I don’t know if you can talk about Ubud and not mention Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir, Eat, Pray, Love. It was made even more famous by Julia Roberts when she played the author in the movie based on the book. I didn’t read the book, but I did watch the movie on one of my trans-Atlantic flights back in the day when we were corporate slaves who could only travel to distant locations once a year. I never gave that movie a second thought and probably wouldn’t have watched it if I wasn’t stuck on a plane with nothing else to watch. I didn’t even know that the “Love” part of the movie took place in Ubud until I got there and saw all sorts of references to the movie.
I’m sure you can find love in Ubud, maybe not with Javier Bardem, but there are plenty of healthy, single people there and if you can’t speak Bahasa Indonesia, don’t worry about it. Based on my unscientific eyeball-census, I wouldn’t be surprised if at least forty percent of the population is European, Australian or American. Since Kanako is already desperately in love with me, we skipped the “love” part and went straight to the “eat” part. Ubud is the perfect place to fill your belly with all sorts of tasty food. You can also get delicious Western food here that you’d be hard-pressed to find in other Indonesian cities. Of course, the prices for some of these Western establishments are high for Indonesia, but it’s still very reasonable. It’s even affordable for backpackers who are tired of insanely cheap, but repetitive rice and noodle dishes. Of course, we still ate at some warungs, small Indonesian eateries, that were fantastic too.
From what we experienced Ubud didn’t have any particular food specialties, so we’ll recommend specific restaurants that we enjoyed within walking distance of our accommodations on Monkey Forest street and Hanoman street.
Kafe: Our first meal in Ubud was lunch at this chill spot. The menu advertises that they wash their fruits and vegetables with purified water. Score! Seriously, if you’ve been unlucky enough to surf the Hersey Highway more than once in SEA, but you still want to eat raw veggies then this is a big deal. We decided to trust them and order a couple of sandwiches. They both turned out to be very tasty and we didn’t get Bali belly. Thanks, Kafe! We came back here a few more times and once Kanako had the burrito which I thought was a bit skimpy for the price, it was actually only half of a burrito, but she said it was the best burrito she’s had in awhile. Then again, I don’t know how much that’s worth since she hasn’t been anywhere near a burrito in almost two years. They also have a tantalizing display of desserts which I found to be hit or miss. The raw chocolate pie was just ok, but the walnut carrot cake was lovely.
Address: Jalan Hanoman 44b
The Pond: I love roast duck. Especially when the skin is crispy and the meat is moist. Mmmmm. We passed by Bebek Bengil Dirty Duck Diner after dropping off laundry one day and I decided that I had to have some dirty duck. Unfortunately, we read that Bebek Bengil is not so great and has become an overpriced tourist destination. My sweet boo did some research and found that foodie bloggers were getting their dirty duck fix at a place across the street called The Pond. So, we headed there for dinner and ordered the duck and pork ribs. The duck was much larger than any duck dish that I’ve had in Western countries and the skin was delightfully crispy. The ribs were also very tasty, but don’t bother trying to eat them with a fork and knife like I saw some silly woman doing. Just use your hands and then lick your fingers when you’re done. Ain’t no shame in that.
Address: Jalan Raya Pengosekan, across from Bebek Bengil
Down To Earth: We came here a couple of times for lunch and to use the internet in their breezy upstairs dining area. Kanako had the Dragon Bowl for lunch and it was large and in charge. It was also very tasty. I had an avocado sandwich that should be renamed an alfalfa sprout sandwich because there were much more sprouts than avocado. It was still good though. Don’t order the walnut brownie unless you like dry brownies that taste like they forgot to put cocoa in the mix. The ground floor is a shop for local hippies that sells things like raw chocolate, argan oil, alfalfa sprouts, and a bunch of other hippie stuff.
Address: Jalanl Guatama Selatan
Kue Bakery and Cafe: Don’t come here for the food. Come for the desserts. We tried the chocolate mousse cake and the chocolate caramel bar. Both were fantastic. My favorite chocolate caramel bar is in Brooklyn, but Kue’s was a very good substitute considering I’m in Indonesia where these ingredients are not as easy to come by.
Address: Jalan Raya Ubud, Jalan Raya Penestanan
Sari Organik: If you enjoy taking a stroll through beautiful fields of vibrant green rice patties before and after eating, then this is the place for you. The food is very nice too. Kanako had the nasi campur which is perfect for her because she likes to have a variety of small dishes a la Japanese style. I had the shakshuka because I’m a simple person and I like saying “shakshuka!” It also didn’t hurt that the view from the restaurant was fantastic.
