Here are some top tips for dining in the best restaurants in Bali. Learn what and where to eat in Ubud, and how to avoid Bali Belly!
Bali has been on the Tasting Page travel to-do list for many years. The stars aligned to make it happen this year. I’m just back and have many stories to share so let’s kick things off, with what else, food!
What and Where to Eat in Ubud Bali
I do a fair amount of research; make that A LOT of research, before traveling to a new location. Bali was no exception. I dug deep into the best restaurants in Ubud before I left.
I do that for a few reasons. One, naturally, I want to eat great food when I’m visiting a new country. Two, I don’t want to waste a lot of time wandering from place to place when I’m there and finding places booked. And last but perhaps most importantly, I don’t want to get sick! I’ve had a few bouts of food poisoning when traveling internationally over the years, so I’m always looking to avoid that by only visiting reputable restaurants. Want to learn how to avoid getting sick while on the road? Check out my top tips on how to eat healthy while traveling.
How to Avoid Bali Belly
I read about and had friends get the infamous Bali Belly. It’s a form of food poisoning people get when visiting Bali. It can occur from eating contaminated food or drinking the local water.
Food can get contaminated by improper handling, sitting out too long, and/or coming in contact with dirty water.
The thing about the local water is that it’s not necessarily polluted, though some could be. It’s more that our bodies aren’t used to the bacteria in the foreign water so we often can’t digest it, and that can lead to digestive discomfort to put it mildly.
So when ice cubes, lettuce, and fruit all have water contact, it can make people who aren’t locals, sick. This difficulty can also occur after swimming, showering, and brushing your teeth.
I have to say though, as someone with a delicate digestive system, I didn’t have any issues with Bali Belly when I visited. I even ran my toothbrush under the tap water but rinsed with filtered water.
Many restaurants and locations around town have filtered water containers where you can refill your water bottles. That was hugely helpful not only in staying hydrating in the Bali heat, but also in cutting down on excess plastic.
Other ways to avoid Bali Belly and food poisoning is to make sure you eat in populated restaurants where there’s a lot of food turnover. So read on to learn where to eat in Ubud. I didn’t have any issues with these restaurants.
Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, paleo, keto, pescetarian, or follow a raw food diet, Ubud has a restaurant for you. It’s a special diet eating haven.
I’d say most of the restaurants in Ubud lean raw vegan. My body doesn’t do super well on raw food. I learned that after many years of eating copious amounts of salads. Luckily the warm weather and great spices in Bali all helped with digestion, and Ubud also offers many other options.
I was thrilled to see dairy free and vegan gelato everywhere too. Chocolate was my favorite vegan flavor since they use coconut milk to make it so I got a bonus coconut flavor mixed with the chocolate. It’s perfect for a hot day, which is really, most days.
Healthy Organic Food
In addition to finding food for every diet in Ubud, you’ll also find lots of healthy organic food. Yes, organic.
Many restaurants use organic produce and much of the fruits and vegetables are grown locally so there’s a triple win right there.
You can even buy your own fruits and vegetables in a daily morning produce market on the Main Street in Bali. I mean ON the street, in and out of cars.
Drinking in Ubud
Because there’s so much fresh produce around, you’ll see entire menus of juices, smoothies, and elixirs. As in pages and pages of drinks.
Every morning I started with a freshly juiced green drink, usually for about $2. That would be about a fifth of the cost in Los Angeles. I pretty much drank the rainbow all day, everyday.
They’ve got all the standards like celery, spinach, apple, cucumber, parsley, beets, but then there were extras like spirulina, maca, noni, bee pollen, and more. There’s every non-dairy milk you know, plus ones like red rice milk and brown rice milk, made from their local staple.
There’s also hot and cold teas and kombucha in flavors like dandelion greens, rosella, and chrysanthemum. And as you can imagine, coconut water is everywhere and mixed in many things since it grows everywhere. Drinking that water will help prevent dehydration.
So while consuming all of these tasty beverages, you may or may not, miss alcohol. Many of the healthy vegan restaurants don’t serve booze. Hopefully you’ll forget about it while diving into new elixir combinations. And if not, there are many two-for-one happy hours happening at bars around Ubud, just be prepared for a short pour. I have also included some restaurants with full bars below.
