Are you curious about the food in Bali? Journalist Janet Newenham lived on the Indonesian island on and off for three years. She shares her favorite Bali restaurants and cafes in this Bali food guide.
I originally traveled to Bali for the beaches, sunshine, and laid back lifestyle. However, the plethora of mouthwatering cafes and endless Balinese food options has kept me coming back again and again.
While Bali is best known for gorgeous beaches, beautiful temples and lush green rice terraces, the Island of Gods is also a food lover’s paradise.
But, with hundreds of restaurants and cafes in areas like Canggu and Ubud, knowing where to eat in Bali is a must for any trip to the Indonesia’s Last Paradise.
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Traditional Indonesian Cuisine
Travelers flock to Bali’s colorful healthy vegan cafes and high-end restaurants. While some of these eateries rival restaurants in world capital cities in terms of taste, quality and value, I recommend starting your trip by eating local Indonesian cuisine.
Indonesian cooks use rice and noodles as the base for most dishes and frequently add a healthy amount of peanut sauce. They also add a lot of pork.
The best place to taste Balinese cuisine is at local warungs – cheap roadside eateries popular with locals and those on tight budgets. Warung meals typically cost less than $1 and never more than $2 or $3. The portion sizes at these meals are enormous.
Must-try Indonesian rice and noodle dishes include chicken and pork Satay Sticks, Nasi Goreng, Mie Goreng, Gado Gado and Nasi Campur.
Eating Out in Bali
Bali restaurants, though still affordable, are pricier than local warungs. Once you know which traditional Balinese and Indonesian dishes are your favorites, you’ll find it easier to decide what to order.
Whether you visit for a week, a month or longer (like me!), you won’t be able to visit all the Bali cafes and restaurants on your list. In my opinion, no place on earth compares to this island when it comes to food.
Even if you eat out three meals a day, it’s impossible to eat it all when there’s so much good food to be discovered and tasted. The Bali food scene has it all with vegan-friendly health cafes, upscale restaurants and even a unique eatery featured on the Netflix show Chef’s Table.
Best Cafes and Restaurants in Bali
When it comes to food, Bali has it all: generous helpings of local food, farmhouse cooking classes and endless brunches at Insta-perfect cafes.
I recommend starting your exploration in Central Bali’s Ubud and coastal Canggu if you want to eat the best food in Bali. You’ll leave the island with an appreciation for picture-perfect brunches, mouth-watering smoothies, healthy bowls and Indonesian cuisine with a twist.
Ubud Restaurants and Cafes
If you’re into cafe fare, vegan food, jamu juice as well as healthy servings of fresh fruit and Kambucha, then you should make a beeline to Ubud. Known as the center for yoga and wellness retreats in Bali, Ubud has also attracted top chefs from around the world to set up shop in the healthy haven.
Here are my picks for the best places to eat in Ubud:
Room 4 Dessert
Room 4 Dessert is one of the most unique restaurants in Bali if not the world. When eating at Room 4 Dessert, diners participate in a dining experience that includes an epic 27-course tasting menu.
The catch? Every course is bite-sized and dessert-themed.
Chef Will Goldfarb earned his fame cooking with Paul Liebrandt before garnering critical raves at his original Room 4 Dessert in New York. He then traded the bright lights of the big apple for the tranquility of Bali. It’s a fabulous story worthy of worldwide acclaim and earned Goldfarb an appearance on Netflix’s worldwide hit Chef’s Table.
Goldfarb sources ingredients from the restaurant’s garden and pairs each course with a unique cocktail. Expect to eat creative dishes like the Incidente Stradale with coconut water, white coffee and turmeric tonic.
Highlights of my meal included frozen palm sugar meringues and caramel creme brulee. Also, the drinks rank among the best I’ve ever tasted.
Make an advance reservation. Though pricey by Indonesian standards, Room 4 Dessert offers one of the most memorable dining experiences in Bali.
Room 4 Dessert is located at Jl. Raya Sanggingan, Kedewatan, Kecamatan Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80561, Indonesia.
Ubudians sing the praises of Ithaka Warung, a great spot to try typical Balinese dishes. However, this cheap, local Ubud restaurant also serves western options like tasty tacos in addition to Indonesian cuisine.
Ithaka Warung provides great value while serving flavorful food in beautifully carved wooden bowls. The restaurant’s simple take on Nasi Goreng is reason enough to justify a visit and is as close to Balinese food perfection you’re going to get.
