Banda Aceh has plenty of local places to eat scattered all around the city. In the central downtown area you're best off finding a food cart and selecting one of the many tasty dishes on offer there. On Jalan Jenderal Ahmad Yani, food carts tend to set up at about 18:00 and offer all the usuals such as nasi goreng, sate and martabak but also some Aceh specialities such as mie Aceh or Aceh-style noodles.
For something a step up from food carts, Rumah Makan Mie Razali on Jalan T. Panglima Polem just around the corner from Jalan Ahmad Yani serves tasty (and sometimes spicy) local fried noodles in a simple restaurant setting. The selection is vast and even fussy eaters should be able to find something that suits their tastes. For a rumah makan, it's cheap with noodles starting at 10,000 rupiah and fantastic fresh juices starting at the same price.
Clean and modern Canai Mamak is a two-kilometre hike from the centre of town and will cost about 15,000 rupiah to get there on a becak. Locals love this place and use it as a place to nongkrong (hang out) because of the cheap food and free WiFi. Food is Malaysian style roti and curry as well as biryani, at prices starting around 9,000 rupiah. The food isn't quite to the high standards that you get in Malaysia, but at these prices it's difficult to complain especially when you consider WiFi is thrown in. The orange juices are refreshing. Located at Jalan Teuku Umar No. 51.
Warkop Jaya serves up fresh meals of kwetiau, nasi goreng, mie goreng and other assorted noodle dishes at keen prices (from 10,000 rupiah). They also open for breakfast and serve mie ayam jamur (noodles with chicken and rice) and mie pangsit (noodles with dumplings) for 16,000 rupiah. Located on Jalan Ahmad Yani just up from Hotel Medan, it's a small, clean restaurant with a good reputation.
For a fix of Western food, there probably is no better choice in Banda Aceh than Country Steakhouse located on a side street just off Jalan Sri Ratu Syafiatuddin, itself just off Jalan Ahmad Yani in front of Hotel Medan. This Western joint sells imported steaks, pasta, burgers, sandwiches and ice cold beer -- a rarity in Banda Aceh. It's a top spot if all you're craving is some decent Western food. The quality is good and the prices fair, although some might think the beer is too expensive -- we don't.
Gunung Salju is an ice cream shop on Jalan Kartini, about 100 metres from Hotel Medan. On offer are a range of ice cream dishes such as fried ice cream, ice cream sundaes, ice cream floats and banana splits. It's a bit old school, but that's what we love about it. This is definitely a place to come to cool down after a long day in the Banda Aceh heat.
Next door to Gunung Salju is Rumah Makan Purnama. This is a popular local haunt serving many standard Indonesian dishes such as nasi goreng, but also a range of veggie dishes and dishes that are more appropriate for sharing. You can even order your main meal here and call the waiter over from Gunung Salju next door and have them serve you dessert. This is a neat and tidy place for a meal.