I’m sorry this post has taken so long. My personal life and work life has been insanely busy, but I am so happy to finally share this post because it is all about one of my favorite things in life…food!! One of the best things about Bali was all of the wonderful cafes and restaurants to chose from, each serving delicious treats and all unique in their own way. From mom and pop cafes and stands serving up authentic savory Indonesian cuisine, to delectable and giant plates of Italian fare, to vibrant colorful and creative vegan food, to western fare with a creative and organic twist, to rolls upon rolls of cheap (but delicious) sushi, to freshly caught seafood BBQ on the beach at a price you couldn’t believe possible…I could go on and on but you get the point! We had the pleasure of trying a few different restaurants and cafes. Most of them good, although we did run into our fair share of places we wouldn’t recommend, but I will spare them the bad publicity. We went to quite a few places while we were there, and I’m only naming the best of the places we tried. I know we didn’t even scratch the surface with how many amazing joints there were to chose from, so I just want to point out that fact that this is by no means a “top 10 in Bali” kind of list, just merely top 10 out of the places we tried. Without further ado, here are our favorite eats and drinks in Bali:
Moka Cafe actually has several locations in Bali, but this is a review on the Penestanan/Ubud location. This cafe was right by our villa and next to the local supermarket (Bintang Supermarket). We were very hungry one morning waiting for our host to pick us up for a tour and decided to stop in for a quick bite and I am so glad we did. This place ended up being our breakfast spot for the next 3 days! They serve fresh baked pastries, the BEST quiches , breads, a variety of sweets, big and delicious sandwiches, fresh fruit juices, smoothies, coffee, and more. I tried their rosemary chicken quiche, bacon and onion quiche, chocolatine, mango juice, a mixed fruit juice (pineapple, papaya, orange, and mint), and an iced cappuccino. Joe tried a complet sandwich (it is spelled that way) croissant and baguette style, strawberry tart, and a pineapple fresh juice. My favorite items were definitely the rosemary chicken quiche and mixed fruit juice. The rosemary chicken was seasoned perfectly and the crust on the quiche was nice and flakey. I ordered it everytime we went. The mixed fruit juice had a light flavor without being too sweet, but just sweet enough. A lot of the juices, lemonades, smoothies, etc. we tried in Bali were not super sugary like in America, which we loved, but sometimes I just wanted it to be a little more sweet and/or tart…This juice was the perfect match for me. The cappuccinos were served with agave sweetener on the side. I’ll admit…I like sweet coffee. I’m trying to pull away from the habit and I have gotten so much better. I certainly have reduced the sweetness level in my coffee and I can’t handle very decadent dessert coffee drinks anymore but I still love my flavored creamer! The cappuccino was bitter for me even with agave, but it was just fine for Joe who likes his coffee less sweet and can handle black coffee if necessary haha. He loved the complet sandwich and ordered it every morning. The sandwich has ham, cheese, egg, tomato, onion, and lettuce on it and was the perfect morning fuel for a long day of sightseeing and adventures. If you’re staying in the area or take a trip to the Bintang supermarket, I highly recommend stopping in next door and grabbing a treat. The cafe itself is very small but we never had a problem with finding seating as we went early in the morning right when they opened. The cafe is so cute and I love the colorful mosaic tile tables. It is an open air cafe with a perfect view of the courtyard so it is fun to watch the locals, expats, and tourists go about their morning routine. Website for Cafe Moka with locations, hours, and menu/prices below:
Strawberry puff, chocolatine, iced cappuccinos, agave nectar sweetener
Bacon quiche and a Snapchat caption ;P
All smiles every morning we dined here!
By the time we got to our villa the first night we arrived we were famished and ready for an amazing “Welcome to Bali” meal. Our host suggested Elephant Cafe which was just a five minute walk from our villa and being that elephants are my favorite animals, I knew we had to try it out. The restaurant is within the grounds of a hotel (I believe) and seemed to be a very popular place. Since we came late at night we lucked out and were able to snag a table near the front with big comfortable lounger chairs. The eco-friendly cafe is very lovely and the decor is very harmonious with the natural landscape of Ubud. The menu is vegetarian, or as they call it “earth friendly food” and the cafe strives to reduce, reuse, recycle, as well as manage waste responsibly, use chemical free vegetables, practice water conservation by harvesting and filtering rainwater in the kitchen, and so much more to help the environment. I’m putting a link to their website which lists all the things they strive to practice to help the environment below. Personally, I’m an omnivore but I do enjoy vegetarian/vegan food because I feel the dishes always have a fantastic flavor profile and are always very creative. I also feel good after eating a vegetarian/vegan dish, I am never overstuffed and I actually am more energized after so I was excited to try our first Balinese vegetarian meal. The dishes here did not disappoint!
