There’s hardly a cuisine that isn’t represented in Bali and the staples – Thai, Japanese, Indian, French, Italian, German and American – reflect both the tastes of visitors and the many ex-pats who call Bali home. Balinese and Indonesian food is widely available and extremely popular. The best-known dishes include: nasi goreng (rice stir-fried with meats and vegetables), mie goreng (replaces the rice with noodles); babi guleng (spit-roasted Balinese suckling pig), bebek betutu (slow-cooked duck rubbed with spices) and gado gado (a mixture of cooked vegetables and salad topped with a peanut sauce).
In general, it can be said that a meal in even the more high-end restaurants will be considerably cheaper than in most other parts of the world, while an Indonesian meal can be had for just a few dollars. What will cost more is wine and imported spirits which attract hefty taxes. Far cheaper are local beers, including international brands brewed and bottled in Indonesia, a situation that ideally suits the tropical climate.
Our top picks
Jalan Petitenget No. 100x, Seminyak
With interior design that emphasises glass walls, indoor gardens and a unique rainwater collection system funnelled through translucent columns in the atrium dining area, Merah Putih delivers delicious traditional and modern Indonesian cuisine in individual servings or share platters. The sophisticated cocktail bar can be relied upon for a faultless Martini or Negroni.
Jalan Campuhan, Ubud
One of Ubud’s most popular casual fine-dining restaurants is also one of the most memorable dining experiences in Bali. A romantic backdrop for lunch, dinner or special occasions, the restaurant spills down several levels overlooking the Wos River gorge. There is also a wine bar and retail area that holds wine master classes with the best picks from around the world.
Eat like a local
Jalan Petitenget No. 40x
A Bali restaurant must be good if a large proportion of its clientele are ex-pats and locals, so Petitenget comes highly recommended. If it’s possible to be both casual and upmarket, the beachy Ralph Lauren vibe and seating under an expansive frangipani tree make it so. Much of the produce is grown on Petitenget’s own organic farm.
Warung Made Becik
Jalan Tirta Tawar No. 6, Ubud
There’s much discussion about the best pork ribs in Bali and this gem of a casual eatery framed by rice paddies, 10 minutes outside central Ubud near the Botanic Gardens, makes some of the very best. Must-orders items are the succulent pork ribs, grilled duck and green beans wok-fried with garlic.
Jalan Kayu Jati No. 9x, Seminyak
Looking like a set from a Quentin Tarantino movie, this south-of-the-border eatery is a riotous, happy party central any night of the week. The best soft tacos on the island, washed down with colourful cocktails and boppy Mexican pop music, create an atmosphere that even has the staff dancing on the tables.