Top 5 Places to Eat on Gili Air

Top 5 Places to Eat on Gili Air Title Pic

On my most recent trip to Indonesia, I decided to spend eight nights on Gili Air. I was curious to head back to the Gili Islands as it had been quite a few years since I had been there. If I think about it now, the last time I actually stayed on Gili Air was in 1995! OMG! I was just graduated from uni, living and working in Central Java and travelled as much as I could. It sounds like a story from the 60’s but I hitch-hiked to get to the island and I slept wrapped in a sarong in a bruga/bale {bamboo hut} on the beach. I would not recommend this in this crazy world we live in now! {Any ex-students of mine, that may be reading this, do not try this!}

Anyway, back to Gili Air in June 2014 and although there was obvious development on the island since I had been there, it was still fairly quiet and simple. And yes, I could rave about the beautiful beaches, the warm crystal blue ocean, the stunning sunsets, the friendly locals and the picturesque views of Mount Rinjani and the other Gili gems…BUT…what I really want to tell you about is the DELICIOUS food that we {we=my partner in crime/love of my life and I} would excitedly hunt out every evening and happily devour under the starlit ebony skies of Gili Air…with the sounds of the waves softly lapping at the shore {or wildly lapping, as we did have a couple of windy days with high tides!}

Every single night we would eat at a different place and every single night was a pure delight {okay, we did double up on a couple of places as they were SO good and we just had to go back again}. I can seriously say that I ate some of the best food on the island, that I have ever eaten in Indonesia {big call, I know}. So, I wanted to share my ‘Top 5 Places to Eat on Gili Air’, so that you can be in the know {and ready for the eating} on your next holiday to Gili Air. You too, can eat your way around this beautiful little island!

Here we go.

1. Scallywags Organic Beach Club {Central}

Scallywags Organic Beach Club is known for it’s home-comforts in design and menu, it’s a popular spot with it’s big luxurious cushioned lounge chairs to it’s sun beds right on the beach. I love it’s simplicity and the fact that it’s made from all natural materials. The menu is like no other, providing a variety of local and international snacks and meals from breakfast through to lunch and dinner. And a cocktail list to die for! {Umm…yes, I did try quite a few! It’s all for research, right?!}

But, what I really want to talk to you about is the Scallywag’s Special Seafood BBQ, which pops up in the evening. It’s a pretty sight and cruisey atmosphere with tables and chairs set up along the beach with glittering candles. The display of fresh seafood is so inviting, I guarantee you will have eyes-bigger-than-your-stomach syndrome {as we did, more than once!} because the variety of seafood is just so delectable that you want to try it all. So the system is; you choose what seafood {they also have meat for those crazy people that won’t eat seafood! And vegetarian kebabs are also available} you would like from the refrigerated display and it is weighed up to the set price. All BBQ dishes come with your choice of a baked potato or steamed rice and unlimited servings from the organic salad bar. So, while the chef is cooking your seafood on the BBQ, you can select your salad plate {there is a huge variety of salads and salad dressings – all so yummy! And a variety of breads too!} and get started with the cocktail menu while waiting for your seafood BBQ to arrive on your table.

WE ATE: From the Seafood BBQ – BBQ king prawns {I have NEVER seen prawns this big…and I’ve eaten prawns all over the world on my travels!}, BBQ whole snapper, fresh squid and ikan pepes {spiced fish wrapped and cooked in banana leaf Balinese-style} – this was THE BEST!

BEST COCKTAIL: Frozen Lime Margarita

Scallywags Organic Beach Club Pic Collage

2. Caballito de Mar {Central}

Caballito de Mar {CDM} restaurant and roof-top lounge bar; a new upmarket, secluded restaurant-come-beach-club that oozes chilled Spanish vibes, where the name derives from, complete with swimming pool surrounded by lounges and tables and chairs set up under marquees and on the beach under trees filled with fairy lights. As their slogan goes; EAT – DRINK – RELAX – and that is exactly what we did, with our feet rested in the soft, white sand we obeyed the slogan. Both local Indonesian and Mediterranean cuisines are available. As I am a huge fan of Tapas, I was definitely drawn-in by the Tapas menu. The roof-top lounge bar is the perfect quiet spot to watch the sun set with a couple of cocktails.

