Where Bali’s best chefs go on their days off
Five Bali chefs share their favorite restaurants, spas, neighborhoods, and more across the island.
There are few places on earth where you can hike a mountain, explore rice terraces, and lounge by the beach—all within a day. But Bali is one of these special destinations, and that’s why we love it. We come here to party all night or to get completely off the grid, sometimes both in one visit.
To help you plan your own trip to Bali, we convinced five of the island's most popular chefs to share their top local recommendations (yes, there are lots of food suggestions in here), including lesser-known spots that most travelers miss. Here are their insider picks.
Wayan Kresna Yasa
Chef-owner, Home by Chef Wayan (Pererenan)
Born and raised in Nusa Penida, Wayan Kresna Yasa lives and breathes Bali. He’s the former culinary director of the Potato Head creative village and beach club in Seminyak. And the chef is the co-author of Paon, an authentic Balinese food cookbook. Ever the champion of local cuisine, he recently opened Home by Chef Wayan, a cozy Indonesian restaurant in the up-and-coming Pererenan neighborhood.
For a hearty breakfast
“Whenever I’m off work, RiZE Cafe is one of my favorite places to start the day,” Kresna Yasa says. “I love the dosa (a fermented sourdough crepe from South India) for its crisp texture.” Besides Indian dishes, RiZE Cafe also has standard breakfast food, with plenty of gluten-free and plant-based options. Just a short walk away from Home By Chef Wayan, it’s open for both brunch and dinner. RiZE Cafe is also really close to Pererenan Beach, so it’s a great spot to refuel post surf, adds the chef.
For an incredible dinner
“Whenever my wife is craving some slow-cooked lamb shoulder, we’ll go to [modern Mediterranean restaurant] Mason,” Kresna Yasa says. His other don’t-miss dishes here include the smoked tuna dip with wood-fired flatbread and the “amazing” bread pudding. Mason is located on the popular Batu Bolong Beach in ever-crowded Canggu, so making a reservation is a must. And if you’re in the mood for a post-dinner drink, there’s a New York–style bar tucked in the back of the restaurant that also hosts fabulous parties on the weekends.
For an under-the-radar adventure
“I love taking a drive up to Gunung Batukaru to wander around the farms, dine by the roadside, and stop for coffee near the rice terraces,” he says. Found in the heart of Bali, Mount Batukaru is the island’s second-tallest volcano, with a huge crater and Pura Luhur Batukaru, an 11th-century Hindu temple complex, on the southern slopes. It’s not a particularly touristy spot, so you’ll likely have the whole area to yourself when you visit. Be sure to take in the stunning views of Mount Agung and Lombok from the volcano.
Ray Adriansyah and Eelke Plasmeijer
Chef-owners, Restaurant Locavore (Ubud)
Ray Adriansyah and Eelke Plasmeijer opened Restaurant Locavore in 2013, pairing local ingredients with modern European cooking techniques to instant success. They’ve since opened a collection of restaurants, bars, and even a butcher shop. And they’re not done. Soon, they’ll transform Locavore into Locavore NXT, moving it to a sprawling new site 10 minutes from Ubud.
For the best of Bali’s must-eat dish
Babi guling (suckling pig) is Plasmeijer’s pick—with no hesitation. The dish involves a whole hog, stuffed with spices and roasted on a wood-fired spit. Originally served as an offering to Balinese Hindu gods, it’s now commonly enjoyed during social gatherings and celebrations. His number one spot for the succulent pork dish? Pande Egi. “This is always where we bring visiting chefs,” he says. “It has great consistency.”
For a culture (and nature) fix
“You’ll still see the real Bali in Ubud,” Adriansyah says. “It’s not only calmer and slightly colder here compared to Seminyak, but there are also craftsmen, art galleries, the [Puri Saren] palace, and lots of nature.” In fact, the area is so verdant that Adriansyah and Plasmeijer regularly forage for ingredients around their restaurant. Visitors here are also spoiled for choice when it comes to yoga studios and cute cafes.
