We had two day-and-a-half visits to Ubud, so unfortunately there was only so much food we could eat before we were heading out of town again. But, we made the most of the time we did have and tasted a little bit of everything the restaurants in Ubud, Bali had to offer.
“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.” – Ruth Reichl
Before I give the low-down on all things food, let’s answer some general questions.
What types of cuisine can you expect in restaurants in Ubud, Bali?
A lot of the food, as you’d expect, is Asian and Indonesian cuisine. For the most part, meals are rice bowls with a side dish: curries, meat, tofu, tempeh, satay. But burgers, pizza and other western food can usually be found too, so there’s something for everyone. We even found a well-disguised Starbucks, if that’s what you’re into.
What are key Indonesian dishes to try?
- Nasi Campur, Indonesia’s national food, is a type of mixed rice, so without even meaning to, you’ll likely eat it many times during your trip.
- Nasi Goreng, a rice dish usually cooked with spices, chilli, garlic and tamarind and served with your choice of side dish.
- Gado gado was a favourite among our group throughout the trip that I will forever try to replicate at home. Gado gado is boiled/steamed vegetables, lontong (rice served in a cylinder shape, having been cooked in a banana leaf), tofu/tempeh with a peanut sauce. It’s also usually served with a hard boiled egg (restaurants were always happy to leaving this out, upon request, so this dish can easily be made vegan!). It’s to die for.
- Tempeh is a protein product made of fermented soya beans, originating from Java, Bali’s neighbouring island. You’ll find it a consistent staple among restaurants in Ubud, Bali, so you can try it many different ways.
- Perkedel Jagung. I still make these at home to remind me of Bali. Traditionally these corn fritters were made to be eaten at celebrations, such as weddings or the birth of a baby, but they’ve become a popular street-food.
- Coffee – I can’t write this list without including it. Indonesia is one of the world’s biggest coffee producers, so it’s worth trying it from the source.
- I’m not sure if you could say it’s a speciality, but coconut ice cream (more of a creamy sorbet than usual ice cream) was sold all over Ubud and it was so delicious and refreshing! We had it one day after completing the Campuhan Ridge Walk, so it was very needed. If (actually, when!) I return to Bali, it will be one of the first to-dos on my list – yep, that good.
Does Bali have gluten-free options?
Ubud, especially, has many gluten free options, thanks to the yogi-hipster takeover of the city. Many of the menus had gluten free information. Otherwise, asking about gluten-free options should be fine and it’s easy to see how many dishes could easily be made gluten-free.
One ingredient to keep an eye out for is soy sauce as it’s a frequent ingredient in Indonesian cooking, not always listed on the menu, that contains gluten, so make sure to ask about this one.
Is Bali for a vegetarian/vegan friendly?
For some reason, I was worried about how I’d fare eating vegan in Bali. Clearly forgetting that tofu and tempeh are massive staple foods all over Asia and that rice and vegetables are the base for most meals. But even remembering this, Ubud was a fantastic surprise. Not only were there a massive selection of vegan options, but all of the food was tasty and cheap too! Ubud spoiled us for choice.
For vegans, milk is easy to avoid. It isn’t widely produced in Bali, so cheese and dairy products are few and far between. And in every cafe we visited, alternative milks were on the menu. But do keep an eye out for eggs as they’re commonly used (and not always listed on menus).
Ubud, especially, is great for veggie and vegan friendly. Ubud’s big on the yoga and wellness scene, so wholefoods and plant-based options are easy to find.
How much is a meal in Bali?
In Ubud, we were paying between 30,000-80,000 IDR for a full meal, which was around £1.69-£4.50 at the time. Restaurants in Denpasar, tend to charge more, but we still managed to hunt down some places in this price range. In Tianyar, a small village in the south, the prices were around the same as Ubud. So all over the island, you could find meals for less than £5.
Restaurants in Ubud, Bali aren’t expensive by any stretch. But some things may catch you out. We found that drinks were often costing us as much as a meal, which, of course, wasn’t much, but it is something to note.
Often tax is added on to the final bill, too. So hunt down the amount in the small print on the menu and work it out in advance to know what you’re really paying.
Now, for my recommended restaurants in Ubud, Bali
The trendy place: Ibu Susu
Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.
Okay, so we got a little over-excited on our first night and decided to head somewhere a little fancier for dinner. Ibu Susu is a well-known cocktail bar in the area and was a great way to kick-off the trip.