We ordered the Chef Wayan’s fettuccine walnut pesto and the “I can’t believe it’s not bolognese”, and OH MY GOODNESS, my mouth seriously sang a little number as I savored each bite. The bolognese tasted like actual bolognese, as the name implies, I really couldn’t believe it wasn’t! They used tofu which I’m a fan of and I couldn’t tell the difference at all, it tasted like I was eating meat which is a testament to the superb sauce used on the noodles. Joe’s fettuccine was also incredibly flavorful and delicious! The texture of the walnut pesto mixture was perfect and I am still trying to recreate the pesto at home. We also ordered a pineapple, passionfruit, lemon, and soda beverage and a strawberry smoothie. Joe loved his smoothie, and my drink was good but I wasn’t a fan of the massive amounts of pulpy fruit in the drink as I kept getting huge slimy chunks stuck in my straw. Overall, this place was great and had a very relaxing environment. I would definitely recommend this cafe for vegetarians and vegans alike as their dishes are easily customizable. The only downside (and it is not really a downside just an observation) is I did get kind of a hipster-y vibe, not that “hipsters” are bad but I always feel like they are looking down their noses at me, haha and I say this with lots of experience being from the Seattle area and near Portland as well. I definitely felt that with some of the tourists and expats here, that we were being judged for no reason really. I’ve always wondered why people preach a certain lifestyle but when others attempt to learn more and give it a try they turn their noses up at them, not really a way to get others to feel welcomed to the lifestyle you preach, but I digress. I will try not to judge because then I am doing exactly what a lot of them were doing, judging a book by its cover, and the crowd isn’t a fault of the cafe. Here is a link to their website to learn more about their earth-friendly ways!:
Chef Wayan’s walnut pesto fettuccine (left) & “I can’t believe it’s not bolognese” (right)
This cafe was a local gem in the area we were staying at, just a short 5 minute walk from our villa, tucked away at the end of a long pathway past many private homes. Our host recommended this cafe to us as well and I believe it is a popular destination in the village. The only downside is that it’s a little difficult to find. From our pool at our villa when you look across the rice field you can see people walking the stone path to the cafe but you have to go down a tight alleyway and it truly is tucked away and hidden. There are signs on the path but they weren’t extremely helpful, especially at night when we went (flashlight recommended). You walk past many private homes as well and I kept thinking that we were not going in the right direction and felt like we were intruding on private property, but keep walking because you ARE going the right way and you will eventually hear the fountains and reach the cafe. We had two tourists actually walk all the way down our private jungle path to our villa because they thought it was the path to the restaurant. Needless to say it startled everyone involved since our villa is tucked all the way in the back behind homes, very private and you have to intentionally go down the jungle path to end up there, not just wander by it accidentally. Aside from the hard to find location, this cafe had some of the best healthy, organic, freshly made cuisine that I tried in Bali!! On their menu it lists a range of facts about the restaurant.Some standout ones are: they support local organic farmers, they only use organic free range chicken and rice that has been organically grown in fertile volcanic soil of Bali, they do not use aluminum cookware or microwaves, they do not use msg, they use pure coconut oil for cooking, and they only use locally grown village palm nectar and do not support big palm plantations. Just like the Elephant Cafe, this establishment definitely cares about the environment and supporting local, so right off the bat I knew I was going to like it here! The menu has a wide variety of vegetarian, vegan, and non-vegan options as well as fresh juices, coconut drinks, iced teas, coffee, flower water, smoothies, and more.
