Move over, Seminyak—some of the most interesting new restaurants and bars in Bali have opened just up the coast.
Successive waves of latter-day colonizers have rolled over Canggu, a now-bustling (and villa-studded) beach area to the north of Seminyak on Bali’s southwest coast. First came the surfers, then came the expats, and more recently the hipsters, each group leaving its mark on the place. But while the atmosphere remains laid-back and the waves beckon as always, Canggu’s food and drink options have recently expanded well beyond the offerings at neighborhood stalwarts Deus ex Machina and Old Man’s.
For starters, there’s Shady Shack (62/819-1639-5087) on paddy-fringed Jalan Tanah Barak. From the team behind nearby Betelnut, it’s a textbook-perfect vegetarian and vegan café that’s executed with real sophistication. The Halloumi Bowl, replete with quinoa, beetroot, toasted limes, olives, and rocket, is a standout; coffees are excellent; and healthy juices and power shots run from bee pollen to a vegan turmeric latte.
A short wander down the road, Salumeria Tanah Barak (62-361/300-3463) offers a thoroughly Balinese take on Italian spuntini, or sharing plates, complete with single-estate espressos and Campari cocktails. Chef Geoff Lindsay sources all his cheeses and meats (excluding prosciutto) from within Indonesia—though from the perfectly ripened “Camembert,” crumbly soppressata-style sausage, and toothsome Sumatran oysters, it’s impossible to tell.
On the easternmost of Canggu’s three main roads, Jalan Pantai Berawa, is One Eyed Jack (62/819-9929-1888), whose discreet frontage belies the sophistication within. Part-Japanese owned, with one chef from Kyoto and another via Nobu in New York, the contemporary izakaya is all polished concrete and exposed brickwork. Next-generation sashimi is a standout here, while the Japanese-influenced cocktails, such as the whisky-citrus One Night in Roppongi, also impress. Worthy of note on the same street are a couple of combined retail and eatery options: Peloton Supershop (62/859-5413-1451), a vegan café that also sells delectable fixie bikes and accessories; and Bungalow Living (62-361/844-6567), which dishes up appealing homewares and distressed furniture alongside cakes and juices.
When it opened on Batu Bolong Beach in 1997, the luxurious, antiques-strewn Hotel Tugu Bali was Canggu’s solitary landmark. But even this classic is moving with the times, as witnessed by Ji at the Bale Sutra (62-361/473-1701), the Tugu’s new restaurant, sake bar, and rooftop lounge. Expect solid Japanese fusion fare served within a salvaged 18th-century Chinese temple hung with vintage Balinese art and photos; the dashi ceviche is a standout. Or enjoy spectacular Asian-influenced cocktails on a romantic roof terrace illuminated by old lanterns.
While Bintang beers remain the order of the day in most of Canggu, Black Shores (62/813-3987-4055), nestled by the Echo Beach junction, is the area’s first dedicated cocktail bar, a brushed-concrete emporium of contemporary good times and classic, London-style old-fashioneds. Craving margaritas? The ones at nearby Mexican bar and kitchen Lacalita (62/822-4731-2217) will hit the spot.
Big and bold, the sinuous, sunset-facing bamboo curves of Finn’s Beach Club (62-361/844-6327) now dominate Berawa Beach: high-powered spotlights enable night surfing, a novelty that adds drama whether you’re dining, drinking, or enjoying the infinity pool. The food here is Mediterranean-influenced, with well-presented sharing platters—think dips, grilled veggies, meats, and cheeses—alongside similarly classic mains.
Of course, a beach break wouldn’t be a beach break without ice cream, and Canggu now has plenty of options in that regard. The Echo Beach branch of Gaya Gelato (62-361/846-9246) is one, serving the shop’s trademark organic gelatos and tangy sorbets. Or head to Creamery (62/819-9982-5898), where mix-ins from cookie dough to Snickers bars are whizzed up into custom-flavored ice creams amid a cloud of liquid nitrogen—a piece of theater that’s as emblematic of Canggu’s current buzz as anything.
This article originally appeared in the October/November print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Canggu’s New Crop”).