Oh, the cocktails! The menu was full of imaginative twists and excellent renditions of classic cocktails. They even got the approval of my fellow travellers, who brand themselves quite the cocktail connoisseurs. By Ubud standards, the drinks were a little pricey, but that’s to be expected.
Fun and delicious. Ibu Susu seem to frequently change their menu, the version on their website is different (and a shorter) to when I visited. We couldn’t choose, so we had a number of sharing platters. Steamed buns, tempura, satay, summer rolls. There were also options for burgers, salads, noodle dishes and lots of seafood, Ibu Susu’s speciality.
If you’re looking for vegan and veggie options, you may want to check the menu before sitting down, as their online menu doesn’t show consistent veggie/vegan options. But they had quite a few when I visited.
This was what truly made Ibu Susu what it is. This place was super trendy, whilst keeping the warm, welcoming feel of Ubud alive. And the music was great, including all your alt-rock classics: The Smiths, The Cure, Nirvana, Oasis, Red Hot Chili Peppers. It brought the place together and gave the smiley-faced bartenders something to dance to.
The front of the restaurant, like many in Ubud, is open onto the street, so the sound of the hustle and bustle floats into the restaurant. It’s a lively place so if you’re looking for somewhere that’s buzzing, this will be the right place.
The ‘hidden gem’: Abe-Do Organic Warung
Vegetarian and vegan options.
This is the place I always tell people about. One of those lucky spontaneous finds Google Maps happened to highlight to me. And I’m so glad it did. It’s a little bit of a walk from Ubud’s centre and the walk isn’t entirely pavemented – but Ubud is famous for it’s awful pavements, so I suppose that’s all part of the experience.
This was my favourite meal of the trip. Not only was it extremely cheap (less than £2 a meal), but the food was very good and had many Indonesian classics. Healthy and fresh, good portion sizes and a good variety for a small place, with about half the menu being veggie/vegan. I had the Pepes Tofu (tofu, veggies and rice cooked in a banana leaf) with a side of purple sweet potato (I’d never had purple sweet potato before so I had to try it!). Both were really good. Despite it being the cheapest meal of the trip, I left a little more stuffed than I’d intended to be.
Abe-Do do your usual soft drinks, coffees and teas. But their speciality is healthy juices and smoothies. They’re super tasty, nutritious and you can even buy them bottled to take with you.
I’d recommend trying the whole coconuts too! They’re a completely unique taste, very Instagrammable and something to tick off the bucket list. Get one to share, though – they’re big. We had a smoothie each and shared a coconut between three of us and there was more than enough to go around.
This place was so cosy. Being a little way from the main town, it was a refreshing respite from the bustle of the main streets of Ubud. Plus, the tables are low and sections of the seating are a (surprisingly comfortable) collection of pillows around the floor, which gave it a really relaxed vibe.
The staff were attentive and friendly and there were a couple of other small groups in there, despite it being mid-afternoon, so there was a pleasant chatter to keep the atmosphere up.
The quick eat: Binar Healthy Food and Drink
Quick, easy and right in the middle of town. This busy little cafe was perfect for a quick coffee and bite to eat at lunch. Note: GrabFood is the Indonesian equivalent of UberEats, and Binar is on there, so you needn’t even leave your accommodation to try this one (although I recommend you do, the atmosphere was lovely).
We had a gado gado (a classic Indonesian dish and a favourite everywhere we went on the trip) and a coconut tempeh curry with rice. Both lived up to their reputation as popular dishes for Indonesia and despite their richer ingredients, they didn’t leave us feeling heavy at all. Quick, simple and filling – what more can you ask for?
We had a black coffee and a coconut-milk iced coffee, but they also had juices, smoothies and milkshakes, the usual. Alternative milks for coffees were also available (such a blessing), as is true of most of Ubud’s cafes.
This was a sweet little cafe, in the centre of town, on a busy Ubud street. There were some outside tables and the front of the cafe was completely open, so the noise of the street came in and it made a great spot for people watching. It was quite quiet when we were there, but the ambience of the street made the atmosphere.
Hopefully they’re helpful recommendations for restaurants in Ubud, Bali. I adored Ubud so I hope you will too. If you end up trying any of these out, let me know what you think!
Enjoy! Love, Ella-Rose x