The southern end of Ruteng town has a gaggle of simple rumah makan joints that will fill a hole in the tummy. Expect beef rendang, ayam goreng (fried chicken), cap cay (stir-fried vegetables) and low prices. Zippy green chilli sambal is a particular specialty out here and worth sampling if you’re a spice addict. Ruteng rolls up its streets promptly after 19:30, and finding ojek transport near the restaurant area if you’re without a private car can be difficult.
If you’re staying out at Rima or MBC (not that there are many other options) there is a simple warung about 50 metres past MBC that is fine for one-plate meals.
If you’re travelling with little kids who are about to mount a coup if spaghetti isn’t delivered, head straight to Agape, which does simple Western dishes along with a few local plates in a comfortable, though smoke-filled, setting. Free WiFi too.
A very good Balinese-owned restaurant with coconut milk-rich specialities from the island, as well as inexpensive beer and a rather funky wood and seashells interior, is Rumah Makan ChaCha at Jalan Diponegoro, Number 12. Friendly owner and computer teacher Yayuk Widianita speaks flawless English, and she’s happy to chat about Ruteng and offer local advice. It’s located near Ruteng’s red-and-white cathedral, which is useful information as we noticed no ojek drivers had much inkling of where this place is. When you’re standing in front of the church looking at it, head left for about five minutes and ChaCha is on your right. Sweet and sour crab goes for 30,000 rupiah, soto ayam for 25,000, and special nasi goreng for 20,000, among other menu items, including water spinach with belacan (shrimp paste). There’s also French fries, tempeh and tofu on the menu for vegetarians, as well as well-chilled Bintang and Guinness at 25,000 for a small bottle. Recommended.