Seminyak offers an incredible array of dining experiences, so pack your appetite. Among the options? Dressing in your best for a multi-coursed gastronomical treat (Mejekawi); fiery Sulawesi nasi campur (Warung Sulawesi); pizza by an indoor fountain reminiscent of Capri in the ’60s (Da Maria); kim chi-inspired burgers (Bo$$ Man) and so very much more. At higher-end, popular places like Mamasan, Sarong, Teatro Gastroteque and Shanghai Baby it’s a good idea to book ahead as far as possible.
When you think “Seminyak”, you may well think “beach bar”. Seminyak is where you pop on your kaftan, sunnies and strappy sandals to get comfy on a lounger or a bar stool for the show that happens each dusk along the west-facing beach. Be warned that the more expensive places will often have a minimum consumption charge for using their daybeds.
Though it’s more than just a beach bar, Ku De Ta is Seminyak’s sunset-spot par excellence. Stunningly situated overlooking an enticing stretch of beach, in the right light, it’s close to unbeatable. Drinks aren’t cheap but they are imaginative, and service around those iconic red umbrellas is always swift. Linger for dinner, too, if you like, at their main restaurant or cutting-edge Mejekawi.
A little further north and more ostentatious still is Potato Head Beach Club, which also offers a sublime beachfront setting, comprehensive array of cocktails, a large pool with swim-up bar and several great options for dining into the evening. Enjoy the dramatic entrance through the semi-circular building by architect Andra Martin comprising old louvred, mismatched shutters from Java, a delightful mixture of whimsy and cleverness. DJs and concerts occasionally take over the green lawn, with restaurants flanking the sides and the foam of Seminyak beach’s waves frothing just metres away from the infinity-edge pool. The cocktail list is comprehensive and compelling.
One of our favourite spots is 2016-renovated but still classily modest Frangipani Bar, attached to La Lucciola. Gliding waiters with flowers tucked behind their ears serve up delectable cocktails with finger food as you sit facing the sprawling lawn, waves crashing along the beach over the gentle rise at the front.
Back towards Kuta, Cocoon boasts an inviting pool with day beds and deck chairs outside, while the two-floor restaurant inside is all smooth concretes, curves, natural materials and gleaming mirrors under twirling fans. The Western menu lives up to the flash expectations the decor creates.
Don’t have loads of cash? Don’t fear: Seminyak offers plenty of beach bars where you can sip a drink while your feet are actually in the sand, including ma and pa businesses with perhaps a dozen deckchairs and a half-dozen umbrellas rented out by the hour or day. As the sun drops, trade shifts from deckchairs to drinks. We’ve had a beer with Ketut and Wayan, who’ve been working the same stretch of sand, where Kuta morphs into Seminyak, since 1997. With at least a dozen “bars” in rapid succession heading north into Seminyak proper, the vibe is “let’s chug the beers down and have a good time”.
Raymond’s, not far from where busy Jalan Double Six empties out onto the beach, is wedged in among a mass of deckchair-cum-dives. Raymond is indeed a nice guy and was near mortally offended when we got up to leave after one drink. Further along again are more Raymondesque “bars”, each with its own distinct crowd and vibe, and eventually you’ll find Crystal Palace, where the live bands are usually really good. Excellent staff, good prices and an ideal people-watching position make this a super spot as the sun really sinks.
Brightly coloured bean bags are all the rage along the sands here, and Champlung adds Balinese-style umbrellas with dingle dangles making for great sunset photos. Drink prices are moderate and staff friendly. Spanish La Plancha is a beach-bar fave, and is generally always packed. Service can be lacklustre, but the setting is pretty and the food a higher quality than most joints along here (with higher prices to match). Juice Park has most of its seating off the beach, but you can grab one of the lazy pillows out front. Cold drinks and a less hectic feel than its more famous neighbour, make this an appealing option, though we didn’t love their calamari.
Cocoon Beach Club: Jalan Double Six, Seminyak; T: (0361) 731 266; http://cocoon-beach.com/; open daily 10:00-24:00.
Frangipani Bar, La Lucciola: Jalan Petitenget (behind the temple, on the beach); T: (0361) 730 838; open daily.
Juice Park: Seminyak Beach: T: (0361) 361 5900; open daily 10:00-23:00.
Ku De Ta: Jalan Kayu Aya 9, Seminyak; T: (0361) 736 969; open daily.
La Plancha: Seminyak Beach; T: (0878) 6141 6310; https://www.facebook.com/planchabali/; open daily 07:00-01:00.
Potato Head Beach Club: Jalan Petitenget 51B, Seminyak; T: (0361) 473 7979; www.ptthead.com/#bali; open daily 10:00-02:00.
Modern Indonesian is the absolute flavour of the month in Bali, as of 2016. Stunning Merah Putih is among those that kicked off the trend honouring Indonesia’s fabulous cuisine, and remains an essential stop if you want to get to know the archipelago’s cuisines. They offer traditional dishes from far-flung islands, as well as modern takes on them, in a unique glass cathedral-like setting — though don’t miss a drink in their sleek bar to begin or end the night. Try the Sulawesi prawn and snapper curry, the Lombok spring chicken and the Sumatran duck leg to cover just three of Indonesia’s 17,000 islands. In 2016 executive chef Kieran Morland opened Sangsaka, an intimate 40-seat restaurant focusing on modern Indonesian—we loved our dinner here, particularly the pork belly salad with kemangi and green papaya.
