This local guide to eating and drinking in Canggu, Bali, comes from Geoff Lindsay, the Aussie owner-chef of Salumeria Tanah Barak a Spuntini and Campari Bar in Canggu, Dandelion restaurant and the Crab Club Pop Up, Melbourne, and chef at Saigon Street in Seminyak, Bali.
We’re big fans of Geoff Lindsay’s Vietnamese restaurant Dandelion in Melbourne (and his Crab Club is the stuff my food dreams are made of), so we were pleased to hear that he’d opened Salumeria Tanah Barak a Spuntini and Campari Bar in Canggu, Bali, and even more delighted once we got to eat and drink there on our recent Bali trip.
While Italian wouldn’t normally be on our radar on an Indonesian island – our interest is always in the local food of a place, wherever we go – there does come a time on a trip when you need a change from the indigenous cuisine and Italian tends to be what we’ll seek out. A rumour that Geoff’s staff was mixing the best negroni on Bali was also a little bit of a lure.
We were eager to check out Canggu again, too. We’d heard it had changed a lot since our 2010 trip, when we stayed in a villa for two weeks in Tumbak Bayuh village, a short drive from there. And it had, indeed!
As we weren’t there long enough to do any decent research for you, we thought we’d do what we do here on Grantourismo and go to a local expert. Geoff has been living in this little piece of seaside hipster heaven for three and a half years now (you can read more about that in this companion post) so who better to guide us on eating and drinking in Canggu, Bali, than a Canggu-based chef.
A Local Guide to Eating and Drinking in Canggu, Bali – An Interview with Chef Geoff Lindsay
Q. Why should Bali visitors base themselves in Canggu?
A. The Canggu scene is very laidback with a mix of surfers and well-heeled expats in green belt villas. Canggu has long been a hub for French, Italian and Spanish holiday makers – and now more Scandinavians and Russians – whereas the Aussies would come for a surf and go back to Kuta. Even now, it’s mostly European accents you here in the cafés. It’s got a very cosmopolitan air, so as an Aussie it doesn’t feel like a part of Australia, which Kuta, Legian and now Seminyak have for a long time. There are still plenty of rice paddies in Canggu so whilst the development is going ahead at lightning speed you can still see a bit of old Bali. The surfing and beaches are great. It has close proximity to Tanah Lot and Ubud and it’s easy to get back into Seminyak for the great restaurants that are there. There are abundant villas for rent and it’s still quiet and laidback.
Q. Should people stay in a villa or hotel?
A. Canggu is still mainly villa style accommodation and this is its big feature. Canggu is blessed with strips of green belt that run between its main roads. There is no beach road yet so it’s still pretty peaceful in the residential area. The Tugu Hotel has been on Batu Bolong beach for many years and still remains the best place for those who want a hotel experience.
Q. Big appeal of Canggu for you?
A. I love living in Canggu. You still feel like you are living in Bali and part of a local community – unlike Seminyak and the south – there are kids playing in the street, daily ceremonies everywhere, and your neighbour is likely to be a local. From a new resident’s perspective, it feels about 75% expats, but this is changing quickly as more tourists discover its charm. Most of the tourists will stay in the area longer, say, a month rather that a week or two for those who choose Seminyak. It’s got a very diverse mix of people, its quiet where you want it to be quiet and has a buzz where you want it to!
Q. What sets eating and drinking in Canggu apart from other areas of Bali?
A. With the exception of the iconic beach bar Old Mans and Deus Ex Machina, most of the best venues are small and hard to find, like the back streets of a big city. The restaurants of Seminyak just keep getting bigger and bigger. It’s fun to go to a place that seats 500, but you can’t expect that you will get a truly memorable foodie experience there.
Q. Best place for Balinese/Indonesian food in Canggu?
A. Bu Me – my favourite warung in Canggu. Very high quality food, always abundant and very cheap. It’s just on Jalan Batu Mejan near the junction.
Q. Canggu’s best street food?
A. On Sundays at the temple on Batu Bolong (Old Man’s) beach is the best place to eat street food. Sunday is the day all the locals come to the beach at sunset. Look out for the tipat tahu, fried bean curd with peanut sauce, and some fantastic fish satay, rarely seen in Bali.
Q. Does Canggu have a quintessential dish?
A. The smoothie bowl is perhaps the quintessential Canggu dish – a breakfast staple of pureed fruit, topped with yoghurt, sliced fruit and various grains, served in a coconut. Generally Instagrammed before eating, it’s not a gourmet chefs signature dish but it is the most ordered!
