As Bali is one of the 17,508 islands that make up the Indonesian archipelago, most of the regional cuisine is shaped by Indonesian influences, with the biggest difference being that Balinese food makes wide use of pork. Give the southern tourist areas a wide berth to avoid fast food chains — though if your curiosity gets the better of you, you will find that the menus are often highly adapted to local tastes.
For a truly authentic taste of Bali, seek out the smaller local restaurants or sample foods from the roving vendors called kaki lima, named for the five legs shared between the vendor and his cart. Each vendor sells just one type of food, but the streets are full of choice.
One of the most celebrated Balinese dishes is babi guling, a large ceremonial dish of roast suckling pig that must usually be ordered several days in advance, but is also often available at night market stalls and restaurants.
Other popular dishes make use of chicken, duck, and of course, fish. Balinese restaurants serve up a variety of beautifully spiced and seasoned dishes that are generally either grilled or steamed, and accompanied by rice or salad. There are plenty of delicious vegetarian dishes too.
The sate lilit, minced seafood satay, is served wrapped around a twig of lemongrass, the distinctive flavour of which permeates the fish. Meat lovers should also try to sample some urutan, Balinese spicy sausage, made from pork.
The island’s tropical climate is ideal for succulent and exotic fruits, and most menus feature a dazzling range of fresh fruit juices to drink neat or inventively blended together. Be sure to try the refreshing and decadently creamy alpukat - avocado blended with sugar, ice and chocolate.
Desa Buahan, Desa Payangan, Gianyar, Bali
Beduur is a dreamlike terraced hillside restaurant within the Ubud Hanging Gardens resort, offering the most stunning panoramic views of the valley and the scenic backdrop of the temple on the opposite side of the gorge. The menu fuses the charms of Asian and French cuisine with Balinese ingredients, with an emphasis on organic and locally sourced fresh produce, and the finest cuts of meat from South East Asia and Australia.
Jalan Uluwatu, Jimbaran, Bali 80361
Located in the Jimbaran Puri Bali resort, Nelayan is one of the best places to find traditionally prepared and locally caught fish and seafood alongside French Mediterranean dishes. It also offers a simpler children’s menu. The restaurant has a charmingly casual beachside ambience, with some tables set up directly on the sand for the ultimate in al fresco dining. It’s a popular spot to watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean.
Ku de Ta
Jalan Laksmana, 9, Seminyak, Bali 80361
Known as the crown jewel in Bali’s coastal attractions, KuDeTa is so highly rated that hotels and villas will often use their close proximity to this beachside restaurant/cocktail bar/club to tempt clientele. The food is among the best you will eat on the island, with breakfast, lunch, dinner and ‘grazing’ menus serving a mix of international cuisine to suit every appetite. There’s also an extensive cocktail menu, perfect to accompany lounging about in a deck chair to watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean. The club’s in-house DJ spins light house music and jazzy beats, and there is an air-conditioned cigar lounge. All in all, this is a spot for complete indulgence.
Jalan Lanyahan, Br Nagi, Ubud, Bali 80571
CasCades has a well-deserved reputation for being one of Bali’s most romantic restaurants, set amid luxurious Balinese open pavilions topped with high thatched roofs and views over a lush tropical valley. It even boasts its own helipad, frequently used by adventurous guests given to extravagant gestures. The menu is based on French cuisine, with inventive Asian twists derived from Balinese, Thai and Japanese cooking. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a special menu for high tea. For those who simply can’t choose from the equally mouthwatering options, there is also a taster menu and a Chef’s selection set menu.
Jalan Danau Tamblingan 228, Sanur, Bali
For those tiring of seafood or Asian cuisine, Massimo's is a haven. Chef Massimo Sacco produces authentic Southern Italian cuisine. With a list of specialities as long as your arm all complimented by a fine selection of wines, Massimo’s is a favourite with the locals. Massimo makes all his pastas on the premises, as well as the renowned gelato which attracts ice-cream lovers from miles around.
Jalan Raya Seminyak, 16A, Seminyak, Bali 80361
French travellers to Bali laud SIP as the most authentic French bistro brasserie you’ll find outside of Paris. SIP offers al fresco seating as well as air-conditioned indoor seating, so diners can have the experience of their choice. The food is authentically French, even down to the andouillete sausage, considered by most to be an acquired taste due to its very strong smell and taste. The wine list is extensive and perfectly complements the bistro style menu of pates, terrines, oxtail and choucroute, served with frites or other sides.
The Living Room
Jalan Petitenget, 2000, Kerobokan, Kuta, Bali
Sumptuous unpretentious elegance is the phrase that best describes The Living Room, designed to make clientele feel like they are visiting their home away from home. The menu is influenced by Balinese, Thai, French and antipodean cuisine, making excellent use of fresh seafood, beef, duck, pork, chicken and lamb. It also offers an extensive vegetarian choice, and a cigar menu to round off the night. The Living Room is known for its intimate ambience, with beautiful floral arrangements stunningly complimented by the gentle glow of candlelight lending an air of romance. The cocktail bar is an excellent place to start or end your evening.
Jalan Laksmana, Seminyak Beach Denpasar, Bali 80033
Based in the luxurious five-star Oberoi Hotel, Kura Kura serves Indonesian, Asian and the finest Continental cuisines under a soaring thatched roof. The menu offers a few delightful touches, such as home-made lemonade, and is an absolute treat for vegetarians and vegans. Meat lovers must try the "Marbel of Foie Gras"; foie gras mousse layered between thin films of Valrhona chocolate. There is also tasting menus, offering four to 13 courses.
Kawasan Pariwisata, Nusa Dua, Bali 80363
Kayaputi derives its name from the Indonesian word for ‘white wood’ and indeed, it is a vision of white providing the perfect backdrop to the ocean views and al fresco seating. The stylish, elegant atmosphere within the St Regis resort offers a calm and relaxed setting in which to enjoy Chef Oscar Perez’ menus, which pivot around fresh, seasonal seafood and the finest imported meats. The menu offers delectable vegetarian options and a variety of organic produce. The two-story wine cellar can provide the most beautiful accompaniment to every course, and the open kitchen merely adds to the ambience.