Forty years ago, the island consisted of dirt roads and small beachside warungs, where locals cooked the favorites Nasi Goreng and Babi Guling, but oh-boy, has Bali evolved over the years. Now there are 5-star resorts dotted all over, and amongst the designer stores and local markets, you’ll find upscale restaurants serving the most amazing food.
It’s not only the food that gets the attention, there’s designer décor, celebrity chefs, chic cocktails, and the most scenic settings. Whether it’s the 5-star dining experience you’re looking for or tapas with amazing views, these restaurants are a great starting point.
Here are my top 10 restaurants in Bali.
Cuca – Jimbaran Bay
Located in Jimbaran, Cuca is a casual experience, where the total focus is on food. Serving small portions meant to be shared, all the ingredients are sourced from Indonesia. You can dine indoors or enjoy courtyard seating outdoors.
Mejakawi – Seminyak
Possibly my favorite place to watch the sunset in Bali, KuDeTa is the original Bali Beach Club. Its onsite restaurant perched high on the first floor, Mejekawi, is a fine dining restaurant that offers degustation menus with fabulous ocean views. The tasting menu changes all the time, always inspired by the local produce available. There’s also wine pairing options and contemporary cocktails creations. Loosely translated, Mejekawi means sacred table; if you’re a true foodie, I definitely recommend this for a special occasion.
Lovacore – Ubud
Come to Lovacore to experience a truly culinary adventure with its famed seven-course degustation menu, using local ingredients destined to celebrate the farmers, fishermen, and food artisans of Indonesia, all cooked in a small galley-style kitchen. Carefully trained employees give the ultimate in service and the food is amazing. The owners are committed to environmental sustainability, with even the kitchen waste being fed to local pigs or used as compost in the vegetable gardens. Lovacore has firmly established itself, listed in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, so book at least two weeks in advance for an indulgent dinner.
Sake no Hana – Uluwatu
Positioned high above the Uluwatu coastline, Sake No Hana is the perfect place to sip on sake and savor gourmet Japanese cuisine. This internationally-acclaimed modern Japanese restaurant is the culinary heart of the equally impressive Omnia Dayclub. During the day, enjoy share-plates and bento boxes while gazing over the magnificent views of the Indian Ocean. In the evening, catch the best sunset while feasting on charcoal grills, Toban and Kamameshi traditional style meals. Or sit at the Sushi Bar where fresh sashimi and sushi is freshly prepared right before you. Originating from Mayfair in London, the specially crafted cocktails are to die for. This restaurant has all the bells and whistles, reservations are recommended to ensure you get a table.
Koral – Nusa Dua
Located in the Apurva Kempinski hotel, Koral Restaurant is Bali’s first aquarium dining experience. Featuring fresh ingredients, this seafood restaurant includes dishes inspired by the Indonesian archipelago and prepared using locally-sourced ingredients. It’s unique, as you sit and enjoy delicious foods while enjoying the ambience of a giant tropical aquarium. It carries a fine selection of wines from all over the world, Indonesian craft beers and there are expert mixologists on hand to serve innovative cocktails. Reserve a table at least 48 hours prior to avoid disappointment.
Mamasan – Seminyak
I can’t not include Mamasan in the mix. Step inside the doors and you’re transported to colonial British Shanghai in the 1920’s. Will Meyrick, a celebrity chef from Scotland, is a household name across Indonesia, with seven restaurants under his belt. The Mamasan menu’s inspiration comes from the streets and villages across Asia, with freshly sourced ingredients used. It’s casual dining highlighting Vietnamese and Chinese dishes, with some of the most creative cocktails in town. Be sure to try the Coconut Mojito. The restaurant fills its two floors easily, so be sure to book ahead.
Mason – Canggu
This is a super-cool dining spot, casual yet elegant, with so many great tapas on the menu you’ll find it hard to decide. Mason is all about top quality meats, cheeses, dips, and vegetables done right—homemade and served simply. Dine indoors with air-conditioning or sit alfresco which lights up beautifully at night. The staff are fun and welcoming and you can see all of the action as it happens with the open kitchen. Dessert specials are different every day, but if it’s there, try the mandarin and coconut sorbet served with melt in your mouth shortbread.
Sacred Rice – Ubud
Inside a traditional Balinese bale, Sacred Rice is nestled in rice fields and gives you a truly local experience, serving local produce in a simple tapas style. Surrounded by a river and coconut trees, you can enjoy a walk through the rice fields during the day or catch a glimpse of the fireflies at night. Choose from a section of courses, it’s a great way to sample the many Asian flavors. With the primary focus being the food and attention to detail, the restaurant only holds 26 people at a time. You’re guaranteed a truly special dinner from the resident chef, James Tan. He’s been a multiple winner of the Amex Best Asia Restaurant Awards.
Merah Putih– Seminyak
Named after the colors of the Indonesian flag, the food is based on some of Indonesia’s best recipes. The stunning decor of this restaurant is just awe-inspiring as the Indonesian food featured on the menu. The main floor is completely enclosed with soaring palm trees, indoor gardens, and water features. Like many of the restaurants on this list, Merah Putih recommends shared plates. Indonesian food is traditionally eaten family style and the tradition is encouraged here. Merah Putih has even been recognized by the Michelin Star guide.
Soleil – Nusa Dua
Soleil’s location is stunning, set in the grounds of the 5-star Mulia Hotel. Massive statues tower over the pools and the views extend to the ocean. Choices range from Mediterranean and Pan-Asian cuisine but by far the best time to visit is the weekend when you‘re able to sample the Sunday Brunch, arguably the best in Bali. Selections of dishes are piled high on tables, with fresh seafood and the grill ready to cook anything you choose. Fine wines and cocktails are served over four hours allowing plenty of time for a Sunday graze.
The article 10 Best Restaurants in Bali by Josephine Brierley first appeared on International Living.