Informally dubbed ‘Jogja’ by locals and admirers, Yogyakarta has long been deemed the cultural heart of the Indonesian capital. As well as a plethora of galleries, a blossoming music scene and sprawling temple complexes across the countryside, visitors can also sample some of the most delicious cuisine the archipelago has to offer. From fiery street stall bargains to fine-dining overlooking the rice paddies, we examine some of the best restaurants Yogyakarta has to offer.
This Grecian-style diner has a cool tiled interior, a few cosy sofas and a charming front façade flanked by pot plants and Mediterranean pillars. The head chef, Kamil, is highly accomplished and impressively versatile. Mediterranea’s menu is perhaps more striking and ambitious in its range than any other local restaurant. Notable dishes include beef constantinopolis, shish kebabs, panga fish with bayaldi and birgin sauce, and Japanese tatami. High quality coupled with affordable pricing make this a popular spot for visiting foodies to sample a range of well prepared, global cuisine.
Part of the luxurious Sumberwatu Heritage Resort, Abhayagiri is Yogyakarta at its most decadent. Nestled in the village of Sumberwatu, this glittering restaurant and its outdoor terrace boast unrivalled views of Prambanan, Yogyakarta’s second biggest temple attraction after the world famous Borobodur. Visitors can also see Gunung Merapi in the distance, an active volcano with an elevation just shy of 10,000 feet. If the evening is overcast, visitors can still enjoy the restaurant’s contemporary Javanese interior, as well as observe or take part in regular traditional dances and live music. The menu sports a range of sophisticated and locally sourced options, including pan roasted salmon and grape sauce, chicken steak with cassava puree and braised duck.
Named after an area of South Bali renowned for seafood, Jimbaran has taken Balinese cuisine and imported it west across the archipelago. The building sits 7km north of Yogyakarta, nestled amidst rice paddies and farmland. Seafood is priced by the ounce and hand-picked by guests who find themselves faced with a broad array of fresh tiger prawns, king crabs, and snapper. Evening diners might opt for Jimbaran after a day of sightseeing in the stunning surrounding countryside. The restaurant sits close to the Kembali Monument as well as the traditional village of Turgo, exhibiting traditional Javanese huts and great views of surrounding tea and coffee plantations.
Jimbaran, Sendangadi, Mlati, Sleman, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, +62 74 4463983
Kedai Kebun is hidden behind an old, towering banyan tree that has become as much a part of the décor as the building’s sleek, contemporary steel design. You can soak up both botany and architecture by sitting on the outdoor terrace, situated alongside an art gallery and performance space. Since its opening in 1996, the restaurant has emerged as a prime social spot for Yogyakarta’s enduring arts scene and now finds itself at the centre of an adoring community of painters and designers. In terms of food, it garners praise for its light lunches, vegetable dishes and salads.
Kedai Kebun, Jl. Tirtodipuran No. 3 Yogyakarta, Indonesia, +62 0274 376 114
A breezy and understated option with basic Javanese décor and charming bead curtains, the initial simplicity of K’Meals’ appearance is in direct contrast to its broad menu. A wood-fire oven produces some of Yogyakarta’s best pizza and there are a number of delicious French inspired specials. Their duck pâté in particular, hard to come by in Indonesia and a very popular dish. Bigger appetites may wish to continue on a similar theme and order the expertly prepared, tender duck breast. Light lunches consist of a range of salads, including smooth goat’s cheese, and the French theme runs into the dessert page, with crème brûlée and a range of mousses to choose from. The airy outdoor terrace also provides a cool space to sit and watch the world go by.
K’Meals, Jl. Tirtodipuran 67, Daerah Istimewa, Yogyakarta,+62 274 8290097
Mi Casa Es Tu Casa
Conveniently located in the heart of Yogyakarta’s main backpacker district, the reputation of this Basque-owned restaurant rests not only on its Spanish cooking but on its unusual signature dish of cobra or python. Sourced through a local hunter before being grilled, fried or curried, this is a rare Indonesian dish that tourists may struggle to find elsewhere. If cooked snake seems too adventurous for your palate, Mi Casa Es Tu Casa also offers an array of Spanish and Mediterranean plates, including paella, albondigas and gazpacho.
Mi Case Es Tu Case, Sosrowijayan Wetan GT I/141, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, +62 858 7883 9602
Milas may well be the ethical consumer’s first choice in Yogyakarta. It is one of the only restaurants in the city that exclusively serves vegetarian fare and is tied to a wide array of community schemes. Garden enthusiasts will love its rustic vibe as well as its organic farming projects. Profits from the restaurant also help to support a preschool playgroup, a multi-language library, handicraft showrooms and a program for local street children. Its menu serves up vegetarian takes on Indonesian classics, including vegan tempe steak and vegan fried rice.
Located in Kotagede, an old district famed for its silverware and handcrafted ornaments, Omah Dhuwur offers exceptional architectural grandeur and resonates with local history. Housed in a sprawling 150 year-old house that blends contemporary Javanese and colonial Dutch design (Omah Dhuwur means ‘tall house’ in Javanese), the restaurant boasts an aesthetic few of its inner-city competitors can match. The menu offers a smattering of Western dishes but focuses primarily on authentic, Indonesian cooking – oxtail soup, steamed gourami fish and shrimp-fried noodles are amongst the specialities. In line with its celebrated cultural setting, the restaurant also hosts traditional music performances, batik weaving lessons and painting workshops.
Omah Dhuwur, Jl. Mondorakan 252, Kotagede, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, +62 274 374952
Street food on Jalan Malioboro
For seekers of authentic Indonesian dining experiences, the night stalls on Yogyakarta’s main shopping strip are as good as the city gets. Although eager fabric sellers and horse-drawn carts can render the street a boisterous and energetic location during the day, evening is the time to relax in one of the many fish eateries and local diners, popular with families and cheaper than any tourist restaurant in the area. Sit on bamboo mats with steaming plates of fried or grilled seafood, caught fresh that day, served with rice and accompanied by some of the freshest and fiercest sambal you could hope for. Forks and spoons are available, but diving in with your hands is encouraged. Be prepared to order plenty of iced tea to accompany the authentic flavours.
Indonesia is not particularly well known for high quality baking, but sandwich lovers at Via Via can choose from a selection of six homemade breads. The rest of the menu is very much a global affair, with dishes as varied in taste and geography as Norwegian salmon, chicken Provençal and lamb Rogan Josh. For those who want to enjoy local cuisine, the Indonesian menu changes daily. The restaurant pairs its eclectic food with jazz music every Friday, alongside rotating art exhibitions. The whole project is part of the global Via Via organisation, established in 1995 and now spanning four continents. Each separate branch attempts to engage with their respective local communities by promoting ethical tourism and funding social initiatives.
Via Via, Jl. Prawirotaman 30, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, +62 274 386557