Staying true to your diet when you travel can sometimes feel like a bit of a gamble, especially when your stomach is growling. So if you’re on a mission for healthy, great-tasting vegan and gluten-free cuisine when traveling in Bali, don’t waste a single hungry minute scootering over to the beaches of Seminyak, Kuta, or Amed unless you’re looking for an average meal. After all, how much nasi goreng (Balinese fried rice) can one person eat in a single day?
If you’re a serious vegan foodie looking for delicious plant-based meals that won’t disappoint your refined palate, don’t mess with the amateurs: put all your chips on Ubud.
Known as the cultural center of Bali, the jungle-immersed village of Ubud is where you’ll find the best yoga on the island, indigenous art and dance and the most stunning rice terrace views you’ve ever seen. So after taking in the waterfalls, eclectic shopping and a visit to the monkey forest, be sure to squeeze in time for a satisfying nosh at one of this healing town’s best plant-based restaurants. But where to go? It’s easy to find a list of all the highly-rated vegan cafés in Ubud on Happy Cow, Yelp, Trip Advisor, or any other travel blog, but there’s nothing more painful than going to a restaurant everybody loves and ordering the wrong dish. So after living in Bali for the past year and eating out at least three times a week for months, we’ve done the dirty work for you and compiled a list of our favorite plant-based dishes in town. You can find delicious vegan Gado-Gado (a traditional Balinese dish), black rice pudding, raw chocolate and fresh green coconuts almost anywhere in Ubud, so I won’t bother to list them here.
Best Overall: Sayuri’s Raw/Vegan. If you want healthy, hearty and simply delicious raw and vegan comfort food in Bali, Sayuri’s Healing Food Cafe is the newest installation to hit Ubud’s healthy food scene, and also the expat place be for breakfast, lunch, dinner and excellent free wi-fi. With a mission of raising vibration through food, master raw chef, author and teacher Sayuri Tanaka serves juices, smoothies, salads, entrées and desserts that heal body, mind and soul. Each day of the week, enjoy special entrées made with unique flavors from different parts of the world, from Japan to México. On Mondays, don’t miss Sayuri’s spicy raw Mexican lasagne. Locals in the know make a special trip there on Wednesdays, where the Gravelax is star of the show – be sure to get there early before it runs out. A stroke of creative genius, it’s made with marinated dehydrated “smoked” papaya, fresh capers and dill on raw onion bread with cashew cream cheese. It tastes so much like the real thing, you’ll want to write home about it.
Our favorite dish in Bali: Sayuri’s raw vegan gravelax, made with dehydrated papaya, avocado and vegan cream cheese.
Any other day of the week, dig in to Sayuri’s breakfast burrito wrap and Italian Lasagna. Before the main entrée or if you’re looking to eat light, kick up your probiotic count and stave off “Bali Belly” with one of Sayuri’s homemade kombuchas (Rosella or Moringa are best), then whet your appetite with a creamy raw cheese plate (including raw blue cheese!), served with fruit, nuts and a soft and chewy fresh “baked” raw coconut flour bread. She also serves the best pumpkin soup in Bali. Pumpkins abound in Bali, and almost every café serves their own yummy version, but you won’t find better than Sayuri’s. Topped with rich coconut cream, raw croutons and black sesame seeds, it’s thick, creamy and a little bit sweet. Order it warm for those rainy Bali nights.
Thick and creamy raw vegan pumpkin soup, with black sesame seeds, cashew cream, and homemade raw, gluten-free croutons.
At last! Sayuri’s raw vegan and gluten-free bread, made with coconut flour, tons of herbs and slowly dehydrated for a soft, hearty finish.
Save room for dessert! Sayuri’s raw chocolate truffles, fruity-pies and cheesecakes in exotic flavor combos like triple berry, tiramisu coffee and cacao mint are what keeps fans coming back again and again for a natural high. If you have a sweet tooth, go ahead and have dessert first with the gluten-free buckwheat waffles topped with ice cream and chocolate cacao or caramel sauce.
