You can have great meals in Bali whatever budget you have in mind. In the four times I’ve been on the island, I’ve eaten a range of meals from U$2 to U$200, and many of them were absolute pleasure that I go back to the restaurants whenever the opportunity comes up.
Here’s a roundup of the best eats in Bali in case you might want to try these places the next time you’re on the island. Also see our reviews of Fuzion Cafe, Ubud and Bebek Sungai, Ubud. Prices are quoted in either Indonesian Rupiah or US Dollar.
Naughty Nuri’s Warung and Grill
Jalan Raya Sanggingan Ubud
The branch at the roadside is the original restaurant. It is across the street from Neka Art Museum. The menu is barbecue, and the most popular dish is the ribs. They are falling-off-the-bone tender, and who knows what is in the secret marinade, but it is stupendously delicious. One of the things I really liked about the ribs is that there’s no dominant taste. Everything is balanced. The restaurant also offers other dishes like nasi goreng (fried rice) with egg/no egg and vegetables for vegetarians. I would definitely recommend the carnivore menu.
If the restaurant is full (which it is any time of day), either share a table with others not in your party or you can move to the ‘Mexican’ branch about 20 meters further up the street. Both restaurants serve the same menu.
If Ubud is too far, Naughty Nuri’s has branches (with different management) in Seminyak.
Ribs cost: U$7.70
Babi Guling Ibu Oka, Ubud
Jalan Tegal Sari No. 2, Ubud Tengah, Ubud
This is one of the best babi guling dishes I’ve had on the entire island. Babi guling dishes are, sadly not made equally. Sometimes, the skin can be chewy instead of crispy like it is in Ibu Oka’s.
At Ibu Oka’s, the babi guling has a variety of preparations from the meat in the dish itself. There are two ways you can order your babi guling: one is the Special where everything is in the same dish, and the other way is the Separate, where there is one dish with all the pork elements, a plate of rice and a small bowl of vegetable soup. The Special costs 55,000 Rupiah and the Separate costs 70,000 Rupiah.
Both the Special and the Separate babi guling include: a sliver of crispy skin; tender meat that might be from the shoulder or belly; a clump of the caramelized bits of pork that cling to the pan; a piece of blood sausage; a rib or two. In addition, there is a vegetable accompaniment featuring green beans and bean sprouts and the sambal sauce. You can also ask for the chili that’s pickled in chili oil (yes, it is very spicy) so you can cut the oily taste.
Pondok Mina Restaurant
Jalan Unting Surapati, Padang-Karangasem
Pondok Mina serves a lot of dishes, but its specialty is the fried gourami fish set. This marvelous dish came to our table with the fish so crispy you can even eat the fins if you wanted, after dipping in the sambal. This is the first time in Bali I copied the locals and ate with my hand.
This place is not on the tourist trail, so you’d have to ask a local to take you there or ask your guide and/or driver.
A gourami set costs 35,000 Rupiah. It is worth it and I would go there again next time I am in Bali.
Jalan Raya Seminyak, Seminyak, Kuta
This established restaurant doesn’t attract people because of its interior décor, but for its food. It was pretty crowded even at mid-afternoon, and many of the clients were locals.
I would recommend the nasi campur babi guling or any of the nasi campur variations. The vegetables are tasty, the meat is succulent, skin is crispy if it’s a feature of your dish, and the sambal is well-balanced. A nasi campur babi guling costs a hefty 95,000 Rupiah, but it is well worth the splurge if you want to treat your inner hedonist.
Jalan Pantai, Jimbaran
This was definitely a splurge as it was on our final holiday night in Bali, and we wanted to dine on the beach. Ganesha Restaurant is a seafood place, and everything is priced by weight. For two people, we ordered 4 fresh oysters, six King Prawns and a lobster plus two small Bintangs.
The seafood was so tender and fresh that we almost did not eat the rice. Each order of seafood comes with a vegetable dish (Tumis Kangkong or stir-fried morning glory), rice and fruit plate, so we did not have to order other than the seafood.
There is a five-person band that moves around from table to table to serenade diners with ballads or golden oldies like “Besame mucho.” You can request for them to sing your song if they know it.
Our dinner cost 2,520,000 Rupiah.
Added: Babi Guling Pak Malen
Sunset Road, No. 554, Seminyak
The restaurant is super popular especially with locals. I went in the morning just as it opened around 10.20, and already there were about 15 people eating and about 10 who were waiting for to-go orders.
The babi guling at Pak Malen is a scaled down version of the one I had experienced in Ibu Oka, and it came with a tasty soup with sweet gourd and a piece of pork on the bone
There was a chunk of puffed pork rind and not much vegetables in the dish. The sambal matah was a little on the skimpy side, but they put it right into the dish instead of serving it on the side. For Rupiah 40,000 it was an affordable and highly satisfying meal.
Pak Malen’s is only open from 10.00am to 3.00pm daily
Jalan Raya Seminyak, Seminyak, Kuta
One of the things I’ve learned this time around in Bali is that close to a government office, there will be small warungs, meaning ‘store’ or ‘selling place’ which serve good food at really low prices. If you happen to notice a government office and then food stalls during lunch hour, look for where the government employees eat. (You can tell government employees by the green or brown uniforms they wear.) Whichever eating place they go bounds to be a place with great prices for good food.
David’s Warung is one of those kinds of places. Serving Indonesian barbecue dishes and pizza, this little eatery also has outdoor seating, a bar area and a couple of indoor tables. I had the ribs with rice and sambal, and Gabi had the barbecue tempe with rice and sambal. It was absolutely delicious. I ordered the iced tea and Gabi ordered a small Bintang. The sambal matah is masterfully made, and both of us ate all of it.
Our bill for the food only came up to about U$5.00.
Hedonist’s Bonus Tip: meals under U$1.00
I’ve also learned from a previous trip that when you are really on a budget and want to spend as little as possible for great meals, look for where taxi drivers eat, or go to a large local market like the Gianyar market. The nasi ayam or nasi goreng will cost under a dollar at food stalls, and taste great. A note of caution though: if you have a sensitive stomach, look at the warung’s or street stall’s hygiene practices first before you order any food. Make sure it is clean and the food is fresh.
Bali is a great place to eat. The next time you are on the island, take a bite of the local dishes, whatever your budget might be. Your inner hedonist will thank you for it!