The Infamous Poop Coffee
And for coffee lovers, Ubud has lots of coffee spots. I just beg you not to visit one of the TWO Starbucks in town. Instead, grab a cup of the much talked about local kopi luwak coffee. It’s been called one of the most expensive coffees in the world, though the price for a cup was reasonable in Ubud (by U.S. standards) at about $5.
Luwak is a small Asian animal, also known as a palm civet. This little creature eats coffee cherries and digests the fruit, while “passing” the berry undigested. Natural fermentation of the berry occurs in the gut before being released, giving it a special taste. The berry is then made into coffee, after a very thorough cleaning of course.
Yup, it’s poop coffee. And I tried it. I have to say it was incredibly smooth and not bitter at all. I know, I know, so many jokes, so little time.
I apologize for the horrible transition, but it’s time to eat!
High End Restaurants in Ubud
Ubud has some really nice restaurants in town, and restaurants for people with dietary restrictions. With all that fresh produce so close, it’s no surprise. In fact, it has one of Asia’s top restaurants and of course I had to check it out.
Locavore is number 22 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Over 95% of the ingredients on the menu are Indonesian. They’re working with the local farmers on sourcing the best ingredients for the menu, including free range animals, eating what they’re meant to eat.
There’s two tasting menus – Herbivore and Locavore. The Herbivore is for vegans but I was able to get them to do the carnivorous Locavore menu gluten free and dairy free. The funny thing was that they only had to make two subtle adjustments for me to accommodate. I repeat, Ubud is a special diet haven!
The food and the drinks were inventive and delicious. They lit a pinecone next to one of the cocktails to add further ambiance and a woodsy smell to a whiskey drink.
Flavor pairings placed a giant oyster with young coconut, seaweed and kaffir lime leaf. A sublime and tender beef heart was finessed to taste like the best pastrami I’ve ever eaten.
There was lobster tartare, carrot roasted four ways, barbecued catfish, but the standout dish was a rice porridge with snail and frog legs and a 64 degree duck egg yolk on top. Wow that was a memorable dish. Almost as memorable as the dozens and dozens of decadent and delicious desserts.
The 9-dish tasting menu is about $85 per person. The 6-course is $63 plus tax and service charge, which they automatically add to each bill. Additional tipping is at your discretion. Not a bad price for a top restaurant, though definitely one of the most expensive restaurants in Ubud.
I only had time, and space in my stomach, for one fine dining meal in Ubud but if you can’t get into Locavore, Bridges also offers another high-end restaurant experience. As the name suggests, it overlooks the Campuhan River below so you get great views with your upscale meal.
Mozaic offers French cuisine using Balinese ingredients. You can order a la carte, or choose from a 6 or 8-course tasting menu. Special diets are accommodated and you can also grab a wine pairing if you want to drink perfectly matched vino with each course.
Mid Tier Dining
The folks behind Locavore have a more casual, but equally delicious, restaurant in Ubud called Nusantara. The restaurant has the same local, fresh ingredient philosophy as Locavore, just with a more approachable menu.
I tried Ubud’s famous duck at Nusantara. The classic duck is usually fried but at Nusantara, they slow cook it for hours in clay, which produced a super moist, flavorful duck full of interesting spices. That’s much more my style.
A spicy squid with turmeric, chiles, shallots, cumin, and coriander was a great mouthful of bold flavors. A perfect match was the slow cooked beef brisket in coconut milk and lime juice.
Dinner for two with one starter, two mains, rice and no drinks was about $40 total. Yes, that comes out to $20 each.
This pretty little two-story restaurant was right down the street from our AirBnB, making it extremely convenient. If you’re not staying at our AirBnb (check it out here and if you’re interested, grab a discount on your first stay with my Affiliate link), you may also be on this street for the Kecak Fire Dance show on Wednesday and Saturday nights. I highly recommend an early dinner at Hujan Locale followed by the Kecak Fire show.
Even if this restaurant wasn’t so close, I’d still seek it out. It was that good. Each menu item has a really nice descriptive sentence underneath it, which is helpful when you don’t recognize all of the ingredient names. There are stories about how the chef traveled various places in Indonesia and tasted amazing food that he brought home to make his own. Old family recipes are passed down and updated with a modern flair.
The food was outstanding and while they do ask about your heat preference, it can still be a bit spicy. My friend was happily coughing through one dish when they brought frozen cucumbers to cool her off. Brilliant.