For a more intimate vibe, head to classy Bambu, set over a pool and in a two-storey open-air building right on Petitenget, though you wouldn’t know it once you’re inside. From the people behind La Lucciola, the standards are just as high, and the modern take on Indonesian classics simply delicious.
Mejekawi, upstairs at Ku De Ta, is a sort of laboratory-cum-tasting kitchen, with five or 12-course special tasting menus focusing on local produce. The menus are genuinely interesting — bring your molecular gastronomy fan here for a real treat at the lovely beachside setting (though tables are inside). Famed American pastry chef Will Goldfarb is the brains behind the avant-garde desserts. Prices are high for Bali, but for the amazing, world-class quality on offer, they remain very reasonable.
Teatro Gastroteque offers an imaginative degustation menu from Indonesian executive chef Mandif M. Warokka, who makes no secret of the fact he wants his restaurant to win a Michelin star. We reckon he’ll get it one of these days. Prices are a little high and the setting is not quite as smoothly finished as the other spots mentioned here, but he did outfit the place himself! Service is impeccable.
Chandi too takes its inspiration from traditional Indonesian dishes, but puts their own spin on them. The focus is on organic, locally produced food and they work closely with Big Tree Farms. This is a stylish spot, with good-value tasting menus available as well.
Moving towards the more traditional Indonesian joints, where point and pick is the norm: One of our favourite Seminyak warungs is Warung Sulawesi. The rustic garden-set restaurant offers a range of yummy point-and-pick traditional Sulawesi and Javanese dishes at bargain prices. Choose from red, yellow or white rice then simply point at what you’d like to try: curries, stir-fries, sate, fritters, noodles and so on, in combinations using fish, squid, prawns, beef and lots of tofu and tempeh. It’s a comprehensive selection if you’d like to try a range of dishes in one sitting — and it’s really cheap. Pull up a wooden seat and enjoy your meal surrounded by blooming purple, pink and white orchids. (Nearby Kolega, another of our faves, closed as of late 2016.)
One of the most popular Indonesian joints along Raya Seminyak is red-signed Warung Ocha, on the corner of Jalan Plawa. Warung Ocha does a huge range of a la carte Western food, but come for the point-and-pick and a la carte Indonesian dishes and perhaps be tempted by the range of desserts on display too. The atmosphere is always bustling, so the food should be fresh. Just down Jalan Plawa around 100 metres on the right is Taman Bambu, another great little warung, this one with more of an authentic Indonesian vibe. It again offers an array of point-and-pick dishes, but the food here seems to be made with a bit more love and care; the sambal should bring real, cleansing tears to your eyes. For a hole-in-the-wall warung, it’s a rather pretty little spot, too, looking on to a bit of greenery out the back, though possibly not quite the bamboo garden the name may have you hoping for.
Heading down to Jalan Laksmana, or Eat Street, fancy Western is the norm but a few old-school joints can still be found. Warung Aneka Rasa serves up your usual array of mostly Javanese dishes, point-and-pick style, for an absolute song. For those a bit nervous of buying meals from roving kaki lima, you can also buy bakso and soto ayam from large silver vats at the back of the restaurant, too. Warung Murah, which translates, literally, as cheap roadside restaurant, is actually better than roadside, being a proper three-walled restaurant (next to Cafe Bali), but the food mentality here is the same: fast and fresh. Decor is old school, meaning no frills, but it’s clean and spacious, and set back far enough that the traffic noise recedes (at least a little). Choose between ordering from the menu or you can simply point and pick at dishes in the window and mini-bainmaries — don’t be shy, lift those lids to see what’s on offer underneath. On the menu is a range of Asian food, with an emphasis on local — Balinese, Indonesian and Chinese. This is local food made foreigner-friendly without too big a markup in price, and without going too easy on the spice either. The sambal really hits the spot and tear ducts.
We haven’t yet tried Nasi Ayam Kedewatan Ibu Mangku’s Seminyak incarnation (we are fans of the original Ubud one), but tucked into a garden along Kayu Jati (just down from Grocer and Grind) it’s a great option for some Balinese nasi campur ayam in an otherwise foreigner-heavy ghetto.
We are fans though of Warung Babi Guling Pak Malen, which relocated a few hundred metres south along busy Sunset Road in 2016 but presumably still serves out its excellent nasi campur babi guling (suckling pig). This is no-nonsense Balinese fare best enjoyed with a Teh Botol on the side. Don’t believe the hype about Ibu Oka’s in Ubud -- it’s just as good here.
Everyone knows Made’s Warung, which has been around since 1969. The outlet in Seminyak is a very tourist-oriented affair and it does feel as if you’re eating in a bit of a tourist trap — literally, surrounded by shops and a gazillion tables of other tourists in what feels like an open-air food hall. We think prices are inflated for an experience that isn’t much different from other local restaurants serving similar food for a fraction of the price. We’d skip it, but it may suit larger groups where you need to keep lots of different people happy, as the menu includes Indonesian favourites plus Thai, Japanese and international selections. Despite plenty of waitstaff, service can be sluggish; expect a live band, perhaps singing "Wind Beneath My Wings".
Bambu: Jalan Petitenget 198, Seminyak; T: (0361) 846 9797; open daily 18:00-23:00.
Chandi: Jalan Laksmana 72, Seminyak; T: (0361) 731 060; www.chandibali.com; open daily 12:00-24:00.
Mejekawi: Jalan Kayu Aya 9, Seminyak; T: (0361) 736 969; www.kudeta.com/mejekawi.html.