We ordered fresh spring rolls, strawberry lemonades, and the candlenut curry with rice. I wanted to try their organic free range chicken but they had ran out of chicken for the evening and so I settled for the tuna. This curry…this curry I can’t even put into words! As soon as the dish came out I knew I was in for a treat. We were seated by the kitchen and I watched them cook the meal and indeed everything is made fresh to order! The smell, the color, the presentation of the food…everything was spot on. The flavor of this curry was phenomenal and had a sort of nutty profile which I enjoyed. I had never had tuna in curry before and now I’m not sure what I’ve been doing my whole life because the tuna with the curry sauce was perfect. The chunks of tuna were big, thick, and tender (not dry). The spring rolls were also very delicious with that earthy freshness (the kind where you know the veggies were probably bought at the market that same day) and the peanut sauce was also very good with large chunks of peanuts which is how I personally love my peanut sauce to be like. I wasn’t a fan of the strawberry “lemonade” which seemed to be literally just water, strawberries, and maybe the tiniest squeeze of lemon and overall tasted pretty plain, but this could just be that my tastebuds are used to a more tart and sweetened lemonade. Even so, this drink was definitely pretty plain, but I’m sure the other drinks are lovely. The cafe is small and has a very laidback feel, it is very one with nature much like the Elephant Cafe. We ate here on one of our last evenings in Ubud, so I am sad we were not able to try more dishes, especially their breakfast which based on the reviews I’ve read, has their best offerings. Link to reviews and their Facebook below:
Yummy spring rolls with big chunks of peanuts on top
Tuna candle nut curry with a side of rice grown from fertile volcanic soil
The Bukit Cafe was recommended by our Uluwatu host who had nothing but great things to say about the restaurant. We knew we had to try this Aussie-owned little laidback creative surfer joint and it ended up being our first breakfast spot we tried out in Uluwatu. This restaurant to me perfectly sums up the Uluwatu area. Relaxed, boho chic, beachy, colorful, creative, adventurous, and focused on healthy food geared to fuel you up for an active day of surfing, swimming, diving, hiking, and all the other outdoor activities that Uluwatu has to offer. It is an open air cafe like most Bali restaurants and has seating under the roof and also outside on a narrow deck. We sat on the deck and enjoyed watching people zip by on their scooters on the road, often waving and smiling to us. The service was friendly and the food was delicious and beautifully presented. I am obsessed with avocado so naturally I had to order the smashed avocado toast which came with arugula and a poached egg on top (you must request this if you want it). I practically inhaled the toast as soon as it came! They do not skimp on the avocado and it had a nice citrus-y and creamy taste. The poached egg was the perfect addition and made for some good yolk porn ;P Joe ordered the yogurt fruit parfait which came with agave nectar, a croissant, and a mocha. The yogurt parfait was beautiful, colorful, and had all kinds of different fruits inside including dragonfruit which is one of my favorites. I thought I inhaled my toast…well Joe managed to eat 10x faster than me. That parfait was gone in less than 5 minutes! His mocha was also very tasty, not overly sweet like most coffee in Bali. I did not try any smoothies or fancy drinks because at this point I had gotten a small cold and my throat was sore, so tea sounded great (the green tea is fantastic in case you are wondering). We really enjoyed this place and thought about going back several times, but it is a very popular joint and we happened to luck out the day we went crowd wise. Joe and I are not very fond of crowds (it’s the introvert in me), so instead of dealing with it we passed on going again, which is something I regret now as there were other dishes I would have loved to try. If you’re looking for a great brunch spot in the Uluwatu/Bukit area, I highly recommend this cafe.
Satisfying hot tea
Delicious & pretty mocha
Fresh fruit yogurt parfait
Smashed avocado toast with arugula & a poached egg
This was hands down my favorite cafe of all the places we tried in Bali. YOU MUST GO HERE. We found this place on a fluke, just scootering around trying to find a place to eat before we headed out to Geger Beach for the day, and I am so happy that we ended up finding this wonderful gem. I am missing the food, smoothies, quaint and charming atmosphere, and the incredibly friendly service. From the no shoes and laid back vibes, to the driftwood furniture, turquoise colored painted walls and poles, beautiful nature and Bali decor, comfy lounger chairs, tie-dyed cloth napkins, and the brightly colored utensils…This place was made for me and I knew I had finally found my spot. If I lived in Bali I would be a regular here, this would be our go-to! The food and drinks are made with love and are so delicious, filling, and cheap! We came for breakfast three times and I wish we had came for lunch one day so I could have tried one of the lunch menu items but I think the breakfast would be hard to beat. They have vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore options. Each time we visited, we ordered the breakfast burrito and breakfast quesadilla which are essentially the same as they both have bacon, avocado, cheese, and eggs, the only difference is the quesadilla also has black beans. They were both very delicious and not oily which was a huge plus as a lot of breakfast burritos tend to get greasy. It’s served with an avocado crema and a pico de gallo salsa and they are both fresh tasting and very flavorful. I loved them both and would smother my burritos and quesadillas in them. The food was incredible, but I think our favorite thing we tried were definitely their fresh fruit smoothies! We tried the managa (mango, dragonfruit, strawberry, and coconut) and the tropical (strawberry, banana, papaya, and coconut) and we were instantly hooked on them and ordered them everytime we came! My managa had a beautiful bold purple-pink color from the dragonfruit, and the pictures I am posting do not even do the drink justice. The cafe is tiny but cozy and it was never crowded the days we went so I am assuming that it is normally a pretty relaxed environment. You have to try this place out, or at the very least stop by and grab a smoothie to go because they are seriously to die for!
