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There are thousands of cafes and restaurants in Bali, and thanks to Instagram the most popular ones just get busier and busier. But there are a few that I go to regularly, especially when I take friends and family visiting Bali for the first time that most people never get to see. Here’s my ultimate guide to cafes and restaurants in Bali.
The best cafe in Seminyak. Healthy food, great coffee. Shelter used to be a small, 12-seat cafe upstairs on a laneway just off the busy main road of Seminyak. It became so popular the owners expanded to double the size in 2018 to seat around 30, and doubled again in 2019 to seat around 60. Despite their growth they have stayed true to the menu which made them popular to begin with, unlike other cafes who change a successful formula and never quite pull it off. The menu at Shelter has hardly changed in the 4 years I’ve been coming here.
The food is spectacularly simple, healthy and very good quality. From salads to burgers they put a local twist on cafe favourites making them unique, healthy and affordable, a rarity anywhere but especially in Bali.
Must-try disches include the poke bowl and the weffy salad. Their burger and sandwhich game is also strong, and their coffee is consistently outstanding. Almost everything on the menu is under Rp 100k, making it exceptionally affordable, as the same quality of dish would easily cost 2-3 times as much or more in any western city.
They also serve Nalu Bowls from the downstairs street-side servery. Nalu bowls are made from different combinations of blended fruits as a base and topped with berries, seeds, fruits, granola and a bunch of other delicious ingredients that makes for the perfect power-breakfast kick-start to your day.
Old-schol charm with wonderful but inexpensive food. Biku is without doubt the one place I take friends and family if they haven’t been before. It’s an old-fashioned joglo that used to be a spice trading house and is run by the same family for the past 38 years. Serving a mix of local and western dishes, it is extraordinarily inexpensive, with most mains under Rp 100k. Try the kasmiri fish curry, anything from the daily specials and they make an excellent caeser salad. But the highlight is their high tea, served in sweet, savoury and local Indonesian versions. It really is a treat worth going to this charming restauarant.
Make sure you book by phone during the high season (July-September). Highly recommended for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as the high tea in the afternoons.
The best decompress stop after landing in Bali. Since I have been hosting friends, family and guests from all over world, Nook has been my number one place to take people if they arriving on a morning flight for great coffee, an introduction to Indonesion food and achill-out environment to start the process of decompressing from the world they left behind.
Nook used to be a tiny cafe tucked away in the ricefeilds behind Jalan Petitenget on the northern end of Seminyak. “Progress” being an inescapable fact of lfe in Bali means the cafe has trebled in size and the ricefields are slowly disapperaing under the hammer of development.
Having said that, it’s still an oasis compared to the hustle and bustle of Seminyak Central. There are still some virgin ricefields, which naturally makes this a spot for the Instgram crowd. It used to be dead quiet outside the high-season for tourists (July-September) but has become incredibly popular with local Indonesian tourists coming from Jakarta looking to feed their Instagram beast.
Along with that popularity has come an unfortunate, but understandable practice of charging a minumin spend for the tables with a front row view of the ricefields.
The menu, however, hasn’t changed since I first came here six years ago, and I highly recommend the nasi campur, which comes in both vegetarian and special (including beef and chicken), a selection of the best local morsels served with rice.
Locavore To Go
A hidden 5-star cafe in Ubud. The little sister cafe by the same owners of the exclusive Locavore in Ubud is a gem. A hole-in-the-wall cafe, it has been extended to include an incredible deli selling the locally cured meats and condiments made from the Locavore kitchens.
But the real reason you need to visit this place is because they have a Butchers Table on Saturday nights, serving a 3-course set menu showcasing the best of local meats and produce for Rp 350k per person. If you are a meat-lover this is not to be missed. The menu changes weekly so you never know what’s going to be on offer, but after taking several groups of guests over the past three years everyone has given this the big thumbs up! You will need to call ahead to make a reservation as it only seats around 16 people. You will love me for recommending this!
The rest of the time Locavore To Go is open during the day for breakfast and lunch serving quality, deli-style meals. Try the pastrami sandwhich.
Great coffee, small but impressive menu, all in pricing. Coffee Cartel is relatively new on the Bali cafe scene, opening in late 2018. But it quickly established itself among the expats and longer-term visitors to Seminyak as serving quality coffee, breakfast and lunch. It’s tucked away 100m from the main street in Petitenget which is a plus, because the popular spots in Seminyak during high season are getting too crowded for comfort.
They have a unique gimmick in being able to create a photo or your name on the foam of your coffee, making for an irresistible Instagram moment. By downloading the app to your phone you can connect to their coffee machine and send any photo to be printed onto of your coffee.
Another big selling point for this cafe is they include tax and service charges in their menu pricing. Most places add tax and service on top of the advertised price, pissing off millions of tourists a year by appearing to be less expensive than they actually are. Places that include everything in the advertised price are to be heartily encouraged.
They do a mean smashed avo, and the pulled brisket burger and mcmuffin are well worth trying.
Hidden gem way off the beaten track. Joglo Organik can only be accessed by walking some distance along a narrow path in the ricefields just north of Ubud. It’s my favourite walking track in Bali, and over the years the continuing pace of development suggests that going sooner rather than later is a great idea.
The track was initially know as a pathway to Sari Organik, the original cafe in the area. Joglo Organik is a little further on than Sari, and I highly recommend the extra effort. It’s slowly growing all the time, and the views from the treehouse deck are to die for.
They also have much better quality food, focusing on local Indonesian country-style cuisine, cooking with what is in season and available locally.