Q. Best overall eating and drinking in Canggu?
A. Ji at the Tugu hotel – Bali’s best Japanese restaurant. Amazingly creative cocktails, beautiful fresh sushi and lip-smackingly good grilled meats. My choice for date night.
Grilled whole fish at Echo beach – it’s a bit of a tourist trap, but I still love it. Grab a big fish (they will grill it over coconut), an icy Bintang, and watch the sunset.
Laca Lita – there is Mexican everywhere in Bali and frankly it’s generally terrible. Laca Lita in Batu Bolong is the exception. The margaritas are the real thing, and the fish tacos are fresh, light and crunchy!
One Eyed Jack’s – an izakaya style Japanese restaurant in Berawa with a great interior, a fantastic selection of sake, and the rustic Japanese pub style food is brilliant.
Shady Shack – a restaurant in Tanah Barak, just near Salumeria, is a regular haunt for the vegan yoga set, with absolutely delicious food.
Farine Sourdough – good bread in Bali is very hard to find. The island’s best bread is made by Chef Steve Skelly in a very stylish bakery in Jalan Pantai Berawa – amazing dense sourdoughs that are good for days!
Q. Best Canggu breakfast and brunch?
A. Crate – the best breakfast in Canggu as it serves the best coffee, great plated breakfasts like poached eggs with crushed peas, mint and feta, and has the best people watching.
The Naked Coconut – on the beach at Berawa it has the best beach brunch. After a long walk on the beach with the dog, it’s a great place to rehydrate with a coconut.
Monsieur Spoon – for the best bakery, coffee and cake, or a party. First class croissants, pain au chocolate and baguettes.
Q. Best Canggu cafés and coffee?
A. Crate – the best coffee in Canggu.
Cafe Veda in Batu Bolong – a close second. Just new, it’s very serious about its coffee and has quickly gained a following.
Look out also for Bootstrap coffee – they do great cold brew. They have a small shop in Jalan Pantai Berawa but there coffee is available in stubbies in fridges all around Canggu.
Q. Best Canggu food market?
A. Samardi Organic Market on a Sunday in Padang Linjong. We get a week’s supply of organic fruit and veg. Bali’s best eggs and chickens from Wanaprasta, and turmeric juice and seafood from Made Fish!
Q. A tip for people settling into a villa in Canggu for a holiday?
A. You will need a weekly shop at Samadi Organic Market for all your stay at home meals.
Q. Best Canggu bars?
A. Obviously Salumeria represents everything I love about bars – it has my favourite cocktails and beverages, along with my favourite food to eat when I am drinking! It’s my favourite bar in the world!
Old Man’s – the most famous and one of the great Bali beach bars. It’s an open, come one come all bar, 2 for 1 happy hours daily, party all night kind of place. It’s heaven for the surfers looking for a cheap place to drink and pick up.
Black Shores – my choice after work; a chefs’ hang out with great grown-up cocktails, no coconuts or umbrellas, just well made, properly measured beverages. It’s hard to find and that’s okay by me.
Pretty Poison – another bar in the mould of Old Man’s, built for the younger traveller. Not on the beach, but off Canggu’s famous short cut road. Resembles the bar on the city limits in ‘Dusk til Dawn’ the action is all around a skate bowl that features a very impressive array of skaters!
Q. Best source of info on eating and drinking in Canggu?
A. I think it’s best done by talking to people eating and drinking in Canggu. It’s hipster central so things change pretty quickly. But before you come, research: the Gu Guide website and blog, which is dedicated to the best in Canggu; the Bali Chronicles is another blog that always mentions the best of Canggu; and the Bali Bible, which is perhaps the best-known reference to what’s on in Bali.
Q. To work up an appetite… best waves?
A. There would be about a dozen breaks from Berawa to Pererenan in Canggu. For me, it’s Old Mans, by name and by nature; the long board wave on Batu Bolong beach; or the river mouth at Pererenan if it’s not too big.
Q. What else do you recommend visitors do at Canggu?
A. Kite surfing at Pantai Nalayan; night surfing outside Finns Beach Club at Berawa; yoga at Samadi or The Practice; the skate bowl in the nightclub at Pretty Poison; and massage and facials at Gold Dust.
Q. Canggu’s best foodie souvenir?
A. The memories of eating and drinking in Canggu.