Where to eat and drink: Waingapu

Waingapu: Where to eat and drink

The reasonable smattering of food options in Waingapu ensures you won’t go hungry. However restaurants close early, so don’t leave it too late to find something. On Christian holidays you’ll have to head to the Muslim restaurants for a feed, and vice versa.

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Coastal Waingapu’s best food can be found at the nightly fish market at the harbour, where a bunch of warungs serve up delicious fish straight off the boats. Our local guide recommended Warung Enjoy Aja here, and we were not disappointed. A large fresh red snapper, enough for two very greedy diners, set us back 40,000 rupiah — cooked just right, it was fresh and succulent. A side dish of terong crispi or crispy eggplant, looked and tasted more like chips — different and tasty. Clean toilet, too.

Fish and chips. Really! Photo by: Sally Arnold.
Fish and chips. Really! Photo: Sally Arnold

Another night market springs up every evening opposite Ruko Matawai on the main street through town. Here you can try the usual Indonesian standards like bakso and nasi goreng.

The most popular restaurants near the main hotel district are Leslie Cafe near Hotel Sandle Wood and Mr Cafe. Leslie Cafe, an outdoor style cafe/bar, is a local favourite — almost trendy — with long wooden tables and benches, cement floor, and a black wall decorated with crosses. Not tongue-in-cheek gothic style — Christian. They have a side business in laundry for 8,000 rupiah per kilo. Leslie Cafe serves Indonesian favourites, plus pizza (60,000 rupiah), burgers (40,000 rupiah) and pasta (30,000 rupiah). The pizza looked Indonesian-style to us, but some Australian surfers assured us it was good. We’d still recommend sticking to the local fare. The ayam kampung lalapan (skinny but tasty village free range chicken with a spicy sauce and a few raw veggies) was tasty, but small (40,000 rupiah). We didn’t try it, but they also served “sexy lady juice” for 20,000 rupiah — sounded like a bargain to us. Leslie Cafe have the coldest beer in town.

Simple Indonesian fare. Photo by: Sally Arnold.
Simple Indonesian fare. Photo: Sally Arnold

Mr Cafe is a Muslim restaurant, so it’s open on Christian holidays, but has no beer. Actually it’s two restaurants side by side, one with air-con. They have an extensive menu of Indonesian favourites priced at 13,000 to 33,000 rupiah for mains.

Nearby Rumah Makan Jawa has, you guessed it, Javanese food, or mostly fried chicken. Around the park are many food carts selling bakso (meatball soup) at all times of the day.

Opposite the Catholic church, Ajo Minang is a Padang restaurant serving point and pick standard Padang fare including delicious fish curry. As always in Indonesia, when in doubt, go Padang.

Enjoy Aja: Dermaga Lama, Waingapu; open daily 19:00-24:00.
Leslie Cafe: Jalan WJ Lalamentik, Waingapu; T: (0812) 3953 6666; open daily 9:00-22:00.
Mr Cafe: 1 Jalan Umbu Tipuk Marisi, Matawai, Waingapu; T: (0387) 61605; (0852) 5341 0000; open Mon-Sat 7:00-22:00, Sun 7:00-16:00.
Night Market: In front of Ruko Matawai; open daily 19:00-20:00.
RM Ajo Minang: Jalan Haryana, Waingapu; open daily 09:00-21:00.
Rumah Makan Jawa: Jalan D I Pandjaitan, Waingapu; T: (0387) 61984; (0865) 6390 0509; open daily 8:00-22:00.

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Sally spent twelve years leading tourists around Indonesia and Malaysia where she collected a lot of stuff. She once carried a 40kg rug overland across Java. Her house has been described as a cross between a museum and a library. Fuelled by coffee, she can often be found riding her bike or petting stray cats. Sally believes travel is the key to world peace.