Merah Putih: Jalan Petitenget No.100x, Seminyak; T: (0361) 846 5950; merahputihbali.com; open daily 12:00-15:00, 17:30-01:00.
Nasi Ayam Kedewatan Ibu Mangku: Jalan Kayu Jati No. 12, Seminyak, Bali; T: (0361) 308 3008; open daily.
Sangsaka: Jalan Pangkung Sari 100x, Seminyak; T: (0812) 3695 9895; sangsakabali.com; open daily 18:00-24:00.
Taman Bamboo: Jalan Plawa No. 10, Seminyak; T: (0361) 888 1567; open daily 09:00-22:00.
Teatro Gastroteque: Jalan Kayu Aya; T: (0851) 0170 0078; teatrobali.com; open daily.
Warung Aneka: Rasa Jalan Laksmana/Kayu Aya 21, Seminyak.
Warung Babi Guling Pak Malen: Sunset Rd, Seminyak; T: (0361) 745 2968.
Warung Ocha: Jalan Raya Seminyak No. 52; T: (0361) 736 222; open daily 07:00-22:30.
Warung Sulawesi: 200 Jalan Petitenget, Seminyak; T: (0361) 746 3052.
So many cafes, so little time! Seminyak is awash in beautiful cafes serving up fabulous coffees and teas, and usually fab meals as well. A lot of these spots also fall into the “modern international category” but we’ve popped them here as they are comfortable spots to just have a quick refuel if you need it.
Eat Street, or Jalan Laksmana, is packed with cafes. Revolver Boutique Coffee House, just off Jalan Laksmana, arguably serves the best house blend coffee in Bali — at least, that’s what we are arguing. (The music’s always great, too.) Pair a caffeine hit with slow-roasted tomatoes, smashed avocado basil and olive oil on sourdough toast (the “Smith & Wesson”) and you’ll be ready to hit the waves for a few hours. The vintage industrial vibe is hip but the number of tables is limited; their second outlet on Petitenget, just opposite Gourmet Cafe, Baby Revs, is even tinier.
Cafe Bali is one of the best choices along this strip when you’ve got a crowd in tow to keep happy, from breakfast through to dinner. Grab one of the long tables out the back next to the dreamy little pool fringed with vibrant Ganeshas looped in beads; it’s a real little haven, a breezy blend of sophisticated and serene. Think whitewashed wood, an eclectic collection of mirrors, some of the most creative light fittings you’ll see on the island (done by Robert Nollet and co), a Moroccan-inspired lounge area, flower petals in silver bowls and lovely loos as well. The menu is eclectic, with a small range of light-ish Western and Asian dishes done well.
Earth Cafe is the go-to spot for health nuts, anyone with dietary restrictions, or anyone who just loves fabulous fresh food. All your macrobiotic and superfood needs will be deliciously met here. We love their dragon salad, but really, there’s nothing on their menu we haven’t liked. Get your seitan/tofu/quionoa fix.
Exposed brick walls, antique decorative telephones, heavy wooden floors and gorgeously done bathrooms — sort of 1950s French industrial-style Bistrot is just lovely. The menu is fairly classic French/international focused but they also offer breakfasts and simply coffee. Nearby Cafe Zucchini at Zuttion has just a few tables, but manages to be welcoming and cute without being cutesy, thanks to replica floral oil paintings on the whitewashed rattan walls, for instance. It’s not the sort of place to linger, but it’s definitely worth a look in, particularly for brekkies and refuelling stops.
Sisterfields is a great breezy breakfast, lunch and coffee option located in the little Seminyak street cutting between Laksmana and Grocer and Grind. The feel is somewhat Bondi meets Bali, with the touches of turquoise and white, cool tiled floor underfoot and blonde-wood tables. Sit streetside and be seen, head indoors for air-con bliss, or out back into the little umbrella-covered courtyard with a cute vertical garden. Breakfasts blend into brunch and lunch with the full menu available all day. Or just head to Grocer and Grind, where the great range of international dishes hit the spot after eating one too many nasi gorengs. Sit in air-con comfort or suffer the Balinese heat and humidity but be seen in the open-air half of the restaurant.
Garden-set Titik Temu is an excellent find tucked in behind the strip of shops next to Sisterfields. It’s a breath of fresh air in this otherwise super-congested area of Seminyak, set around a lawn and with innovative wooden steps, amphitheatre-style, climbing up at the back in the open-air. Better yet: the coffee is superb and the food solid too (the corn-fritters were a very generous portion for the price).
Competing on the coffee front is Expat Roasters, right next to Sisterfields. This breezy operation offers just a few tables and focuses on, as the name suggests, really, really good coffee -- though we had the matcha, with a little jam donut ball that hit the spot for a quick pick-me-up.
Up on where Raya Basangkasa connects through to Jalan Raya Kerobokan you’ll find gorgeous Souq, which offers fabulous homewares and clothing but also doubles as a cafe, with Toby’s Estate coffee. Grab a herb omelette bacon and egg baguette with their house-made tomato sauce, or an organic pork sausage roll to keep you going. The focus is on ethical, organic produce and frankly there’s nothing on their menu we don’t find appealing.
A little out of the way down south on Jalan Drupadi, Kreol Kitchen is worth a mention and a diversion. All about comfort food, lovely Annick serves up comfort food and fabulous sweet treats in vintage retro-style surrounds. Think house-made sodas of lime and ginger, or rosella and vanilla, with dishes like slow-cooked chilli pork with black beans and coconut chutney, or a tali platter of eggplant and pea curry with various accompaniments. A collection of Tupperware, teapots, cutlery, copy Royal Doulton crockery and bits and pieces collected by the owner over the years lends a creative air.
