My Favorite Things: Eating in Ubud, Bali
My Favorite Things is a series to help you quickly find and save all my recommendations. From sites to see, places to eat, and everything else - if I find a new favorite, I want to share it with you!
Now, I have never claimed to be a foodie. Unless by ‘foodie’, you mean a sometimes-brave, but mostly fussy eater who tries to avoid dairy. (Lactose intolerance can be such a buzzkill…) When I travel, my goal is always to eat like a local whenever possible. Sometimes I’m more faithful to that goal than others. Lucky for me, Ubud offered a restaurant for every food type and I was able to eat everything from traditional Balinese food to BBQ to pizza.
Having landed in Denpasar around 8 AM, we were ready for an early lunch by the time we had taken a taxi up to Ubud, and checked into the AirBnb. Chosen specifically by the art installation outside, Mocba was a great entry into the fusion of food that Ubud would have to offer. A menu made up of a mixture of Balinese food, South Asian flavors, and Western twists, I devoured my Korean BBQ pork on crispy wontons. I couldn’t tell you what sauce they put on it, but it was delicious. If you stop here, make sure to take a walk upstairs to the art installation and little rooftop space.
Warung Pondok Madu
Unnecessarily, I put a lot of pressure on our first dinner in Bali. After reading through mountains of TripAdvisor reviews, I finally settled on Warung Pondok Madu, which was a solid 25 minute walk away from our accommodations. Regardless, my travel companions were beyond patient and, with the aid of Google Maps, got us to the right place.
To my untrained eye, this menu read as a good mixture of accessible Balinese food. They were happy to make changes to the dishes and we had three traditional dishes plus two desserts. The customers seated around us appeared to be an assortment of locals and tourists, which is an endorsement in itself.
The Dancing Duck
We ventured through the rice paddies behind our AirBnB at the recommendation of the lovely Australian mother/daughter duo in the room below us. They directed us to walk the little dirt path, round the corner by the ducks, and travel the cobblestone street to one of the best lunch spots they’d found since being in Bali. We followed their directions perfectly, except when it came to determining which beautiful seating area with a fountain that they were referring to. Somehow IL. Sawah Indah has two excellent restaurants that also have fountains.
Located in the same building as the Dina Cottages, The Dancing Duck’s menu was still under construction as we sat in their week old establishment. By the time you go, they will undoubtedly have gotten even better as they work out of the kinks of an infant restaurant. Have delicious chicken sate while looking over the lush rice paddies and listening to the trickle of what turned out to be an infinity pool, as opposed to a fountain.
*As of this writing, The Dancing Duck is so new that they don’t seem to have any presence online. Here is the link for the Dina Cottages, which leads you to the same place.
Kecle – Coffee to Go
Down the street from The Dancing Duck is the cutest little coffee kiosk. (Also not noted on any map I could find, I have to direct you to the same link for the Dina Cottages.) Facing the Cottages, the coffee kiosk is on the left and maybe half a block down the street. This is the only restaurant, kiosk, or other eating place that we visited twice. Beat the heat with an iced coffee, a frozen juice or a milkshake. (They even have soy milk, which warmed my lactose intolerant heart.) The owner and his daughter were endlessly pleasant and we spent far too long on one of their four stools just chatting and enjoying the shade from the sun.
Staying in an AirBnb in the middle of a rice paddy made scheduling taxis and rides a little complicated. We quickly defaulted to using Warung Mina, a lovely restaurant on the corner as our meeting location, so, by the end of our time in Bali, we felt it appropriate to have our last meal there. Our last meal was a late dinner before a red eye to Qatar, so you’ll have to forgive me for giving into my worst temptations and ordering pizza. Yes, pizza. Besides the fact that I was curious to know what Balinese pizza would be like, I also felt like it was some fitting merge of the world I was about to leave behind and the home I was going back to. Or, maybe I just really wanted food that felt familiar. You decide.
If you’re wondering how Balinese pizza is, it’s not that different from American pizza. Except for the fact that we were sitting cross legged on a raised platform with bats swooping in and out of our little open cabana.
Going off a recommendation from our beloved taxi driver, this place was something of an offbeat, hidden gem. Known for their BBQ and their rather colorful owner, I would say that Warung D’Atas lived up to my expectations. The menu has plenty of options familiar to a Western palate, plus a few Balinese dishes with a barbecue twist. Whatever you get, make sure you get to sample the sauce. It’s a weird, but delicious mix of traditional barbecue and some spice-infused flair. As for the owner, with tattoos, biceps, and a love of talking, this guy seems unpredictable, but in the best way. Reviews cite everything from him singing to him showing off his pet animals. Alas, he did not sing the night we were there, but when I asked him what made him want to start a barbecue restaurant in Ubud, his answer was simple. He really likes barbecue.
Did I miss any good places to eat in Ubud? Let me know in the comments!