Food and Drinks

Main Dishes

Since Balikpapan residents come from all over Indonesia and overseas, the city offers many kinds of dishes. What makes eating in Balikpapan special is its tropical produces and its wide range of seafood dishes. Balikpapan’s seafood is well known that some locals say “you haven’t been to Balikpapan, if you haven’t tried our “grilled crabs” or fishes, and our fresh coconuts”.

If you do not know where to start? A visit to “Dandito” or "Kenari" restaurants or "RM Bonting" might help. They are a few other renowned restaurants in Balikpapan for crab dishes. People recommend their “grilled crab” with black pepper sauce or its fried Soka crabs with hot chili sauce.

“Soka” crabs are soft skin crabs that people can eat the skin, if they want to. These crabs are usually coated by a blend of flour, eggs, sugar, garlic, pepper, salt, before then being deep fried.

There are also a few other common seafood dishes in this seashore city, such as “Pepes Patin” and “ikan laut bakar”. “Pepes Patin” is a delicious freshwater catfish (picture of patin fish, a freshwater catfish) that is marinated in a mixture of garlic, turmeric, ginger, chili, and so on, wrapped in banana leaves, then grilled. While “Ikan Laut Bakar” is a fresh seawater fish that is marinated in coconut oil, garlic, ginger and pepper.

Many locals like to drink fresh coconut after eating crab dishes, as they believe that this coconut water will “balance” the cholesterol.

Considered as a "big city" in Indonesia, Balikpapan also has a range of other Indonesian dishes, Asian food, and Western food. Local restaurants offer modern or traditional settings, indoor or outdoor settings. There also are many international chain restaurants, such as A&W, KFC, and so on.


“Pisang Gapit” or grilled banana is a typical tasty local snack, readily available in many food stalls, especially in the “Melawai” Beach. It is usually served with brown sugar mixed with corn flour and “pandan” leaves.

Balikpapan is also known for its “Bonting” or “Abon Kepiting” (fried crabs floss). Locals usually eat this Bonting with plain steam rice. You will easily find Bonting in many restaurants particularly along Jalan Iswahyudi.

Other typical snacks in Balikpapan are “Amplang” (garlic fish crackers), “Abon Ikan Tuna” (fried Tuna fish floss) and “Dodol” (made of flour mixed with coconut milk, and brown sugar).

These snacks can be found in many souvenir shops, such as “Syahda Mestika”, which is located in Jalan Ahmad Yani, or shops in “Pasar Kebun Sayur” or “RM Bonting”.


Typical local drinks are Avocado juice (usually they blend avocados with milk and sometimes they add chocolate syrup/sauce), Es Cendol (green jelly served with coconut milk, liquid palm sugar and ice cubes or shaved ice).

Alcoholic drinks are only available in bars and clubs, hotels, many up-market restaurants and cafes, and some stores.

Warung and Rumah Makan

Apart from many great local restaurants, there are also small local-style street side “restaurants” (food stalls), called Warung or Rumah Makan/RM (direct translation: “eating house”). Most of these warungs serve food and drinks at a very reasonable price. Melawai Beach is probably the best place to find them.

The difference between “Warung” and “Rumah Makan” is that a warung is never (or rarely) built on a permanent place, whereas rumah makan is built on a permanent basis. However, the cleanliness and hygiene of warungs really varies. Unless you are used to these kinds of environment, you should carefully judge a place’s cleanliness before eating there.

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