Jalan Petitenget is a sort-of continuation of Eat Street and offers plenty more distractions. Beautiful Biku, set in a 150-year-old joglo, is the go-to spot for the best teas on the island. The food menu is top-notch as well and affordable — this is the sort of place you can go with a group and not panic about how much your portion of the bill is going to come to at the end of the night. Run by Australian Jero Asri Kerthyasa — who was Jane Gillespie before she married a Balinese prince in the 1970s — Biku offers more than 20 tea selections from around Asia. They do lovely high teas. The food is styled as being “tropical comfort” — it’s a fitting description. It’s kid-friendly, too, plus antiques and other little treasures are for sale around the outskirts of the restaurant — it’s worth a browse, with lovely ceramics and cempaka perfume among the offerings. A branch of the excellent Ganesha Bookshop is nestled into a corner, so you can browse in between courses.
Angelita Tea Salon & Patisserie is in a somewhat unlikely location near the Lio Square lights. It’s interior is a little on the fussy side, but the pastries -- they know what they are doing here! We tried the salted caramel eclair and it was heavenly. We can’t vouch for the tea but the coffee was superb.
Sea Circus is a breakfast favourite of ours with a great range of choices (they also serve great meals into the evening). You won’t get much in the way of beach views, but the whimsical decor and laidback vibe — sprays of pretty flowers, free water served in glass bottles and always good music — could be just the ticket to ease your way into the day; we love the typed quote of the day and frangipani that comes with your coffee. We also love the name of their virgin Bloody Mary: a Bloody Shame.
A cheaper than sunset time to visit Ku De Ta is for brunch. It’s still not the most affordable way to start the day, but the food, the impeccable staff and unbeatable beachside location — the surf is so close you’ll get the impression the surfers are about to glide onto the sand and continue running to a table to smoothly pick up a latte — make starting the day here a very good idea.
Gourmet Cafe and the Bali Catering Company—both run by the same gang behind Metis—have outlets along Petitenget, serving healthy meals and fab coffee, with attention to detail on the food front really showing. Great pastries, chilled air-con and swift service make these popular expat options.
Pison doesn’t look like much from the outside, but inside it’s a double-storey, industrial-ist vibe cafe serving excellent food and even better coffee. The smashed avocado with a poached egg actually comes with two poached eggs and a great salsa on the side. The staff are super-friendly and the pastries tempting, too.
The original Cafe Organic outlet (there’s also one in Canggu) is also on Petitenget and offers a really fantastic range of vegetarian and vegan cuisine—it’s one of those menus where it all sounds so great you don’t even realise there’s no meat there. We highly recommend the sushi bowl of brown rice, edamame, seaweed, black sesame, tofu, cucumber, pickled ginger, avocado and soy.
Jalan Batubelig, a spur off Jalan Petitenget, also offers a smattering of great spots for coffee and more. Chilled-out Watercress is a top choice, with fabulous salads in particular — (Revolver supplies their coffee, so you know they’re doing something right). Set in an airy tiled building with beautiful shabby chic design touches, it makes a great pitstop for breakfast or lunch, and transforms into a softly lit intimate restaurant for dinners, or a nightcap. Their latte glasses hand-carried from Australia (it’s Australian-run) because they couldn’t find the right size glasses in Indonesia. Burgers (tempeh, mahi mahi or chicken), salads and sandwiches — again, very creatively put together — are available, you can point and pick a nasi campur, and there’s also a specials board. The pastries and baked goods come from Monsieur Spoon...
Monsieur Spoon tucked down on Umalas 2 has, hands down, the best buttery croissants and seductive tarts on the island, if not Indonesia. They have great sandwiches too — on bagels, baguettes, focaccia, sourdough or ciabatta — and decent coffee.
Nook Bali is set overlooking some of Seminyak’s last easily accessible paddy, on Umalas 1. While it’s become too busy for our tastes, with service and friendliness slackening as they have enlarged, it is a reasonable spot to dine by the rice fields. Expect Indonesian food as well as a few Western options, in basic but stylishly simple surrounds. The restaurant is open, with floaty curtains and repurposed white baskets for light fittings. Green cushions, whitewashed tables and chairs and polished cement banquettes make for a relaxed vibe that’s a distinct step up from your usual roadside warung.
Enormously popular with the Jakarta crowd in particular is Gusto Gelato and Caffe, which serves up some of Bali’s very best gelato in a variety of tempting flavours, including plenty of locally inspired ones. Select your flavours from a range of house-made sorbets and ice creams, such as chocolate chilli, cinnamon, thyme, kemangi, grilled sesame, dragonfruit, soursop and more everyday flavours like vanilla, chocolate and pistachio. We adore tamarillo and ginger; salted caramel with yoghurt is a divine choice as well. Relax at a table in air-con, or head to the garden outside with tables and umbrellas for shade. They also offer good Molinari coffee plus brioches and tartes au sucre.
Just down the road from Gusto’s you’ll find Housewives on Fire, a super-chilled spot serving fantastic coffee and very solid breakfasts and lunches. The whitewashed joglo also houses an array of eclectic homewares and clothing. This is a fun, garden-set spot where you can take a breather from more hectic Seminyak found on the other side of Sunset Road.
Baby Revolver: Jalan Petitenget 102, Seminyak; T: (0851) 0244 4468; revolverespresso.com; open daily 07:00-18:00.
