Hailed as Bali’s cultural and artistic capital, the mountainous village of Ubud is also home to some of the island’s most coveted culinary gems. Dotted alongside rice-fields, backstreets, temples and bridges, Ubud’s foodie spots are not always easy to find, especially as you attempt to navigate the towns’ sprawling (and sometimes monkey-laden) layout. To help you find the right spot for every occasion, here’s my at-a-glance guide to Ubud’s best eating establishments.
This article was originally written for AWOL digital magazine.
Best pick: Local eats
For a country famous for its street-food, it can be surprisingly tricky to find local haunts when on holiday in Indonesia, particularly those that don’t leave you fearful of too much time spent in the kamar kecil (toilet). If traditional Indonesian food is your holiday mission, try visiting the newly renovated Dapurku warung on the corner of Jalan Raya Ubud and Jalan Tirta Tawar. A family-run business originally hailing from Bandung, Java, the padang-style warung (local restaurant) serves up steaming plates of everything from corn and tofu fritters to crispy fried chicken. Haven’t tried padang-style yet? The process is simple: grab a wax-paper plate and dish up as much as you can handle, remembering to round out your meal with a selection of seriously good (and spicy) sambals. Depending on your appetite, expect to pay between $2.50-$4AUD per person, making Dapurku one of our best value-for-money choices, too. Our hot tip is to head there for lunch, when there’s still plenty left to go around.
Best pick: Caffeine fix
With Australia’s coffee-culture amongst the best in the world, it can often be a surprise to find that Indonesia’s third-wave coffee scene is absolutely bursting with single-origin brews served up by tattooed hipsters. In fact, Indonesia is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of coffee, and you can order any number of regional harvests from brewers trying to make their mark on the scene. Whilst Ubud has a number of great wake-me-up spots, the ultimate caffeine buff shouldn’t look past Seniman Coffee Studio on Jalan Sri-Wedari. Adopting the café’s mantra, ‘imagine you know what you’re doing’ and first select your blend, ranging from the sweet tones of Sulawesi to the heavy-bodied Javanese bean. Next up is brewing method, where you can take inspiration from the array of coffee contraptions on display in full Willy Wonka-style prowess. Don’t think you can handle the heat? Pop across the road to Seniman’s cold brew bar, serving up chilled coffee delights every afternoon from 1-9pm.
Best pick: Treat yourself
When Locavore first opened its doors to Ubud in 2013, it quickly shot to the top of Tripadvisor and has barely budged since. The fine-dining establishment on Jalan Dewisita is headed by Dutch chef Eelke Plasmeijer, the darling of Ubud’s local food movement. Locavore’s concept is simple: European-style dishes using Balinese ingredients; a true ‘found and foraged’ culinary experiment. The secret to Locavore’s success is, according to Chef Eelke, working as part of the Ubud community to support local farmers and producers. “I’ll never, say, just purchase the backstrap of a pig,” he explains. “I always buy the whole pig, and find ways to use it, because that’s how we help each other to grow the culinary community.” Quality does come with a price, so expect to pay between $30-$50AUD for a meal, and be sure to book in advance, especially on weekends. If you’re looking for something on the cheaper side, swing past the newly opened Locavore-To-Go (also on Jalan Dewisita), serving up a range of meat-laden paninis and pickled treats.
Best pick: Clean eating
Ever since Eat Pray Love hit bookshelves almost ten years ago, Ubud has been a favourite of haunt of yoga-panted tourists, often found roaming the streets in search of vegan ice-cream. In tribute to these loveable hippies, it wouldn’t be a list of Ubud’s best eateries without delving into the world of clean eating, of which there is an extensive list to choose from (Bali Buddha, Alchemy and The Elephant, to name a few). If it’s ambience you’re looking for – allowing you to reach the appropriate levels of Zen – head down to the newly installed Clear Café on Jalan Campuhan. After suffering a devastating fire in its original location on Jalan Hanoman, the new Clear Café is now perched on the edge of Ubud’s most iconic bridge, overlooking the stunning Gunung Lebah temple. After checking your shoes at the entrance, climb the stairs and sprawl out amongst an array of fluffy cushions. Serving organic and mostly-vegan treats, Clear Café is the perfect fit for a mid-afternoon laze as you recoup and rejuvenate energy levels.
Best pick: Sundowners with a view
Whilst Ubud may not be known for its rampant party-scene, there are still some fantastic places to sink a beer or two at sundown. Roaming the main streets, any number of cafés and restaurants will advertise Happy Hour and live music, but if it’s a view you’re after then look no further than the slowing fading sunshine across Campuhan ridge, To catch it at its best, nab a table on the balcony of Indus, a two-storied, Balinese-style restaurant that overlooks this champion of Ubud’s natural assets. Order a Lychee Martini (or several, it’s happy hour from 5-7pm) and tuck into complimentary appetizers, scanning the horizon for the allusive silhouette of Mount Agung, Bali’s largest dormant volcano. Some close runner-ups in this category include Pomegranate, a short wander down one of Ubud’s most infamous rice-paddies, and Karsa Kafe, nestled on top of Campuhan ridge where you can sip a well-deserved Bintang after conquering the (baby) trek.