Best Restaurants In Beijing

Posts from me are going to be a bit lighter over the next week as I travel to the MaldivesAs you may (or may not) know, I also have a points consulting service, whereby we help people redeem their airline miles. I have several colleagues working with me, and they’re some of the most knowledgeable and passionate people I know in this hobby.

This post is from my friend Matt (not the Champagne-friend Matt, a different one), who spent years living in Beijing, and is even there currently. Given that so many of us are headed there in the coming weeks, I asked him for his recommendations for the best restaurants in Beijing. Matt is a bit of a foodie, and his dining suggestions are typically spot on, so hopefully this is helpful!


Beijing is one of the great dining cities in the world. While it doesn’t quite have the world-famous local cuisine of a Singapore or Tokyo, it is a place where you can find pretty much any cuisine you want at a whole range of prices (and quality).

Over the seven years I lived and worked in Beijing, I experienced as much of the food as I could. The city has changed a little bit since I lived there, but as I write this from one of my favorite spots in Beijing, there are still a number of my favorites that are doing pretty amazing things with food.

I will try to highlight a few different options at a range of price points. As you all descend on Beijing, get out and try some of these options. A decade or so ago, the hotels were the kings of the Beijing dining scene. They still have plenty to offer, but Beijing has so much more to offer than just the hotel dining scene.

Beijing cuisine’s most famous contribution to the vast world of Chinese food is the ubiquitous Beijing Duck. Obviously, Beijing is the place to go for this, but within the city there are numerous options to sample.

* a note about the links: most restaurants in Beijing either don’t have a website, or don’t have one in English. When this was the case I linked to thebeijinger, a local publication that is a great resource for things to do and places to go in the city.

Best Beijing Duck

Higher cost:

Da Dong is famous for their lean duck. This is a healthier option when it comes to duck and offers relatively polished service along with modern takes on classic Chinese dishes. Da Dong has a certain level of wow-factor going for it that makes it a great choice.

Da Dong

Quanjude is one of the more famous Beijing duck outlets with numerous locations around Beijing. This is the classic and you won’t go wrong getting your duck from here.

Duck de Chine is a relative newcomer to the duck scene in Beijing. The ambiance is awesome, set in a converted factory. Here you have plenty of options including a set meal that offers duck with some of their other great dishes. A bit hard to find, it is located in the Sanlitun area off of the main streets. It is located in a complex of other restaurants and not far from some great bars if you are making a night out of it.

Less expensive:

Jing Zun is a great tasting, clean and cheaper option if you don’t want to splurge on the options above. The duck at Jing Zun happens to be juicy without being overly oily. Not a flashy option, but a time tested and good value option in Beijing.

Da Ya Li (translation needed for link) has a ton of locations, so there’s likely to be one close to your hotel. This is one of the best values in Beijing and complements the tasty duck with a menu full of other great dishes as well as above average service.

Best Chinese (Regional)

Chuanr… typically mutton sticks spiced with cumin and a hint of spice. There are no restaurants necessarily recommended, but can be found all over the city as street food. A great snack, especially after a night of drinking. If you want to have these in a restaurant I recommend Red Rose Xinjiang as they will have some level of English spoken and a picture menu.

Haidilao offers not only some of the best service in Beijing, but also delicious hotpot. Order the half and half broth (spicy and mild) and plenty of sliced meet and veggies. Best done with a big group!

Best Western Cuisine (Fine Dining…Or At Least Upscale)

Temple is a great choice for upscale dining in a unique setting. They frequently win awards for their wine list, ambiance, and food. Reservations are essential and it will take a map to find it, but the effort is well worth it. They offer lunch sets to help keep the cost down a bit, but is a great experience whenever you go.

Capital M is located just south of Tienanmen Square. The views over Qianmen are worth the cost of the meal alone but you will also get a good meal and good service. Reservations are recommended.

View from Capital M

Mosto is my all around favorite restaurant in Beijing. They have high quality food in a great setting. It is a fantastic deal at lunch time, but again, reservations are recommended. Their sister restaurant, Modo, is also a great choice.

Mosto 1

Best Western Cuisine (Casual)

Home Plate BBQ is a great option if you are looking for a taste of the USA. They have a good beer list, and were the first of a number of great barbecue places that have opened in the last few years in Beijing.

Zarah is a cafe near Nanluoguxiang (an interesting hutong to wander through, though always crowded) that is a great option for coffee, breakfast or even dinner. A good wifi connection is an added bonus along with the recent addition of an outdoor courtyard and plenty of space.

Zarah 2

Moka Bros is another member of the Mosto family offering healthy sandwiches, salads and a good coffee menu. It gets crowded, but has good wifi and is a great place to get some work done while having a snack.