Biku: Jl Raya Petitenget 888, Seminyak; T: (0361) 8570888; bikubali.com; open daily 08:00-23:00.
Cafe Bali: Jalan Laksmana (near Ultimo); T: (0361) 736 484; open daily 07:00-23:30.
Cafe Organic: Jalan Petitenget No. 99 X, Seminyak (next to Spring); T: (0821) 4648 9669; www.facebook.com/cafeorganicbali/; open daily 07:00-16:00.
Earth Cafe: Jalan Laksmana 99; T: (0361) 736 645; www.downtoearthbali.com/.
Expat Roasters: Jalan Kayu Cendana, Block C003 (next to Sisterfields), Seminyak; T: (0361) 738454; expatroasters.com; open daily 07:00-17:00.
Gourmet Cafe: Jalan Petitenget 77A; T: (0361) 8475 115; www.balicateringcompany.com; open daily 07:00-21:00.
Gusto Gelato & Caffe: 46B Jalan Mertanadi, Seminyak; T: (0851) 005 221 90; www.gusto-gelateria.com; open daily 10:00-22:00.
Housewives on Fire: Jalan Mertanadi 22xx; T: (0361 737 374); www.housewivesonfire.com; open daily 07:00-18:00.
Kreol Kitchen: Jalan Drupadi 11 no. 56, Seminyak; T: (0361) 738 514; kreolkitchen.com; open Mon-Sat 08:00-22:00.
Ku De Ta: Jalan Kayu Aya 9; T: (0361) 736 969; www.kudeta.com; open daily. Nook Bali: Jalan Umalas 1 - on the road connecting Petitenget, Bali; T: (0813) 3806 0060; open daily 10:00-22:00.
Pison: Jalan Petitenget 19, Seminyak; T: (0812) 383 4986; open daily 08:00-23:00.
Revolver Boutique Coffee House: Jalan Kayu Aya (Jalan Oberoi) #3, Seminyak; T: (0361) 788 4968; revolverespresso.com; open daily 07:00-18:00.
Sea Circus: 22 Jalan Kayu Aya/Oberoi Road, Seminyak; T: (0361) 738 667; seacircus-bali.com; open daily 08:00-24:00.
Sisterfields: Jalan Kayu Cendana 7, Seminyak; T: (0811) 386 0507; www.sisterfieldsbali.com; open daily 07:00-17:00.
Souq: 10 Jalan Basangkasa, Seminyak; T: (0822) 3780 1817; www.souqstore.co; open Mon-Sat 08:30-18:00, Sun 08:30-18:00.
The Bistrot: Jalan Laksmana (opposite Coco supermarket); T: (0361) 738 308; www.bistrot-bali.com; open daily 07:30-23:00.
Titik Temu: Jalan Kayu Cendana 1, Seminyak; T: (0821) 4411 2489; www.facebook.com/titiktemubali/; open daily 07:00-19:00.
Scotsman Will Meyrick helped make Asian food in Bali sexy to the masses by opening sumptuous Sarong and following it up with gorgeous Mamasan. Sarong boasts sumptuous decor — sweeping curtains, ornate mirrors, dark woods and flickering candles — with a menu offering modern takes on Asian cuisine. The Southeast/South Asian menu is street-food inspired, and any meal should begin with a few of their betel leaf starters. This is a fine spot for a special-occasion meal.
Mamasan has more of a bistro, in and out feel, but also serves up delicious food that traverses Asia. Sip on a cocktail in their elegant upstairs bar and take your time reading the enticing menu — Vietnamese grilled minced pork belly wrapped in betel leaves with nouc cham might get you started. If you can’t get a table, you can order from the menu in the bar upstairs and eat there.
Bo and Bun bills itself as “Asian” and though it traverses the continent, the focus is on Thailand and Vietnam. Set in a beautifully outfitted shopfront — think polished cement and smart banquettes, French bistro style — on Raya Basangkasa, the menu features bun bao xao, pad Thai, fish cakes, banh mi thit, and rice paper rolls. This is a good pitstop while shopping the strip. From the same people comes funky, bright and on-trend Lantern, which also serves a range of pan-Southeast Asian classics, such as pho, laksa, massaman and pad Thai. They do a good job, particularly with their Vietnamese dishes — the pho is excellent, while the banh mi and chicken salad aren’t bad either. The decor is inviting, with lamps at a jaunty angle lighting up the outdoor dining area at night. There’s a bit of street noise, so there’s certainly a bit of authenticity going on when you’re eating the street-food inspired dishes.
Another option for imaginative Asian food is Ginger Moon on Laksmana — the surroundings are not that fancy, but the food is consistently solid.
For Indian, Queens Tandoor is a long-running reliable choice, with several outlets in Bali. Prices are a little higher than what you might expect to pay for Indian, which seems to be a splurge in Bali. For Chinese, Happy Chappy gets good reports for its Chinese, which seems more Australian-Chinese than Chinese-Chinese — think honey sesame seed prawns, lemon crispy chicken and chow mein noodles. We’ve only had a drink at higher-end Shanghai Baby, but my, it’s stunning. Think black, sleek lines, single orchids, polished concrete and chandeliers. Food is modern Cantonese — we can’t wait to try it.