Address: 800 m up into the rice fields of Subak Sok-Wayah
Warung Babi Guling Ibu Oka: You know what I love just as much as roast duck? Roast pig. Mmmmm. This place is probably the most famous eatery in Ubud and it’s become so popular that they’ve expanded and added two more branches for a total of three. Wooooooo! That’s a lot of roast pork. We went to the original Ibu Oka and Ibu Oka 3 on two separate occasions. The “special” included pork three ways over rice with a little bit of crispy skin on top. Strangely enough, Ibu Oka and Ibu Oka 3 had different takes on the special, but that’s typical for SEA. Don’t expect consistency. We liked the dish better at the original Ibu Oka, but both branches need to give more than a sliver of crispy pork skin because that’s the good stuff and I need at least a square foot of that crunchy goodness. Many people complain that the portions are skimpy for the price and it’s true, but that’s what happens when a place gets popular. Also, they say it’s suckling pig, but we saw them bring in roasted pigs that were certainly well past their suckling years.
Address: Jalan Suweta/Tegal Sari No. 2
Fair Warung Bale: The food here is cheap and tasty. I had a fish dish with garlic and a side of roasted garlic. I loves me some garlic. I believe a portion of the proceeds from this restaurant go to the Fair Future Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides health and medical services to people in need. Doesn’t it feel good to know that your meal is helping someone? It seems like a lazy way to do good, but I was really just there for lunch.
Address: Jalan Sriwedari 6
Dolce Arancia: Call me crazy, but I get tired of eating fried rice every day. So, when we saw this cozy, little Italian restaurant, we knew we had to try it. I know we’re in the middle of Indonesia, but Ubud is like it’s own little culinary bubble and we hadn’t had Italian food since Bangkok. When we walked in, the Italian hostess greeted us in her Italian-accented English and we knew all was going to be good. We both ordered pasta dishes that made our eyes bulge upon first bite. It’s so nice to get delicious Western food for less than $10 a plate. I know this is considered splurging in Indonesia and on a backpacker’s budget, but sometimes we need to pamper ourselves.
Address: Jalan Gootama 17
Naughty Nuri’s Warung & Grill: Would you believe me if I told you that the best American-style BBQ pork ribs can be found in Ubud, Indonesia? Good. Don’t believe me and don’t go to Naughty Nuri’s because I don’t want you and everyone else going there and eating all my ribs. Now I just need to figure out how to get these ribs delivered to me in Tokyo. Sorry we don’t have pictures. I think Kanako deleted them by accident. I’ll have to spank her.
Address: Jl. Raya Sangginan
Room4Dessert: Kanako took me here because I love dessert and she loves me. The chef, Will Goldfarb, opened this place in NYC a bajillion years ago, but closed it down about seven years ago. Who knew we’d find it again in Ubud? We decided to order individual desserts rather than the tasting because we were full from Nuri’s which is right next door. I had the Choco Bubbles and embarrassed Kanako by trying to climb into the large tumbler in which it was served so I could swim around in chocolatey goodness. I’m drooling as I type this. Kanako had the Sugar Refinery 2.0 which doesn’t sound as good as it tastes. This place was a big splurge for our backpacker budget, but it was worth every Rupiah. If you’re lucky, Chef Goldfarb will stop by your table to chat for a minute and reminisce about the good old times in NYC.
Address: Jl. Raya Sangginan (Next door to Naughty Nuri’s)
Warung Schnitzel: I feel like we ate more schnitzel in Indonesia than we did in Germany and Austria. This place is obviously known for their schnitzel, but I was the dumb ass that ordered something other than the schnitzel. Sometimes I have a brain fart and do stupid things like that. At least Kanako was smart enough to order it and it was delicious. Get the schnitzel and nothing else.
Address: Jalan Sriwedari 2 | 20 metres from Jl Raya
Warung Lokal: We almost skipped this place because it was dead empty each time we walked by. I’m glad we didn’t because it was the second best ayam goreng that I ate in Indonesia. The food is made to order, but it doesn’t take forever like another place that we went to nearby. Besides having great food, the prices are also Indo prices so it’s a good way to balance the splurging from the night before.
Address: Jalan Gootama
Places that we would only recommend to people we don’t like: (I won’t go into why I didn’t like these places because life’s too short to talk about things I don’t like.)
Three Monkeys Cafe