Dining out in Gili Air
Dining out in Gili Air
Dining out in Gili Air is a very pleasant experience as there are simply so many options to choose from all within easy walking distance (or bike ride) from your accommodation.
Have you been to Gili Air and like to share something about the places you have been dining out in Gili Air? Leave your comment at the bottom of this page or on the pages of the restaurants that are linked on this page.
Click on the restaurant name in green to go to their review on this site.
Sometimes it feels like Gili Air, along with Gili Trawangan, is just one long beachside restaurant strip. Well, that is not so far from the truth on Gili Trawangan, while on Gili Air there remains some areas that are empty and devoid of development.
Pretty much the entire eastern side is one restaurant after another, which continues up around the north before petering out and then resurfacing on the northwest before getting busy again on the western, sunset side.
Often these restaurants are attached to a resort or small hotel that are close by.
Here are some of my favourite Gili Air beach restaurants are, in no particular order:
Scallywags, where they at least attempt to serve organic food and where the service and quality of dining experience is really nice. With most mains around the 100k mark it is hard to go wrong here.
Scallywags are also on Gili Trawangan with a similar standard although without the beach dining.
You can order from an a la carte menu or have your seafood grilled for you and help yourself to the salad bar.
Sitting on the beach dining by candlelight is common on Gili Air but for me Scallywags on Gili Air is the best of that type of Gili Air beach restaurant.
For some reason the grilled fish (which you choose from ice chests out the front on the road, and this includes lobster, prawns, whole fish, or fillets) available along this strip is expensive.
However, it is still cheaper than more local places who think that tourists do not care what things cost, or that they need to compete with the fancier places.
There are some other places on this eastern strip, like the Waterfront which offers a similar type of sophistication to Scallywags, while big restaurants like Unzipp Bar also do the tables on the beach thing but are a level below.
Caballito De Mar is also lovely, although it may or may not still be open as I write this (March 2015), having some land ownership issues I sensed when I first saw it. This is a gorgeous, beachclub kind of place, with a pool, very classy and unusually expensive for Gili Air.
Caballito De Mar is modelled on Spanish clubs, and was a bit out of place here on Gili and was a bit too upmarket.
Caballito De Mar showed, at least in 2014, the various popular sporting events on TV for those whose addictions include live sport on TV.
La Cirque is a French restaurant where I have had several delightful dinners listening to the waves lapping on the beach, and again it is possible to be well fed for under 100k.
Bel Air Sushi bar is the only sushi bar I know of on Gili Air, a beneficiary (along with some pop up ice-cream stalls) of the increase in electricity availability that came to the island in 2014 (so fridges are more reliable).
Keep going north on the eastern side you will come across a beautiful strip of restaurants where the road goes through the middle or each restaurant. These all have rustic decorations with fairy lights so it is quite magical to pass through at night.
The food up this end is fairly standard, as these restaurants are all largely catering to the guests who stay in their cottages.
Of these my favourite is Ali Baba, who have pizza along with grilled fish. Myself and friends had a memorable dinner here one night in the middle of a big storm, with lightning striking much closer than was comfortable.
These places are popular with tourists who want to have quite days lying on a coach in the sun.
If you keep going round this road there is not so much to recommend, food wise, until you hit Mowies.
Mowies is on the west side (going left from the jetty) and is one of my favourite sunset haunts. Good music, great views, lovely building a cool scene. Open for breakfast and lunch but closing for dinner.
The food at Mowies is a bit unusual, things like Eggs Benedict served on bubble and squeak instead of a muffin – see the menu on their page – and delicious
Further west from Mowies the restaurants get sloppier and sloppier, and the food less and less appetising. Mowies is kinda like the last outpost for good food in this direction. There are other bars of course that serve the same drinks, but I have not found any food past here worth eating.
Café Mio next door to Mowies is quite good if you are after simple curries and other hearty food.
Away from the coast, more in the Gili Air village, you get more local type restaurants and warungs. These serve basic European food (Always pasta, pizza sometimes plus Western style breakfasts including white bread but without granola etc) and Indonesian food.
My personal favourites amongst these are Warung Lemongrass and Warung Kampung. Lemongrass probably has the better food while Kampung has more variety and is a larger place so it is more suitable for groups. At both places you can have a hearty meal for 30-40k.
It is very relaxed at this kind of place, and usually the owner is cooking somewhere and comes out to check on your meals.
There are many of this kind of place on Gili Air, seemingly down every lane, so it is quite fun to explore, so have fun dining out in Gil Air.
By Mark O’Brien, March 2015
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