Restaurants vs Warungs?
It’s so easy to visit Bali, eat in some exceptional places, and not even try the local cuisine. Rich in spices and bold flavours, Balinese food is some of the best in Indonesia.
You will often see smaller places serving food, referred to as a warung rather than a restaurant. The Indonesians call a small traditional restaurant or a small shop, a warung - literally meaning ‘shop’. Most of the time a warung is simply a shop front offering anything from soap to cigarettes to phone credit. They also serve local food, and are family run.
Some warungs are simple shacks along the roadside, with some seating provided, a table, a rice cooker, a gas stove and not much else. Traditional food is served here, and some of these local warungs are famous for their secret recipes. Locals will travel the island for their favourite plate! Some will have menus, while others will focus on one dish.
Most warungs have no fancy road sign or web page, but you’ll be able to tell their popularity by the queue of people waiting for their food! And if they close unexpectedly, you know they’ve run out of food.
Warungs located in tourist areas, are mostly cozy little restaurants, specializing in traditional food. Their menu will be slightly more extensive than the smaller roadside options. And some bigger, better equipped restaurants, simply have the name Warung in their title to indicate they serve traditional food.
So is it safe? Yes, but sometimes hygiene is an issue in the very small, local versions. More so for us weaker stomached westerners than the locals. In the restaurant types, you will not have a problem.
The days where you had to be wary of ice or eating fruit and vegetables have long gone. The majority of places use filtered water for cooking and washing, and ice is supplied safely.