Ask around for the most popular places to eat in Bali, and frequent mention would be made of ‘warungs’ – simple roadside dining spots presenting their own specialty cuisine. Definitely not the modern restaurants that have borrowed and fused the word ‘warung’ into their name, simply for the sake of branding, these warungs are authentic. No doubt this list will cause debate but note that it is a breakaway from our list of trendy upscale restaurants, and it is more focused on those serving outright cheap and local food. We’ve also left out those that have shifted their market from local to tourists and somehow bloated their prices along the way.
These are all budget options with no fuss about fancy interior design, silver cutlery or cushioned chairs. If you don’t mind getting in line and practicing a bit of Indonesian (and Balinese!) body language in placing your order, then settling down in a non-air-conditioned space on plastic stools or wooden benches and tables, with toilet paper rolls for napkins, then you’re in for the ultimate local dining experience. The list will surely change in the future but here are our most popular 10 to date, each listed under Bali’s most favourite dishes to try while on holidays here.
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Jimbaran Seafood CafesJimbaran
Sunsets and seafood galore
Whenever you are craving for some local style seafood, head to this fishing villlage south of the Ngurah Rai International Airport, which also serves as one of the island's main panoramic beaches to enjoy a dinner against beautiful sunsets. All of the restaurants lining the coast offer menus focusing on seafood, and some even have live showcases where you can take your pick and have them cooked to your preferences with a selection of barbecue sauces. There are a total seventeen seafood cafes to choose from with candlelit tables set out on the sand. Some even have French Fries, fried rice, chop suey and other western and Asian cuisine on their menus for variety, and even expand their seafood selections to barracuda, mahi-mahi and kingfish. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 15:00 – 23:00
- Location: Jalan Four Seasons, Muaya Beach, Jimbaran
Kedonganan Seafood RestaurantsSouth Kuta
This coastal stretch just south of the traditional fishing village in Kedonganan is dotted with over a dozen different ‘cafes’ and restaurants, quite in a similar fashion to Jimbaran’s but with a slightly more refined setting. Pick one restaurant that suits your preference (you can check out each of their table setups along the beach), head up to their live displays and inspect the fresh seafood available. Some of the restaurants ‘compete’ by featuring live dance or music performances, ranging from bands onstage or strolling from table to table, to traditional Balinese dancers complemented by bamboo orchestra. Enjoy your feast with ocean views and your feet in the sand. These restaurants have an incredibly varied and fresh selection of seafood on offer, but popular dishes include grilled lobster or crab, served with steamed rice, sautéed water spinach and Jimbaran-style sambal sauces and dips on the side. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 16:00 – late (after 24:00)
- Location: Jalan Pantai Kedonganan, Kedonganan Village, South Kuta
Rumah Makan Kedaton KutaKuta
This Kuta branch of a local Balinese franchise, Rumah Makan Kedaton is where you can enjoy an upgraded version of a warung (roadside food stall) feel. The restaurant typically gets busy during lunch hours when locals working in nearby offices or hotels either rush in for a dine-in spot or queue up for takeaways. The common serving is ‘nasi campur’ mixed rice plate, in which you can pick from many different meats, salads, satays and fish from the display to add up to your plate. The end mix is checked at the counter and added to your bill. It’s a great way to experience the variety of one of Bali's most iconic and popular dishes.
- Opening Hours: 08:00–21:00
- Location: Jalan Raya Kuta No. 62/3, Kuta
- Tel: +62 (0)361 763 712
Warung Rujak Gula BaliDenpasar
Traditional snack haven in Denpasar
To Denpasar locals, this is one of the culinary treasures, one that answers their craving of heritage Balinese cuisine. Warung Rujak Gula Bali serves varieties of traditional favourites. Among them is rujak, a fruit salad that comes in different types but with typically spicey characteristics. Other delicacies are tipat cantok (similar to the dishes at Tipat Tahu Gerenceng), bulung or seaweed salad served with thin fish stock, and numerous Balinese desserts such as kolak or sweet gelatinous boiled bananas, bubur sumsum smooth rice porridge, daluman glass jelly drinks, and mashed steamed cassavas served with thick palm sugar-infused coconut milk.
- Opening Hours: 08:00 – 17:00
- Location: Jalan Merdeka II, Renon
- Tel: +62 (0)361 248 848
Warung Nasi Bali Men WetiSanur
Until noon only
A typical early morning sight on Pantai Segara in Sanur is a crowd patiently sitting around tables waiting for this small shop to open. This is Warung Nasi Bali Men Weti, where weekending locals and holidaying Jakartans love to brunch – on spicy nasi campur! Right by the coast, this simple warung has wooden benches and chairs around the footpath. Men Weti herself takes her time preparing her stall and in front of the hungry onlookers – she rules them. Her dishes commonly comprise Bali spiced roast chicken, betutu, deep-fried crispy chicken skin, Balinese chicken sate lilit, spicy chicken soup, half egg topped with hot tomato sambal, blanched cassava leaves, shredded coconut lawar mix, fried peanuts and a special sambal that consists of sliced shallots, chilli and salt. You’ll also have other selections of seafood to choose from. Closes by noon.