Moka Bros 1

Moka Bros 2

Best Bars

A few years ago you struggled to find many options to drink other than Tsingtao or Yanjing beer. There have been a few craft brewers that have opened up shop since then, offering great beer in interesting settings.

These include Slow Boat Brewery, Jing A and Great Leap. If you are instead interested in cocktails, the best options are Revolution, Hidden House or Miles (all owned by the same group).

Miles Bar

The menu could have used a proof reader, though the cocktails are good (but small). Another standout option is Janes and Hooch.

Bottom Line

This is far from a comprehensive list of great places to eat in Beijing. Hopefully this gives you a jumping off point to find some great dining experiences to go along with the great fares you scored.

Does anyone else have any favorite spots in Beijing?

Comments

  1. Beijing food sucks. Beijing food doesn’t deserve to represent the cuisine of China. In fact, there is no such thing called “Beijing cusine” It actually is knock-off of real Chinese food (Canton, Shandong, Huaiyang, Jingsu , Sichuan, Hunan and so on…) Dadong is not even really Chinese food, it is what so called Asian fusion ….
    Also, there is no such thing called Singapore food, it is from Malaysia and other neighbours countries… (Singapore is like colony of Chinese, it used to be a part of Malaysia) If you want to taste real Chinese food, go visit Guangzhou, Chengdu, Hangzhou …
    Real southeast food Thailand and Malaysia

  2. da dong is ok, a place to impress not to eat. Have to go with the original, Quanjude.

    Btw, who cares about the meat? The whole point of Peking duck is the skin.

  3. I love this guy. Because my favorite food is Beijing Duck! If you haven’t tried, your life is incomplete! I would eat every time after I landed in Beijing.

  4. I’ll second DaDong for their duck! One of the highlights of our trip last year. Also try HuTong for “western” style chinese/mongolian style food. A bit on the expensive side – but pretty good!

  5. I was just in Beijing in December and loved Lost Heaven. Great restaurant, the tea leaf salad appetizer is incredible.

  6. @Ggg

    U pretend you know everything, but actually you know nothing. Your point is not relevant to the article. You know shit.

  7. Can’t take the list of Western food seriously without a mention of Taco Bar. I’m pretty sure it’s the only Western restaurant in town that would kill it even if it moved back to America.

    Janes and Hootch is significantly better than Miles, although I guess that’s arguable. Warren, the owner of J&H, is a cool guy so I suppose that shades my opinion a bit.

    Can’t go wrong with most of the Chinese recommendations on the list but note that most of the chuan’r places can be paired with homestyle Chinese food (jia chang chai) that includes many American favorites but done in a different, but delicious way, such as kung pao chicken, smashed cucumber with garlic, pepper beef on skillet, etc.

  8. Also, bar/restaurant-wise, it’s worth checking out some hidden gems in the hutongs like Amilal, Dali Courtyard, Mao Mao Chong, 4 Corners, etc. While the hutong scene is a little more dead than it was 2-3 years ago, it’s still very cool to wander old traditional courtyards on the way to find a hidden cocktail bar or delicious serving of Yunnan food.

    @Ggg I think technically Imperial Food is the only true Beijing food, and yeah, it’s not that great. Nor is Northeastern style food (beifang cai) – fairly bland. But the great thing about Beijing is that you can get all the various regional foods of China and done well. You can get great Sichuan (Chuanban, run by the Sichuan provincial government), 3 Guizhou Men for Guizhou food, Dali Courtyard for great Yunnan food, several options for awesome Hunanese food, etc. It’s the Chinese culinary melting pot, possibly only surpassed by Taipei in that regard.

  9. Helpful, thanks! Always at a loss in bkk. Did make it to temple last year though. I end up staying on ringroad 3 where it intersects the main road (the e-w through Tienanmen) and it seems like there’s nothing worthy around – will have to map the above and see if anything is close by!

  10. Finally, and not to clog the comments, but Revolution has been pretty dead and mostly local the last few times I went there. I think their days of being an ‘it’ spot are over.

    Xingfuercun area has a few good spots now including Big Smoke (good BBQ, but wouldn’t impress Southerners), Parlor, a new and great speakeasy, and BBC, a cigar and high-end booze place.

    You can find updates on the latest places here: http://beijingboyce.com – he’s the unofficial scribe of the Beijing food/drink scene.

  11. Last year in Beijing I visited the Johnny Walker House. Interesting place to walk through and have a drink. Relaxed atmosphere without a ton of people.

  12. I haven’t had a chance to stop in yet, but if anyone is interested in trying Chinese baijiu (a liquor) in a more relaxed setting, Capital Spirits (http://www.capitalspiritsbj.com/) recently opened and is dedicated to the stuff. They even have flights available to try several different styles at once, and cocktails. I’m planning to make a trip to Beijing soon to visit them and Great Leap.