Saigon Street offers a modern-take on Vietnamese food in bustling, mint-green surrounds. The feel is more modern Australian with modish, colourful nods to Saigon than authentic Vietnam -- Australian chef Geoff Lindsay of Dandelion fame is behind the menu, Alex Zabotto-Bentley the design -- and the result is fresh, fun and delicious. Meals are, of course, family style, with a menu that encourages grazing; for starters, think crab in coconut, chilli and lime with crackers, la lot leaf with caramelised pork and cashews, pineapple and hot mint; tiger prawn spring rolls with ginger nuoc cham, then mains move to dishes like pho and pork belly simmered with caramel and pepper in a clay pot. While the feel is cheerful, prices are not cheap and portions veer to the small side.
Xich Lo is a little out-of-the-way warung off Raya Kerobokan serving good Vietnamese standards. It’s not much at all to look at, but it overlooks rice paddy and the food is some of the best Vietnamese you’ll find in this corner of Bali.
Ryoshi is Bali’s best home-grown Japanese restaurant, with four outlets (plus Sakanaya on Sunset Rd). Their large quirky Seminyak outlet has an open-air upstairs and air-con downstairs, and as at all the outlets offers a large selection of fantastic sushi, sashimi and noodles. Sushi in Bali doesn’t get too much better than it is here and the prices are pretty good to match. Upstairs often hosts live entertainment — check out the fantastic Rio Sidik Quintent, usually on Monday nights.
Dahana has been refurbished and is now a sleek, modern operation, but the pool and a solid Japanese menu at reasonable prices remains. We like this as a lunchtime spot, but come evening the atmosphere is good too. Susheria in Umalas is Bali’s — wait for it — Mexican Japanese fusion restaurant. We’re not sure how many are in the wings waiting to open, but for now they have the market cornered. We have friends who love this spot and others who don’t get it. We thought it was reasonable, if a little pricey for the surrounds. The lighting at evening set in the last bit of paddy in Seminyak/Umalas is quite special. We haven’t tried Sushimi Seminyak yet, but it gets fab reviews.
Bo and Bun: Jalan Raya Basangkasa No. 26, Seminyak; T: (0859) 3549 3484; eatcompany.co/boandbun; open daily 10:00-22:30.
Dahana: Jalan Raya Petitenget 98; (0812) 3860 4621; www.dahanabali.com; daily 11:30-23:00.
Lantern Bali: Jln Petitenget 17E, Seminyak; T: (0361) 733 192; eatcompany.co/lantern; open daily 09:00-22:45.
Ginger Moon: Laksmana 7, Seminyak; T: (0361) 734 533; gingermoonbali.com; open daily 12:00-23:00.
Happy Chappy Chinese: Jalan Beraban, Seminyak; (0361) 474 1956; happychappychinese.com; open daily 11:00-14:30, 18:00-24:00.
Mamasan: Jalan Raya Kerobokan No. 135, Seminyak; (0361) 730 436; mamasanbali.com/; open daily 12:00-15:300, 18:00-23:00.
Queen’s Tandoor: Jalan Raya Seminyak No 1/73; (0361) 732 770; bali.queenstandoor.com/; open daily 12:00-23:30.
Ryoshi: Jalan Raya Seminyak No.15; (0361) 731 152; www.ryoshibali.com; open daily 12:00-24:00.
Sarong: Jalan Petitenget 19x; (0361) 737 809; www.sarongbali.com; open daily 18:30-24:00.
Saigon Street: Jalan Petitenget 77X, Seminyak; Daily from 11:00; T: (0361) 897 4007; www.saigonstreetbali.com. Shanghai Baby: Jalan Petitenget (next to W Hotel entrance); T: (0817) 003 0088; shanghai-baby.asia; daily 12:00-01:00.
Susheria: Jalan Umalas 1, N. 7; (0812) 46229992; susheriabali.com; daily 10:30-23:00.
Xich Lo: Jalan Pengubengan No. 3, Kerobokan.
Petitenget is an elegant, 1930s-feel restaurant serving creatively scrumptious meals — it’s another Seminyak spot proving that you don’t need to be on the beach in Bali to be prominent on the island’s culinary map. Come for a lazy brunch of bloody Marys and a really top Reuben sandwich, or a special dinner — the seafood platter is divine. The atmosphere is convivial but sophisticated during dinner, whether you’re propping up the marble bar sipping a cocktail and nibbling on salt and pepper squid, or sinking into the banquette inside. Kids will be kept happy with a well thought out menu of their own. We are a particular fan of chef (friend) Simon Blaby’s roster of salads, where he extracts incredible flavour from light but satisfying ingredients — that’s pretty much a theme that stretches right across the menu. Think Mediterranean with a Bali twist. We’ve had meals at other Seminyak restaurants that have let us down so badly that the only way to salvage the night is to splash out on one of Simon’s desserts.
With its dream-coloured glass louvre windows sitting pretty on Jalan Oberoi Sea Circus looks scrumptious from the outside alone. Inside, the white interior with vibrant turquoise accents and touches such as flowers in old bicarb of soda cans lends a carefree, beachfront feel, though the spot is off the beach. The ambiance is very casual, stylish Bali and the ethos is about sharing. Dishes traverse the globe but the result is interesting rather than bland: think san choy bow, pan-seared barramundi, Baja-style tacos and cheeseburgers.
Nicholas “Doudou” Tourneville presents exquisite French-Mediterranean cuisine in stylish surrounds at Metis. If you’re after oysters or fois gras, this is the spot to head. This is French without any of the heaviness — it’s simply superb. It’s not cheap, but the food really is exceptional. The bar itself juts out into the paddy, and is a touch Mad Men-esque. Bali’s beautiful Euro set starts arriving here late in the evenings for a tipple as the restaurant winds down. More French than anything else, Sip Wine Bar on Raya Seminyak is a bit of institution, serving well-executed French standards in a gimmicky-free environment. Come when you simply want a good meal with none of the usual Bali distractions.