- Opening Hours: 08.00 - 12.00
- Location: Jl. Pantai Segara, Sanur
Nasi Ayam KedewatanUbud
On the outskirts of Ubud, there’s a local institution that serves nasi ayam or ‘chicken rice’, a similar dish to nasi campur. Nasi Ayam Kedewatan Bu Mangku is a favourite lunch stopovers among drivers, guides and staff of the neighbouring hotels in Kedewatan. Foreigners have acquired the taste and the place has caught on. There are many similar nasi ayam warungs along the Kedewatan road, but many locals refer to Nasi Ayam Kedewatan Bu Mangku as the original and the best. The place is clean and the Balinese owners have upgraded their venue to feature cosy and homey setups on their own traditional Balinese household compound. You won’t find this kind of authentic atmosphere elsewhere. Your standard rice dish consists of sauced chicken strips, deep-fried crackling entrails, half ‘pindang’ or sweet-boiled eggs, chicken saté, stir-fried snake beans in shredded coconut and the optional sambal.
- Opening Hours: 08:00 – 18:00
- Location: Jalan Raya Kedewatan No. 18, Ubud
- Tel: +62(0)361 974 795
Ayam Betutu GilimanukTuban
Juicy chicken and duck
Betutu is Bali’s pride, on par with the babi guling – whole roast pig. In olden times, with its arduous preparation and cooking process, these two dishes were meant only for religious purposes and temple anniversaries. Betutu comprises chicken or duck, stuffed, marinated and wrapped in banana leaves with rich Balinese spices, then slowly cooked covered in coal for hours. The meat is succulent, and easily slips off the bone. The main ingredients include almost all the spices known in the Balinese kitchen: chilli, pecans, onions, lemongrass, galangal, nutmeg, turmeric, lime leaves, ginger and coriander, a bit of sugar and salt, and other few variations – extremely spicy, so beware! A few local businesses have harnessed the technique to serve betutu on a daily basis. One of them is Ayam Betutu Gilimanuk, which has branches in Denpasar, Kuta and Nusa Dua. There are many other Balinese delights on its menu that you can try too, such as crispy fried paddy eels, ‘lawar’ and traditional ‘ares’ soup. After this fiery experience, you’ll find relief in their soothing coconut ice creams.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 22:00
- Location: Jl. Raya Tuban No. 2X, Tuban
- Tel: +62 (0)361 757 535
Warung Mak BengSanur
Legendary Sanur soup
For a typically Balinese bouillabaisse, ‘sop ikan’ locally, head to Sanur where there are several warungs that serve rice dishes with their tasty soup made from fresh catches of the day. First to come to mind is Warung Mak Beng, right before the sand on Jalan Hang Tuah. This warung opens late and closes early, offering a limited menu of fish soup, fried fish and an assortment of sambal, but draws many to its humble venue. The stock used is a spicy infusion, served hot. If that’s too much for you to handle, go for the fried selections. The queue usually gets long during lunchtime, and don’t be surprised to see people waiting for others before them to finish. The warung is a Sanur legend, being in business since 1941. With its longstanding success, Mak Beng has managed to retain its humble setting. The high spiciness levels match its sometimes hot setting – no air conditioners, only fans and seaside breezes. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 17:00
- Location: Jalan Hang Tuah 45, Sanur
- Tel: +62 (0)361 282 633
Sate Plecing ArjunaDenpasar
Sate Plecing Arjuna offers satay galore, run by a Balinese family of Hokkien-Chinese descent who owe their success to a secret family recipe. This little warung on the corner of Jalan Arjuna in Denpasar always has its roadside grills billowing, spreading the delicious aroma of cooked beef and chicken into the surroundings. The place always seems to be packed with diners during lunchtimes and over the weekends, with others patiently queuing for a free table. The little warung has become a Denpasar legend, with humble beginnings decades ago. What makes it special is the type of sauces it presents the satays with, namely a thin dash of soy and a blend of chillies, mixed together to form a sweet and spicy sauce. Servings of satays come with a plate of steamed rice and a bowl of meatball soup.
- Opening Hours: 08:00 – 17:00
- Location: Jalan Arjuna, Denpasar
Babi Guling Pak MalenSeminyak
Bali’s favourite dish – babi guling – whole roast pig. You might have heard about ‘the best babi guling’ in Ubud, but if you ask the locals, they’d just frown at how touristy and overpriced they have become. But there’s one that strikes a balance, and which locals often mention: Babi Guling Pak Malen is one of the best choices due to its strategic location in Seminyak, which is a touristy area, but nevertheless where it keeps its identity as a true warung, catering to locals and interested Westerners. Right on the traffic light corner of Seminyak’s Sunset Road, Pak Malen has become a landmark for hungry diners. Very busy at lunchtime, you’ll see the main display of the usual roast pig together with all the succulent trimmings. You can wait for your portion before heading to your seat, or sit down and let the wait staff take your order, along with a beer, soft drink, glass of tea, or crushed orange. Your plate comes with a serving of centrepiece rice, surrounded by pork meat and crispy crunchy skin (the best part!), pork sate, succulent sayur urap – snake bean and shredded coconut salad mix. Usually you also get a bowl of pork soup with young jackfruit slices, but they run out of stock even before lunchtime, with everything sold out by early afternoon.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 15:00
- Location: Jalan Sunset Road, Seminyak