, when I am on the road I am tireless in my search of a solid smoothie bowl.
With my month long honeymoon to Sri Lanka pending; I researched coffee shops and smoothie locations both before and during the trip to plan out my visit accordingly. Luckily, most smoothie bowl locations coincided with surf breaks so I was already heading in that direction. *You can see there is prevailing global theme here surf and healthy treats. Our honeymoon was spent enjoying a different culture and exploring different surf spots. We live an active healthy life style and did not want to give that up on holiday. If you feel the same way we do, I hope my research might save you some time in the search of the surest Sri Lankan smoothie bowl on your trip. I’ve decided to rank the bowls on consistency of the base, toppers, artistic arrangement, the location, service, and overall experience. I hope your trip and taste buds benefit from my mission! A special thanks to my husband Ryan who was happily along for the ride and ordered just as many Avo and Toast dishes as I did smoothie bowls!
Salty Swamis in Hikkaduwa
Ceylon Sliders in Weligama
Hideaway Arugam Bay in Arugam Bay
Café Secret Alley in Kandy
Aloha Coffee Gallery in Mirissa
Shady Lane in Mirissa
The Doctor’s House in Madiha
Dots Surf Cafe in Hiriketiya
Best Overall Consistency (cold and creamy fruit base)
This was a massive surprise to me: coming in first was my bowl at tiny Shady Lane in Mirissa. While, they did not serve granola with the bowl, the consistency was not banana based solely, stayed cold and congealed the entire time I ate the bowl, and looked good while doing it. Runners up were Ceylon sliders, and Café Secret Alley a surprise third. This tiny spot with just a few blenders is a serious score while in Kandy! Made even more delicious by the vapid food desert in Kandy,I got sick from food while in the city) don’t miss this spot, we went twice! Their bowl was also crisp, cold, and smooth without any mealy consistency.
Hideaway Arugam Bay! Huge clusters, massive chunks of toasted coconut, pieces of dates, and plenty of it to go around! My favorite. I do believe that Hideaway is part of the Salty Swami crew and have similar recipes for which I am so incredibly grateful. That being said, Salty Swamis was a close second, and Ceylon Sliders a closer third. All three were incredible.
Salty Swamis: The bowl was colorful with black sesame, granola, golgi berries, pomegranate seeds, mango, mint and banana. The color was vibrant, a full pallet, almost a mandala of decoration. Aloha Coffee Gallerycame in second with three different colors of sesame seeds, coconut and mango. Shady Lane was third with classic fruit and flowers.
This is a tough call. I am not only speaking about friendliness of the staff but timeliness of meal delivery, and attentiveness to needs. First place goes to the Hideaway in Arugam Bay. We spent four days at Hideaway so I have to give it up to the staff, specifically, Sampath who was super attentive to all our needs and remembered our orders. Coming in second was a tie between Salty Swamis & Ceylon Sliders who were both super quick, checked in regularly, and delivered both our meals at the same time (which is not always the case in Sri Lanka.)
Best Overall Experience
Salty Swamis all the way! The food was incredible, my smoothie bowl, my husband’s avo and toast, and the strong coffee. The service was fast- and the crew a friendly cast of adorable surfers in fun and funky environment. The décor was beach trendy with tropical plants, glass water bottles on every table, surf boards shaped on sight, and located directly on the beach access. I almost went back to Hikkaduwa just to eat here again.
Runner up was Ceylon Sliders! Fast service, funky décor, excellent coffee, and a gorgeous gift shop! Its hard to rate many of these places as they were so good and so welcome on the trip. ** Both places served my food and my husband’s food at the same time. I do realize this is not always possible in smaller shops where they are working with perhaps only one blender or chef but I always appreciated getting to eat with my partner when possible. At several locations my husband was done with lunch for over a half an hour when I got my smoothie bowl. Eating together added positively to my experience!
Third and perhaps also first would go to the Doctor’s House. Let me explain why. They came in third for breakfast smoothie bowl place but first for the afternoon and evening chill. While primarily a sun down drink spot, simply a solid hang out and gorgeous place to gaze at the surf while experiencing tasty food! They did not have a smoothie bowl rather a granola jar, which was different but also excellent. This location is uber casual and you go up to the counter to order and get a number, which is, helps create fluidity of service. While not related to the smoothie bowl, they make excellent drinks, great pizza, and baked goods. They often have music and craft fares making this an incredible space to hang out and enjoy your trip.
Experience by Shop
(In order we visited)
As stated above was my favorite overall. Located in the busy and touristy Hikkaduwa, the place manages to create a sanctuary of tranquil good vibes. Each table has a glass bottle with free filtered water, cute cacti and is surrounded by lush greenery. They had great music, fast service, and even a loo with a view, so to speak. The smoothie bowl was delicious, beautiful, and filling. My husband had fantastic avo on toast and we were even able to check the surf from behind the shop. The place is much larger than it looks from the road, which means they are able to hold more people. This makes the fast service even more impressive. Don’t miss this place. My advice is blow off any free breakie you may get at your homestay and hit this place up!
