Guys, I am in food heaven. I spent over a week in Ubud, and the entire time I was in pure foodie bliss. There is so much amazing food in Ubud that I often couldn’t decide where I want to have lunch or dinner! What are the best restaurants in Ubud? What’s the best food to eat? What does a typical meal in Ubud cost? These are all questions I will answer below, along with sharing some bomb photos of some of my meals from the many, MANY local cafes and eateries.
I’ve been super lucky too, in that I have a local friend who took me to some of the coolest, yummiest restaurants with some of the best food in Ubud (and recommended ones to me that I went to on my own).
food in Ubud
Food in Ubud spans across an impressive array of cultures. I had vegetarian food, smoothies, fresh juices, Peruvian food, Mexican food, Indonesian food, Thai food, Japanese food, and American-inspired burgers made with local ingredients. There’s Spanish tapas bars, French cafes, and more. Tons of places are using locally sourced ingredients, ethical cooking, local pottery for dishware, and more. There is a real community sense in Ubud too, which I didn’t find in other parts of Bali (i.e. Kuta) or even in Lombok. I’ve listed some of my best restaurants below.
If you have any recommendations, leave them in the comments for my readers – what do you like about food in Ubud and Bali restaurants??
Kafe was one of the first places I ate, on a recommendation from my friend. I had an amazing veg salad, freshly made blackcurrant and apple juice, and my first Bali coffee. I took a few friends there, and over the course of a week we tried the curry noodles, the fajitas, and more smoothies/juices. Their menu is extensive and they are open from 7am for breakfast as well as all day for the odd juice/coffee/snack (the vegetarian samosas are one of my favs!) and then until 11 for dinner.
Kafe is full of expats and locals alike. The staff is super friendly and very efficient. Service in Bali is way different from service in the US and other western countries but I’ve never been disappointed at Kafe. It was also my first introduction to food in Ubud and so I kind of hold everything to that standard… 😉
Ubud has great accommodation choices – tons, in fact- but Bali isn’t just Ubud. If you’re considering a trip to this magical Indonesian island, check out this post that breaks down the best of where to stay in Ubud.
One of my hotel mates told me about Clear Cafe and I will admit I went past it for an entire week before realising that the cute restaurant with the round door where everyone took their shoes off was actually Clear. When I stepped inside for the first time, I was amazed. The interior is refreshing and open, despite being hidden behind a thick hobbit-house style door! There’s a wall of plants and waterfall that cascades into a pond with goldfish, an open staircase to the upper level, and tons of floor-cushions seating and regular chair seating.
I didn’t eat here; it was a stop after a long scooter ride so I opted for a papaya lime smoothie. One thing I absolutely love love love about the juices in Ubud is that you have a ton of options. I’ve had mango, papaya + coconut, lime + mint, blackcurrant + honey, and soooooo many more. Also, since I’m lactose intolerant, I can’t do a smoothie with ice cream or milk, and that’s never a problem here – most menus are dairy-free and if there’s yogurt or something, it’s actually listed on the menu.
Vincent took me to Hujan Locale for our first dinner together and I was blown away by the delicious food. I let him order everything, from the wine to the meal, because I wanted to try it all and couldn’t make a decision. We had the salt and pepper squid, duck, Asian greens, and the filo pastry chocolate dessert with lime sorbet (a substitute for me – it usually comes with ice cream). Their wine list is superb too – very international – and since Vincent is French, we had a Cote du Rhone. It’s apparently always packed – we had a 9pm reservation and the place was still busy when we arrived a few minutes past nine.
fair warung bale
Another recommendation from Vincent, and I’m so glad I went. The concept of not-for-profit restaurants hasn’t gained too much traction in the States yet but in Australia, pay as you like restaurants that serve the homeless are quite common and I’ve been to a few. Fair Warung isn’t a pay-what-you-like place, but it does take the social responsibility issue seriously. The organisation that runs it is a Swiss medical group, so everything from here goes to fund medical operations for children. It’s reasonably priced, but you still get to make a difference in the world. Also, the staff is all Balinese who are learning the hospitality trade. I had the Tom Yum Thai and it was so effing good.
You’re probably wondering why I sought out a Mexican place in Bali. Honestly, there was no good Mexican in New Zealand or Australia so after a year and a half, I sort of really needed a damn good plate of nachos. Taco Casa did not disappoint! It’s consistently on the blogs of good places to eat in Ubud and I asked my friend Jesse if he wanted to meet me there. He’s vegetarian and gluten free, so Mexican is a great option because of the corn chips/tortillas and the fact that even vegetarian Mexican is tasty. We shared the tacos and the grande nachos. Guys, I felt like I was in Mexico. Fresh salsa, chunky avo guac, melty cheese… All I needed was a nice margarita to wash it all down, but I had a lime + mint juice instead (still great!).