Ithaka Warung is located at Jl. Tirta Tawar No.158, Ubud, Kecamatan Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia.
A popular lunch spot located in the center of Ubud, Clear Cafe is a quirky restaurant with a hobbit door and a stream running through the cafe on the ground floor. It even has a slide spanning from the second floor down to the first.
With a second location in Canggu, Clear Cafe specializes in hearty wraps, healthy smoothie bowls and colorfully creative ‘sushi in a bowl’ dishes. The menu skews vegetarian with one or two fish choices.
Clear Cafe is located at Jl. Hanoman No.8, Ubud, Kecamatan Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia.
Canggu Restaurants and Cafes
Canggu is Bali’s surfer and digital nomad mecca. This is where most of Bali’s online entrepreneurs and influencers can be found – a sort of expat hub filled with Instagram cafes, co-working spaces, dreamy apartments and party hostels.
It’s a great place to chill on the beach while enjoying unforgettable sunsets. As for food, I recommend the following places to eat in Canggu:
The Shady Shack
No visit to Bali is truly complete with a visit to The Shady Shack. This popular vegetarian restaurant overlooks a strip of lush green rice fields right in the center of Canggu and is a favorite with the local expat community.
Breakfast and lunch seekers head to this rustic eatery for creative dishes like onsen eggs, avocado toast and smoothie bowls served with extra generous portions of tropical fruit. The Shady Shack also serves some of the best smoothies in Canggu.
The Shady Shack is located at Jl. Tanah Barak No.57, Canggu, Kec. Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80351, Indonesia.
Cinta Cafe is packed each morning with a mix of tourists and laptop-wielding digital nomads, all happy to chow down on early morning breakfast specials. And who can blame them when they can order breakfast, coffee and juice for less than $7.
The shakshuka here is one of the best in Bali. Other favorites include the egg and bacon bun (for me, a taste of home) and the most outrageously oversized smoothie bowl in Bali.
Cinta Cafe’s smoothie bowl is so big that one could feed up to four people. When my parents visited Bali, we shared a bowl between the three of us and struggled to finish it.
Cinta Cafe is located at Jl. Pantai Berawa No.69, Tibubeneng, Kec. Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia.
Nude is another popular breakfast and lunch spot in Canggu. With an enclosed air-conditioned room, it draws crowds during the heat of the day.
Top picks for breakfast include incredible ‘unholy moly pancakes’ and smoked salmon bagels. If you’re particularly hungry, Nude’s towering potato rosti stack will keep you full for hours.
Order the crispy Jamaican chicken burger with sweet potato fries if you dine here late in the day. The thought of this sandwich makes me drool.
Nude is located at Jl. Pantai Berawa No.33, Tibubeneng, Kec. Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia.
Crate Cafe, where all the cool kids hang out, is probably the most famous cafe in Canggu. Besides oozing cool vibes, this bare-walled and warehouse-like cafe serves up huge portions of breakfast and brunch treats.
This is one of the cheapest cafes in Bali if you’re looking to fill up on western favorites. Dishes include eggs and halloumi, smoked salmon delights, oversized toasties, stuffed croissants and smoothies that literally overflow from the glass.
Crate Cafe is located at Jl. Canggu Padang Linjong, Canggu, Kec. Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80351, Indonesia.
Milu by Nook
Milu By Nook is one of the top restaurants in Canggu for dinner. With a setting out of a fairytale, Milu By Nook is notable for its gorgeous interior decor and a peaceful view that overlooks a tranquil rice paddy.
Ideal for a date or special occasion, Milu by Nookfood serves some of the best food in Canggu, Must-try dishes here include salmon, ribs and a popular pulled pork burger (my personal favorite).
Plan to drink local craft beer, international wine or quirky cocktails when you dine at Milu By Nook.
Milu By Nook is located at Jl. Pantai Berawa No. 90 XO, Canggu, Kuta, Tibubeneng, Kec. Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia.
Milk and Madu
Milk and Madu is the Canggu community’s go-to place for pizza with weekly specials including ‘Buy One, Get One’ deals. Pizza fans can’t get enough of the thin and crispy crust pies featuring toppings like creamy buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil leaves.
Add a sprinkle of chili oil for an extra kick of flavor.
Milk and Madu is located at Jl. Pantai Berawa No.52, Tibubeneng, Kec. Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia.
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Original Publication Date: April 21, 2020