Almost imperceptibly over the last few years — as Bali’s tourism numbers have ramped up even higher — restaurants in the island’s cultural hub of Ubud have become ever flashier and upscale, with the price of a meal approaching what used to be the cost of a month’s lodging. And judging by the ultramodern makeovers of some of Ubud’s old standbys — Ary’s Warung, Jalan Monkey Forest’s Gayatri Cafe — the inexpensive meal for the traveler on a budget has become a thing of the past.
Or has it?
Taking a spin around town — when the traffic permits — with an eye peeled for the out-of-the-way and the overlooked, it is still possible to find local warungs that serve up good fare at reasonable prices.
So, if you find yourself in the Bali heartland and need to fill your stomach without emptying your wallet, here are some of Ubud’s eating establishments where meals go for Rp 20,000-50,000 ($2.25-$5.60) a head.
Expect to pay a little more if you choose to quench your thirst with a cold Bintang.
Lada Warung Top of Jalan Hanoman
Many people say this used to be a tiny hole-in-the-wall, but a revamp has turned it into a breezy two-story restaurant with a Mediterranean feel.
The whitewashed walls are adorned with antique pictures of Bali, while ceiling fans turn lazily above the wooden tables and chairs, and tile floors.
Traditional Indonesian entrees range from Rp 15,000-25,000. Nasi goreng and mie goreng go for Rp 22,000-24,000. Coffees and the now de rigueur fresh juices run Rp 10,000-20,000 each, and small and large bottles of Bintang cost Rp 18,000 and Rp 25,000, respectively. The best seats in the house are upstairs, and the free WiFi makes this a good place to spend a cool afternoon.
Warung Little India
The Indian bread is served together with little bowls in which you can dip your pieces of naan. There are enough choices of Indian vegetarian dishes, but they also have the famous chicken masala and chicken tandoori. Other dishes that are on the menu are of course the Indonesian Nasi Goreng, Gado Gado, Soto Ayam and Nasi Campur (rice with small servings on the side). But if you feel more like Thai food, you are in luck here as well. There is choice of Tum Yam Kung, Thai Coconut Curry and Pad Thai. Considering the price, this restaurant is not on top of the cheap Ubud restaurants list. However, for just Rp. 35.000 – Rp. 40.000 you can expect a delicious lunch or dinner here and for the Indonesian dishes even less
Mangga Madu of Jalan Gunung Sari
Most local standards run in the Rp 9,000-15,000 range, with Western dishes priced from Rp 19,000 to 25,000. The most expensive item on the menu is ayam keju, a breaded chicken and cheese cutlet with fries. All drinks, juices and coffees are less than Rp 10,000, and small and large Bintangs cost Rp 14,000 and 24,000, respectively. Unless you are trying to make up for a lost meal, it’s simply not possible to top Rp 50,000 a head. Our affection for this friendly warung has so far kept us from trying Warung Mina, another establishment with its own following across the street. Warung Mina has slightly higher prices for its local fare and a broader range of Western dishes, including pizza.
Dewa Warung Jalan Gootama, just north of Jalan Dewi Sita
If there was ever any doubt about the value of a mention in Lonely Planet, drop by this unassuming place on a small lane in the center of Ubud and watch the backpackers flock.
One of Dewa Warung’s selling points is that it doesn’t add MSG to its food. And certainly not a lot of capital has been wasted on the concrete-slab-asbestos-roof decor.
Maybe it’s the feeling that this could have been a dining experience that one would have had in Ubud in the 1970s and ’80s, before the daily traffic jams and the three-day tourist hordes. The food includes the usual standard warung fare with a healthy selection of vegetarian options, though the tempeh curry dish I had over rice was a little bland.
Prices range from Rp 8,000-17,000, with the nasi and mie goreng standards at Rp 10,000-12,000. Juices are Rp 6,000, and Bintang runs Rp 15,000 for a small bottle and Rp 22,000 for a large bottle.
Made’s Warung About 150 meters from the top of the Penestanan steps, on the left
Made’s Warung has been a feature of Penestanan life for the last couple of decades, and many a newbie expatriate in Ubud has counted on its physical and spiritual sustenance to carry them through the day. Sitting atop the Penestanan ridge, you can always catch a cool breeze here and a friendly greeting from Made, her husband or the other long-time cook.
This used to be the only place in Penestanan to grab a passable Western breakfast without hiking or cycling into Ubud, and it’s still a reliable place for standard Indonesia fare.
Dishes range from Rp 10,000-27,000, with one or two Western plates that hit close to the Rp 50,000 mark. The best deal is the nasi campur , a mixed rice entree that serves up chicken, pork, tempeh, vegetables, sahur (shaved coconut and peanut) and egg, all for Rp 20,500.
Ibu Oka’s Babi Guling Jalan Suweta
No list of local restaurants would be complete without mentioning this place. Judging by the tour buses, hotel vans and hungry tourists, this — and not some fancy-shmancy place with a French chef — is the best-known eatery in Ubud. The restaurant dishes out roast pork done the traditional Balinese way, and that tasty bit on your plate today was probably a happy pig in a sty yesterday at 5 p.m. Ibu Oka has found a winning formula and stuck with it since Dutch colonial times. The basic serving consists of rice, roast pork, a crackling or two, a piece of sausage and stewed green vegetables, all for Rp 30,000 — unless, of course, you are a local, because just like everything else in Bali, there is a tourist price and then there is a local price.
Puteri Minang Padang Food Jalan Raya Ubud
Masakan Padang eateries are ubiquitous across Indonesia, and can be a real budget saver for travelers and others looking to fill their bellies on the cheap. There are several places in Ubud that serve up Padang, but the favorite seems to be the centrally located Puteri Minang on Ubud’s main street, just around the corner from the post office. The eatery offers cafeteria-style service and a basic selection of rice, vegetables, tuna or chicken curry, beef rendang, tempeh, tofu and other Indonesian standards.
If you worry about food that is cooked in the morning and re-heated several times throughout the day, then get there between 10:30 and 11:00 in the morning for an early lunch or a late breakfast and the dishes will be coming straight out of the kitchen.
A plate piled high with rice and a selection of dishes, and a cold drink costs between Rp 20,000-25,000. No beer is served here.
Another cheap Ubud restaurants option is to grab a bite at Warung Igelanca. This bright orange restaurant is located on Jalan Raya Ubud, in front of the Neka Gallery.
If you are looking for Indonesian food, this is the place to go to.
Besides the famous Nasi Goreng, Mie Goreng (fried noodles) and Gado Gado (steamed vegetables with peanut sauce) they have other choices as well such as vegetables in curry, ginger and oyster sauce. All the dishes come with a variety of meats but they also serve vegetarian dishes. If you order food, you will get a cup of hot tea on the house. For desert they have two types of cakes; chocolate mousse and lemon-cheesecake. Warung Igelanca also mentions that they use Non-MSG and that their food is reasonable priced. Well the last thing is for sure…this is one of the cheapest places to eat in Ubud with food ranging from Rp.10.000 till Rp.22.000.
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