Where to Eat in Bali
With its rich history and colorful culture, it should come as no surprise that Balinese restaurants emanate that same sense of excitement and variety. From traditional Indonesian joints that can fill your belly for under $5 to Michelin star quality fine dining joints--Bali has a little bit of everything. Whether it's babi guling or foie gras and caviar that you are after, you'll be able to find something that suits your fancy in Bali. The restaurants outlined below offer a good roadmap, but feel free to post a comment below so we can collaborate on which are the best restaurants that Bali has to offer.
Nomad - Ubud - $
Nomad is not only a local's favorite but is one of many restaurants in Ubud that boasts all organic, locally sourced food. They serve up traditional Balinese dishes like nasi goreng, Balinese lawar, spring rolls and satays. There is outdoor seating that allows for great people-watching and they start off by giving you cold towels to enjoy before your meal (which is always a plus when suffering through the humidity and the heat). And the food is incredible. But the best part? It's super cheap. My husband and I hard lunch, where we each had a couple of bears and a cocktail to share, and the total was only $21 USD. Had we chosen not to have alcohol with our lunch, it would have cost us only about $12.
Night Rooster - Ubud - $$
Are you a cocktail connoisseur? Or do you just appreciate a damn good libation? This is your place. Night Rooster, a sister restaurant of the infamous Locavore, does not disappoint. They feature unique, fun cocktails that are surely unlike anything you've had before. Using ingredients like snake fruit palm sugar, burned cassia bark, homemade bitters, blowtorch dehydrated fruit, cashew orgeat, dried wormwood, and a handful of other ingredients I've never heard of, Night Rooster not only serves up great cocktails but their food is legit too. We had their deviled eggs (which were like $4), the pork belly tacos, and the chicken--which were all to die for. So good in fact that we came back again a second time (note that while the food is insanely cheap, the cocktails are not, which is why I gave it two dollar signs instead of one).
So what should I drink, you ask? If you're into smoky drinks, their drink "Ashes" includes blowtorched dried fruit (done table side), Ketel One Vodka, Bulleit Rye Whiskey, sweet and sour, fortified wine, palm sugar syrup, burned cassia bark, and molasses cracker, served on a "rock" in pine forest mist. It's the ultimate man's man drink that will make you feel as though you should be wearing a lumberjack outfit and wielding an axe. Care for something on the fruitier side? Try the "Hope She Likes It", which has housemaid pineapple, rosemary honey, cointreau, punt e mes, 1800 Tequila, egg white, aromatic bitter, dried pineapple and finished with "aroma therapy." You won't regret it.
Batan Waru - Ubud - $$
This place is great for traditional Indonesian food. Reasonably priced too, which is always a plus. They serve farm to table cuisine and cook things "the old fashioned way", using old Balinese techniques and hand-ground spices. We stopped here for lunch and enjoyed some traditional dishes like the fried duck, spring rolls and seafood potstickers. And the service was great too, everyone was super friendly. We would definitely go back.
La Plancha - Seminyak - $
giveaway. We enjoyed a few beers and enjoyed a few of their tapas platesWe stopped by this place after a friend recommended that we go. After stopping by Channel Islands (which is right in the heart of Seminyak) to pick up a surfboard, we headed toward
the beach and stopped at this place--one of the many restaurants that line up along the beach. They serve up Spanish style tapas. You can't miss it--the colorful painted building is a dead giveaway. We enjoyed a couple of beers and their chicken and calamari tapas dishes.
The Beach Grill - Ritz Carlton, Nusa Dua - $$$
This is the Ritz Carlton's main fine dining restaurant. Situated just steps from the beach, it makes for the perfect spot to have a romantic dinner or celebration. They have your typical western dishes like steak tartare, soups, salads, steaks and seafood. White linen service with great stemware and a decent wine list too.
