Ubud is a relaxed place where I tend to go without makeup, and I can't remember the last time I wore high heels. Walking around shirtless or wearing a bikini around town is ignorant and obnoxious — you aren't at the beach — but flip-flops, shorts and a singlet top are fine pretty much everywhere. However, if you are ready to slap on some lippy and pop on a nice frock — for a date night, a special occasion, or just a treat for when you want to bring joy to your tastebuds or try something new — the town has many options. Ubud is truly a gastronomic paradise with high-quality restaurants equal to the best in the world.
I've listed the restaurants below by cost, from highest to lowest (more or less). During covid, I was lucky to discover a deal or two at these high-end places, so keep your eye on social media, as sometimes special events and great deals are available at various times of the year. Compared to high-end restaurants in most other places in the world, the upmarket places in Bali are very reasonably priced for what you get. Note that the advertised prices may not include the tax and sometimes a service charge, so expect an extra 20% or so on top of the prices on their websites. For most of these, you will need to book in advance during the high and even low seasons, particularly on the weekends.
The location is convenient, the decor is unassuming, and the outlook is non-existent. This much-acclaimed restaurant is all about the food. Named as one of the 50 best restaurants in Asia, Locavore's menu concentrates on local and sustainable produce.
Whatever. It's amazing. A stunning meld of Asian and European styles and tastes. You don't get much choice in what you eat apart from letting them know any food allergies, but there is a vegetarian option available. Usually, the menu is an 8-plate degustation and each time you go, it will be different (depending on the available produce). But there are also snacks, starters, amusé bouche and extra little nibbles at the beginning, middle and end. Each dish is gorgeous and exciting, and the first time I was there I stayed for 4 hours with my cousin and barely noticed the time. We did the unusual drinks pairing that included beer, spirits and cocktails, which I didn't really enjoy. If I'm paying that much for food I want some decent plonk to drink with it. You can purchase wines by the bottle or glass.
It's an event to remember and one of my top 5 restaurant experiences. Ever! Budget for R1.35 million for food, and R500,000 for the alcohol pairing (plus taxes) — so around US$180 per person. It's worth every penny. website
NB. Locavore is booked out for evenings often 2 months in advance, but lunch times are available.
Another in my top lifetime restaurant experiences, Aperitif is in a beautiful setting, and I would say it's en par with Locavore food-wise. The dishes are equally exciting and the menu just as comprehensive, but I enjoy the wine pairing more here. Every dish is a joy to the senses, and the service is impeccable. Like Locavore, there is a set degustation. If you're hungry enough for the 8 courses, go for it, but the 6 course menu still includes amazing house-made bread, starters and little extras, so you won't be hungry. I recommend getting there at sunset to watch the skies darken over the jungle; have your appetisers on the bar terrace then move to the restaurant for the entree. You can also start with an amazing cocktail from my friend Panji — the resident mixologist. At the end of the meal, you will be invited to return to the bar for a digestiv served with tiny, sweet petit fours. The 6-course menu is R1.45m for food (US$120) plus about US$55 for the wine pairing. Again, worth every rupiah. The lunch option is also very good at R650,000 for 4 courses (∼US$50), or you can go all-out with the prestige option, which I'd love to try one day, but it's currently beyond my budget. Check Aperitif's menus, and keep your eye on their social media for events during the week.
Insiders tip: When I had a meal here with my friend Cath, we shared the wine pairing. For two women it was more than enough, especially with an extra cocktail each to start, and we were a little tipsy by the end of the evening. You can arrange complimentary car pickup and drop-off from your hotel or villa when you book. website
Mozaic is an institution in Ubud, and on any given night, there will be a cohort of older expats pretending they speak more Indonesian than they do. The style is much more European (specifically French) than the first two options on my list, and I found the dishes slightly less visionary, although delicious and beautifully presented. The meals are complemented by the usual high standard of Balinese service, and you may enjoy the more relaxed, convivial atmosphere.
This is a slightly less expensive tasting menu than the others at R2.05m (US$135) for the 6 courses including wine pairing, or R2.7m for 8 courses including wine. The vegetarian menu is R600,000 for 6 courses without the wine pairing. The wine list is excellent.
They have recently closed in the restaurant with glass. This is not an improvement in my view; leading to a more European feel which is all about the food. This would be fine but the fragrant garden is so pretty and we are in Bali, not Europe!