Managa (right) & The Tropical (left)
Beautiful close-up of the Managa smoothie, the dragonfruit gives it that beautiful punch of purple-pink
Located towards the end of Bingin Beach is a wonderful little outdoor restaurant serving up the freshest seafood BBQ right on the beach! Joe and I had a serious craving for some delicious grilled fish and I had a beach dinner with my toes in the sand high on my must-do list in Bali. I wanted to skip the crowds in Jimbaran and our host in Uluwatu informed us that Bingin Beach had amazing seafood bbq restaurants minus the massive crowds, so of course we scootered on down to the beach to check it out and I’m so glad we did! The restaurant has an open air seating area that is covered with a roof for shade but most people come for the beach seating. We came right before sunset and got a front row table with a perfect view of the ocean. It’s easy to order. You just go up to their cooler and look through all their fresh caught seafood. Different varieties of fish, prawns, clams, lobster, and so much more! We picked two decent cuts of mahi mahi which came with Balinese vegetables, rice, and dipping sauces. Our meals plus large waters and a large beer came out to approximately $12 USD total!! A meal like this in the states, right on the beach, toes in the sand, perfect ocean view would probably be well over $50. They would probably charge you a crazy amount alone just to sit on the beach! The seafood was grilled perfectly and I really loved the vegetables. The only downside is the flies that end up swarming you as you eat and the stray dogs that try to jump on the table for your food. If you are looking for a romantic dinner experience that is cheap and without the crowds I definitely think you should check out one of the restaurants on Bingin Beach. Just a side note, you have to climb many rocky steps to get to Bingin, so just a word of caution if this would be a problem for you. There is no website for this location or a Tripadvisor page, however there are a couple reviews on Facebook, as well as Instagram photos under the location tag.
Grilled Mahi Mahi dinner
Perfect view of the beautiful sunset
If you’ve got an insatiable craving for some delicious Italian food with giant portions, look no further than Pizzeria Italia Bali! Located in Uluwatu, this was less than 5 minutes from our villa and it was also incredibly convenient because they delivered! We went here for lunch when we first arrived in Uluwatu and ordered the bolognese and a calzone. When the food came out, I was shocked to see American sized portions (and I was not complaining because I was famished!). The bolognese filled my plate and Joe’s calzone was the biggest I have ever seen! The food here is delicious, hot, fresh, and was served in a timely manner. I loved the bolognese sauce, it was very meaty with a nice little spicy kick to it. Joe said his calzone was also a winner, especially if you enjoy carbs because like I said that thing was HUGE!! I definitely recommend this restaurant if you are craving pasta. The cool thing is that there is a sushi restaurant upstairs as well so if you’re travelling with a big group of people that can’t agree on a place to eat at, well half your party can eat on the rooftop and enjoy some Japanese cuisine and the other half can have Italian downstairs! Actually, if I remember correctly you can sit at either location and be served either menu, so problem solved! We dined at the sushi restaurant as well, and I gotta say the sushi was pretty good, even the salmon which you know can’t be fresh. I really enjoyed the rooftop view and watching the geckos climb all over the neon business sign. They also serve delicious gelato that I recommend trying as well. I loved their chocolate chip flavor! We even did delivery once and it got to us very quickly!
This was our last breakfast we had in Bali and it was on a whim. We didn’t have time to scooter all the way to Lands End Cafe, and we kept passing by Jiwa Juice so we decided to give it a try. The cafe is very big with lots of seating to choose from, as well as Wi-Fi, so I can imagine that it probably gets pretty packed at peak times of the day. We came pretty much right when they opened and there was only two other groups there. We were greeted by the most friendly server and that really helped set the tone for our whole experience. He was so nice that I got kind of angry when a group of 20 somethings came in, being loud, rude, and very demanding. I swear not all of us in our 20’s are rude tourists like this…but anywho, back to the main point! The breakfast here was outstanding and such a great deal! We ordered breakfast sandwiches and the meal also came with coffee (Bali or American style) and a fruit juice of your choice. Unfortunately I cant remember what all was on our sandwich, but I definitely recall eggs, bacon, and avocado and man, oh man, you just can’t go wrong with that combination! The juices were also delightful. The food was served quickly and made hot and fresh (you can see the cook from where we were seated). The cafe serves a range of food from steaks, pastas, tapas, and more. If I could go back, I would probably want to try the paella! I think this would be an awesome place for an expat that needs a regular cafe to go to with Wi-Fi, strong coffee, yummy food, and friendly workers!
