I love dining out in Bali. Most of the restaurants are open-air, often with gardens, and some with spectacular views as well. Service is always VERY kind if not always professional. And, you can expect every waiter you encounter to repeat everyone’s order before leaving the table to give it to the kitchen.
Balinese cuisine is good — similar to Malaysian with lots of rice and noodle dishes — but you can find just about anything you might be craving, especially in the more tourist-heavy locations around the island. Seminyak is probably one of our favorite locations for dining as most restaurants there hit the mark gastronomically and style-wise. These spots could easily fit into the competitive Sydney/Melbourne/New York restaurant scenes. Canggu is another town teeming with hot new spots — looking forward to trying some of those in 2020.
Regarding wine, beer, and cocktails… Local beer is cheap and decent. Local wine be wary — Two Islands is drinkable. Hatten wines… not so much. Imported wines, liquors, and beers are highly taxed (150%), thus the exorbitant prices here. Each tourist is allowed to bring up to 1000 ml of alcohol into the country without paying any customs, so feel free to bring a nice bottle with you.
Restaurants below are organized by location, fyi.
- The Sayan House — (next to the Four Seasons Resort.) Our new favorite restaurant in Ubud! Beautiful restaurant and garden with drop-dead gorgeous views over the Sayan valley, including an amazing view of the Four Seasons. Go for lunch or before sunset for best views! Japanese-South American fusion cuisine — sounds bizarre but even the kids loved it. This would be an AMAZING spot for a wedding!
- Bali Bohemia. This is a great spot for lunch or breakfast at the back entrance to Monkey Forest. Bohemia is the perfect word for this place. Be careful of monkeys who like to steal food! Check their calendar — they often have live music! If you want to visit Monkey Forest, there is an entrance here. Also, this neighborhood is quite nice – it is a separate village from Ubud and much more clean. A nice road to stroll – some shops, many restaurants, a soccer field, school, and temple, plus more upscale local houses. We often stay at Hotel Alam Shanti or Alam Jiwa on this street.
- Bridges Café — Popular and a very pretty location with views from the many dining levels. Upscal-ish.
- Murni’s Warung — Across the bridge from Bridges (above) and also a good authentic old-school Balinese restaurant. We have been going here since 1997. I’ll be honest, I’ve had meals here when the food has been fantastic, and others when it has been meh. But the views and antiques still make it a special place even when food average. On the main level is a wonderful gift shop with good-quality Balinese jewelry, gifts, textiles, and antiques.
- Sari Organik — Decent food and amazing rice field views, though often many tourists. You can only get here by foot or scooter as it is set within the rice fields. Don’t go for dinner or you will be walking back through the rice fields in the dark. Which actually can be quite fun though you may get frightened by a noise next to you, shine your flashlight down, and behold a naked local bathing in the canal adjacent. So disregard my previous suggestion… Perhaps you SHOULD go at sunset and enjoy the exciting return journey.
- D’Waroeng — Husband/wife team run this traditional restaurant with a garden in back. They often have Babi Guling on the menu OR you can call a day or two prior to request it. The ribs and duck are ah-MAAY-zing. And lots of other fantastic local dishes. They are happy to adjust the spice levels. It is just outside of Ubud in Nyuh Kuning village, near the back entrance to Monkey Forest
- Indus — We have been going here for many, many years. Owned by Janet deNeef who is an Australian ex pat chef. Food is excellent at times but not always, unfortunately. FABULOUS view of the Camphuan Ridge so go before sunset. I usually like their pastas. Monday is Salsa Night — the dance, not the Mexican condiment.
- Yellow Flower Cafe — Adorable place in a beloved area of ours — Penestanan. Good for coffee, smoothies, breakfast, light lunch. Turn right at the top of the Penestanan Steps, about 5 minutes down the path.
- Refresh Cafe: Small outdoor cafe near the Blanco Museum. Good food and drinks. Great people watching! Live music sometimes.
- DHARMA COFFEE & JUICE — Great coffee, nice space, right next to Bintang Market.
- MADE’S WARUNG — Simple restaurant near the top of the Camphuan Steps (go to top and keep going straight for 3-5 minutes. You will see a sign on left side of path. We have had many good lunches here. Quiet garden, and excellent Balinese food.
- PULAU KELAPA — We stopped here for lunch last year. Such a pretty teak joglo building. Organic garden in the back. Food very tasty.
- CINTA GRILL — a good choice with plenty of options for a group. On Monkey Forest Road. Great burgers and ribs.
