I had no preconceived notions about Balinese food before visiting, but was pleasantly surprised with the array of both Balinese and non-Balinese food & drinks available! And looking back on this trip, I ate a LOT!
I opted to start my trip off with a food tour to discover some of the local flavors in Seminyak, then go it on my own to discover what’s available in Ubud. Here are some of my favorites along the way:
1. Jay’s Villa Umalas
I stayed in Jay’s Villa for the first half of my trip, and though I wouldn’t do it again as a solo traveler (it’s very private and far from the part of Seminyak that has shops & restaurants in walking distance), I enjoyed starting off my days with breakfasts there! The portion sizes were big enough that I had leftovers for the next day.
I stuck with the American Breakfasts and highly recommend them for breakfast or brunch in the area. They will even turn it into a “floating” breakfast on a tray in the pool if that’s what you want!
2. Chez Gado Gado
Chez Gado Gado was a randomly chosen spot on Seminyak Beach after I’d had enough of the water. It has both indoor and outdoor seating options, so you can either escape the heat or enjoy the view from the patio depending on what you want.
I was craving a smoothie bowl and had the tastiest dragon fruit bowl I’ve ever had! It was the perfect late morning meal to get me through to an early dinner later in the day. And the iced coffee was fantastic too! They had a ton of other food options, and it was a place you don’t feel rushed to leave if you just want to have a nice chill spot to enjoy the beach view.
3. Babi Guling Sari Kembar
This was very much a place that only locals visit, and visited with a guide as part of a food tour. I’d heard that Babi Guling is a must try in Bali, so I was excited about getting to taste it in an authentic Balinese restaurant!
I’m not sure if I’d know what to order for food or drinks if my guide hadn’t been there to interpret (the staff didn’t speak English), but the food was amazing (also extremely cheap) and worth a stop if you’re up for a little bit of working around the language issue.
4. Waroeng Soerabi Bandoeng 101 Taman Griya
This was a cute cafe where I chose to eat indoors in order to escape the smokers and had a delicious Javanese dessert. Yeah, there’s a Magnum bar on top of it, but the sweet pancake part of it was a Javanese thing! You could pick from about thirty toppings to put on top of it, which were mostly ice creams or candy bar options.
5. Warung Nasi Tempong Bu Indra
This is the place where I learned anything with a “c” is pronounced “ch” in Bali! I had cendol for the first time here, and it’s probably my favorite of the foods I tried in Bali. It’s coconut-milk based with various things added. I was able to try an option that had rice and was very reminiscent of Thai coconut milk pudding, and also an option that had dragon fruit.
This place also has very good Soto Ayam (chicken soup), but I was too full to eat more than a few bites of it. I did make up for it by getting more Soto Ayam later on in my trip though.
6. Gourmet Sate House
This place was insanely busy and smelt amazing just walking up! They had different chicken, red meat and fish options for sate and it took me a long while to decide before settling on chicken since that was the most popular choice. My ideal situation would have been to sample four different types of meat since you got four skewers per order, but that wasn’t an option. The sate was seasoned well, but I regretted not getting a side of rice with it, which I’m not sure whether the restaurant has available to order or not.
I picked Delicioso as a spot to get some online work done based on location, good reviews, and free wifi. But after asking my waitress two times for the wifi password and not understanding what she said, I ended up having to just use my own data. I’m not sure why they don’t have the wifi password on a slip of paper like most other Bali restaurants.
Aside from the wifi access issue, this place very much had the feel of an American cafe, with plenty of seating, and both American and Balinese food options and pastries. I got the feeling if I were living there as an expat, this place would remind me of home.
I ordered the Indonesian fried rice, which was very tasty and filling, and also multiple cappuccinos because those things were out of this world here! They provided brown sugar as a sweetener option, which complimented the cappuccinos perfectly. I use Stevia at home but made a mental note to treat myself to some brown-sugared coffee every now and then.
I ordered a smoothie not long before leaving, expecting it to be sweet, or at least cold, but it was neither. It was literally one piece of room-temperature fruit put into a blender and served.
