Bali Food and Drink
You could say the battle's ongoing for the title of Bali's best or most innovative dining experience. Famed international, award-winning chefs are increasingly setting up their tables on the island and the knives have been sharpened. Whether wrapped in local banana leaves or served on the finest china, Bali has cast some special magic over its dining experiences. Selamat makan!
Beyond what's edible, when travelling to Bali it feels like you should just be handed a cocktail at arrivals. It’s Bali after all. Take a long, deep breath. The island has refined its offering of great bars and lounges, and the choice alone will make you dizzy. As with their fine dining, the local nightlife has evolved very creatively with a slew of stylish spots to soak up by the water's edge, among rice paddies or nestled high up on cliff edges as the waves crash below.
If the locals eat there, it must be good. The same applies in Bali. Local restaurants are called ‘warungs’, and the island’s unique flavours are a must try. The Balinese love chili but if you’re not a huge fan, request they go light on the ‘panas’ (heat). Warungs are almost every few metres. The best are in and around Ubud, Sanur (Warung Mak Beng), and in Denpasar. Must try local eats include nasi goreng (fried rice), mie goreng (noodles), babi guling (spit roasted pig), and lawar (combination of vegetables, coconut and minced meat mixed with rich herbs and spices).
The island’s hotspot for freshly caught seafood is on the beach in Jimbaran. A number of warungs line the shore with their fresh catches of the day on display. Just choose your piece of fish, let them know how you’d like it cooked and enjoy it in the moonlight with the sand between your toes.
Popular ‘Street Food Chef’ Will Meyrick, has worked from London to Sydney and throughout Southeast Asia. Falling in love with Bali, he launched the multiple award winning Sarong, producing Asian street food while combining the region’s unique spices and flavours, in a fine dining and lavish setting.
Number two in the Will Meyrick hat-trick comes in the form of a large warehouse conversion, tastefully transformed into a retro restaurant over two levels. Mamasan is where Meyrick delivers more Asian inspired creations in a relaxed, vintage style.
Tiger Palm is Meyrick's nod to the intense flavours and varieties of rich Malaysian cuisine, in a modern recreation of the famed Palm Court at Penang's Eastern and Oriental Hotel. The restaurant exudes the tropical colonial charm of the region, along with some of its best food.
Australia’s entrepreneurial chef, Aki Kotzamichalis, opened Saigon Street in 2015, an authentic Vietnamese restaurant at fine dining central, Jl Petitenget. The fresh flavours of Vietnam along with his unique and creative touch, has made this one of the island’s most popular hotspots.
Just north of Seminyak, La Laguna is a must, and not just for the glorious tapas. Wander the stone path lined with authentic old gypsy caravans, into a lush beachside garden where lanterns hang from the trees. La Laguna has a romance and character that will knock your socks off.
Bursting with colour, in true Mexican style, Motel Mexicola in Seminyak is another of Bali’s unique, shock to all the senses, hangouts. Well known Mexican chef, Alejandro Urbina infuses traditional Mexican flavours with a contemporary touch, and have made the humble margarita an art form.
Rock Bar, Ayana Resort
Ayana’s Rock Bar has become legendary. Riding a small, outdoor lift down to the rocks, the bar is a sanctuary hugged by rolling waves from the Indian ocean. DJs have their own rocky turret to serenade the sunset, your loved one and the setting sun.
UNIQUE Rooftop Bar
Neighbouring Ayana, the Rimba eco-resort is set back from the cliffs, with towering 360 degree views over a hand-planted forest, and the sea beyond. Head up a few storeys to UNIQUE; a pool club by day and stylish sunset lounge by night.
Possibly one of the hottest drinking holes in Bali right now, La Favela feels like it’s been dipped into a rainforest and transported to Seminyak. Retro design, hand picked antiques and an old hippy Volkswagen complete the vintage feel, mixing extremely well with Bali’s hipster crowds.
This Spanish venue quite frankly has a mind-blowing view. 50 metres atop a dramatic sheer cliff in Uluwatu, El Kabron is a ‘Cliff Club’, should you yearn an alternative to beach clubs. Channeling the whitewashes of Santorini, apart from the gorgeous food, great sangrias and the aqua blue pool, the sea and sky are hypnotising.
Grab your thongs, your swimmers and spend a casual afternoon with locals and expats, sipping Bintangs at Old Man’s on Pantai (Beach) Batu Bolong. Join the beer pong games, sing along to great playlists and enjoy a lazy afternoon, ending with another killer sunset.
It might be a great spot to surf, but Single Fin is just a great spot. The three story deck bar overlooking the rocking waves of Uluwatu has a pulsing energy that never stops. Go Sundays for some serious sunset sessions.
For true wine and liquor connoisseurs, there’s nothing quite like Vin+ in Seminyak. The huge, soaring bamboo structure is hard to miss. There’s no sunset to speak of, but the temperature-controlled wine room housing some of the world’s most exclusive labels and vintages makes up for it.
Single Malt Bar
Quite unique in Bali, the Single Malt Bar at IZE Seminyak has an enormously well-stocked selection of whiskey. On the second level of Meja Kitchen, the bar has a real gentlemen’s club feel, with rustic brick walls plastered with old black and white photos.