fav sate lilit bali

What to Eat in Bali: Tasty, Budget-Friendly Must-Try Local Food


What to eat in Bali would be one of the questions you’ve asked yourself when you’re planning your tropical Bali vacation. Famous for the mouthwatering menu and distinct spice taste, the Balinese dishes are favorites of locals and tourists alike. Let’s take a look at some of our favorites!

What to Eat in Bali: Try Sate Lilit!

This dish is different from the usual satay you’re probably used to seeing. The word “lilit” literally means “twisted”. Unlike most satay, the meat of sate lilit is wound around a wide, often flat, bamboo stick or lemongrass stick. The wideness of the stick is necessary for the minced meat to stick and stay. The dish is rich with the lemon grass fragrance.

fav sate lilit bali

Sate lilit is simply rich in flavor. One of the most popular ingredients of sate lilit is fish. However, a variety of meat is used, from minced pork, chicken, and even beef, although some Balinese avoid beef because of their religious beliefs. A very versatile dish. Lovely to eat with rice or nasi campur, or enjoy them on their own—with or without sambal.

What to Eat in Bali: Ayam and Bebek Betutu

ayam betutu bali

Betutu is the name of a popular Balinese seasoning loved by locals and tourists alike. Ayam here means “chicken” and “bebek” is the duck counterpart. It’s a famous dish eaten every day by the locals. The betutu you’ll get to taste in the Denpasar and Kuta area is generally not so hot and spicy. The Gilimanuk region variant is known to have a stronger spicy taste.

The Signature Babi Guling

babi guling bali's signature dish

Now, this one is one of the most popular local dishes originated in Bali. It seemed that any “What to Eat in Bali” list is not going to be complete without this signature dish. Whether it’s domestic, foreign tourists, or even plain old Balinese themselves—all love Babi Guling. The name of the dish is can be roughly translated to “suckling pig”. The dish has been referred to by BBC Travel as “Indonesia’s Unlikely Pork Feast”. Since the dish stays popular despite the fact that the majority of Indonesians are Muslim.

Tempong Babi

Another dish made of pigs that should be on your list of what to eat in Bali. The “Tempong” dish originated from Banyuwangi, a region located in the East of Java. It’s most commonly referred to as Nasi Tempong or Sego Tempong. The Babi (pig) variant is only available on the island of Bali. The fried or toasted pig is served with several kinds of vegetables a bit similar to Lalapan. Those vegetables are long beans, Sayur Ijo, and cabbages, served along with the distinct spicy sambal.

yummy babi tempong in bali at Made Top1

One of the places in Bali that serve the dish is Tempong Babi Made Top located in Seminyak. Made Top served their Tempong Babi with four kinds of sambal (Indonesian traditional sauces). Their sauces are Sambal Made Top, Sambal Korek, Sambal Terasi (grounded chili with shrimp paste), as well as Sambal Matah.

Nasi Campur

This dish is an everyday staple for Indonesians. They are especially popular with office workers as well as college students. It’s basically the go-to dish in Warungs for office workers’ lunch. Some people referred to the dish as “Nasi Bali”. You haven’t experienced the locals’ favorite in your what to eat in Bali list if you haven’t tried Nasi Campur.

Balinese staple nasi campur

Nasi in Bahasa Indonesia means rice. The Balinese variant of the Nasi Campur is arguably the most popular one in the island. Balinese spice mixture known as basa genep is often used in making nasi Campur. Bailiese Nasi Campur typically has satay (often Sate Lilit, and sate ayam), spicy sauce (sambal), and some cooked vegetables. They are often served on a banana leaf. However, as the name suggests, “Nasi Campur” means “mixed rice”. With that in mind, basically anything can go, as long as it started with Nasi. A lot of warungs serve the dish prasmanan style (buffet), with the vendors behind a glass cabinet where you have to point to which dish you want in your dish.

What to Eat in Bali: Nasi Jinggo

If you’re wondering what to eat in Bali with just a few coins, then the answer is Nasi Jinggo. It’s undoubtedly one of the cheapest, if not the cheapest dish that you can enjoy in Bali. Wrapped in green banana leaves, these Nasi Jinggos are sold when they’re steaming hot.

More readings: Best Time to Visit Bali Indonesia for You?

Vendors mostly sell them in the streets. Some people have taken selling Nasi Jinggo with their bicycle or motorbike around. The vendors often “beeped” their bells or shout “Nasi Jinggo” in the residential area. Nasi Jinggo used to be priced at Rp. 1,500,- during the first time it emerged in popularity. Which is also where Nasi Jinggo had gotten its name. While the word “nasi” simply meant “rice”, the word “jinggo” likely originated from jenggo”, a colloquial for 1,500,- in Chinese Hokkien. Nasi Jinggo is definitely a perfect choice when you want to eat on a budget.

delicious nasi jinggo
The most common serving of Nasi Jinggo… minus the satay! Source: visitbali.id

Nasi Jinggo is available in a small portion. You’re likely not going to be full just by eating one wrap of Nasi Jinggo. This dish commonly consisted of Nasi Kuning (yellow rice), sambal (chili sauce), shredded chicken meat, fried peanuts, a bit of noodle, with some other variants depending on the sellers. Shredded fried eggs are one of the most common “lauk” included as well.

Today’s Nasi Jinggo cost approximately Rp. 3,000,- to 5,000. It’s perfect to taste when you’re not particularly hungry or when you’re snacking in between meals.

What to Eat in Bali: Tipat Cantok

If you have tasted “siomay” and loved it, then chances are, you’re going to love Tipat Cantok as well. To those who are familiar with Indonesian dishes would also know that “Tipat” originates from the word “Ketupat”, which is a dish available in many regions in Indonesia with their own variations. It’s one of the most delicious and healthy meals in Bali suitable for vegetarians.

tipat cantok in bali

“Tipat” itself refers to the rice cake used as the main ingredients aside from the sauce. Other ingredients used in Tipat Cantok are several types of vegetables as well as fried tofu. The tofu used in Tipat Cantok (and in Indonesia’s food in general) are usually much firmer and does not fall apart easily. Tempe (soy cake) is another optional ingredient used in making Tipat Cantok.

An important key in Tipat Cantok is the peanut dressing. The peanut sauce dressing is made of toasted peanut, chili, brown sugar, garlic, sweet soy sauce, and water. The water content determines the thickness of the dressing. Personally, I prefer a thicker texture for my Tipat Dressing. Tipat Cantok is a brilliant dish to savor during lunch when you’re wondering about what to eat in Bali.