Though famed for its tranquil beaches, historic temples and the lure of its surf, Bali’s little known food offerings should be equally celebrated. Harbouring some of Indonesia’s best and most diverse gastronomic flavours, Bali’s food scene is a unique fusion of Asian and European influences.
Once seen as one of the continents more affordable holiday destinations, Bali has fast become a luxury tourist spot, a change that has brought with it increased prices. Yet budget food and cheap restaurants can still be found, if you know where to look. In this ultimate Bali food guide we explore the best places to eat on even the most limited of budgets.
If you find yourself in the surfers’ paradise of Uluwatu, a trip to Suka Espresso is a must. Open Monday to Sunday from 8am until 10pm, this modest wooden shack, nestled on the side of a quiet through-road, is small in size but big on personality. An unassuming café, Suka Espresso is the perfect spot for a quick caffeine fix, a filling breakfast, or a lazy brunch.
Suka Espresso set up shop with just an old coffee machine in tow, sourcing quality coffee beans from Indonesia and South America. Inside, industrial meets vintage chic with exposed cement walls and 1960’s coffee tables. Western influences can be seen in both the décor and the kitchen. The food here is sourced locally and the menu is simple but creative, offering around 10 items to suit any appetite.
Dine al fresco under the pagoda and order yourself a mug of full bodied espresso (IDR35,000 (US$2.62)) and a smoothie bowl, a deep dish filled with fresh fruit, symmetrically lined up to create a colourful pattern. For only IDR65,000 (US$4.87), you can enjoy everything from mango to banana and coconut to pitaya, also known as dragon fruit, topped with a seed-rich granola. Is your mouth watering yet? We thought so!
Jl. Labuansait No.10, Pecatu, Kuta Sel., Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Nasi Ayam Kedewatan Ibu Mangku
Located in the hillside town of Ubud, famed for its historic temples, rice paddies and lush rainforest, you will find Nasi Ayam Kedewatan Ibu Mangku. This native restaurant lies in what can only be described as an abandoned religious shrine. As expected, the remarkably beautiful setting and the low prices of the food makes Nasi Ayam Kedewatan extremely popular with locals and tourists.
You enter the restaurant through a lovely Oriental garden filled with flowers and ancient monuments, to independent wooden cabana’s harbouring low rise tables and floor cushions. The decor here is as relaxed as the surroundings.
Though worthy of a visit just for the backdrop, the menu at Nasi Ayam Kedewatan Ibu Mangku is also very appealing and the signature Nasi Campur dish takes centre stage. At IDR25,000 (US$1.87), a beautifully presented plate will be served to you, featuring sticky rice, mixed green vegetables, Balinese spiced chicken (ayam pelalah), a meat satay stick and a hard-boiled egg, cooked in soya sauce and spices. This substantial dish is ideal for any time of day. Open daily from 9am until 6pm, Nasi Ayam Kedewatan Ibu Mangku can offer you a truly authentic dining experience.
Jl. Kayu Jati no.12, Ubud, Indonesia
+62 361 974795
Priding itself on a casual eating experience in various beautiful locations across Bali, MyWarung is a small chain café that feels extremely independent. From Canggu to Echo Beach, and with four new branches opening imminently, MyWarung is cashing in on cheap local dishes for budget travellers.
Its Canggu restaurant, open daily from 8am until 11pm, is set inland from the beautiful shores of Pantai Kayu Putih beach. It is housed in a delightfully basic traditional warung hut, decorated with wooden shutters, old tin chairs and small floral bouquets in vintage glass jars. There are no thrills here, but there is a certain charm to MyWarung’s simplicity.
From as little as IDR50,000 (US$3.75), you can order yourself a main afternoon dish, designed to keep hungry surfers full all day. Try a salad of roasted pears, halloumi and fresh greens, or an authentic plate of nasi goreng. This Balinese delicacy, featuring Indonesian fried rice, a sunny-side-up egg and grilled meats, is a satisfying dish where flavour takes centre stage.
Canggu Bali: No 80 Jalan Subak Sari, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Bali 80361 Indonesia
+62 82 339 120 880
Echo Beach Bali: No. 78 Jalan Batu Mejan, Canggu, Echo Beach, Kuta Utara, Bali 80361 Indonesia
+62 82 266 029 978
Opening Times: Daily from 8am until 10pm
Warung Bambuku is about as “local” as restaurants get. As with many Balinese eateries, it is entirely humble in appearance, but has wow-factor when it comes to the food. This ultimate budget restaurant, situated in the popular Seminyak area, serves wonderful filling breakfasts every day of the week, for as little as IDR40,000 (US$3) and is open from 8am until 6pm.
Taking on a western edge and serving everything from smashed avocado on toast to feta and spinach omelettes, the food here is hearty, fresh and flavoursome. From the outside it might not seem like much, but Warung Bambuku makes casual dining look refined.