WE ATE: Tapas Tasting Plate For Two – chilli prawns, bruschetta, albondigas {spiced beef meatballs, fried then simmered in a herbed tomato reduction}, stuffed mushrooms and potatas bravas, and Appetisers consisted of; mushroom arancini balls, pumpkin cigars {which were like mashed pumpkin spring rolls} – a favourite for many tourists, calamari rings and zucchini fritters {YUM!}. Mains consisted of; mixed satay – chicken and beef, and fish tacos with spicy Mexican rice. And dessert…the most divine lime and coconut cheesecake I have ever tasted with vanilla ice cream. Holy moly! Everything we ordered was delicious.

BEST COCKTAIL: Coco Mojito

*So good, we had to come more than once, hence the long list of what we ate. {No, we didn’t eat all that in one sitting!}

CDM Meal1 Pic Collage

CDM Meal2 Pic Collage

3. The Mexican Kitchen {Bintang Beach}

The Mexican Kitchen is situated in the most perfect spot for viewing the spectacular Gili Air sunsets. A large area filled with simple bamboo bruga/bale and bamboo couches lining the quiet beach.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that this place is ONLY good for a sunset drink, the food was amazing! I felt this place was over-looked by other tourists; who sipped on a small Bintang beer while watching the sunset and once the sun had dipped down low, these tourists all wandered off, leaving us the only ones staying around for dinner. I would like to tell all those tourists, that they missed out BIG time! All of the food we ate {and we ate A LOT!} at The Mexican Kitchen was divine…I could have been sitting on a beach in Mexico or Spain! Oh, how they missed out!

WE ATE: Entree –  arincini balls and potatas bravas and for Main – the seafood paella…it was HUGE, a serving for two could have easily fed four people. Delicious!

BEST COCKTAIL: Cosmopolitan

The Mexican Kitchen Dinner Pic Collage

The Mexican Kitchen Cosmopolitan Sunset Pic

4. Le Cirque {Sunrise Resort – Central}

Le Cirque caught my eye straight away…there are a line of bruga/bale decorated with different coloured material draped around each one…so so pretty. Le Cirque offers tables and chairs in a more formal dining area and also the choice of the more relaxed style {kick off your thongs and get comfy on a big cushion} in one of their many pretty bruga/bale. Known for it’s La Carte menu of French and Asian fusion cuisine.

Le Cirque also have a Patisserie; home to all their sweet treats and dessert heaven. The Lemon Tart and the Banoffee Crumble were both delicious. OMG.

I love the fact that their bread, patisserie, jams and sauces are all crafted in house and all in-line with their health and ecological ethos, that is; no use of MSG or palm oil respectively.

WE ATE: Scallops Garlic Parsley with vegetables and black rice and Tuna Sesame Steak, Roasted Pineapple Balsamic Reduction with vegetables and black rice. Both delectable!

BEST COCKTAIL: Sex on the Beach

Le Cirque Main meals Pic Collage

5. Raja Bar & Restaurant {Salim Cottages – Central}

Raja Bar was one of those unsuspected joys of a dinner delight. Another restaurant, that was obviously over-looked by tourists, as every night when we walked past it, there was no one having dinner there. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps it didn’t look cool or trendy enough? I don’t know. But one night, we decided to give it a go!

Raja Bar occupies a huge area of lovely tables and chairs and also cushioned platforms along the shore line…we chose one of these, kicked off our thongs and got settled on the big cushions with a clear view straight out to sea. Dimly lit with pretty views and a huge menu. Prices were so cheap here, so if you are looking for a cheap eat, then this is it.

WE ATE: Mains: Fillet Mignon Creamy Mushroom Gravy {Grilled beef tenderloin steak wrapped with bacon served with mashed potato and vegetables} and the Grilled Tuna Meuniere served with sautéed potatoes, vegetables and meuniere sauce. Dessert consisted of grilled bananas with palm sugar and vanilla ice cream and THE amazing Banoffee Pie! {DO NOT miss out on this!}

BEST COCKTAIL: Pina Colada

 * FAVOURITE DESSERT: Scooperific

Scooperific – home of homemade gelato and sorbet; with premium ingredients imported from Italy. Scooperific now houses it’s main laboratory {where they are dedicated to create their new recipes} on Gili Air, and also stalls are available in various locations around the island. With over 30 different flavours to choose from, there is bound to be a favourite in there for you.

For me? It was the coconut gelato…it is to die for!

Coconut Gelato Scooperific

So, that’s it folks, that’s the round up of my Top 5 Places to Eat on Gili Air. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to venture back to Gili Air and experience more culinary delights from this little gem of an island. There is so much more on the above mentioned menus that I still want to try! There’s only so much food a girl can cram into her stomach.

To find out more about Gili Air and the other Gili islands check out The Gilis Website.

Have you been to Gili Air? Do you have a favourite place to eat?

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