A sweet finish to a fabulous meal: Sayuri’s stellar desserts, like this blueberry cheesecake from her Tokyo pop-up restaurant.
The bottom line: Sayuri blends a special kind of sweetness – and love – into every dish that makes you feel like you’re at home.That’s why hands down, it’s our favorite restaurant in Ubud. Want more? While you’re there, sign up for her weekly raw food classes on everything from fermented foods to healthy detoxing. JL Sukma kesuma no 2 , Br Tebesaya – Ubud, Peliatan, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar. 7:00am-10:00pm. +62 822-4048-5154
As much as we love Sayuri’s, variety is the spice of life, and no one wants to eat at the same place every day on holiday. So keep reading for our pick of the best vegan plates in town.
Best on a Budget. Going vegan when you travel doesn’t have to break the bank. For the a simple but satisfying meal on a budget, Prima Warung can’t be beat. Part of a meditation school that also teaches everyday mindfulness practices, the meals are prepared by a Balinese woman affectionately known as “mama” – who has been lovingly serving students for years with a sattvic menu free of meat, dairy, onion and garlic. Order a fresh juice or green coconut to start, then try the cap cay, fried noodles, or her most famous prix fixe Balinese Nasi Campur (a set plate with rice in the middle surrounded by many side dishes). For less than $3.00, you’ll get a yummy pumpkin soup (second only to Sayuri’s), three savory “faux meat” sides (beware of gluten) and two large corn fritters. Unlike some of the soggy fritters you’ll find at other restaurants, mama’s fritters are crispy, chewy and sweet – my favorite part of the meal and by far the best in town. Say hi to all the locals eating there. Monday-Saturday, 12:00pm-9:00pm. No onion or garlic. Jalan Raya Penestanan Kelod, Ubud.
If you’re still looking for a delicious meal on the cheap, make a short trip to Pejeng to check out the beautiful wood carvings, then head down the road to Rama Vegetarian. It’s a local hole in the wall with just a few tables, but altars of Krishna surround the place, filling it with lots of good energy for eating. With many of Ubu’s small locally-owned restaurants, your best taste bet will be to skip the a la carte items and head straight for the set plate. For just over $2.00, they’ll make you perfectly seasoned Balinese Nasi Campur with rice, sides and a bowl of hot clear veggie soup. 10:00am-9:00pm. Phone: 82-359-348-480. Cash only.
Best Laksa. If you’re in the mood for lunch with a view, make your way up Jalan Raya Sanggingan to The Elephant Cafe, housed in the quaint Hotel Taman Indrakila. Though not 100% vegetarian, almost all of their vegan dishes are yummy, including salads, soups and sandwiches (like anywhere in Ubu, you just have to ask for the gluten-free options) and their #1 stand-out dish: homemade Laksa. Start out with fresh squeezed lime juice, a smoothie or a fresh coconut while you wait. Add an order of sweet potato fries (with American ketchup, of course!) to split with a friend, sit back, and enjoy the beautiful vistas of Tjampuhan Ridge. Hotel Taman Indrakila Jalan Raya Sanggingan, Ubud. 8:00am-9:30pm. +085 100 161 907
Best Brunch. For the best brunch in town, take a stroll away from Ubud’s busy downtown tourist scene and head over to Penestanan for a scenic walk up to Yellow Flower Cafe. You’ll find it at the top of a lush hill on the winding path behind the main taxi stand (across from Alchemy). Their thin, light banana rice flower pancakes will melt in your mouth, and pair nicely with a salad or one of their colorful breakfast bowls made with fresh tropical fruit and superfoods like cacao, chia seeds or spirulina. Our favorite is the Energizer bowl, topped with fruit, granola and seeds. Truly a meal in and of itself, it’s also a healthy way to get your chocolate fix for the day. Sayan, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali 80571. 8:00am-9:00pm. +62 812-3889-9695
Yellow Flower’s gluten-free banana pancakes, sprinkled with coconut, syrup and cinnamon.
