Restaurants in Beijing
The large number of local dishes in Beijing has made for some of the longest menus in the world. While diners ponder over traditionally cooked meals or new takes on old favourites, eating out in Beijing will be like nowhere else in the world. From ingredients meant for royalty in Imperial Cuisine to the more 'mysterious' ingredients of a street-side Jianbing (savoury pancake), food preparation in Beijing adheres to old traditions that reflect culinary styles from all over China.
Chinese food in Beijing differs dramatically from the fare in Chinese restaurants worldwide. Beijing's famous Peking roast duck is the star attraction, with several restaurants devoted entirely to it. For a chance to sample many different kinds of local food, visit one of the 'snack streets', like Guanganmen Snack Street, or Gui Street, all with dozens of vendors plying their specialties. The more adventurous visitors can peruse the Donghuamen Snack Night Market in Wangfujing, which is famous for timeless delicacies such as centipedes, grasshoppers, sheep privates, and offal soup.
Migrants have infused the city's cuisine with new cultures and tastes, reflected in the blossoming choices in Beijing restaurants. This includes western fine dining as many of Beijing's top hotels now recruit top internationally trained chefs and international-style restaurants open to enjoy success on their own.
More expensive restaurants in Beijing will generally accept credit cards, but street vendors and takeaways will expect cash. While hotel restaurants will sometimes include a 15 percent service charge, tipping is not expected in Beijing.
With a pleasant outdoor garden enclosure, this restaurant is an ideal lunch venue from which to take in some fresh air. This pricey eatery boasts a reasonable and generous lunch menu - perfect for a business lunch. Travellers with more to spend might want to dine inside the venue, where live music and a late bar will complement the night out. Aria has won multiple awards and is a genuinely special restaurant for those who don't mind spending a bit extra for quality cuisine.
Address: Jianguo Men Wai Dajie, inside the China World Hotel
Telephone: (0)10 6505 2266 ext.36
Lily Vegetarian Restaurant
This vegetarian restaurant chain comes highly recommended, even among the most ardent of meat lovers. Generous servings, at a decent price, and innovative cooking with a uniquely Chinese flair keep the locals coming back for more. Try the yam broth with mushrooms, vegetarian sushi rolls, and seasonal organic vegetables.
Address: Bei San Huan Jimen Qiao, Jimen Fandian, Xicheng & Haidian
Telephone: (0)10 6405 2082
Xibei Youmian Cun
This is a cosy family restaurant with a wholesome atmosphere. Most of the dishes come with a sizable jug of thick suannai yoghurt, which can be (if used strategically) a delicious compliment to your meal; their lamb skewers, cubes, and roast beef are certainly best savoured when stewed in their own juices.
Address: 10 Liuliqiao Beili,Fengtai District
Telephone: (0)10 6331 6888
Dao Jia Chang
The word 'chaotic' is often bandied about when travellers describe this restaurant; the other word one's likely to hear is 'delicious' - in relation to the food. In and among the scrambling, screaming waiters, visitors will find the tasty Jingjiang Rousi (shredded pork rolled in tofu skin with scallion) and Yangrou Madoufu (mashed tofu and whole soybeans drizzled in lamb oil); well worth a somewhat distracting dining affair.
Address: B1/F, Huapu Dasha, Chaoyangmen
Telephone: (0)10 6580 2298
The word is that this modest looking little courtyard restaurant has a flawless menu. Everything from their kangkung belacan (water spinach) to the spicy signature dish, the Kapitan chicken, is exquisite and their Malaysian chef takes great pride in his work.
Address: 43 Doufu Chi Hutong
Telephone: (0)10 6400 4875
Peking duck is quintessential Beijing. To taste where it all began, visitors should head to this famous haunt, where the recipe was created more than 150 years ago. The duck can be prepared a number of ways and parts, not all of which sound appetizing, but, unless already a Peking connoisseur, the best way to enjoy this delicacy is one roast duck straight up.
Address: 9 Shuaifuyuan Hutong, Wangfujing
Telephone: (0)10 6522 8385
Chinese royalty were renowned picky eaters and ate only specialty dishes with carefully selected ingredients and even more carefully selected names. Such dining gave way to its own culinary tradition, which can be enjoyed at the enormous banquet-style dining hall with such imperial classics as 'jade phoenix returning to the royal'. Choosing from a huge selection of dishes is a fun way to eat like an emperor.
Address: Beihai Gongyuannei, inside Beihai Park's south gate
Telephone: (0)10 6401 1889
Sixty six floors above the sparkling city makes any dish seem dazzling, but the views aren't the only reason to eat at China Grill. The international menu is a simple selection of fine dining with both Chinese dishes and grilled western classics. The romantic ambiance is set by a surprisingly cosy interior surrounded by floor to ceiling windows for a 360-degree view of the city.
Address: Park Hayatt, 2 Jianguomenwai Street, Chaoyang District
Telephone: (0)10 8567 1838
Centrally located near Tiananmen Square, the lovely outdoor terrace at Capital M is a popular place to have Sunday brunch in Beijing. The menu offers modern European food including Crispy Suckling Pig, Hot House-Smoked Salmon, and the restaurant's famous Pavlova. They offer a special afternoon tea as well, with a selection of fresh-baked scones, finger sandwiches, and pastries that add up to a perfect mid-afternoon break for tired sightseers. Open daily 11:30am-10:30pm.
Address: 2 Qianmen Street, Pedestrian Area
Telephone: (10) 6702 2727
Become our Beijing Travel Expert
We are looking for contributors for our Beijing travel guide. If you are a local, a regular traveller to Beijing or a travel professional with time to contribute and answer occasional forum questions, please contact us.