For an unforgettable cocktail
Club Soda is a cocktail bar in Canggu with fantastic Asian small plates. On Sundays, it converts to a noodle pop-up, with rotating guest chefs leading the charge. “I’m not trying to be biased,” says Adriansyah (his team manages Club Soda), “but this is my spot right now. It’s still undiscovered, so it isn’t too busy, especially when you come at 5 p.m. It’s all I want in a place: noodles, drinks, yakitori, chill.”
For a postcard perfect beach
“Set on the eastern coast, Virgin Beach hasn’t changed much in the past 15 years,” Plasmeijer says. It’s a great spot for white sand and turquoise waters minus the crowds. There aren’t any fancy clubs with daybeds, but the beach shacks sell everything you need, like ice-cold beer and ikan bakar (charcoal-grilled fish). It’s about 90 minutes from Ubud by car, but well worth the drive.
Chef-owner, Riung Rasa (Jimbaran)
Following a successful meal-box venture, Vivilya Millian now runs her own restaurant, Riung Rasa. The no-frills smoke-and-grill joint in Jimbaran puts comfort food front and center, serving Texas-style meats with an Indonesian twist (think beef brisket rubbed with andaliman, a Sumatran wild pepper with a citrusy aroma). There’s also a huge backyard garden, making it ideal for a day out with the whole family.
For the perfect start to the day
“I love heading into Braud Café in the morning for freshly made pastries,” Millian says. Her favorites: the chocolate-banana Danish and the classic croissant. In addition to sweets and coffee, this cozy spot offers all-day breakfast and pasta for lunch. Be sure to come early as long lines are common, particularly in the summer.
For a relaxing getaway
“When I need a recharge, I’ll travel to Amed,” Millian says. “It’s a place that I hope will stay as it is—forever and ever.” Located along Bali’s eastern coast, the almost nine-mile-long stretch is lined with fishing villages and gorgeous beaches. Amed Beach, known for its black volcanic sand, is the best, according to Millian. It’s where she goes to watch the sunrise or spend the day snorkeling or diving.
For a great meal out
“One of my family’s favorites is Sangsaka, a modern Indonesian restaurant,” Millian says. “I’m a big fan of the babi siobak (roasted pork) and shellfish laksa with lobster dumplings.” Opened by Australian chef Kieran Morland (of Momofuku Ssäm Bar fame), this slightly hidden spot on a tiny street in Seminyak cooks everything over wood and charcoal. Up on the rooftop, there’s a new bar called Diatas that’s perfect for after-dinner drinks.
Chef-owner, Room4Dessert (Ubud)
If the name Will Goldfarb rings a bell, it’s possible you've seen him on Netflix’s wildly popular Chef’s Table series. Today, he churns out an array of Willy Wonka–esque treats at his experimental restaurant, Room4Dessert, in Ubud. When you visit, be sure to pop next store to Powder Room, Goldfarb’s “candy store for adults.” Take your pick from treats such as all-natural deep-fried bombolonis, gummy bears, soft-serve ice cream, and more.
For a little pampering
“The Royal Kirana Spa is a pretty special place,” Goldfarb says. “You’ll feel like you’re out of the city when you step into this relaxing village.” A stone’s throw from Ubud, the tranquil retreat features an intimate infinity pool, an outdoor tub, and a private pavilion for massages. Goldfarb’s other favorite spas in the area can be found at the Como Uma Ubud and Bambu Indah hotels.
For great South American food
“I’ve been going to Pica South American Kitchen since it opened nine years ago,” Goldfarb says. “You’ll get fresh produce that is well-cooked and the staff are always friendly.” Chilean chef Cristian Encina has put his heart and soul into this homey restaurant and it shows. The dishes, from classic ceviche to grilled steak, are always packed with flavor.
For an afternoon snack
“Right on the edge of Ubud is a tiny place called Warung Sate Kakul,” Goldfarb says. “This is where I snack on yummy freshwater snail satay with soup made from banana heart.” Hot tip: you can also get a pretty decent coffee here to round out your afternoon snack.