Yellow Flower’s colorful spirulina bowl with dragonfruit, jackfruit, coconut, bananas, strawberries, chia seeds and granola,.
Love chocolate? Try the Energizer Bowl, a cacao smoothie topped with all the fixings.
Best Crepes. Who needs Paris, when you have gluten-free gallettes and crêpes from The Spell Creperie, a magical little bistro serving delicious savory vegan gallette (old school French, or gaelic for crêpes) dishes made from gluten-free flour and decadent vegan gourmet cheese. For a hearty meal, take a seat in their beautifully adorned cafe and try the Rhiannon crêpe with sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, tomatoes, Balinese vegetables, nut cheese and sunflower seeds. For an unforgettable dessert, split the The Secret crêpe made with traditional homemade salted vegan caramel, caramelized apples, crushed cashews and coconut whipped cream, or the Holy Grail crêpe with homemade vegan chocolate sauce, bananas, grilled almonds and grated coconut and it will surely end your day on a sweet note. Jl. Gootama, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar. 9:30am-12AM. +62 823-4113-2069
Why not? Have a salad, a smoothie and a gallette at The Spell Restaurant.
Best Pizza + Salad. From the center of town, wander past the souvenir shops on Hanoman Road to Atman Nourish Kafe. In addition to great salads, soups, Balinese food and curries, the back of the restaurant is home to one of the most beautiful rice field views in town. Best of all, they make one of the best tasting vegan gluten free pizzas I’ve ever had, with nutritional yeast, cashew cheese (that doesn’t taste fake – no daiya here) and any fresh veggie topping you can imagine (my favorite was the Spinach and Mushroom pizza). After you eat, window shop in their boutique for yoga gear, mala beads and geode jewelry. Atman Nourish Kafe, Jl. Hanoman No.43B, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar. 7:00am-10:30pm. +62 822-3744-8709.
A close second, Alchemy Cafe’s raw vegan pizzas don’t disappoint. If you like pineapple, try the Hawaiian. Since all the ingredients are raw and chocked full of enzymes and superfoods, you can eat a whole pie yourself (the crust is thin with a diameter ⅔ the size of most individual pizzas) without feeling tired after. Still hungry? Customize your own salad at Alchemy’s fresh salad bar. Start with a bed of greens and your choice of four raw vegan toppings like avocado or homemade falafel, then add your choice of lemongrass, pesto or sesame dressing. With so many fresh choices, a well-stocked grocery boutique and healing clinic offering holistic treatments like colon hydrotherapy just upstairs, it’s no wonder many consider it the best salad bar in town. Jalan Penestanan Kelod, Ubud. 7:00am-9:00pm. +62 (0) 361 971 981
Best Veggie Burger (and Decor). For the best (non-soy) burger in town, you’ll have to head to the outskirts of Ubud, about 30 minutes up the road to the quaint village of Tegallalang. After touring the world-famous Unesco World Heritage Site rice field terraces, head to the Akasha Restaurant for it’s stunning futuristic décor and peaceful rice field views. Stay in one of the New Earth Haven’s solar-powered eco-domes – like the Amethyst Dome – right on property, or take a dip in their healing bio-pool before indulging in a menu of countless delicious vegan and gluten-free gourmet dishes. Though Akasha’s entire menu is organic, natural and sourced locally from their on-site permaculture farm, their veggie burger is the best in town. It’s tender and succulent, served on a gluten-free soft black rice flour bun with sweet potato fries, if you want them. 9:00am-10:00pm. Jl. N Sinta, Keliki, Tegallalang, Kelusa, Payangan, Kabupaten Gianyar. +62 813-3888-5397
New Earth Haven’s Amethyst Crystal Dome bamboo bungalow, an example of permaculture and bio-architecture across the entire property.