I also got some of their almond cookies to-go, which made for great snacks during the next couple days of my trip.
I got SO many restaurant recommendations for Ubud and tried exactly zero of them! I’d picked a more bustling hotel location (Honeymoon Guesthouse) than I did in Seminyak, and I could see at least 6 different restaurants just from my hotel entrance, not to mention there were dozens more in both directions on the street I stayed on. As a result, my choices ended up being more what’s in closest proximity and looks cool vs. what was recommended.
1. Why Not?
Ah, this little dive bar was so fun and welcoming, if I lived here it would have been my regular evening entertainment spot. The food and drinks were good (and cheap), and there was live music most nights to enjoy. It appeared to be a spot that locals knew about because it got crazy crowded each night right before the band was scheduled to perform. I enjoyed many a Bintang and many a late-nite performance here.
The only downside is that they didn’t accept credit cards, but that was typical of a lot of places in Bali.
2. Honeymoon Kitchen
Free breakfast at Honeymoon Kitchen was included with my booking, so I, of course, took full advantage in the mornings. The food was pretty good but I wish it was a buffet. Instead, you are required to visit the front desk and make your next day’s breakfast choice the day before. And I’m the type of person who has no idea what I’ll be in the mood for the next day, so I was disappointed in my previous day’s choices a couple of times. It was free though, so it is what it is. And they also had a quick to-go breakfast made for me on a morning when I had a 6 am tour before the kitchen opened.
Right before I left for the airport, I enjoyed a quick chicken sandwich & iced coffee which were both great! I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat here, but if you’re staying at or near the Honeymoon Guesthouse, it’s a cute spot to get a light meal and people-watch.
3. Pangkon Bali
This place was an unexpected surprise! In the middle of a long tour day, our guide randomly asked us if we were hungry and pulled in here a few minutes later. This place was incredibly picturesque and situated in the middle of a verdant natural landscape with rice growing all around.
I enjoyed another bowl of Soto Ayam here with rice, and Luwak coffee (if you’re not familiar with Luwak coffee, read this). It was such a peaceful setting for a late lunch.
4. Ibu Susu
I ate at Ibu Susu with a new friend, and we picked this place solely based on the fact that our waitress said she would point the one stand fan in the restaurant directly on us! It was so hot & humid that day, and there were no indoor restaurants nearby, so a fan adjacent table sounded like heaven at the time.
I was intending to just get a cold drink as some relief from the heat but also got a veggie wrap just to get myself over the minimum amount to charge my bill to a credit card. That wrap turned out to be the best veggie wrap I’ve ever had in my life! And the dipping sauces were incredible.
5. Bebek Tepi Sawa
This place was absolutely stunning! If you’re looking for a cute restaurant for a photo shoot, there are multiple Instagram-worthy spots at the grounds of this restaurant.
I opted for an American breakfast here, which was good, and actually just the right portion to eat in one sitting.
6. Bayu Pertiwi Sunset Lounge
There are a string of cafes at Tanah Lot that pretty much all look the same, so I picked this one based on the view I wanted of the temple at sunset. It was a nice, quiet spot to hang in for an hour or so while waiting for the sun to set, and the food (fried noodles) wasn’t amazing, but ok for the price, which is all I was expecting.
I tried cassava chips for the first time at this restaurant, and I may be more in love with them than I am with taro chips! Two small bags come free with each alcoholic drink purchase, so if you come to Tanah lot and don’t necessarily want to eat, I’d still recommend this particular cafe for drinks with a free snack.
7. Panorama Bar & Kitchen
I ended up at this place near the end of the trip when I was starting to crave American food again, and of course, immediately ordered a pizza, which was pretty good. I wouldn’t rank it high back in the states, but it probably was a better pizza in Bali. There were also some good happy hour drink specials.
This was a fun little spot to people watch and leisurely enjoy dinner while the sun was setting, with two tables in front set up with a great view of the street. I ordered pasta and drinks here and enjoyed it as one of the last meals I had in Bali before heading home.