Kubu: The 8-course degustation starts at R1,200,000 per person with a wine pairing for an extra R900k. website
Blanco Par Mandif - 7 course degustation for R1,900,000 per person. Wine pairing is a further R1,100,000 (a hefty US$195 in total per person) website
Api Jiwa - Asian Omakase sample menu is R1,300,000 per person (∼US$90) plus drinks. Their plant-based option is just R850,000 pp. website
Room for Dessert: R1,090,000 (~US$70) per person dessert degustation plus R800,000 for wine pairing. It's not all sweet! Savoury courses include prawns, bread and wagyu tartar. website
Le Gastronome: Indonesian and French tasting menu with wine pairing R1,300,000 (US$90). A vegan option is available. website
Nusantara is the old word for Indonesia, and apparently, the new capital will be called Nusantara too. It's an offshoot of Locavore and concentrates on dishes from all over the archipelago, with a strong emphasis on Balinese dishes. Nusantara's tasting menu is fun to try different meals from different parts of Indonesia, and their pricing is very reasonable at R450,000 per person plus drinks and tax (∼US$40), and they also do a la carte.
The Sayan House
The view across the jungle valley will take your breath away when you first walk into The Sayan House. Get there at 6 pm for the sunset and stay for the amazing Japanese-Latin infusion menu. Try out the Fois Gras Nigiri or Nippon Ensalada with a delicious cocktail as you watch the sunset over the Ayung River. Expect to pay about US$90 for two including a couple of drinks.
Right in town, this upmarket Indonesian restaurant is fun, busy and excellent. A meal for two with a couple of drinks will set you back about R800,000 (US$60) — amazing value for very high quality food. Like Nusantara, Hujan Locale is better for a small group, as you'll be able to try an amazing range of Indonesian food and flavours, but it's also lovely for just two or one. I've sat happily by myself there once or twice. Website.
Pica South American Kitchen
Pica is in a convenient spot in central Ubud on Jl. Dewa Sita. It's a very high-quality mid-level South American restaurant that's a bit tiny so make sure you book on a weekend. Their seafood specials are always good, and if you're lucky, you'll get these on oyster night.
The food is interesting, excellent and fun, and the wine list is small but perfect. The staff are delightful. Expect to pay less than US$40 each plus wine. Website.
Meaning 'coal' in Indonesian, don‘t be put off by the main road location. This steakhouse has a pleasant ambience matched by top level service. You choose your steak by the 100g after looking at the array of meats brought to your table. They will give it a nice sear then bbq it in front of you to get it perfect.
The entrees are tasty and unusual, the side dishes are amazing on their own and the small wine list is perfectly suited to a good steak. If you’re craving some iron after too much nasi goreng or vegan food, this is the place. 250g is perfect for a woman, although if I’d ordered more I would have eaten it; the wagyu is heavenly. The cost will be around US$35 plus wine and including a small entree or dessert. Website
A pretty, open air spot looking over the Campuhan Ridge, Indus serves a lovely range of traditional, but upmarket, Balinese and pan-Asian food. The cocktails are high-quality, the service is friendly and there are often great events here, such as artwork displays, salsa nights and jazz evenings. Happy hour is excellent value from 5-7 pm and includes complementary tapas. For dinner, you are looking at about US$25 per person for food. The restaurant is also open on the weekends for a high-quality breakfast/brunch. Website.
Excellent service at this new bar and tapas restaurant complements the great dishes (I love the gnocchi and empanadas) and fun cocktails. This place is great for sharing small, tasty plates but they have larger meals now too. Lunch is available on the weekends, along with a small happy hour from midday until 3pm. Expect to pay around US$80 including a couple of cocktails. Instagram.
Honey and Smoke
A modern-Australian bar and restaurant on Jl. Monkey Forest, this new venue has an excellent cocktail list and an amazing range of menu items. As advertised, most dishes are grilled and honey is a key ingredient. I went with a vegetarian friend and enjoyed all the delicious dishes. I would like to go again for some of the amazing meat-based tapas, so this is on the list to update soon. You will need to reserve here, particularly on the weekend. Website.
Behind Pison on Jl. Pengosekan, Cerita Manisan is an Indonesian restaurant in a very pretty spot. It's more expensive than a super local warung, and gives you an idea of contemporary, upmarket pan-Indonesian food. You can try out any of their 6 types of sambal with delicious fish, or a Javanese beef dish, or followed by an amazing dessert, accompanied by a great Indonesian-inspired cocktail.
I had a bit of a problem with their service - a bell system. Left over from the Pandemic, it's impersonal and means the staff aren't looking when the table needs clearing. The lighting is also particularly bad, ensuring that you can't see out to the rather lovely garden. Nevertheless, every meal I've had here has been excellent. Instagram.
Uma Cucina (Italian) - website
Cascades (Western - but try the rijstafel) - website
Akar (Western) - website
Botanist (Vegetarian) - website
Tempayan at Tanah Gajah (Western) - website
Plantation Restaurant at Alila Ubud (Indonesian) - website
Copper Kitchen (Western and Indonesian) - website