Dusk at Akasha, illuminated by eclectic interior eco-friendly design throughout the restaurant.
Best Mexican. If you’re hankering for Mexican far away from home, check out La Pacha Mama, which claims to be 100% plant-based but they also serve fish and eggs (which makes them pescatarian, or at best lacto-ovo vegetarian, but that’s a whole other conversation). Despite that oversight, and the fact that the food here is a bit pricier than most in Ubud (where you can eat a full meal with drinks and dessert for close to $7), they’re home to some of the best Mexican appetizers in town. Star of the show? The Barbecue Cauliflower “Buffalo Wings”. Dynamic chef Alejandro Montaño slow cooks the cauliflower for hours before adding a barbecue sauce, spring onions and sesame seeds to create the perfect balance between sweet and spicy. Worthy of mention are the yummy nachos, jackfruit tacos, and beet ceviche that show off the ancient mastery of Mexican cuisine. To boot? The best vegan jackfruit curry in Ubud, with a texture that seems to have fallen right off the bone, and for dessert a vegan banana flambé cooked to perfection in front of your very eyes by Alejandro himself. 4:00-11:00pm. Jo. Raya Penestanan Kelod 1, Sayan. +62 361 9080225.
La Pacha Mama’s Slow-cooked Cauliflower wings topped with homemade BBQ sauce, spring onions and sesame seeds.
Try a little of everything with The Shared Platter – cauliflower buffalo wings, nachos sinalos, mini-burrito, mini-quesadillas, sweet potato flauta, guacamole, pico de gallo and vegan sour cream.
Earthy Beetroot Ceviche, made with beetroot, green apple and a touch of citrus, topped with alfalfa sprouts.
Best Burrito. If you know what you want for dinner, and it’s a burrito and nothing else, head to Sage Restaurant for their Jackfruit Burrito. Made from hand rolled tortilla stuffed with spicy jackfruit asada, rice, beans, pico de gallo, cashew cheese, sour cream and homemade hot sauce. They also have tasty jackfruit tacos, salads, fresh juices, smoothie bowls, veggie omelettes and a brekkie burrito if you’re in the mood for breakfast. 8AM–9:30PM. Jl. Nyuh Bulan No. 1, Banjar Nyuh Kuning. +62 361 976528
Best Buffet. If you’re hungry for seconds and need a few more options, head down to Veggie Table on Hanuman. You can order a la carte, or for just a few dollars, choose from several yummy dishes in their all-day buffet where you can score as much jackfruit curry, pumpkin corn soup and vegetable fritters as you can eat. They offer great service, and made from scratch ginger and tulsi teas to help wash it all down. 12:00pm-11:00pm. Jalan Hanoman 53, Ubud. 0321244355.
Best Ice Cream. When it comes to raw vegan ice cream in Ubud, Kokolato is a fan favorite. We stumbled upon this Bali gem in the least likely of places: in the middle of a rice field during a morning hike on the world-famous Campuhan trail . 100% vegan, fair trade and GMO free, their creamy blends are made with ingredients like irish moss, aloe vera, young wild coconut and crystal essence to add a little magic. With a stand-alone store on the Campuhan trail and in restaurants across the island, their flavors embody the best tastes of Bali: Pressed Coffee, Rosella Ginger, Moringa, Black Rice Pudding and Mayan Raw Cacao are our favorites. To top it off, their gluten-free cones made from rice flour and coconut sugar are a perfect way to cool down on the go during a steamy day in the jungle.