- CAFE WAYAN — we don’t always go here, but have been on and off since 1997. Pretty gardens and decent Balinese food. Same owners as one of our favorite hotels in Ubud — Alam Shanti.
- LAKA LEKE — Restaurant near the backside of Monkey Forest which includes a traditional Balinese dance performance for every dinner. Not the best in terms of food, but not horrible either. But a comfortable way to experience a Balinese dance performance. Same owners as our favorite hotel — Alam Shanti. Transportation included, I believe. They also do art workshops in the afternoons — contact them for information.
- AWARD-WINNING DINING: Mosaic and Locavore. We dined at Mosaic once. It was VERY good but we have not desired a return visit. Considered Locavore in 2018 but decided we didn’t want a several course meal in Bali. While we will often dine at special places in Europe with large tasting menus, for some reason in Asia we tend to keep things simpler. But that doesn’t mean they are not great restaurants or someplace perfect for your own Bali experience!
ON MY LIST FOR 2020…
- Junglefish Ok… have NOT yet been but looks fantastic, gets great reviews, and I plan to go in 2020! In a new Danish hotel – Chapung Sebali — on the Camphuan Ridge. We are considering staying here next summer. They allow those lunching here to use their pool and spa facilities so would be wonderful to make an afternoon of it. I suggest hiking up the ridge (the earlier the better!) and wind up here for lunch, swim, and spa time.
- Lacasita Modern Mexican and best margaritas on the island, or so they say. Love the looks of the place. Taco Tuesday special, 2×1 Happy Hour Mon-Sat 5-7, Wednesdays, kids dine free until 7, and Frida Fridays happy hour lasts til 10 pm!
- Ibu Susa this place looks SO up my alley. Balinese owned, and owner lived/bartended in Melbourne so you know he is cool! They call their cuisine Pan Asian. Looks like they have a new sister restaurant — Kyoka — which is Kyoto homestyle cuisine.
- NOT RECOMMENDED IBU OKA Babi Guling (this is the roasted suckling pig place recommended by Anthony Bourdain) I used to go here AND recommended it BUT now not a fan… unless you can get into the small original location. The 2nd one: smells horrible, no ambience, extremely hot, and bad service. The first one, near the temple, isn’t much better in terms of setting BUT the food comes out quickly and it is pretty good. I still won’t return because there is always a line of tourists and it wasn’t all that amazing, in my opinion.
- LA LUCCIOLA — “La Looch” is an elegant open-air restaurant right on the beach, so perfect for a sunset dinner. We have been dining here for 10 years and the Italian-Australian cuisine is always fantastic. It is a MUST-visit every time. Try the granita drinks as well, either with alcohol or without.
- SEA CIRCUS — super-casual, stylish, beachy-themed Mexican place with excellent cocktails and food. Also, the boutique next door has great clothing for men and women.
- BIKU — There is something about this place that makes me feel so happy and inspired every visit. Small restaurant housed in a 150-year-old teak joglo house, across the road and down from the entrance to the W Hotel Bali. It is a tea lounge, a boutique selling books, gifts, jewelry & antiques, and a restaurant/cafe serving breakfast, lunch, high-tea, and dinner. Staff are all friendly. Reservations a must for the very popular high-tea in the afternoons. Food is all very good and fresh. I have to come here every visit at least once — usually for a morning or afternoon coffee or tea break.
- KU DE TA — This is another must-eat for us each visit. We go for lunch following an hour of boogie-boarding in front of the restaurant — there are life guards here. We always choose the covered loungey area and order pizzas — often “No Kisses For You” — and a pitcher of sangria. Consistently good and a fun people-watching spot as well. We have dined for dinner as well, but for us the post-boogie-boarding lunch is our favorite. This was the original beach-club on Seminyak — they still do live music or dj’s in the evenings and there are still plenty of posers lounging about during the day.
- THE JUNCTION HOUSE — Stylish place across from Seminyak Square at the beginning of “Eat Street.” I first visited in 2011 and it was great! Did not return until 2018 — they renovated the space and food still fantastic.
- BARBACOA — Excellent Latin-American restaurant serving food cooked by wood-fire. The large, airy space is gorgeous, and there is a private terrace in back overlooking rice fields.
- STARFISH BLOO, at the W Hotel — A must every visit BUT we also stay here so it is quite easy. Striking restaurant with booths set inside giant bamboo “birdcages.” The hot rocks steak is a favorite. Sunday Brunch here is super popular — reservation a must. Arrive before sunset for a cocktail outside at Ice Bar.
