Jakarta can be an overwhelming place for those of us who live here, let alone those visiting the Indonesian capital for the first time. In our humble opinion, the best way to get comfortable with the chaos is with a really good meal and that’s never too far away in Jakarta — if you know where to look (check out our food and drink section for lots of other guides to the capital’s best including the Best Burgers, the Best Sweet Martabak, the Best Dim Sum, the Best Bars and much more). Here we’ve listed our top picks for restaurants — from street food to fast food to fine dining — we think you must try when you come to the capital to get an overview of both the local food scene and the tastiest treats Indonesia has to offer. Selamat makan!
Food from Padang, the capital of West Sumatra, is beloved throughout Indonesia and people are absolutely fanatical about it in Jakarta. A good entry point to the world of Padang food is Sederhana. The chain has outlets throughout the city but we’d recommend the one located near Grand Indonesia as its dishes are well made but a bit milder than the tongue-singeing stuff at other places (check out the our guide to the Best Padang Restaurants in Jakarta for lots more options).
Rumah Makan Sederhana, Jalan Kebon Kacang Raya no. 19
Soto Betawi H Husein
This is the most highly rated place in all of Jakarta for getting a bowl of Soto Betawi, an iconic culinary creation of Jakarta’s native Betawi people. Soto Betawi H. Husein serves a deeply flavorful version of the savory beef soup, rich with coconut milk and just the right blend of spices. Sink your teeth into some tasty tender offal like lungs (paru), or if you’re squeamish just stick to the “soto daging”, which features regular cuts of beef. This local delicacy is very reasonably priced at just a little over Rp 20,000 for a bowl (check out our guide to the Best Cheap Restaurants in Jakarta, all where you can get amazing dishes for less that Rp 50,000) but get here before noon or be prepared to wait for a table.
Ayam Goreng Suharti
Just about everybody loves fried chicken, but ayam goreng is a daily dish for many Jakartans so we really take it seriously here. Although it was started in Yogyakarta, Ayam Goreng Suharti is one of the most famous and beloved fried chicken chains in Jakarta as well. Nyonya Suharti pretty much perfected the ayam goreng kremes style, which eschews heavy batter on the chicken itself and instead uses crispy flour bits (the kremes) cooked alongside the chicken as an addictive condiment begging to be mixed in with your rice and sambal belacan. For more awesome ayam goreng, check out our guide to The Best Fried Chicken in Jakarta
Nasi Goreng Kambing Kebon Sirih
If Indonesia were to have a national dish it would probably be nasi goreng (fried rice) and Nasi Goreng Kambing Kebon Sirih is, arguably, the most famous place for fried rice in Jakarta. Its signature item is, of course, nasi goreng kambing aka goat fried rice. Now a second-generation run business with outlets throughout the city, the original street-side location on Jalan Kebon Sirih is still by far the best. Their secret spice mixture here is said to neutralize the gaminess of the generous chunks of goat meat that go into every serving of the signature, but be warned the flavor is still seriously intense (in a way that keeps fans coming back for more). If you think they do get their goat right, be sure to get an extra order of sate kambing.
Jalan Kebon Sirih Barat Dalam I, RT.3/RW.2, Kb. Sirih, Menteng/ 0811 190775. For more info
Bakmi GM is a super popular chain of quick service family restaurants that can be found throughout the capital (they even have multiple outlets at Soekarno-Hatta airport) that serve a variety of Indonesia-Chinese style dishes. But they are most famous for their savory mie ayam (chicken noodles) as well as the addictive pangsit goreng (fried wontons). Even though it’s ubiquitous and cheap, you can still count on each Bakmi GM outlets to serve top-notch noodles using the same time-honored recipe that made the original Gajah Mada location famous.
Sate Khas Senayan
Another highly popular restaurant chain, Sate Khas Senayan features an extensive menu filled with faithful renditions of mostly Javanese dishes, including their consistently excellent namesake sate skewers, at mid-range prices. SKS is an especially accessible entryway to Indonesian cuisine for foreigners with photo-filled menus that clearly describe each of the dishes in English.
The newest eatery on this list, Kaum is also one of the latest offerings from the Potato Head Group (most famous for their hip Potato Head Beach Club in Bali) and features a well-thought out menu of authentic Indonesian dishes from across the archipelago including both popular classics and dishes you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere like Gohu Ikan Tuna, a ceviche-like dish from Maluku. Prices are definitely at the higher end for Indonesian cuisine but the cool decor, high-quality ingredients (all sourced locally), excellent service and beautifully cooked dishes more than justify it. They also do some excellent cocktails and generous free-flow wine promos.
Jl. Dr. Kusuma Atmaja No. 77-79, Thamrin. 021 22393256. 0813 81715256. Website
Nusa Indonesian Gastronomy
This Indonesian fine dining restaurant in the heart of the hip Kemang neighborhood of South Jakarta is a must visit for those seeking to try Indonesian cuisine in its most elevated and refined form. Although they now have an a la carte menu during lunch, the best way to experience Chef Ragil Imam Wibowo’s vision of Indonesian cuisine is with the set menu dinner selections that changes several times throughout the year to reflect the best of what’s in season. And while the elegant presentation makes each dish Instagram-worthy, you can be sure that the flavors, built upon ingredients that have all been carefully sourced from across the archipelago, are utterly authentic and always spot-on.
Jalan Kemang Raya No. 81, Kemang, Jakarta Selatan. + 62 21 7193954. Website
To be honest the food here isn’t that great and is generally overpriced, but due to its location by Fatahillah Square — the lively center of the capital’s historic Kota Tua (Old Town) district — as well as its spectacular old world setting, Cafe Batavia is often put on iteneries of things to do in Jakarta. I’d say it’s still worth checking out, at least for a small bite or a few drinks to justify taking that all important Instagram pic inside, but a better food-bet around Fatahillah would be the newish Padang Merdeka around the corner, which does excellent Padang dishes at fairly reasonable prices.
Jalan Pintu Besar Utara No.14, Jakarta Barat. + 62 21 691 5531. Website.
Tugu Kunstkring Paleis
This fine dining restaurant is set inside an elegant Dutch colonial-era building inside the heart of the well-heeled Menteng neighborhood and features a seriously impressive collection of Indonesian art and antiques, making this one of the classiest dining venues in the capital. The overly ambitious menu, featuring Indonesian, Western and Southeast Asian dishes, can be a bit hit-or-miss but generally the food is solid. There’s also an art space on the second floor that often hosts exhibitions.
Jl. Teuku Umar No.1, RT.1/RW.1, Gondangdia, Menteng, Kota Jakarta Pusat, Daerah +62 21 3900899. Website
This gorgeous high-end Indonesian restaurant has long been a favorite for locals who want to impress out of town guests, the lush exterior areas combined with the lux antique decor giving this place a mysterious, royal vibe. The menu features a wide selection of dishes from throughout the country but standout specialties include their pepes (dishes wrapped and cooked in banana leaves) and seafood dishes.
Jalan Teuku Cik Ditiro No.4, RT.3/RW.2, Gondangdia, Menteng, RT.3/RW.2, Gondangdia, Menteng. +62 21 3153252. Website
Do you agree with our picks or do you think there’s a must-visit Jakarta restaurant missing from this list? Let us know in the comments, we’ll add our favorite suggestions here!