At the end of our month living in Chiang Mai, we were a bit concerned that none of our other destinations would come close to matching the amount and variety of delicious restaurants we found there. Lucky for us, once we arrived in Udud it was clear that Chiang Mai had a worthy competitor. The Ubud restaurant scene has the best of both worlds. It’s vegetarian heaven, with many restaurants dedicated solely to us veggie people and Indonesian food is generally vegetarian friendly, so its usually not a problem finding something to eat even in non-dedicated places. The variety of cuisines is also extensive; each day we could decide if we wanted to get local (Indonesian) food or Western food. I’m a little ashamed to say that Western food won most of the time. I’ve been thinking about this, and I realize I shouldn’t feel bad. While Indonesian food is vegetarian friendly, you end up eating a lot of tempeh, tofu and white rice. These are tasty, but I also need some other food groups to supplement my diet for this longer journey. When you are in the mood for Indonesian food, just pop into any little Warong that you see in Ubud. They are usually half the price of Western food and each one we went to was delicious.
Mini guide on vegetarian Indonesian food
Here are few dishes we enjoyed and tried again and again. Each restaurant has a different flavor so the dishes were never the same (like our tea leaf salad experience in Myanmar).
Rice with tempeh, tofu, some bean sprouts, sauce and peanuts.
Boiled vegetables with peanut sauce on top.
Nasi Goreng or Mie Goreng
Mie Goreng is fried noodles (pretty sure they were ramen, or something very close) and Nasi goreng is fried rice. Both come with a small amount of vegetables
Restaurants we enjoyed:
We initially came here because Aurelien had read the internet was one of the best in Ubud. We actually booked our hotel so we would be near this place since we both had a pile of work to do while in Bali. The internet was fast, but not always reliable. It kept on cutting out. They have three levels in their restaurant, the top floor being their “wifi lounge”. We spent a few afternoons on the top floor and we were the only ones there. It was peaceful and quiet, a great place to work (minus the internet problem). Their food was also very delicious. We tried a variety of their meals, going there for breakfast and lunch. A few of our favorites included the cinnamon rolls, their vegetable plate (simple but great for a light meal), their veggie burger and their Nasi Campur.
Very hip ambiance, you leave your shoes at the door and they give you a number. The tables are refurbished wood and they have comfy chairs. The food was excellent. Aurelien proclaimed it was the BEST burrito he had ever eaten (we hadn’t gone to Taco Casa yet at that point). He challenged me to come up with a better burrito and I realized I am just not a burrito person so I never order them. My veggie burger was divine. We ended up going back here a lot because the wifi was fast and there was a lot of space so I didn’t feel like we were taking up a table as we worked. One day we came for breakfast, worked and then had lunch. Their milkshakes and smoothies are great. Try the Maca Kava or the Chocolate Dream milkshake!
Amazing! Simple. Classy. Inexpensive. The French owner and her employees are super welcoming and as you leave they all shake your hand, look you in your eyes and thank you for coming. The food is incredibly simple but incredibly complex. I also liked how they only have about four dishes (with different combinations), it makes ordering easy! The entire meal I was trying to pin-point what was in the curry dish so I could recreate it at home. A big bowl of the classic dish had rice noodles, vegetables and tempeh in a coconut curry broth costing less than $3. We tried to go at night and it was full, so reservations are essential. The next day we went for lunch and it was basically empty, so if you don’t want to make reservations just go at lunch. We highly recommend that you include coconut in your curry when you order their signature dish.
Juice Ja Cafe was near our hotel. We liked to frequent here for dinner because the food was light and simple. They have great soups and salads and are certified “slow food” in Bali, which means that 75% of their food comes from Bali, a concept I will happily support. I loved the pumpkin thyme soup. It was thick, sweet and delicious. I also enjoyed the salad with sesame/ginger dressing.
This restaurant is taking over Bali, and we think it’s a good thing. We first found their sister restaurant in Semiyank, called Zula Vegetarian. We ended up going there five times in three days because they served things like quinoa and hemp seeds, things that we hadn’t had for four months! We didn’t end up going to Down to Earth in Ubud until our last night, as somehow we forgot they had a location in Ubud. Their food is healthy and has big portions. Their Mediterranean platter is monstrous, the medium is more than enough for two people. Their internet was also one of the best we had tried in Ubud.
This restaurant serves mostly Indonesian food, but all vegetarian. At the counter (like traditional places) they have different dishes on display and you pick which ones you want. Below you can see a selection of little dishes served on a banana leaf. The food is inexpensive here and I thought very tasty.
Amazing Mexican food!! After eating the burrito here, Aurelien couldn’t decide if this one or Clear Cafe’s was better. He ended up copping out by saying they were both amazing in different ways. If you are wanting Mexican food this is the place to go. Super fresh, delicious, it reminded me of home. In fact, better than home. It’s a little ways from the center of Ubud, so if you are in a daring mood rent bicycles and bike down, otherwise just take a taxi.
Across the street from Taco Casa is Mamma Mia, we actually didn’t go to the restaurant, instead we had them deliver. They do free deliveries and it was perfect during a rainy, lazy night. We really enjoyed sitting in our hotel room, pizza and drinks on our bed and watching a movie on our laptop. For a shorter trip you might not want to laze about, but let me tell you, it was heaven for us not having to go out and find dinner once again.
After a long and sweaty walk we stumbled upon the Elephant Restaurant. Another vegetarian restaurant that caters to Westerners, but I’m not complaining. 🙂 Their restaurant overlooks the lush green rice fields (where we had been walking that morning) and a deep valley. The service is friendly and their food was delicious
If you are looking for a healthy, sweet treat I recommend Soma for their amaaazing raw cheesecakes, or if you have access to a bike or motor bike, head over to Alchemy for their extensive selection of raw desserts. If you haven’t had raw desserts, don’t scoff at them until you have tried them. Raw desserts are shockingly creamy, sweet and sometimes even better than their traditional baked counterparts. As an additional bonus, you won’t feel as weighed down after eating them!
As you probably already know, we can’t pass down good gelato and Ubud was humid and hot, so we enjoyed the cooling treat many times. Gelato Secrets was pricey but delicious, with a wide selection of tropical sorbets and creamy gelatos. Definitely a treat, we spent the same on two scoops of gelato each as we did for our meal at a local Indonesian restaurant.
Desserts at Clear Cafe
As well as delicious food, Clear Cafe has delicious treats (some vegan or raw) such as raw cheesecakes, vegan brownies and different milkshakes. They also have a little shop next door that sells wonderful raw treats that are great for snacks. I bought a some snacks for our onward travels and enjoyed having healthy treats for a week.
Finally, let’s not forget about simple, sweet, juicy delicious fruit. One thing I love about Asia is the abundance of available fruit for everyone. Fruit has markets devoted solely to it, it is sold on roadsides and is on all menus. If you go to a train or bus station vendors are there cutting up whatever your heart desires, such as watermelon, papaya, pineapple and more exotic fruits.