I was so excited to visit this place as I had been following them on Instagram for over a year and they did not disappoint. Minimalist but quite stylish, this boutique hotel and surf/yoga hideaway is easy to drive by on Weligama’s main road. The café is tucked behind part of the hotel and offers a sweet shady space to rest post yoga or surf. The food is light and fresh and is a lovely mix of local ingredients with creative international flare. They also have glass bottles on each table with filtered water included. The smoothie bowl was delicious and also included a large amount of tasty toasted Sri Lankan cashews, which was my favorite part of this particular bowl. My husband also loved is avo and toast. We were fortunate enough to get to pass through here twice. I was also lucky enough to receive two Christmas gifts my husband purchased in the gift shop at the front of the building which I might add is a great way to make any lady in your life get pretty darn excited if she is into bathing suits, kimonos, and unique jewelry.
Dots Surf Café
We only visited Dot’s for a quick smoothie after a surf in Hiriketiya. Dots is clearly just opening their door so to speak, although they are an open air space. Our smoothies showed promise and were served quickly with metal straws. I am sure these guys are worth a visit and coming up fast.
Hideaway Arugam Bay
The restaurant at Hideaway in the off-season is located in the hotel with plenty of flowers and Ganesha the chubby and playful elephant god to keep you company. The hotel has several cats and dogs, which, pass by while you dine which we loved. The restaurant also provides fresh water in a glass bottles on the table. I keep mentioning this because you cant drink out of the tap in Sri Lanka so it is a true service when filtered water sans plastic is provided. All of the food was fresh, creative, and portions were large. My smoothie bowl was part of the list of breakfast options included in our stay!! In all honesty, we were in Arugam Bay four nights and also ate dinner at Hideaway for each one. We really did try to branch out but could find anything quite like the ambiance, service, or menu in the bay. For full disclosure, we are pescatarians and wanted seafood and fresh veggies exclusively. Hideaway seemed to be the only place doing it right every night while we were there. I have to mention that the staff was very sweet, personable, and let us take part in a new years blessing ceremony to Ganesh in the yoga studio at the back of the property. This place is a gem.
Café Secret Alley
Smaller and as stated in the name, hidden, the café is tucked back in an alley and up the stairs in Kandy. As aforementioned, Kandy is not exactly a mecca of healthy food options. While this café is not as large or glamorous as some of the places I mentioned earlier, it is certainly worth a visit. I was pleasantly surprised with my smoothie bowl and my husband enjoyed his avo and toast. On my second visit I tried peanut butter toast and fruit, quite the treat to have peanut butter, one of my one true loves while in Sri Lanka.
Service Shout Out: This place truly deserves a little extra credit. The days we visited it was just two young guys with a Vitamix behind the counter, quickly churning out quality food. Service was fast, the food was cute, and the coffee was strong! Three cheers for not keeping this place a secret! This was the only smoothie bowl experience we had off the beach another reason to give this place a shout out.
The Doctor’s House* Madiha
As mentioned above, The Doctor's House has a great overall vibe; fun crew with a mix of Lankans and Austrian ex-pats serving up quality organic food, good drinks, surf stoke and even fishing advice. The location is stellar for watching the surf, the sunset, and for sharing a few pints and making new friends. See above for further review.
The Aloha Coffee Gallery * Mirissa
This was a small cute café in a little blue house. They feature real coffee, all day breakfast, smoothie bowls, and avocado toast options. They were slam packed and a bit understaffed the day we were there so it took a very long time to get our orders. However, it was a great spot to chill and wait surrounded by good music and tropical plants. If you are starving maybe not the best option but if you are feeling that island vibe this is the place.
Shady Lane * Mirissa
This place receives a bit of extra credit for offering a dairy free option to the smoothie bowl base on their menu, which is what I ordered. Most smoothies in Sri Lanka contain buffalo curd, which gets to be a bit much for me as I am not a big dairy person to begin with. When I am eating a smoothie bowl I am looking for light, fresh, and filling, but not from animal products. Salty Swamis base was made with coconut milk which was also very much appreciated. If other locations had such an option it was not as readily apparent as it was here. Shady lane offered amble seating in the shade with cute little cacti filled nooks to hide out from Sri Lanka’s intense sunshine. They do not serve hot coffee which was the only down side but I did enjoy my iced latte. I adored their style with cute bamboo straws, the addition of flowers to each dish, and cute little signs hidden in the garden behind the bar for inspiration and vibe creation. You ordered at the bar but there was also a waitress who came by and checked in and refilled water, which was also provided. Both my husband and I enjoyed our breakfast but we did eat about 20 minutes apart, the only downside of my experience at Shady Lane.
I would love to hear about your Sri Lankan Smoothie Bowl experiences! Where did I miss? Don’t tempt me to take a return trip already!! Until then I will continue to work on recipes in my kitchen and day dream about my next Juice Journey!