- GADO GADO — Right on Seminyak Beach. Great location; excellent food and cocktails. A little bit of everything — pasta, burgers, Indonesian, and more.
- SISTERFIELDS — Not a regular spot for us but we did have a great lunch a couple years back. Pretty interior and garden patio, yummy juices and food. And now they serve cocktails, too!
On My List To Try in 2020…
- Lacalaca Mexican Cantina: always happy to try Mexican in Bali… they seem to do it well!
- Neon Palms: associated with Sea Circus so yes please.
- Seasalt at Alila Seminyak: another modern hip beachside restaurant… not too far from the W Hotel.
- Da Maria — Amalfi Coast meets Bali. Win win.
- Mad Sparrow, Mad Ronin, and 40 Thieves: a trio of places I’d like to try. Modern Japanese yakitori, ramen, and cocktails
We have stayed in Canggu a couple times but many years ago, so have not tried all the new places. However, we are staying here again in 2020 so I will update this afterwards. In the meantime, below is where we have visited AND I will be using the Honeycombers Bali website to research for our visit.
- Echo Beach Club: We have been several times for their Sunday evening BBQ. Live music and place is packed. Fun vibe with families, singles, and couples, and groups all enjoying the sunset and lively atmosphere.
EAST BALI RESTAURANTS
- TANDJUNG SARI HOTEL RESTAURANT in Sanur: I love love LOVE this hotel, and the restaurant is a great way to experience the amazing old-school vibe and service exuded here for dinner, especially on the first Saturday of the month when they have local children perform a dance. This is one of my favorite hotels in the world. Nothing flashy but LOVE the history of this place – many artists/writers have spent time here. We usually stay a few days. The restaurant and bar are right on the beach and very good food. This is a place people return to year after year. Sanur is about 20-30 minutes from Nusa Dua and Seminyak, and 30-40 minutes from Ubud.
- VINCENT’S in Candi Dasa: Beautiful and special place we frequent whenever in Candidasa, sometimes every single night! Live music often.
- BALI ASLI near Tirta Gangga water palace: We celebrated several birthdays here for a special luncheon. Views are unbelievable. Restaurant is pretty. Reservations were somewhat complicated and necessary NOT because they fill up — it is in an isolated location so they need to know ahead of time how many diners to expect.
- WARUNG UME ANYAR in Sideman — This simple roadside cafe has amazing views over some spectacular ricefields. The food was excellent — Balinese and Thai foods — though took awhile as we were a large group and everything is prepared to order. I bought some beautiful sarongs here for pennies. The toilet here is not great so make sure you have Wet Wipes or Purell. FYI, Sideman is worth a trip for some amazing interior Bali landscapes — a great daytrip excursion.
NUSA DUA/ULUWATU/JIMBARAN RESTAURANTS
- Bumbu Bali: We have been going here on and off since 2009. Authentic place geared for tourists but food and decor excellent.
- Nat King Cole Bar at the St. Regis Resort: Not at all like the original but still fantastic. This resort is just gorgeous, too.
- Jimbaran Bay Seafood Cafes: several casual grilled fresh fish restaurants right on the beach – beware though as they sell by the gram so can end up being super expensive if you aren’t careful! Still a lot of fun and good vibe.
- Four Seasons Jimbaran for a drink or lunch. So pretty here. This is one of the oldest luxury hotels in Bali so it is the old-school Bali.
- NOT Recommended – Rock Bar in Uluwatu. NOT worth the hype, in my opinion. Super crowded, INCREDIBLY hot, and the sun is SO bright that everyone is forced to open up umbrellas. Mediocre service. Not my scene.
NORTH BALI RESTAURANTS
- THE MENJANGAN resort: Pantai restaurant and Bali Tower Bistro. We stayed here a few years ago. Pantai was our favorite of the two — special small place right on the water, perfect for a special lunch. The tower restaurant also interesting with amazing views over the rainforest.
- WARUNG REKREASI BEDUGUL — this was near Lake Bedugul which has a beautiful temple set against the water. Simple restaurant with pretty gardens and decent food, and it’s located in a nice, cool spot in the mountains. Great for families as there are swings and other diversions.
- SAFKA RESTAURANT at The Griya Resort Amed: wonderful rooftop bar and restaurant in Amed. Great food, service, and views.
- MOCK’S KITCHEN: There was that one time we accidentally took the kids for lunch at a nudist resort… oops! A story that will keep the entire family laughing for many years to come. But hey… the food was ok! Photo taken before we realized our grevious mistake.