Photo: At Pasar Semawis.

Eat and meet



At any hour of the day or night in Semarang, it’s possible to find a decent meal thanks to ubiquitous food stalls.

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Famous areas include a cluster around Simpang Lima that is known for pecal (vegetables with spicy peanut sauce), nasi liwet (rice cooked in coconut milk with various extras) and seafood stalls, but tons of other options are available too, open from early morning until late. Popular stalls include Pecal Yu Sri, Nasi Liwet Bu Widodo and Pandowo Limo Seafood. After dinner take a spin around the square in one of the fun illuminated pedal cars.

Welcoming smiles at Simpang Lima.

Welcoming smiles at Simpang Lima. Photo: Sally Arnold

Jalan Pandanaran is where local tourists head to pick up take-home packs of Semarang’s renowned bandeng presto (pressure-cooked milk fish) among other local food oleh-oleh (souvenirs). You can sit down to try some samples at Waroeng Bandeng Juwana.

The large Chinese population in Semarang means a wide selection of Chinese food is available (pork lovers rejoice).The best lumpia, or spring rolls, are reputed to be from Lumpia Gang Lombok near Tay Kak Sie Temple. Available goreng or basah—fried or “wet”, which means fresh, similar to Vietnamese rolls for 15,000 rupiah, served with a generous plate of pickles, sambals and raw veggies. Once you’ve has your fill (they are huge), head next door to Es Cao for a refreshing bowl of es buah, a mountain of shaved ice with fruit, grass jelly and syrup (24,000 rupiah).

At Lumpia Gang Lombok.

At Lumpia Gang Lombok. Photo: Sally Arnold

If you’re in town on Friday, Saturday or Sunday night hightail it to Pasar Semawis in Semarang’s Chinatown (known as Pecinan Semarang). Here stalls try to outdo each other for the newest and most innovative food concoctions and crowds jostle cheek by jowl to try them. You can have your fortune told too.

To experience a little of Semarang’s colonial charm, check out Toko Oen. This Semarang institution has been operating at the same location since 1936, and the business itself began around 1910. They serve mostly Western dishes, with some Indonesian favourites, but come for the ambience and Dutch-style home-baked cookies and ice cream.

O.M.G. The look on the little girl‘s face.

O.M.G. The look on the little girl‘s face. Photo: Sally Arnold

We can’t get enough of Semarang’s wonderful colonial architecture in Kota Lama, the old part of the city, and here you'll also find a terrific selection of food served up in wonderfully restored (or not) old buildings. Our top pick (for the ambience) is Spiegel Bar & Bistro which has undergone a lovely renovation, with a funky bar and restaurant downstairs, and a co-working area Impala Space upstairs where you can pull up a work desk from 55,000 rupiah per day. At Spiegel the food is mostly Western offerings, but come to indulge in coffee, wine, cocktails or ice cream.

Not that is a bar. At Spiegel.

Not that is a bar. At Spiegel. Photo: Sally Arnold

For more local tastes, head to Sate & Gule Kambing 29 opposite Gereja Blenduk (the domed Immanuel Church), for goat sate and goat curry and somewhat more authentic old-world charm (don’t look too closely for grime).

Continue along the road a little further for a branch of Ikan Bakar Cianjur in a magnificent old building with ceilings reaching about 10 metres high; it's filled with antiques and has oodles of charm. Grilled fish is the speciality, but when we visited they only had large portions suitable for three or more, so we tried the barbecued chicken (22,000 rupiah) and were not disappointed. Take your time to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy a cold beer (large 45,000 rupiah) or choose from the wide selection of local drinks—try refreshing jus timun (cucumber juice) or es marquisa squash (passionfruit squash) (both 18,000 rupiah).

At smartly renovated Ikan Bakar Cianjur.

At smartly renovated Ikan Bakar Cianjur. Photo: Sally Arnold

Backtrack a little to Tekodeko Koffiehuis and head upstairs, pull up a wicker chair on the balcony and watch the passing parade along the street below. Here you can enjoy single origin coffees from all over the Indonesian archipelago brewed using a variety of methods, along with light meals.

If this area appeals, Achterhuis Guesthouse offers a place to sleep just behind Tekodeko Koffiehuis. While you’re in the area, be sure to try a winko at Winko Babad Cap Kereta Api; these are coconut flavoured pancake-like snacks available in various fruit flavours (4,700 rupiah each).

Es buah at Es Cao Gang Lombok.

Es buah at Es Cao Gang Lombok. Photo: Sally Arnold

If you’re wandering around town near Paragon Mall and are in need of a caffeine fix, Steam and Brew is the place. Excellent coffee, clean toilets and friendly staff. And close to Toko Oen (where the coffee isn’t that great), Peacockoffie will have you caffeinated 24 hours a day.

If you're heading out of town for a day trip to Ambarawa or Candi Gedung Songo (and both should be on your itinerary), stop in at popular Kampoeng Kopi Banaran, 35 kilometres south of Semarang. This coffee plantation serves tasty Indonesian food at reasonable prices, and needless to say, good coffee. You can also tour the plantation.

