One of the first questions I get after returning from Bali is “What did you eat?” followed by “How did Evan do with eating?” We found dining in Bali totally doable.
In my opinion, Bali is a pretty easy place to eat even if you are picky. There are a wide variety of options, including western-style food if that is what you are looking for. Fresh fruit is also widely available which most people love. Here are a few of my tips for dining in Bali:
- If breakfast is offered in your hotel, buy it. Okay, this is a broad brush statement but generally it is a great idea. All of the hotels except one had a great breakfast offering. Each had a great variety of fresh fruit offered, fresh fruit juices and a variety of hot and baked items. Breakfast was Evan’s biggest meal of the day, every day. One morning he ate 7 croissants! While there are lots of restaurants that will offer delicious breakfast options, when traveling with a child, it is easier to eat breakfast close by. It fights off the hangries (ya know…when you are angry because you are hungry) and starts your day off on the right foot.
- Try Balinese food before you decide to just eat western food. Balinese/Indonesian food isn’t all that “weird”. Many dishes are based around rice or noodles. It also isn’t generally very spicy (unless you add sambal). One thing to note, though, is that many dishes contain peanuts so if you are allergic bring an epi pen!
- Dishes that you will find at most Indonesian food restaurants:
This is one of my favorite dishes, Mie Goreng. It is stir friend noodles with veggies and chicken. Sometimes topped with a fried egg and sometimes with egg stirfried in. YUM! Evan thought this was pretty tasty as well.
Other favorites include Nasi Goreng (bottom left) and Sate (top right). Nasi Goreng is a bit like fried rice and is also topped with a fried egg. Sate is usually made with chicken or pork (you can find beef in Bali but it is usually expensive).
One last favorite is Gado Gado. It is a “salad” made with boiled veggies, tofu, tempeh with a peanut dressing.
- Local Indonesian restaurants are called Warungs. Many are very good while others are a bit sketchy from a food safety perspective. I like to use Trip Advisor reviews to determine the restaurant to eat at. You can download the Trip Advisor App and the Bali Travel guide to your phone so that you can access reviews even when you don’t have cell service/wifi. This is a huge help in deciding where to eat!
- Eating Indonesian food will save you money! A fantastic dinner of Balinese food for 3 with beers is often less than $20 Canadian while breakfast at a cafe serving western food (see above) was over $40 Canadian…without bacon. We ate both types of food but generally, western food is more expensive.
- Some areas in Bali have more expensive restaurants than others. Seminyak was much, much more expensive than any of the other areas we visited.
- Take a chance, try something new. One of my favorite things about traveling is trying new things. Why leave home if you are just going to eat what you cook at home???? Not at every meal but once in a while just GO FOR IT and order something you aren’t sure about. For me it was Bali nachos. Made with shrimp chips and beet chips covered with spicy chicken, grapefruit, guacamole and more. It was SO GOOD.
- Drink Bintang. IF you drink, Bintang beer is a great choice. It is good beer and it is always cold. Rumor has it that Bintang requires places selling it to keep it at a certain (cold!) temp at all times. Perfect for a hot and humid Balinese day.
- The sky is the limit. As with anywhere, you can spend as much as you want to eat in Bali. We had a few splash out dinners that were really great. We ate at Gado Gado in Seminyak and it was amazing. The food and the sunset came together to make for the perfect setting for one of our last evenings in Bali.
- Edited to add a 7th tip: Don’t eat from street carts. I know it is tempting to live like a “real” Balinese person and eat from the carts but I know quite a few people who have gotten very, very sick. We did not get sick in Bali over the 10 days that we were there. If you insist on eating from carts, make sure whatever you order is steaming hot and any liquids are boiling.
Basically, Bali has very accessible dining for all palates and ages. Most Balinese speak impeccable English and most menus are printed in English. Go, enjoy, EAT!
Stay tuned for my post on our favorite restaurants in Bali. It was going to be part of this post but it was way too long.