With a bounty of fresh produce and plenty of talented chefs, Bali is a world-class dining destination. From open-fire cooking to experimental fine diners, authentic Japanese food and zero-waste innovators, the region’s diverse food scene rivals those in big cities. Here’s our pick of the best places to eat in Bali right now.
For tapas: Santanera
Sprawled out over three storeys in the heart of Canggu, Santanera (above) is a sophisticated Latin American farm-to-table spot serving up contemporary tapas with influences from Colombia and the Mediterranean. Dishes like the mahi mahi tarama beg to be shared, but you’ll want the tamarillo-infused spicy margarita spin-off, Picante 37, all to yourself.
For views: La Lucciola
Cult favourite La Lucciola, or ‘La Looch’, has unobstructed views of Seminyak Beach, making the open-air bamboo pavilion a popular lunchtime destination. Easy Italian eats of baked snapper or linguine with king prawns complement the sunshine and laid-back pace.
For open fire: Skool
If slicing into a wagyu tomahawk doesn’t fire up your appetite, then a seat at the bar of new “primitive cooking” concept Skool surely will. It delivers a front-row view of all the action in the kitchen, where chefs scorch everything from whole fish to pineapples with flames and charcoal embers.
For refined street food: Mama San
Chef Will Meyrick’s street food-inspired fare is still as relevant as ever. Seminyak’s Mama San – designed with the retro ambience of 1920s Shanghai – is a Bali dining icon and its dishes span traditional Vietnamese, Thai and Cantonese offerings. The crispy confit pork hock on the bone is an enduring crowd pleaser.
For sushi: The Black Box Provisions
South African-born Amy Baard, an Iron Chef Thailand champion, is now chef at The Black Box Provisions. Seek out this slick, all-black bolthole in Berawa for special dishes like the udon carbonara with miso cream and pork belly ragu, or try the Mentai Volcano roll with tuna, sambal matah and sriracha.
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For tacos: Mana
With epic vistas of the Indian Ocean and an infinity pool that’s open to outside guests, Uluwatu Surf Villas’ restaurant, Mana, is the ideal spot for grazing and lazing. Grab a daybed and eat poolside or head upstairs to the restaurant for guac with mango and tamarillo, tuna nachos and all the tacos, including crispy pork belly.
For fine dining: Locavore
Chefs Ray Adriansyah and Eelke Plasmeijer are some of the most prominent voices for sustainability in Bali and their laid-back Ubud fine diner Locavore sources 95 per cent of its ingredients from Indonesia, including free-range Balinese pork and sea salt from north Bali. The drinks menu is treated with the same care – the refreshing Jeruk Makan Jeruk cocktail features arak (from Sidemen in east Bali) infused with dried local Kintamani oranges.
For brunch: Sundara
Sundara at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay has one of the prettiest settings in Bali, and Sunday brunch features unlimited orders from a new barbecue-themed menu, such as grilled Lombok oysters and burrata with smoked tomato sorbet. There’s also free-flowing booze, zero-waste cocktails and use of the infinity pool.
For cocktails: Yuki
Drinks don’t always steal the limelight but at Japanese venue Yuki, opposite Batu Bolong beach, they take centre stage. Sip savoury creations such as Off To Tokyo (sesame oil washed gin with cucumber, celery and wasabi) while you snack on tuna truffle maki rolls and oyster mushroom yakitori.
For natural wine: Mosto
The latest from the team behind several of Bali’s staple restaurants – Da Maria, Motel Mexicola and Luigi’s – Mosto is inspired by the modern European bistro. Here the sommelier has pulled together more than 70 natural wines, which are matched by small plates such as swordfish Milanese and rigatoni with smoked pork jowl.
For Balinese: Asri Dining
Overlooking the rice fields in East Bali’s Sidemen Valley, Asri Dining at Samanvaya Luxury Resort & Spa is worth travelling for. This spot serves up traditional Indonesian fare as well as a breadth of international dishes to suit every palate, from a Balinese curry with tofu to tuna tartare with cucumber and peanut salsa.
For modern Australian: Mason
Occupying a beautiful space on Canggu’s Batu Bolong, Mason is headed up by Aussie chef Benjamin Cross and highlights the ancient processes of pickling, curing and fermenting. Start with burnt chill hummus and wood-fired flatbreads, then move on to honey-mint haloumi and tempura ‘popcorn’ lobster.