This review will give you tips about the recommended nightlife around Jalan Jaksa, the backpacker street of Jakarta. Click on the names of the venues to see the full review.
For those staying in Jalan Jaksa, there is a fair number of bars available walking distance. None of them are high-class, but some can be fun and laid-back, perfect for meeting people or having a beer.
There are three places that are usually the most lively, with a healthy mixed crowd of locals, expats and tourists: Cocktail and Friends, Equal Park, and Melly's Garden (a bit further on Jalan Wahid Hasyim). They are quite similar, with an open-air space (bring mosquito repellent!), cheap beer (around Rp25K for large bintang) and basic food (western snacks and street food dishes). Equal Park is more of a live music venue, with reggae or rock bands every night. If you are looking for a bar with no frills to spend the night, these are the best spots.
Memorie's Café is busy also, but there are a few working girls among the clients, making the atmosphere more trashy. It has live music too and quite many tourists so it is easy to meet someone there if you are alone.
If you need AC, Absolute Café is another favourite of Jalan Jaksa nightlife, but most of its customers are regulars: English teachers, journalists, etc.. They have a pool table with TV screens showing English Premier League the more often.
Ali's bar is one of the oldest bar in the street, and it is a meeting point for the African community in Jakarta. Pappa Cafe is getting old, and I wouldn't be surprised if it closed soon. Late at night, you'll always find a few people there though.
A few venues are very quiet: Obama's Fan Club bar, with AC and big screen TV, and Joker, a bar with working girls, Indonesian live music and older clients.
There are a few surprising venues near Jalan Jaksa, particularly on Jalan Wahid Hasyim. The most interesting is the Dyna Pub, with a funny interior design. It has air-con and the owner is very friendly but it's not a happening place. On the same street, you have some prostitute/girlie bars, such as Baku Pada, Embassy 21st or Baby Dolls Café which have live Indonesian pop songs from the 70s and 80s. It's an experience, but you'll probably die of boredom after 10 minutes.
For eating out, all the cheap venues in Jalan Jaksa offer value for money but average quality. If you are ready to spend a few extra rupiah, you could try those restaurants, still walking distance: Tiga Nyonya (for traditional Indo-Chinese cuisine), Abuba Steak (best-value steaks in Jakarta), Beirut Lebanon (Lebanese food), Samarra (awesome setting but average middle eastern food), Ya-Udah Bistro (German food, but the quality decreased recently) or Garuda (open 24h).