The grand total for two starters and two mains without drinks came to about $70.
Casual Healthy Dining
The rest of my favorite Ubud restaurants I mention below are outdoor. They all have some covering but they’re open-air so if you’re going in the height of summer, plan accordingly. The restaurants above are all fully enclosed with A/C. I suppose you get what you pay for!
I had the Paleo Plate (no joke), which included eggs, bacon, avocado, stir fried vegetables, and fermented cabbage. It’s my dream breakfast and it cost $3.90. Of course I had to have a green juice so that added $2.25. All in all, I’d say it was a good value.
Bali Buda also has a nice little grocery store around the corner with essentials and lovely baked goods with great gluten free options. It was also the only place I could find a 100% cacao bar. Even the cacao harvesters didn’t have it so I stocked up here.
This Ubud restaurant is simply called Kafe. It has a quasi-simple menu as well with a few unique twists and turns. There are lots of egg options for breakfast as well as smoothie bowls and soups and salads for lunch. You can even get some Mexican fare with real cheese and meat.
There’s plenty of vegan fare here too that covers all forms of veggies as well as tofu and tempe. And of course there’s no shortage of smoothies, shakes, pressed and extracted juice, teas, natural sods, and elixirs. Kafe Ubud also serves wine and funny enough, they had a sign on each table limiting consumption of alcoholic beverages to 6 bottles or 6 glasses, so I’m guessing they have quite the lively nightlife.
One of the unique things I like about dining in Ubud is that in most places, shoes aren’t required. In fact, they’re required to be taken off in some places like Clear Café. Much like a coat check, you drop your shoes at the door, get a number, and retrieve them on the way out.
If you’re looking for even more excitement, there’s a fire pole that goes from Clear Cafe’s second floor to the first if you’d like to take a post-dinner slide. I also like the range of table options they have in restaurants in Ubud. High, low, bar stools, sofas, or floor sitting – they have it all. I’m a big fan of sitting cross-legged on the floor. Feels much more comfortable and Baliesque.
There’s a little koi pond running through Clear Café and pretty bright flowers dotted throughout. There’s an International menu with everything from local to Mexican to Sushi and Middle Eastern food. My coconut-crusted snapper (about $8) ended up being deep-fried like a fish and chip, but that said, it was delicious.
I read glowing reviews of Soma Ubud online but I didn’t quite have the same experience as others did when I dined there. It’s a beautiful restaurant set off the street with with a large tree in the middle.
This was the only place I was able to find and taste local wine. I have to say that it was delicious. It was simple but quite refreshing paired with some of the warmer flavors.
Soma may be better for the raw vegans as their animal proteins seemed like a bit of an afterthought. My sesame-grilled fish (about $8) was a bit tough and cold, making me think it was pre-cooked and reheated. The remaining vegetables I had were all good.
Being able to eat nearby post-massage is a real treat. It can take a little while to adjust to being upright so dining at the spa restaurant is definitely convenient. Luckily Ubud has several spots like this. And be sure to check out my whole post on the best spas in Ubud.
I enjoyed a super tasty meal at the beautiful Taksu spa in downtown Ubud. There’s a garden café that overlooks koi ponds or you can eat in their small upstairs dining room for a view of it all.
You get a free juice or ginger tea with any treatment there (and I do recommend a treatment there and the spicy ginger tea), so there’s a bonus. I loved the veggie spring rolls with a delicious sunflower pumpkin seed pate for all of $3. I also enjoyed an Asian greens and organic red rice bowl with grilled chicken, $4.50.
While I loved my treatment at Karsa Spa, the breakfast was a little lackluster. Eggs came simply with bacon if you like and a piece of fruit or two. They do have gluten free bread but it was cold and a bit hard. The banana bread on the other hand was moist and tasty.
Luckily the setting makes up for it all. Karsa has beautiful gardens and koi ponds to admire. You can sit in one of their floating pavilions and kick back before returning to civilization.
Other Ubud Restaurants
Others casual healthy Ubud restaurants that I missed but heard good things about:
Spice, Zest, Elephant, Moksa, Kismet, Alchemy, Atman, Lotus Café, and Sari Organik.
Of course there are many, many other great restaurants in Ubud so if you have any favorites I missed please let me know because I know I’ll have to return to Bali sometime in the future!