A little book and major motion picture – Eat, Pray, Love – perhaps you’ve heard of it? – catapulted Ubud from a sleepy town of rice fields to the bustling heart of Bali it is today. It boasts temples, monkey forests, lush rice paddies, shopping, art, dancing, music and last but not least, one of the main reasons I love to travel, food.
We originally planned to spend five days in Ubud; we found it such an easy place to be with endless dining options that we ended up staying eight. Here is just a few of our favorites (and as a bonus, I’ll share some other things to do in Ubud in between meals).
Best Overall Dining Experience
Mosaic – For Jay’s birthday, I was able to secure a hard-to-get reservation (with the help of the lovely staff at the Lumbung Sari), at Mosaic. According to the New York Times‘ 36 Hours in Bali, it’s a must visit. Drinks are served in a cocktail lounge at the front of the restaurant before you are escorted to their intimate garden for dinner. The French chef offers a true Balinese fusion experience with several menu options: a six- or eight-course grand menu or a six-course surprise menu. Each dining experience can be accompanied by a wine pairing. It’s expensive, but the sommelier does an excellent job of pulling flavors from the local ingredients using wines from all over the world. Our meal included Indian Ocean prawns, sesame crusted yellow fin tuna, coral trout confied in Balinese coconut oil, rice husk smoke duck breast and chilled foie gras, kintamani suckling pork, Australian lamb loin, snake fruit sorbet and kaffir lime chocolate shell.
Pica South American Kitchen – On our last night in Ubud, Jay and I were walking back from a yoga class at the Ubud Bodyworks Centre, when we stumbled upon a tapas restaurant. Thinking that all we wanted was a light dinner anyway, it lured us in. We dined on classic ceviche with homemade sourdough garlic bread, prawn and cheese empanadas, and scallops that melted in our mouths. We may go back through Ubud as we work our way down south again just to eat here again. It’s that good.
Lotus Cafe – OK, so to be honest, I didn’t actually eat here, but we did stop by to take a few pictures (thanks to our Australian friends, Fran and Tanya for the recommendation!). The cafe overlooks a lily pond that leads up to a temple.
Best Price on Wine
Lamak – Balinese wine is what the sommelier at Mosaic (see above) described as “just OK table wine. Sometimes.” And imported wine is usually quite expensive. At Lamak, however, they have a rotation of featured wine each evening with discounted prices (buy one get one free). As a wine lover, this automatically skyrocketed Lamak to the top of my list. Oh, and the food and ambience is amazing too.
Best Local Eats
Hujan Locale – A great choice for spectacular Balinese and Indonesian dishes. The staff here makes the dining experience just that much more enjoyable exhibiting top-of-the-line service. We started with the pork belly marinated in goya coconut pepper and then split the organic farm-raised chicken with Batak chili lemongrass sauce. This is the one meal for some reason I forgot to take pictures. Oops. Quick tip: Most of our breakfasts are included with our hotel stays. Our other meals, Jay and split. Well, every meal unless we are eating Indian. Than it’s each man for himself. We started this practice well before we left for Uganda, and have perfected it in our travels. Because we have to eat out for almost every meal, it saves us money of course, but it also keeps us from our waistlines becoming too expansive 🙂
Join Bali-Ecocycling for a tour of a local coffee and fruit plantation, go inside a community hindi compound and cycle through rice fields. Interested in seeing more Hindi temples? Gunung Kawi and Tirta Empul (the water temple) are just a short scooter ride outside of Ubud. Arrive early to beat the crowds (and heat), and bring a sarung (you can borrow one on entry or purchase one from the MANY vendor stalls – and their over eager owners – outside the temple). Spend your afternoons browsing the many shops along Monkey Forest Road. Stop in to the Monkey Sanctuary, but don’t spend too much time there; the monkeys are sometimes aggressive. We ironically saw a German in a Jurassic Park t-shirt attacked by a hoard of monkeys (he tried to pick up a baby – not wise!) Drink coconut water from a coconut. Lounge by your guesthouse pool.
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