The popular holiday island has something edible for all budgets and diets, regardless of whether you’re a Bali veteran or virgin. I put my stomach at risk from both bursting and Bali Belly in Seminyak and Ubud, so you know where to eat when you next visit. You’re welcome.
Sea Circus | 22 Jalan Kayu Aya (Oberoi Rd), Seminyak, Bali
No visit to Seminyak is complete without a hangover happy meal breakfast at Sea Circus. Choose between the dirty option, Sin City, or the clean option, Liver Love. The former includes a traditional big breakfast with an espresso, OJ, Berocca and Panadol; the latter – poached eggs on toast, pink fruit salad, herbal tea, coconut water, orange slices and a wheatgrass shot. Add a 15 minute shoulder and neck massage for IDR 40,000 ($3.70).
Metis | 6 Jalan Petitenget, Kerobokan, Bali
The fine dining at Metis is worth every cent, but if you’re trying to save your pennies, take advantage of the astoundingly good value lunch special on weekdays. Two courses will set you back IDR 90,000 ($8.25); three courses, IDR 120,000 ($11). Be sure to order from the foie gras menu, which includes a guilt-inducing-but-worth-it yellow fin tuna and crispy foie gras sushi roll.
Kreole Café | 56 Jalan Drupadi, Seminyak, Bali
If Kreole Café feels familiar, that’s because it is: the daily blackboard menu features a kaleidoscope of homey cooking from Creole, to Indian, to nostalgic Australian (think sausage rolls and shepherd’s pies). Cool down with organic, locally grown Arabica cold press coffee, iced tea and homemade cordial syrups, or tuck into homemade treats on preloved china, surrounded by old vinyl covers and photo frames.
Naughty Nuris Warung and Grill | 41 Jalan Batubelig, Kerobokan Kelod, Bali
Naughty Nuri’s impeccable BBQ pork ribs are a beautiful example of what happens when a New Yorker falls in love with/corrupts an Indonesian woman and they open a restaurant together. It’s as touristy as anything but it’s all part of the fun. Lychee martinis are shake-shake-shaken at the table, complete with a corny dance routine. Anthony Bourdain claims they’re the best outside New York – the martinis that is, not the dancing.
Gusto Caffe and Gelato | 67B Jalan Umalas 2, Kerobokan, Seminyak, Bali
Ice creams, uncompromised. That’s the motto of Gusto Caffe, an ice creamery run by French expats just a short motorbike ride away from Seminyak central. All the classic flavours are there, along with irresistible additions such as banana with dark chocolate coated waffle bits and chestnut cream. Seriously worth getting sticky for.
Rai Pasti Warung | Monkey Forest Road, Ubud, Bali
Where this open-air restaurant ends, a verdant rice field dotted with birds and invisible croaking frogs begins. It’s the sister restaurant to Ibu Oka, the famous Babi Guling joint where tourists pack in like sardines to try traditional suckling pig. The famous dish is also on the menu at Rai Pasti Warung. Mine was delivered fresh from Ibu Oka by motorbike – all for a grand total of $2.75 AUD, minus the queues. Other dirt-cheap, authentic dishes include Nasi Goreng and satays, complemented by cold beer and coconuts.
River Café at Maya Ubud | Jalan Gunung Sari, Peliatan, Ubud, Bali
You can’t possibly know the meaning of clean eating until you’ve sat at River Café surrounded by tropical trees and the natural white noise of gurgling rapids, munching on “conscious cuisine” and sipping a cold pressed Petanu Jamu Tonic. All are welcome to partake in the wholesome dining experience that is River Café, located at the back of luxury resort Maya Ubud. The organic red rice-crusted tuna with sour green mango and star fruit salad is worth the trip alone.
Fair Warung Bale | 6 Jalan Sriwedari (1 min off Jl. Raya – main road), Ubud, Bali
The only thing better than eating on holiday is eating on holiday and making a difference. Proceeds from this popular spot support the Fair Future Health Clinic, which provides much-needed health services for local Balinese people. Food ranges from mahi-mahi on rice and tuna tartare, to king prawns and rich curries. Book ahead and be prepared to squish next to some strangers with a story to tell.
Mama San | 135 Jalan Raya Kerobokan, Br. Taman, Bali
Mama San, a retro-oriental restaurant set in a revived gudang (warehouse), is best likened to Melbourne’s Chin Chin or Sydney’s Ms. G’s. Upstairs the cocktails should be compulsory. Downstairs, vintage photographs hang beside a mural of Mama San, who looks down upon leather chesterfields and towering tropical flowers. Food surpasses expectations, with highlights such as stir-fried prawns in chilli jam and steamed snapper dumplings.
Sardine | 21 Jalan Petitenget, Kerobokan, Bali
It’s hard to go past Sardine for a romantic meal. Diners sit beneath a soaring bamboo ceiling, open to the elements with a view of impeccably manicured rice paddies. Sardine’s specialty is seafood and the menu changes according to the catch of the day from nearby Jimbaran bay. Migrate to the lounges after dinner and order one of the impressive desserts.