Ulu Thai was also conveniently near our villa and they delivered as well, so we decided to try them out one day as we lounged by the pool. We ordered the Fisherman Soup (I think that was the name of the dish) and the pineapple fried rice. The fisherman soup had a tangy broth, similar to tom yum, with a variety of seafood. It was perfect for me because at this point I had caught a terrible cold and my throat was truly suffering. The pineapple fried rice was also very good, a perfect mix of sweet and spicy. Delivery was also very quick! We never did dine in, but from what I see in reviews, the presentation of the food is beautifully done…pineapple fried rice served in pineapples, delicious soups served in coconut shells, giant crabs displayed on big plates in all their glory. The menu is also very extensive with lots of options to chose from. If you have a desire for Thai food while in the Uluwatu area, give Ulu Thai a try, and if you do please let me know how your in-dining experience was!
We took a day trip over to Geger Beach and we were delighted that there was a cafe right on the beach that we could get food and drinks at after playing around in the water and hot sun. This cafe has a lot of shaded seating and a decent sized menu with lots of drink options, but minimal food options. They also offer hookah here, and we definitely took advantage of this! I just want to say that Joe and I do not smoke cigarettes or other substances haha, but occasionally we indulge in some hookah and by occasionally I mean like twice a year at most. In Washington, hookah bars can’t serve liquor so of course this was an awesome experience for us, being able to smoke hookah right on the beach with our toes in the sand, and enjoying some delicious food and drinks on top of it all. The chicken fried rice I ordered was actually very tasty, in fact, it might have been some of the best fried rice I had while in Bali! It was very simple, but the taste was perfect. The drinks were strong, fruity, and icy cold and they also had a full espresso bar menu. We indulged in two rounds of drinks, as we didn’t drink alcohol very much due to the price, but it was our last full day in Bali and the drinks were delicious! The hookah was also very smooth and the service was hands down the best! There were a lot of employees working that day and every single person was so incredibly friendly and accommodating! I really think it was the staff that made me enjoy this little beach cafe so much, because in all honesty the best word I can use to describe the cafe is…simple. Nothing extravagant that made the cafe unique (besides the hookah), but the staff was really the star of the show.
I feel like I did not put many Ubud recommendations, but this is because we only spent 2 ½ days there. Either way I thought I would add this restaurant in the list if you are craving sushi in the area, as options are limited. Our sushi savior came in the form of Toro Sushi, tucked away in a small and crammed alleyway in the middle of the town. Walking to the restaurant was terrifying as it was such a small alleyway filled with other pedestrians and scooters zooming past you in each direction, as well as any cars that could fit down the alley. There were a few times I thought I was going to get hit, but alas we made it! We got a table right up front and got to enjoy people watching (and rooster watching!). This was probably one of our most expensive meals in Bali, but still relatively cheap. I ordered the chirashi bowl and Joe ordered two rolls (I cannot recall which ones, I’m sorry!) and they were pretty good. I already knew that I wouldn’t be finding the best and most fresh sushi in Bali so I lowered my standards. My slices of fish were decent cuts and had good flavor. Joe said his rolls were also pretty good but again, as I said, definitely not the best we’ve ever had. Overall, I would say that my chirashi was definitely better than the rolls, so I would order either sashimi or chirashi if you go. They have other Japanese dishes as well that looked pretty good, so maybe they are much better than their sushi, but this place will do the job in fulfilling any sushi craving you might randomly have in Ubud. Decent enough, but nothing to ring home about. I would moreso recommend the Tokyo Bar up above the Italian restaurant I mentioned earlier, but that is located in Uluwatu which definitely has more sushi options in the area.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this little round-up! I apologize that the photos are not the best and not nearly as good of quality as my landscape photos, but I’ll be honest…I get embarrassed when it comes to taking high quality elaborate photos of my food. I’m not the type that will stand up and try to get all the great angles for a breakfast spread, even though I frequently like those kind of pictures on social media, ha! I get self-conscious about what others around me are thinking, but it’s a learning experience, and this introvert is not going to care what people think in the Philippines. I will take amazing pictures of all the wonderful dishes we will indulge in while there to better help you decide what to check out. Let me know in the comments if you’ve been to any of these restaurants and also what your opinion on them were! Also let me know if you haven’t been, but now will go because of this post! 🙂 Thanks for reading!
Until next time,