Vegan eats in Ubud, Bali
This review was written by my friend Menka. She was lucky enough to stay in Bali for a few weeks, and it's the only place she's been, where she hasn't missed home! She is a foodie and has kindly shared her commens a few of the places she ate at.
Vegan dining in Ubud, Bali
If you are heading to Ubud in Bali, and you enjoy vegan food, you're in for a treat! I have just returned from a month’s stay in Ubud, and having travelled the world as a vegan for over twenty years, I can definitely say that Ubud is one of the most vegan-friendly cities I’ve come across.
Ubud is located in the lush green mountains of the beautiful island, Bali. The name “Ubud” literally means “medicine” and for centuries people have come here to be healed. Today the city is teeming with yoga-lovers, wellness spa-afficidios, massage-enthusiasts, and all those wanting to try Balinese traditional medicine. It is no surprise, that with all this focus on health and well-being, that vegetarian, vegan, organic and raw food, can literally be found in every corner.
This unexpectedly wonderful experience has inspired me to write up about my top 10 favourite spots. It is a relatively small city, so everything is accessible by foot or on scooter. I imagine this article will be particularly useful for those who are visting for a few days; as the rest of you will have enough time to explore and try all the different places!
One road hosts three of these wonderful restaruants! This, I discovered, can be confusing if you are using it as a meeting point with friends (“I can’t see you! Which Atman are you at? What do you mean by the ‘main one’?” etc.) But once you have figured all that out, this place is a real treat. The menu has been carefully thought through to be both vegan and healthy, and everything is yummy. Even if you are simply ordering a pizza, you can ask for the base to be white , wholemeal or gluten-free, and there's choice of different vegan cheeses. And since you’re here why not finish the meal off with vegan tiramisu?
Probably the most “fast food”-y restaurant on this list, Clear Kafe is really well located, inexpensive, spacious and quite chic. So it ended up being a regular stop for me. However in terms of quality of food and service, it doesn’t quite compare to some of the others. It is also not a vegan restaurant, although it is highly vegan friendly. They have a small shop where they sell delicious vegan chocolate brownies in a vacuum sealed pack that can sit in your backpack or fridge for, you know; chocolate emergencies.
This is hands-down one of the best restaurants I’ve ever visited. Every dish is prepared with local, organic ingredients, and the flavours come together masterfully. It is a 15min drive out of the city centre (or a 30min walk). The restaurant overlooks its own permaculture garden, and is nestled amongst rice fields. It is a little pricey compared to the others on this list, but it's worth every penny. I realise I’m gushing now, but I really loved their stoneware which I was told is from a local crockery shop called Gaia.
This pure vegan restaurant is just south of Ubud. It is small, simple and lovely. I am not sure if I should admit this, but I’m not always a fan of raw food! But this charming little place won me over. I was strongly advised to try the raw jackfruit tacos, which indeed were unique and tasty, and the raw desserts were not too shabby either. They also serve cooked vegan food, and on that note I’d highly recommend the cauliflower fritas. We only visited once, but if I had the chance, I would have definitely returned for another meal!
Earth Kafe is another peaceful veggie, healthy, conscious living sanctuary in the centre of Ubud. It is above a shop that sells all kinds of useful things, from essential oils to vegan cookies. The restaurant itself is small, but has a huge and creative menu and everything we tried was fresh and delicious. Some other bits of information:-
- the staff were smiley and attentive
- they have a little play area for kids
- there is seating indoor and outdoors
- It’s quite reasonably priced
- they offer excellent free wifi
- there's a few plug points dotted around
In a nutshell, they have thought of everything, making it a best-of-all-worlds spot that we frequented often.
I have great memories of sitting for many hours, on giant cushios on the floor, sipping on all kinds of exotic tonics and sampling raw delights, while scribbling in my notebook and pondering the ever changing adventure that is life. At one point I recall being immersed in the in-depth and educational menu, reading all about the amazing and holistic benefits of the special teas that I was drinking, and I’m pretty sure I felt my kidney, liver, digestive system and hair all smile in unison at one point. Don’t believe me? Well, you’ll just have to try it yourself. Oh, and did i mention they also offer an extremely healthy-sounding raw brownie?
Beautiful eco-structures built right by a gushing river, with the peaceful vibrations of a temple. This is the first all-vegetarian luxury resort I’ve been to, and the ethos and spirit of the place shine through in the fine subtle details. The food was wonderful, albeit at a premium price tag. However one stumbling block we had not anticipated is how many of the “vegan” dishes had honey in them. Most vegans I know don’t have honey, so this was a surprise. Once we started asking about the different items on the menu, from the bread and granola to the vegan pesto, we realised that we could hardly eat anything here. We spoke to the chefs and pre-ordered our meals for the following day, and they were gracious enough to prepare what we asked for without the honey. At breakfast I’d recommend trying their dragon fruit granola bowl for the colour therapy!
Yoga Barn is the most famous yoga centre in Ubud, and there you will also find a wonderful outdoor vegetarian cafe, serving raw, organic, ayurvedic and cooked vegan and vegetarian food. I only had the juices there, which were freshly pressed and much needed hydration in the heat, but I really liked the chilled-out yoga vibe. There were lots of kids, and also people on their own, who were reading or just enjoying their food by themselves.
This is not a vegetarian restaurant but has lots of organic vegetarian options including fresh smoothies. However on balance, given how spoilt I was for vegan choices in Ubud, this place is on this list more for the view than the food. It is a stunning open-air restaurant overlooking the valley, with rice fields in every direction up to the horizon. I would recommend going there when the sun is about to set. Note that it is a 15-20min walk uphill to get there, and you pass other veggie friendly spots along the way, so keep an open mind and see what you find!
Sigh! The one that got away! I found out about this place during my last few days, and being a little out of town I didn’t get a chance to go there. However I have heard that it is really awesome, so if you go to Ubud please visit and enjoy the “sweet coconut rice pudding with fresh fruit and toasted mung beans on top” (Yes, I examined their menu online!)
This last place also reminds me of a beautiful Balinese saying which sounds like elephant-elephant (if you are Indian). The saying is “Hathi-hathi” literally meaning “watch your heart”, and more commonly understood to mean “take care and go slowly”.
I realise I haven’t said anything about the local cuisine, but it is quite vegan-friendly. If in doubt you can always ask for a vegan Nasi Goreng with tempeh, which translates to “fried rice” in Indonesian, but is so much more than that.
Before I wrap up my reminiscing, here is one final tip: when in Ubud if you pass a gelato or ice-cream place, it is always worth stopping to take a look! Chances are there will be at least one vegan, coconut-based option. And if you love coconuts do pay a visit to Tukies, where you can sip on a coconut while eating coconut ice cream with coconut shavings, and eye-ing up the coconut butter, wich looks weirdly like peanut butter.