Kubu - Mandapa Reserve, Ubud - $$$$
Kubu is clearly one of Bali's best restaurants, and there's a reason for it--they offer an exquisite fine dining experience in a setting that's tough to beat. Their "cocoons" that offer semi-privite dining along the river are quite possibly the most romantic place you can have dinner. Facing out toward the river and surrounded by a woven bamboo enclosure, you get to listen to the sounds of the river while dining. They offer a la carte and prix fixe options (they have a 5 course and a 7 course meal). We opted to do the 5 course and a bottle of wine because the additional two courses didn't sound good at the time and we found the five course to be just right. I would absolutely eat here again--can't wait to go back!
Maha (the bunny cafe) - Ubud - $
This is a great place to stop for a coffee, a snack or a drink after strolling through the Monkey Forest. Since it's right off of Jalan Monkey Forest (Monkey Forest Street), it's a logical place to stop either to or from the Monkey Forest Sanctuary. This place is famous for their outdoor courtyard where bunnies roam around the garden. Who doesn't love cute little bunnies?
Locavore - Ubud - $$$$
Though we didn't get the opportunity to eat at Locavore while we were in Bali, this had to go on the list because I have heard so many wonderful things. Our bartender at the Ritz Carlton, who is from Ubud, said that Locavore is the most sought-after dining experience in Bali right now, and he was right--Locavore was booked solid for the entire week we were there. The only available reservations were for lunch on Tuesday and Wednesday, and since they only offer their 5 and 7 course degustation menus, we opted not to go because we weren't feeling a 3 hour lunch at the time. They say ahead of time that you should plan to be there for at least 2.5 to 3 hours (which I am typically totally fine with for dinner but think it's a bit much for lunch). One of the unique things about Locavore is that they offer a cocktail pairing, and if their cocktails at sister restaurant Night Rooster are any indicator of how good the pairings are, they are sure to be fantastic. Be aware that this place is probably the most expensive in Bali--their 5 course menu with cocktail pairings is $1.2m IDR (or about $92 USD) and their 7 course menu with pairings is $1.45m IDR (or about $106), which is certainly not expensive for fine dining degustation menus elsewhere but definitely on the high end for Bali.
Mosaic - Ubud - $$$$
Mosaic is known for being one of Ubud's best restaurants, and some say it may even be the best restaurant in Bali. If the food doesn't turn you on then the setting sure will--diners enjoy their meal in an intimate garden setting just outside of the extremely tastefully decorated main building. Mosaic is known for doing what they call "gastronomic discovery", taking traditional ingredients and using them in a way that is both innovative and exciting. Mozaic's chef, French-American Chef Chris Salans, worked in several Michelin-Star restaurants and even worked as the Chef de Cuisine at the French Laundry under famed chef Thomas Keller. The food and the dining experience are both exquisite. This place will set you back though--it's one of the most expensive restaurants in Bali.
Raku - Ritz Carlton, Nusa Dua - $$$
Raku is the Ritz Carlton's Japanese restaurant, located at the top of the resort (on the cliff), so you can sit outside by their fire pits and enjoy fantastic views. Think Nobu Malibu but just with a slightly different view. I'm not saying this place is quite as good as Nobu... but pretty darn close. They serve quality dishes that taste great and the ambiance is difficult to beat. Get there just before sunset to enjoy magic hour.
Ibu Oka 3 (Warung Babi Gulihng) - Ubud - $
This is the place to go if you are looking to eat some of the famous Babi Guling (suckling pig). This is a very casual, very cheap, eat with your hands kind of place. They serve the food in baskets and wax paper and have rolls of paper towels for napkins on each of the tables. If you're into spicy, be sure to try their spicy Babi Guling. A word of advice though: get there early! People typically get there before noon so they are sure to not only get a seat (since it's always busy) but also so you can get there before they run out of the good stuff. I would suggest going around 11:30. When we tried to go the first time, we arrived around 2 pm and they were completely out of the pig skin, which is our favorite. And don't even think about going for dinner--most places that serve Babi Guling are only open for lunch.