Sardine overlooks that patch of paddy between Petitenget and Umalas that seems to be fast disappearing. At night, the view is of beautiful lights and lit up umbrellas stretching into the distance. The restaurant itself is set under a soaring bamboo structure, open at the sides to the elements, lending it a casual al fresco feel; an upscale blend of back-to-nature, historical Bali, breezy and chic. We like the local twist on the cocktails and the sardines — of course — are fabulous. Plenty of other seafood graces the menu, with a few dishes for non-seafood lovers too.
If you’re in the mood for Greek, Nostimo Greek Grill (opposite Da Maria) offers a straightforward menu of Greek classics. We tried the chicken gyros for lunch: fresh and tasty, with a generous dollop of tzatziki raising them to a, well, Greek height.
Perhaps you’re more in the mood for Turkish? Well lucky you, because Istanbul Meze Kebab House is absolutely wonderful. We don’t think there’s a more spic and span restaurant on the island, and the food is delicious. We can barely ever get past the array of dips and breads, but they offer more substantial dishes like kebabs and falafel rolls, lamb chops, sardines, various grill plates. The baclava is a fine note to finish on.
The Smokehouse is going in this section because it has to go somewhere! This is amazing Texan barbecue, smoked on-site, and you must try it. We reckon it’s the best comfort food on the island — it’s the only place we happily eat white sliced bread, because it’s topped with incredible tender meats, jalapenos, sliced onions and the finger-lickin’ good house-made barbecue sauce. Grab a margarita or bourbon lemonade from the bar and enjoy!
If you’re still hankering for meat, Hong Kong’s Butcher’s Club Bali is just around the corner, also on Petitenget. They offer good burgers and steaks that don’t cost the earth and there’s even parking, a rarity in these parts. Also known for its drinks.
On the burger front, it’s out of the way but you cannot go past Habitual, way out in Umalas 1—they are possibly the island’s best burgers. The classic burger is 150 grams of imported beef with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles, plus a generous serving and great shoestring fries. The mushroom and cheese version comes with caramelised onion, sauteed mushies, bacon and cheese. We like the option of a bottle of sarsaparilla on the side. Vegetarians are well catered for too, plus they do a top-notch banh mi with pork belly. Our only complaint used to be that they are not open for dinner—but as of December 1, 2016, they are! Thanks guys!
Sisterfields’ baby brother BO$$ MAN offers superb burgers too -- six varieties, all one price. We Gojeked (though they do deliver too) The Gandhi, an edamame, quinoa & sunflower seed patty with beetroot & walnut salad, baby spinach, chutney and tzatziki. Next time it’ll be the chicken with kimchi and gochujang mayo.
We haven’t eaten ourselves at Kura Kura at The Oberoi, but this is one of the island’s oldest and most esteemed restaurants, serving Indonesian as well as Western standards. This is the spot to enjoy an old-school, high-end meal.
BO$$ MAN; Jalan Kayu Cendana No 8B, Seminyak; (0812) 3916 7070; bossmanbali.com; open daily 11:00-04:00.
Butcher’s Club: Jalan Petitenget, near Jalan Cenderawasih, Seminyak; T: (0361) 897 4004; thebutchers.club/burger-bali/; open Sun-Thurs 11:00-23:00, Fri-Sat 11:00-24:00.
Habitual Quench and Feed: Jalan Umalas 1 No. 12B, Umalas; T: (0361) 9181 801; Open Tues-Sun 07:00-21:00.
Istanbul Meze Kebab House: 16 Jalan Sunset Road, Seminyak; T: (0361) 934 0025; open lunch and dinner.
Kura Kura at The Oberoi: Jalan Kaya Ayu, Seminyak; T: (0361) 730 361; www.oberoihotels.com
Metis: Jalan Petitenget 6; T: (0361) 737 888; metisbali.com; open daily.
Nostimo Greek Grill: Jalan Petitenget No. 17 B, Seminayk; T: (0812) 3970 3636; open daily 12:00-23:30.
Petitenget: Jalan Petitenget 40X, Seminyak; T: (0361) 473 3054; www.petitenget.net; open daily breakfast through dinner.
Sardine: Jalan Petitenget 21; T: (0361) 738 202; www.sardinebali.com/; open daily 11:30-01:00.
Sea Circus: Jalan Laksmana 22; T: (0361) 738 667; www.seacircus-bali.com; open daily 08:00-01:00.
Sip Wine Bar: Jalan Raya Seminyak No.16A, Seminyak; T: (0361) 732 513; sip-bali.com; open daily 12:00-17:00, 17:30-22:30.
Smokehouse: Jalan Petitenget #14; T; (0878) 6235 1052; www.smokehousebali.com; Tues-Sun 11:00-23:00.
La Lucciola, located a stone’s throw from Petitenget temple on one side, and the thundering Indian ocean on the other, manages to put a fresh spin on classic Italian, adding a contemporary and sometimes fusion take on well-known dishes. A large alang-alang roofed structure forms the airy restaurant, which is separated from the beach by only a wide patch of grass. The best views are offered from the upper deck — book ahead to snare a front row here. Think clever risottos and classic tiramisu, with everything in between. Recommended — a Bali classic.
Seminyak Italian — one suspects named for SEO purposes — isn’t found in the most alluring location, but the food is very solid. Brought to you by Australia’s Robert Marchetti of Icebergs fame (yes, there’s a Da Maria connection too), the setting is super-fun and good for groups.