Near Jl. Kerobokan intersection, Seminyak, Indonesia
Warong Legong is named after two Balinese traditions: wooden street food huts and the traditional legong dance. This independent family-run restaurant, situated in Keramas Village, Gianyar, serves international dishes and local specialties in a pretty and homely cabin. Serving food from 9am until 9pm, the menu here changes frequently to reflect the produce that is available at the local market, where the owners purchase their ingredients.
With long sharing tables and wooden benches, this restaurant may appear a little basic, but the dishes that come out of its kitchen are cooked from authentic Balinese family recipes, handed down over the generations. Warong Legong’s specialties include barbequed fish, pork ribs and spicy rice dishes, priced as low as IDR35,000 (US$2.62). So if it is affordable authenticity that you want, then Warong Legong is the ultimate destination on Bali’s budget food list.
Jl. By Pass Ida Bagus Mantra | Keramas, 80851, Indonesia
Saffron Vegetarian Fusion
Saffron Vegetarian Fusion is perhaps Bali’s most undervalued eatery. Boasting nutritious, locally sourced food in breathtaking surroundings, it is the sort of place you might imagine when dreaming of your Asian get-away.
Due to its hilltop location and open terrace, an al fresco meal overlooking a distant sunset is almost a certainty. Located in Mandala Village, a resort famed for its healthy lifestyle, Saffron Vegetarian Restaurant is proud to serve an international and decadent menu. Inside, Saffron’s décor takes inspiration from the owners’ various travels around the world. From recycled wooden tables to opulent chandeliers, there is a story behind every piece of furniture.
Tuesday to Sunday between 5pm and 11pm you can enjoy a healthy three-course set menu, which includes Thai-style tom yum gai, for as little as IDR100,000 (US$7.52). With balcony views of nearby fields and the ocean, Saffron Vegetarian Fusion makes for a truly romantic and special dining experience.
Jl. Pantai Balangan | Mandala Village Resort, Jimbaran, Indonesia
When it comes to dessert, Bali is renowned for fresh fruit salads and huge quantities of watermelon juice, yet if you find yourself near one of the nine Gaya Gelato outlets on the island (from Ubud to Jakarta), you will be transported straight to the Italian Riviera.
This chain store is inspired by genuine Italian ice cream parlours, sourcing locally grown fruits and ingredients to create their authentically European desserts. Using 100% natural ingredients, including Balinese durian and tamarillo fruits, and high quality Italian imports, Gaya Gelato has a scoop to suit all tastes – and between 10am and 10pm every day, you can buy yourself a refreshing cone for only IDR20,000 (US$1.50).
Gaya Gelato @ Bali: Jl. Legian Kelod No.398 – Kuta Bali
+62 (0) 858-8143-6677
Opening times: 10am until 10pm daily
For other branches, see the http://www.gayagelato.com/en/
Bale Udang Mang Engking
Found in both Kuta and Ubud, Bale Udang Mang Engking is a restaurant famed for its incredible seafood dishes and beautiful, tranquil surroundings. Dine here, between 11am and 10pm every day, and you will find yourself seated in an individual bamboo cabana, overlooking a central pool and water feature. When night falls, this is the only place you will want to be.
While some of the dishes here air on the expensive side, there are some menu options reserved for those on a limited budget. A plate of grilled jumbo prawns, for example, can be purchased for a very reasonable IDR130,000 (US$9.77). A speciality at Bale Udang Mang Engking is the Balinese grilled carp, costing just IDR75,000 (US$ 5.63). Both dishes are the perfect portion size for either lunchtime or a light dinner, and after sampling the local seafood you will find yourself going back time and time again.
Kuta: Jln. Nakula No. 88, Sunset Road, Kuta 80361, Bali – Indonesia
+62 361 894 7119 or +62 361 370 0660 Ubud: Jl. Raya Goa Gajah, Banjar Teges Kanginan, Desa Peliatan, Ubud, Bali – Indonesia
+62 361 978 754 or +62 361 978 432
For those with dietary requirements, Divine Earth in Seminyak is the ideal spot for any time of day, serving food from 7am until 11pm Monday to Sunday. Boasting an artisan, raw and vegan-friendly fine dining experience, this restaurant represents modern culinary Bali.
From freshly pressed juices to gluten and wheat free options, Divine Earth puts vegetables in the limelight. For lunch opt for a Nut Burger of almonds and vegetables, served with cashew cream and greens (65,000IDR/ US$4.88). For dinner, try raw zucchini noodles with oyster mushrooms and a coconut lemongrass sauce (IDR79,000 (US$5.94)).
Delicious, healthy and truly beautifully presented, the food at Divine Earth will seduce even the biggest meat lover, and with an upstairs cinema club, this restaurant is an all-round destination for both food and entertainment.
Jalan Raya Basangkasa 1200A, Seminyak – Bali
+62 (0) 812 3610 3434