Best Teas and Tonics. If you’re fasting or between meals, or need a healing boost, stop by Seeds of Life Raw Cafe and Tonic Bar. Though they host a full menu of standard raw and vegan dishes and it’s one of the more popular veggie hangouts in town, their real stand out offering is their Taoist tonic bar and artisan Chinese Tea House. With one of the largest selections of loose leaf teas, tonics and healing decoctions in Ubud, this is the place to go if you’re looking for freshly picked 10 year old Ginseng, wild Shizandra berries, organic Goji berries or locally grown Reishi mushrooms. After working up an appetite in their Ashtanga Yoga studio, sip on one of their health-boosting elixirs (like the Immune Booster or the Women’s Vitality). Then, try our favorite dish on the menu: the gluten-free “Kimcheese” tart, made with a rich hummus cheese, fermented with cashews then mixed with tomatoes, olives and capers. It’s creamy, savory and packs a peppery “kimchi” punch. 9:00am-10:00pm. Jl. Gootama No.2, Ubud, Gianyar, Kabupaten Gianyar. +62 361 970650
Best Vegan-Friendly Grocery Stores. If you’re in Ubud for more than a couple days, it makes sense to save your rupiahs and stock up on vegan staples like granola, coconut oil and fresh produce – especially if you have access to a working kitchen. To find your favorite Western food brands (like Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour), shop Pepito Supermarket (two local locations), and if you’re on a budget for staples, Delta Dewata are your best bet. Delta has several locations, but the one closest to the Arjuna statue in downtown Ubud is the largest grocery store in town with a wide selection of produce, cosmetics, and homewares. For natural and organic fresh breads, nuts, produce and cosmetics, nobody beats Bali Buda. The store is tiny, but they have a little bit of everything, including one of the best homemade coconut oil, kombucha and gluten-free bread (the rye is delicious) in town. No matter what you do – don’t leave without trying their bliss balls – peanut butter and cardamom always sell out first, and for good reason. 7:00am-10:00pm. Bali Buda, Jl. Jembawan #1 (across from Ubud Post Office, grocery store is just around the corner on Jl. Raya) Ubud, Mas, Gianyar. (0361) 976324 / 978963.
The highly addictive bliss balls at Bali Buda.
Best Organic Produce: As local small farming practices get replaced with agri-business, GMO-grown food has become prevalent in Bali. On top of being better for the environment, organic food just tastes better. For locally grown pesticide and chemical free produce, head to the Ubud Organic Farmer’s Market. It’s a great place to meet and support local farmers who take pride in growing small batches of healthy, organic and naturally-grown eggplant, greens, tomatoes, fresh herbs and even essential oils and gluten-free fresh baked breads. Wednesdays @ Ubud Food Court 8:30am-12:30pm; Saturdays (in front of Pizza Bagus) 8:30am-12:30pm.
Best Vegan Eats at the Beach. If you’re itching for a break from Ubud’s intense spiritual jungle energy, plug in your WAZE app and head straight to Canggu. Just a pleasant 45-minute scooter ride from downtown Ubud, you’ll find killer waves, a cool beach vibe and several yummy vegan restaurants. Before hitting the beach on the main road into town, stop at Cafe Vida. Order the rainbow-hued “flight” of six healing elixir shots and a hearty salad, soup or curry to whet your whistle. For the best vibe, well-rounded menu and yummy desserts, check out the outdoor café scene at The Shady Shack. Though the juices, salads and fries are good, the nut-encrusted peanut butter ball and date bread pudding are worth the trip. Cafe Vida, 7:00am-10:00pm. Jl. Pantai Batu Bolong No.38A, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361. +62 813-3988-6864. The Shady Shack, 7:30am-10pm. Jl. Tanah Barak No.57, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80351. +62 819-1639-5087.
With dozens of solid vegan restaurants and literally hundreds of delicious plant-based dishes in Ubud, you can’t go wrong by choosing this as your foodie destination when visiting Bali. And if you’re traveling with non-vegan friends or finicky little ones who aren’t ready yet to take the plant-based leap, no worries: most of the restaurants listed above serve something for everyone (even meat and dairy eaters!), so no one will go hungry on holiday.
What are your favorite vegan dishes in Ubud? Share your personal top picks in the comments below.