All yellow, white and blue geometrics, Da Maria is brought to you by Australian restaurateur Maurice Terzini (of Sydney’s Icebergs fame), with the fun (if slightly echoey) interiors done by Carl Pickering of Italian architects Lazzarini Pickering. Their pizzas are great — we loved the pickled white cabbage salad — and service swift. Think indoor fountains — it was inspired by the 1960s courtyard restaurants of the Amalfi Coast. Our only complaint: they don’t open till 17:00!
For cheap and cheerful pizza in still funky but less salubrious surrounds, La Baracca (across the road — and roadside) is worth a try (good burrata, too). Ultimo down on Eat Street is a tried and tested Bali institution; affordable house wines and a vast array of well-executed standards served in a no-nonsense style make this an always-decent standby.
Da Maria: Jalan Petitenget 170 (next to Metis); T: (0822) 3773 3099; www.damariabali.com; daily 17:00-02:00.
La Baracca: Jalan Petitenget 17D; T: (0361) 738 373; www.labaraccabali.com/; open daily 11:00-23:30.
La Lucciola: Jalan Petitenget (behind the temple, on the beach); T: (0361) 730 838.
Seminyak Italian: Double Six Luxury Hotel, 66 Double Six Beach, Seminyak; T: (0361) 734 300; seminyak-italian.com; open daily 07:00-24:00.
Ultimo: Jalan Kayu Aya 104, Seminyak; (0361) 738 721; dinner only.
Barbacoa on Petitenget is a bit of a hybrid of Spanish and Latin American, with the Venn diagram crossing right at delicious smokey barbecue. We’d come here though, frankly, for the veggie sides alone, and you can’t say that about many meat-focused restaurants. (Specifically, the green beans with anchovy butter and the burnt carrots with maple vinaigrette.) We love the coloured cement tiles and rustic warehouse atmosphere, and the cocktails aren’t bad either.
Ephemera collected from, it seems, many colourful lives, and rooms that are like decades-old South American movie sets: there’s nothing quite like La Favela elsewhere in Bali, with its imaginative crazy vintage decor. You’ll find it hard to draw your attention to the menu here, with so much to look at and explore. The food is weighted slightly in the direction of South America -- think rib eye with chimichurri sauce or marinated barramundi with a Peruvian creole sauce -- but really covers the globe. The food is competent but the highlight is really the incredible setting.
For something more relaxed and open-air, La Sal is Seminyak’s longest-running Spanish outfit, offering tapas as well as a full Spanish menu. Sit in their courtyard or under white-washed cover; service is efficient and no-fuss.
On an unlikely road in Umalas, Churros Umalas serves up fantastic churros with various sides by the rice paddy. It’s sort of in the middle of nowhere, but they always seem to be busy. It’s finger-lickin’ good, that’s for sure.
Barbacoa: Jalan Petitenget 14, Seminyak; (0812) 3999 9825; barbacoabali.com; open daily 12:00-24:00.
Churros Umalas: Jalan Umalas 1 #54, Seminyak; T: (0812) 3825 5852; open daily 07:30-22:00.
La Favela: Jalan Laksmana 177 X, Seminyak; T: (0360) 730 010; www.lafavela.com; open daily 17:00-04:00.
La Sal: Jalan Drupadi II No. 100; T: (0361) 738 321; lasalbali.com; open daily 18:45-23:00.
Motel Mexicola is a fun and colourful choice, with its theatrical tableaux of tequila bottles, candles and photographs. Somehow this joint manages to capture an essence that Bali and Mexico share: a love of playfulness, a chilled attitude that says, “Bring it! Two tacos and two shaken margaritas!” Pull up a seat outside for a drink and taco earlier in the day or evenings, head inside to a large courtyard area. Sit at one of the bars, on a sprawling lounge, in one of the clusters of chairs… The creative space feels like it’s been set up for a big, friendly party.
Lacalaca offers a short but sweet Mexican menu in pretty but not silly surrounds. Come here for the quesadilla, stay for the bloody yummo habaneros sauce. The meals shy away from TexMex and fall into the authentic Mexican category, with ingredients imported from Mexico as much as possible. The tacos are noteworthy but absolutely crucial is the addition of one of the habaneros sauces on the table. The restaurant has a bit of a bar/party atmosphere and cocktails are old favourites done with tequila twists — see that Cosmo transform into a Cosmocolitan, or your Bloody Mary morph into a Bloody Maria.
If you’d like to try a local Mexican twist, head on over to Taco Beach Grill where babi guling joins forces with tacos… Somehow it works! Taco Casa meanwhile serves up straightforward Mexican standards that are consistently delicious using produce that’s always fresh. It has a bit of a chain-store feel, but the food is far better than the atmosphere might have you believe.
Lacalaca: Jalan Drupadi 1, Seminyak; T: (0361) 736 733; lacalacabali.com; open Mon-Fri 10:30-24:00, Sat-Sun 10:00-late.
Motel Mexicola: Jalan Kayujati 9x, Petitenget; (0361) 736 688; www.motelmexicolabali.com; open daily 11:00-01:00.
Taco Beach Grill: Jalan Kunti 1, #6, Seminyak; (0878) 616 32845; tacobeachgrill.com; open daily 08:30-23:00.
Taco Casa: Jalan Petitenget; (0812) 2422 2358; www.tacocasabali.com; open daily 11:00-22:00.
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.