  13. @Francis I have been living in Beijing for more than two decades and I know what I am talking about. I travel all around Asia, and I can tell you firmly that Beijing food has not only bad taste but also unhealthy. Seriously, try to eat Beijing food everyday and you will eventually get cancer. Beijing has an extremely high cancer rate compare to other part of China. I think your ignorance reveal how little you know about really Asian cusine. You should really shut up.

    @Andrew M You are right. Beifang Cai is not really good in general, but the good thing I like about Beijing is its variety of food choices.

  14. Ggg: Indeed you do knew very little, and yet you made big, bold claims.

    Did you know Gordon Ramsey came down to Singapore, to learn local Singaporean food and competed with Singapore’s local hawkers?
    Google on the 3 Singaporean dishes he competed on. And they are just a small part of the local Singapore food.

    And Peking Duck itself is a famous dish. Perhaps not everything served in Beijing is to your liking, but I am very sure Peking Duck is good, and definitely not sucky as you claimed.

    And most ridiculously, you got the history wrong. Singapore’s colonial history is with the British, not and never the Chinese.

    Singapore did have a lot of Chinese immigrants during Colonial times, but to put it as a Chinese Colony, you have lost all credibility. You really do not know what you are talking about.

    Do not make silly comments when you know little.

  15. I visit Beijing very frequently(5-6times/yr), and am Chinese myself, although I live in Houston. A few places to eat come to mind.
    For breakfast, a visit to Beijing is incomplete without “Jian bin guo zi.” It is a street food, basically a Chinese crepe. It is cooked like a crepe, but is filled with Scallion, cilantro, hoisin sauce, fried dough, and egg. Relatively sanitary, and delicious
    Here is a video I found, clearly the person making it is not experienced 😉
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUzrSQvDpJo

    I also second Quanjude for duck, and dislike Da Dong. Too healthy 😀

    For western meals, you may want to try VIPS in the Lidu district. It is a western style fine dining restaurant owned by CJ, the food arm of Korean corporation Samsung in Beijing, because, well, globalization. The steaks are Australian, and the salad bar is REALLY good, with many meat and hot options. You must try the curry chicken salad and the mango salad at the salad bar.

  16. Colonial history is probably irrelevant. As far as Chinese foods goes, Beijing is not among the famous 4 cuisines(i.e. Shandong, Sichuan, Guangdong and Huaiyang), although it does have some famous dish like Beijing Duck. If you have time, you’ll definitely want to try those 4 cuisines, preferably in the respective provinces. They each offer complete, rich and complicated series of dishes to order from and they represent the best of Chinese cuisine.

  17. “Beijing has an extremely high cancer rate compare to other part of China”

    Which might have nothing to do with the food, but due to other factors (pollution, lifestyle choices, etc).

  18. I liked DaDong, but honestly there’s a place in Philly Chinatown whose Beijing Duck is just as good as DaDong’s. When I went to DaDong, they weren’t even promoting their duck, but there were signs everywhere promoting their most famous dish, which was sea cucumber. I wanted to try it since that’s what they were supposedly most famous for, but the pictures of the sea cucumber looked disgusting and it was extremely expensive. So I couldn’t bring myself to order it.

    One of my favorite things in Beijing is getting breakfast from the street vendors. It’s cheap and delicious.

  19. Making a best restaurant in Beijing list is like making a most beautiful tree in Bali list in that neither will come close to being right or comprehensive, because there are so many great options. A more suitable title would be best restaurant for western tourists visiting Beijing for the first time.

  20. Actually, given the people reading the site, maybe a more suitable title would be best restaurant for earning points at…

  21. Shangri-la maybe the best to earning points when having Peking duck in hotel.
    @Ggg, I can tell you there is NO evidence that “Beijing has an extremely high cancer rate compare to other part of China”. Also, It’s quite sure that the air pollution problem is the reason why there are so many cancer rate in China.
    Then don’t misguide others, most of my friends like Beijing food. Do you know that even the FIRST Michelin three-star Restaurant in China opened in Beijing? The readers here allways travel the world instead of only in Asia, they will judge.
    BTY, as a Chinese, you really know nothing, it is Jiangsu, not Jingsu.

  22. @Ggg – Re: your comments about Singapore and Singapore food. You, sir, are an idiot. There are many unique Singapore dishes (too many to mention) that are not found in or did not originate from Thailand or Malaysia. Moreover, it is *not* a colony of Chinese. Never was, never will be. They are distinctively Singaporeans – not Chinese, not Indians, not Malays.

    Even though you claim to have traveled within Asia, you are clearly not Singaporean or have not spent any serious time in Singapore.

    Please stick to comments about food in Beijing and leave it to other folks who are more knowledgeable to talk about Singapore food.

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