ViaVia is an outstanding one-stop shop for Yogyakarta's travellers. Want convincing Western food? Want authentic Indonesian food? Want vegetarian choices? Want to organize a tour or to find out travel information? Want to join a cultural class? Want a beer, a glass of Australian wine or a cocktail made with the local spirit arak? Want to do all this while using free WiFi and being sporadically entertained by amazingly talented street buskers or local jazz musicians? ViaVia is your place. Very accurately billing itself as a traveller's cafe, ViaVia is part of an international chain set up with the goal of promoting ethical tourism and community engagement. The staff are super friendly and will go out of their way to help you enjoy your stay in the city they call home.
Crowded with locals and close to the Sultan's Palace, Gudeg Yu Djum is one of the best spots to try the Yogyakarta speciality, nasi gudeg (young jackfruit stewed in palm sugar, usually served with egg, chicken, tofu and some spicy buffalo skin). In fact, there's nothing else on the menu, besides some sugary drinks to wash down your sweet meal. The eatery is a utilitarian place where people come, eat their gudeg, then leave, mostly due to there often being a crowd outside hovering for an empty table. There is also a quieter secondary outlet in Yogya's north, attached to the house where the family manufacture their specialty in staggering quantities — according to their Facebook page, they use between 50 to 150 chickens on average a day and between 2,000 and 4,000 eggs.
Ayam Goreng Nyonya Suharti is one of the most famous spots for Yogyakarta's special fried chicken, or ayam goreng. It may seem weird that the main outlet is on the way out of town on the road to the airport, but that's because it's so popular that locals buy the chicken in bulk before flying out to visit their relatives elsewhere in Indonesia. But this is an easy spot to visit, especially if you are on the way to or from the airport, Solo or the Prambanan temple. Plus, it's worth the trek... no Western fried chicken chain will ever be good enough for you after this.
If you are wandering along Jalan Malioboro, you will never want for a becak (pedicab) and you will also never go hungry. The bustling area is crowded with street eateries, serving up everything from the local speciality nasi gudeg, bakso (meatball) noodle soups, nasi goreng (fried rice) and more. Directly outside the Bringharjo Market, especially early in the morning and at lunch time, several stands serve up a mix of noodles, vegetables and meats on a banana leaf for around Rp 8,000. Local sweets and icy cold coconut drinks are also available.
If you don't have time to travel to Solo to sample local specialties such as nasi liwet, Pecel Solo is the next best thing. Located next to the Hyatt Regency Hotel in the city's northeast, yet value priced, Pecel Solo is beautifully decorated in a traditional style with large wooden tables and, perhaps quizzically for those who are newly arrived in Central Java, lots of birdcages and bicycles. There's also a tranquil garden area. The food is distinctly Solonese and freshly prepared. Don't leave without trying the es kelapa muda (young ice coconut drink), which comes served with the beautifully caramel-flavored local coconut sugar, gula jawa. It's one of the best we've had.
Known as Yogyakarta's longest running Chinese restaurant, Sintawang serves up a huge array of seafood dishes in a somewhat kitsch dining room that clearly hasn't been revamped in a long time. However, good food needs no frills. The hit on the menu during our visit was definitely the soft shell crab in butter sauce. There's also a surprisingly extensive vegetarian menu.
A vegetarian and vegan heaven, tucked away in a tropical garden with tables and lesehan (sitting on the floor at low tables on mats) style dining, Milas Vegetarian Restaurant is the place to get a health fix. With a range of Western and Indonesian style options, including curries, burgers and salads made with fresh organic veggies grown in the restaurant's own garden, it's guilt free, especially since the restaurant is also used to offer training programs for street kids. The fresh juices and organic coffees are also fantastic value and at the on-site shop, it's also possible to buy homemade muesli and cookies and fresh produce.
Nestled deep in the lanes of cheap accommodation off Jalan Sosrowijayan, Bedhot Resto is an excellent and deservedly popular option for a drink or a meal. With free WiFi and bright murals splashed across the walls, this is one funky little bar and eatery. The huge menu includes an array of vegetarian options and Indonesian dishes, as well as some Western favourites such as pasta and pizza. However, the breakfast menu is where the Western dishes really shine, with toast, cereal, jaffles, eggs and bacon and more. Happy hour runs from 5pm to 7pm, with large bottles of Bintang beer costing only Rp 20,000. There's also arak cocktails on the menu. Also, if you order a day in advance and need a fresh travel story for your emails home, you can try a snake curry here.
Ayam Goreng Nyonya Suharti: Jalan Sucipto No. 208, Yogyakarta. T: (0274) 484 522. Open daily.
Bedhot Resto: Jl Sosrowijayan Gang II, Yogyakarta. Open daily. http://www.bedhots.com
Gudeg Yu Djum: Jl Wijilan No. 31, Yogyakarta. Open mid-morning until gudeg runs out. Second location Jl Kaliurang (Selokan Mataram) KM5, Yogyakarta
Milas Vegetarian Restaurant: Jl Prawirotaman IV/127, Yogyakarta. T: (0274) 742 3399. Open 3pm-10pm Tue-Fri, 12pm-10pm Sat &Sun. Closed Mon.
Pecel Solo: Jl Ngaglik Sleman No. 52, Yogyakarta. T: (0274) 866 588
Sintawang: Jl Magelang No. 9, Yogyakarta. T: (0274) 562 901
ViaVia Cafe: Jl Prawirotaman No. 31, Yogyakarta. T: (0274) 386 557 Open daily till late. http://www.viaviacafe.com/