Dining in Padang Bai is generally a relaxed, casual affair with a plethora of beachside cafés serving up typical Western food and Indonesian rice and noodle dishes. Seafood is unsurprisingly a speciality here with locally-caught lobster, barracuda, red snapper and huge king prawns always good value. Many places organise nightly seafood barbecues or ‘all you can eat’ lunchtime buffets. There are a few places specialising in authentic Italian, Chinese and Mexican cuisine and even a restaurant serving up hearty Czech food.
There are a couple of more upmarket restaurants attached to hotels on the outskirts of the village which offer elegant open air surroundings and exquisite dining at prices to match.
Otherwise virtually all Padang Bai eateries have moderate or cheap menus and early evening happy hours are common. The bar scene in Padang Bai is equally as low key with just a handful of places staying open beyond midnight.
There are a few lively hangouts which are popular with the scuba diving fraternity and in the eastern end of the bay are a cluster of weird and wonderful reggae bars which stay open as long as people are having fun. Many of the busier places show movies in the evening or live sports on TV.
Recommended Padang Bai restaurants
Dona Depot Restaurant
Simple traveller’s fare and cheap Indonesian and Chinese favourites are the order of the day here. It offers no nonsense efficient service and hearty portions of chicken saté, Chinese omelettes, burgers and toasted sandwiches. There is an excellent range of coffees and juices for such a small place. It lacks a little atmosphere but is one of Padang Bai’s cheapest and perfect for a quick lunchtime snack. Located next to the Perama office.
Set back in the village, this charming budget café is deservedly popular and very cheap despite its excellent quality food. There is a large roof top terrace affording panoramic views and a commendable choice of refreshing cocktails to try. website: www.freewebs.com.
Situated at the far west of the main beach before the turning towards Blue Lagoon, this sprawling restaurant and bar features live music, great coffee, cakes, pasteries and a full manu of local and Western favourites. Everything is freshly prepared with no msg and utterly delicious. The ratatouille with mashed potatoes was divine while the burgers are large, juicy with no scrimping on the fries. There is WiFi throughout and live music at weekends. Service can be a little slow, however. website: www.topiinn.nl.
Set back slightly from the beach, this charming traveller’s cafe is a casual spot for early evening sundowners and boasts a broad menu of Western dishes. Diners flock here for the seafood barbecues which are excellent value and deservedly popular. Rightly packed every night for it’s delicious wood oven-fired pizzas, it shows big screen movies most nights and has one of Padang Bai’s finest selections of wine in this price bracket. website: www.puriraihotel.com.
Recommended Padang Bai bars and pubs
The unofficial centre of Padang Bai’s traveller scene. This is a chilled out place to drop in for a few beers and watch TV sports. It is always full with resident diving instructors and their students and a great place to meet up with fellow travellers. There is an extensive menu of moderately priced Mediterranean dishes and cheap happy hours most nights.
The liveliest in a group of reggae bars in the east side of town, this place features weird and wonderful tropical design and a fun night out guaranteed for all. There is live music a couple of nights a week and a breezy outdoor terrace to catch your breath and chill out. The extrovert barstaff are friendly and always keen to entertain a crowd themselves. Often remains open as long as people are enjoying themselves.
Omang Omang Cafe
Perched up on the hill behind the village, this vibrant little place has a faintly bohemian atmosphere with funky decor and an eclectic soundtrack of chilled out music. Occasional live bands crank up the decibel level but otherwise it is a relaxed and quite stylish place to enjoy a beer or two and shoot some pool.