As well as spice-driven, beautifully aromatic Balinese fare, Ubud is brimming with all sorts of other styles of food – particularly of the colourful, fresh produce-packed kind. Ubud is one of my family's favourite destinations, and in large part that's thanks to the excellent food we've found there.
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Balmy mornings by the villa's pool get off to a great start with ultra-strong Balinese coffee – private villa stays like our go-to Devi's Place (penestanan.com) tend to include breakfast and it's gloriously locavore with tropical fruit, pineapple jam on toast and this thick, rich coffee, which is grown in the eastern part of Bali.
We opt to stay outside the busy centre of Ubud, and seek out great places to be fed and watered in and around quieter villages such as Penestanan and Sayan – built around rice paddies and jungled gullies, they offer plenty of walking trails and the chance to wander, eat, repeat.
Yellow Flower Cafe, on a ridgeline with views across the jungle to Campuhan Hill, is a favourite for its Balinese-meets-Antipodean-cafe fare – don't miss the smoothie bowls, or the nasi goreng, which comes with crunchy deep-fried lentils, red rice, and a deliciously caramelised fried banana on top.
Perched on the paddies of Sayan, Moksa supplies its vegan kitchen from the extensive organic garden its tables look out on to. It also hosts a twice-weekly organic farmers market, bursting with fruit and veg, honey, spice blends and sambals, and shots of jamu – this turmeric, lime and honey drink is a fantastic daily elixir.
Do also visit the morning market in central Ubud on Jl Raya Ubud – go at sunrise and trek beyond the tourist-oriented edge, under the concrete arches into the dimly lit but bursting with colour local market; most accommodation operators can arrange a guide for this if needed.
For a refined yet unpretentious dining experience, Ubud central is the place to go. In an elegant two-storied space overlooking a temple, the team at Hujan Locale has researched traditional recipes from Bali and the wider Indonesian archipelago and kept defining characteristics while giving the presentation a contemporary edge.
We've visited three times and loved dishes such as lamb and jackfruit curry redolent with spices from Yemeni Arab settlers, and the ubiquitously Balinese bebek goreng (fried duck, with lots of side dishes). Book ahead to experience Asia Top 50 restaurant Locavore – its five- to seven-course tasting menus with drinks match option offers a rare and special splash-out, while its a la carte sister restaurant Nusantara is more accessible.
At the other end of the scale, quick snacks on the street are easily come by all around Ubud. Nasi campur (literally "mixed rice") is one of our favourite things to grab on the go from a roadside warung or street cart - a banana-leaf parcel of steamed rice and accompaniments such as chicken curry, marinated fried tempeh, lentils, wilted greens, and the ultimate Balinese treat, pieces of crisp spit-roasted pig skin.
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As dusk falls, it's hard not to be drawn to one of the makeshift stalls on any given village street where invariably, a hunched old man fans smouldering coals cooking little skewers of chicken. Half a dozen, doused in spicy, oily peanut sauce and wrapped in waxed paper is the perfect pre-dinner morsel or late-night poolside snack with a cool Bintang.