Reviews say it’s pricey, but I didn’t find that it was, especially for what you get (and compared to Mexican food in the States). Service was good, if a little slow, but that’s typical here.
locavore to go
Locavore To Go is the child of the popular seven-course Locavore, just down the street. Vincent wanted burgers so he picked me up one day and we went there for lunch. They make everything on premises and they also sell things like charcuterie and preserves for takeaway.
My eye caught the Cubano on the menu. We decided to order the burger and the Cubano – and share them. I hadn’t had a bomb Cubano since working back in KC so I was excited. We also got a wheat beer – something I haven’t seen yet on the menu anywhere in Bali yet!
One very important note, because we learned this the hard way: if you are going to split the Cubano and the burger, eat the burger first and save the Cubano for last. We did it the other way around and the burger wasn’t as good as it would have been had we eaten it first. Still, the meal was phenomenal and more than enough. Of course, we also had to try dessert and luckily we both wanted the creme brulee. It came with soursop sorbet and a mango coulis. And then we had coffee. Do yourself a favour and put this tiny restaurant on your must-do food in Ubud list!
The Elephant is out of town to the north – a short scooter ride away – and is a vegetarian restaurant with massive salad bowls and tasty fresh juices and smoothies. I had no clue what this restaurant was about before going – Vincent asked me to meet him there – so I was pleasantly surprised by the extensive (mostly vegetarian) menu.
I’m not vegetarian but I enjoy a good salad and the one I had was perfect. It had preserved lemon, mango chunks, quinoa, romaine lettuce, and sweet potato. Vincent’s looked really good too, but he ate it all before I could ask for a bite! We got there late, after dark, but the view over the Campuhan Ridge is supposed to be amazing so if you’re there for breakfast or lunch, you can enjoy a beautiful view with your meal. I went back later with Jesse and Ali, and I had a different salad. It was just as good as the first one I had, cementing in my mind that this is a place worth making the drive to.
Murni’s was one of the first restaurants in Ubud and continues to be among the best in town. It’s near the bridge to the north, a short walk from the palace, and is a restaurant/shop/bungalows all in one. I went for a late lunch one day. The place was still halfway full and people came in long after I was finished eating. I find that I really like Indonesian food, especially the noodles, so I ordered the mie goreng.
Mie goreng is a noodle dish with veggies, chicken, and a spicy sauce. You can get it at most restaurants in town but Murni’s was one of the best I had in Ubud (I had a really amazing one in Legian too, but don’t remember where!). The restaurant sits on the edge of the river and has several levels. I was on the main level but you can go lower, toward the river, too. With the bustle from the street safely on the other side of the thick walls, you feel secluded even though you are on a busy corner.
When Vincent said he was taking me to an “Ubud landmark,” I assumed it was in town. I was wrong; it’s about ten minutes up the road to the north. It was on the drive that he told me it was a rib shack that does martinis. Well, sign me up. We each had a full rack of ribs and a martini. (In fact, it was more like two and a half martinis, since she poured mine, told me to sip, poured V’s, told him to sip, poured more into mine, said “sip,” poured more into V’s and then poured the rest into mine. I think after those first two sips I was tipsy. Ah well.)
As a Kansas girl and BBQ lover, I have to put these ribs near the top of my list, and at the top of my list for non-KC BBQ… the meat falls from the bone, the sauce is wet, there’s enough crispy burnt ends… I’d go back in a heartbeat. And the martini was spot on.
Another place I shared a bunch of dishes. We ordered the edamame and a black Bao pork bun, then for the main we had grilled octopus. Can’t complain about it – it’s definitely a hidden gem in Ubud.
If you want to try some of the best Peruvian food outside of Peru, head to Pica. I don’t have anything bad to say about this place … it was stellar. There were five of us and we got there around 9:30pm – last orders are at 10pm on weekends. We immediately ordered a bottle of Argentinian Malbec and a variety of starters for the table. My eye caught the crispy-skinned pork belly on the main course menu. Our starters were the stars though. The ceviche (two kinds) was great and the baked scallop was lip-smackingly good. I think I could have ordered everything on the menu and been content. The pork belly was phenomenal… perfectly crispy, just the right amount of fat… mmmmmmmmm. The other meals looked good too, and since we cleaned our plates, I’d say none of us were disappointed.
We managed to finish 3 bottles of wine among the five of us. For dessert, we had their chocolate mousse, but since I am lactose-intolerant I only had a small bite. It was very good and comes adorned with strawberries and crumbly things.
The thing about food in Ubud is that there are hundreds of restaurants now and for the average traveller, trying each and every one is impossible. I spent two weeks in Ubud, and I feel like I got a good sampling of the restaurants, but it’s just not possible to list them all. I have my favourites and I have a few that I didn’t make it to, whether because of time constraints or just mismanagement of my schedule.
I urge you to try these amazing places but also hit the streets and see what else Ubud has to offer!
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