Es Cao 9 Gang Lombok; T: (0851) 0394 6789, (0888) 251 6789, (0858) 6562 6789; Mo–Su: 08:00–17:00.
Ikan Bakar Cianjur 19 Jalan Letjen Suprapto, Kota Lama; T: (0242) 562 333, (0243) 562 290; http://ibcgroup.co.id Mo–Su: 10:00–22:00.
Kampoeng Kopi Banaran KM 35, Jalan Raya Semarang Solo, Bawen; T: (0298) 3429 053; Mo–Su: 07:00–21:00.
Lumpia Gang Lombok 11 Gang Lombok; T: (0243) 555 722, (0816) 488 2329; Mo–Su: 08:00–17:00.
Nasi Liwet Bu Widodo Simpang Lima; Mo–Su: 17:00–24:00.
Pandowo Limo Seafood Simpang Lima; .
Pasar Semawis Chinatown; Fr–Su: 18:00–late.
Peacockoffie 22 Jalan Gajahmada; Mo–Su: 24 hours.
Pecal Yu Sri Simpang Lima; Mo–Su: 17:00–24:00.
Sate & Gule Kambing 29 29 Jalan Letjen Suprapto, Kota Lama; T: (0243) 549 692, (0243) 540 810; Mo–Sa: 08:00–21:00.
Spiegel Bar & Bistro 34 Jalan Letjen Suprapto, Kota Lama; T: (0243) 580 049; https://www.facebook.com/est1895/ Mo–Th: 10:00–24:00; Fr–Su: 10:00–01:00.
Steam & Brew 36A Jalan Depok; T: (0821) 4434 7078; https://www.instagram.com/steamandbrew.co/ Mo–Su: 10:00–22:00.
Tekodeko Koffiehuis 44 Jalan Letjen Suprapto, Kota Lama; T: (0243) 544 501; https://www.facebook.com/tekodekokoffiehuis/ Mo–Th: 09:00–22:00; Fr–Su: 09:00–23:00.
Toko Oen 52 Jalan Pemuda; T: (0243) 541 683; http://tokooen.com/en Mo–Su: 9:30–21:30.
Waroeng Bandeng Juwana 2nd Floor, 57 Jalan Pandanaran; T: (0248) 310 205, (0248) 419 702, (0248) 314 434; http://bandengjuwana.com Mo–Su: 06:00–23:00.
Winko Babad Cap Kereta Api 14 Jalan Cendrawasih; T: (0243) 542 064; Mo–Su: 07:00–18:30.

Es Cao
9 Gang Lombok; Semarang, Java
T: (0851) 0394 6789, (0888) 251 6789, (0858) 6562 6789; Under 10,000 rupiah
Ikan Bakar Cianjur
19 Jalan Letjen Suprapto, Kota Lama; Semarang, Java
T: (0242) 562 333, (0243) 562 290; Under 10,000 rupiah
Kampoeng Kopi Banaran
KM 35, Jalan Raya Semarang Solo, Bawen; Semarang, Java
T: (0298) 3429 053; Under 10,000 rupiah
Lumpia Gang Lombok
11 Gang Lombok; Semarang, Java
T: (0243) 555 722, (0816) 488 2329; Under 10,000 rupiah
Nasi Liwet Bu Widodo
Simpang Lima; Semarang, Java
Under 10,000 rupiah
Pandowo Limo Seafood
Simpang Lima; Semarang, Java
Under 10,000 rupiah
Pasar Semawis
Chinatown; Semarang, Java
Under 10,000 rupiah
Peacockoffie
22 Jalan Gajahmada; Semarang, Java
Under 10,000 rupiah
Pecal Yu Sri
Simpang Lima; Semarang, Java
Under 10,000 rupiah
Sate & Gule Kambing 29
29 Jalan Letjen Suprapto, Kota Lama; Semarang, Java
T: (0243) 549 692, (0243) 540 810; Under 10,000 rupiah
Spiegel Bar & Bistro
34 Jalan Letjen Suprapto, Kota Lama; Semarang, Java
T: (0243) 580 049; Under 10,000 rupiah
Steam & Brew
36A Jalan Depok; Semarang, Java
T: (0821) 4434 7078; Under 10,000 rupiah
Tekodeko Koffiehuis
44 Jalan Letjen Suprapto, Kota Lama; Semarang, Java
T: (0243) 544 501; Under 10,000 rupiah
Toko Oen
52 Jalan Pemuda; Semarang, Java
T: (0243) 541 683; Under 10,000 rupiah
Waroeng Bandeng Juwana
2nd Floor, 57 Jalan Pandanaran; Semarang, Java
T: (0248) 310 205, (0248) 419 702, (0248) 314 434; Under 10,000 rupiah
Winko Babad Cap Kereta Api
14 Jalan Cendrawasih; Semarang, Java
T: (0243) 542 064; Under 10,000 rupiah
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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Semarang? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Indonesia.


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