Every time we go to Bali there seems to be a common theme: I come back heavier. On top of that, every time there are more and more fine dining restaurants. So much so that if I was to go to a region in South East Asia purely to eat, it would be hard to choose between Singapore and Bali.
Here are my top 5 places to eat in Bali at the moment
#5: Neon Palms
Mexican food is becoming increasingly popular in Bali. Along with Motel Mexicola and Sea Circus, another hole in the wall deserves a spot on the list. Neon Palms is set apart from the others with its bold approach. The food is Asian/Mexican fusion and it works really, really well.
Cuisine: Asian/Mexican fusion.
Time: All-day dining.
Must-have dish: Korean Fried Chicken (and any mini taco).
Drink: 30 degree, 90% humidity weather on a deck overlooking a crowded Indonesian street calls for a gin and tonic. Try their signature 'The Bomb G&T'.
#4 – Barbacoa
I have a soft spot for South American Barbecue. I always have. Barbacoa is South American Barbecue on steroids. It's a combined Spanish/LA style menu which makes your mouth salivate before your tongue has touched the first piece of smoked meat. It is superb and they've differentiated their menu enough to not call it your typical tanqueria.
Cuisine: South American Barbecue.
Must have dish: Honestly, the Spanish style potatoes, they're great. Also order the pork spare ribs.
Drink: With heavy food, stay away from the cocktails and stick with beer or a wine that will cut through the fat and stand up to the meat.
#3 – Double Ikat
I had to toss up between including Double Ikat at the Renaissance, Uluwatu or Kuam at Potato Head. Double Ikat is the feature restaurant at Uluwatu's newest and most luxurious hotel. We stayed at the Renaissance for a week. The stay itself blew us away, but what really impressed us was the food. Double Ikat is a traditional Indonesian restaurant with a contemporary fit out. And it presents really beautifully. Double Ikat at the Renaissance doesn't just talk the talk, it walks the walk as well.
Cuisine: Traditional Indonesian.
Time: Dinner (also works for in-room dining if you stay a bit too long by the pool).
Must-have dish: The absolute stand out here is the suckling pig ('Babi Guling'). It's a traditional Balinese dish that will blow you away.
Drink: Two Islands Cabernet Merlot. This wine is promoted by the hotel and it's very easy to drink. It's a co-operative effort between Australian grape farmers and Balinese winemakers (meaning the grapes are South Australian, but the wine is made and stored in Bali).
#2 – Da Maria
Time: Late night. Get there at 9pm (make sure you book) on a Friday night and stay even later.
Must-have dish: If there was only one dish I had to eat for the rest of my life? I could happily survive on Da Maria's Spaghetti Vongole.
Drink: The AIX Rose, or the beer from Balinese brewery Stark. Stark Lager is low carb and gluten free, and tastes great. Later on in the evening? Everyone should be on the Limoncello (which they do takeaway bottles of).
#1 – El Kabron
I love this restaurant so much I want to buy it. Well, El Kabron is actually a beach club. However, while I would spend my entire life happily surrounded by extremely good looking people on a cliff side in Uluwatu, man's still gotta eat. El Kabron has managed to provide the perfect Spanish menu to complement your surrounds. If the owners of El Kabron opened a hotel tomorrow, I would try to live there. El Kabron is better as an all-round beach club and restaurant than Potato Head, Finns and Omnia combined. It can be enjoyed all week, but I recommend Friday - Sunday, to get the party started later at night.
Time: Mid afternoon – late night. Book a day bed and stay all day. Is there anywhere else you need to be on holiday?
Must-have dish: My partner would say either the Croquetas De Jamon Iberico (Iberico ham croquettes) or the Tuna Collar (tuna carpaccio). I'm going to say the Moonlight Scallops and Soft Shell Crab Paella. If you've got all day, invite your friends and order everything on the menu.
Drink: Mid afternoon? El Kabron Mojito. Late afternoon/dinner? Red Sangria or Moscato D'Asti Sciandor. Late night? Patron XO Cafe on the rocks.
Where's your favourite place to eat in Bali?
Bali is a cultural melting pot of both the west and the east that has really developed its food offering over the past few years. Even though we go once a year, it's impossible for us to hit every spot. So if you have a suggestion for our next visit, I'd love you to leave it below.