If you’re visiting Bali, you may notice on your usual Google Map exploring that many of the destinations on maps are labelled as “Warungs”. You may be wondering what is a Warung? And should I visit? Keep reading to find out what exactly a Warung is!
- What is a Warung?
- What’s so special about the Warung eatery?
- Why should you visit a Warung in Bali?
- Where are the best Warung’s in Ubud?
What is a “Warung”?
Warung is a term used to indicate that a business is family owned. It usually refers to small customer facing businesses but can be one of many types. For example, there are Warung Internet cafes and Warung shops (called Warung Rokok.)
However, the vast majority are eateries of some kind. Often, the word “Makan” is used after Warung to denote that it is a restaurant. Sometimes it could be Warung Nasi (rice) or another description.
Warung eateries can be found everywhere in Bali. They may be small roadside pit stops in the middle of nowhere, or larger restaurants in the centre of towns.
What’s so special about the Warung eatery Bali?
There are three main things that are so special about Warung’s in Indoensia.
Firstly, Warung’s are hubs of the community. Unlike more upmarket restaurants and bars with an upmarket feel, Warung’s are open to everyone. If you visit in Warung whilst in Bali, you will most likley see tourists but also Indonesian’s. Whether these be couples on dates, solo diners or large family groups. Everyone is invited!
At a recent visit to a coffee Warung in Ubud, I found locals hiding from the rain playing the guitar sitting alongside a couple of wild Luwaks. No doubt the Luwaks were sniffing around the coffee beans!
Secondly, Warung’s are very inexpensive. In Ubud for example, you can have an enjoyable meal with a large (500ml) local beer Bintang for 60,000 IDR (this is less than $4. And a big old chunk of that price is for the beer!
Thirdly, Warungs are family owned and run businesses. So you know that whatever you spend in a Warung is going back to the family and not to a larger company. Plus, you also get an incredibly warm welcome that feels like you’re being welcomed into a home.
Some Warung’s may be basic, I visited one in Kuta that had no cutlery, menus or bathroom but others have a more luxurious feel. Many have extensive food options, but others may be quite limited menus. But that’s not to say that you won’t get incredible food. Far from it. Having a limited menu is probably a sign that this particular Warung has a speciality! Whether its Nasi Gorgeng, Sambal Matah, Satay, Pork Ribs or Beef Randang, you can get it all at different Warungs in Bali.
Why should you visit a Warung in Bali?
As one Indonesian man said to me with some exasperation “I don’t know why all you Europeans travel across the world to eat your own food.” I quite agree! Warungs are the counterbalance to this anecdote. In these small family run restaurants, all you will find is local food served by local people. Not only will you try some of the best food, but it will be guaranteed to be authentically Balinese. Oftentimes food is made to a specific family recipe, meaing you can’t replicate the exact dish anywhere else.
Secondly, as Warungs are frequented by tourists and locals, you’re more likely to meet locals in a Warung than in a more exclusive restaurant. If you want a genuine travel experience, then visiting a Warung is a must.
Eating at a Warung gives you a chance to put money into Bali’s local economy. In Bali 10% of the economy is driven by tourism, if you visit a Warung you’ll be helping to promote local and family run tourism. Bali was closed to tourists for a significant part of 2020 and 2021, even into 2022 therefore any money spent in these delightful eateries can only help financial recovery.
If you do visit a Warung in Bali, go in with an open mind and be willing to try something new. Oh, and make sure you take some cash. Most Warungs will not accept card.
Where are the best Warung’s in Ubud?
Ubud is an epicentre of Balinese cuisine. But there’s a shocking number of Italian and European restaurants popping up that seem to be drawing crowds. This seems a total shame when Ubud has so many Warungs that are serving up local delicacies for low prices.
So if you travel to Ubud in Bali – why not try one of these Warung’s before you make a beeline for the flashy looking Instagram hot spot.
For coffee, try Warung Buana Coffee. This intimate spot in the centre of Ubud offers an extensive coffee menu and each coffee is made with absolute attention to detail. It’s small, but if you’re lucky you’ll get a table next to one of the Luwaks that come to hang out.
For a romantic and idyllic setting, visit Warung Makan Bu Rus. Not only is the garden out the back spacious and beautiful, but the service is wonderful and the food to boot. Try one of their delicious vegetable curries or noodle dishes.
For the best Beef Randang in Ubud, try Murni’s Warung which sits with terrific views over the river. This is a great option if you’ve just completed the Campuhan Ridge Walk.
For a bit of a unique concept, try Fair Warung Bale. This delightful restaurant has an option on the menu to pay for a medical treatment for a Balianese citizen. If you’re considering having another beer, you can buy a vaccination for someone for less than the cost of one more drink.
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