As the country’s capital, Beijing is home to a myriad of cuisines from all over China. It takes you to an eclectic taste bud journey that no other city can match. Although it’s easy to find Western restaurants in the heart of Beijing, the city never forgets to preserve its culture and gastronomical treasures. For this post, we hunt for the best local food in Beijing and where you can taste it during your stay.
From expensive to affordable, we’ve listed a variety of options to suit your pocket.
For those who can splurge:
[su_service title=” Cai Yi Xuan ” icon=”icon: star” icon_color=”#FCAF3A” size=”32″ class=””][/su_service]
If you’re staying at the Four Seasons Beijing, you should try the Cai Yi Xuan. It’s an upscale place (we’re talking about Four Seasons here) so be prepared to shell out a pretty hefty budget. Their dim sum is what keeps the customers coming back. However, it’s only available during lunch, so make sure that you book at the right time.
Aside from the best local food in Beijing, the place has a Hong Kong clubby vibe in a gorgeous and sophisticated way. Make sure that you also try their Peking duck and extensive selection of wines. However, if you’ll come here watching your Yuan, you might as well consider the more affordable options below. We’re not kidding when we say that Cai Yi Xuan is expensive. To set the range, among its top chefs are owners of Michelin star restaurants in Shanghai.
Overall, you’ll get to taste authentic Cantonese, Beijing, and Shanghai cuisines in Cai Yi Xuan. It’s fine dining at its best in the capital.
A big plus point here is that the waiters speak in English.
Location: No.48 Liangmaqiao Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China
Phone: +86 10 5695 8520
[su_service title=”King’s Joy ” icon=”icon: star” icon_color=”#FCAF3A” size=”32″ class=””][/su_service]
King’s Joy is a vegetarian restaurant with dishes composed of various vegetables, mushrooms, soy, and more to mimic the meaty taste naturally.
This restaurant is located in a hutong adjacent to the Tibetan Lama Temple. In fact, its top chef, Pan Jianjun, used to be a disciple of a Jiangxi Buddhist temple. They believe that wellness starts from the stomach. So if you’re a vegetarian, you should never miss what King’s Joy has to offer.
What we really love about the place is the tranquil setup. It’s like a scene straight from a Chinese historical drama. There’s a botanical garden, live harp performances, and even expulsions of dry ice. It’s a total sensory experience, not to mention their mouthwatering cuisines.
It’s a touristy spot but not as crowded as other restaurants. Although the place is refined, you’ll feel comfortable in casual clothes.
At King’s Joy, you can indulge in the ethereal atmosphere while savoring the veggie goodness. Still, this experience doesn’t come cheap. In average, one person will have to pay more or less $140 for a filling meal.
Location: No. 2 Wudaoying Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China
Phone: +86 10 8404 9191
[su_service title=” Siji Minfu ” icon=”icon: star” icon_color=”#FCAF3A” size=”32″ class=””][/su_service]
If you’re visiting the Forbidden City East Gate, you can drop by Siji Minfu for a meal. They’re a newcomer in the Peking duck scene, but they offer a nice touch and even pride to serve the best birds in the capital.
You should try their Peking duck roasted on jujube wood in traditional brick ovens . You’ll also get some condiments and extra pancakes on the side if you want to. However, a serving of this delicious Peking duck costs around $28. Not for the faint of heart since Siji Minfu is an upscale place.
If you’re not a fan of ducks, you can try their kung pao and traditional Beijing desserts. The place gets packed during lunch and dinner and the restaurant doesn’t take bookings. If the Nanchizi Dajie branch is full, you can take a short walk to the other branch in Dengshikou Xijie.
Overall, they have the best local food in Beijing. Just take note that lines can be so long that some customers have to wait for four hours to be served. Anyway, that’s a sign that the food is good.
Location: 11 Nanchizi Dajie, Beijing, China
[su_service title=”Little Dadong ” icon=”icon: star” icon_color=”#FCAF3A” size=”32″ class=””][/su_service]
Little Dadong, or also called The Taste of Dadong, is a famous Beijing restaurant chain. In fact, they already have a branch in NYC’s 6th avenue. They take pride in their petite servings of roasted ducks zha jiang mian, and other authentic Chinese cuisines.
Although Little Dadong is focused on serving the best local food in Beijing, they still give a bite of the Western favorites. You can order their mushroom gratin or porcini risotto for a change.
If you have the budget, you should try Little Dadong’s dumplings, steamed cabbage, and sour pork. For those hunting for the best Peking duck in Beijing, Little Dadong might be the perfect place to taste one.
After enjoying their savory offers, you can balance it with some desserts like cotton candy, ice cream, and more. They have this blue moon ice cream served in a sugar cone.
Take note that this restaurant is inside the APM Mall. Aside from dining, you can also do a little shopping on the side for some souvenirs.
Location: LG2-11A, Parkview Green, No.9 Dongdaqiao Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China
Phone: +86 10 8563 0016
For those on a budget:
[su_service title=” Southern Fish ” icon=”icon: star” icon_color=”#FCAF3A” size=”32″ class=””][/su_service]
If you’re looking for a place that’s easy on the pocket, we recommend that you consider Southern Fish. They serve Hunan cuisines you’ll love, especially if you’re fond of spicy food. This is located on a hutong in Beijing’s less-visited west side. Actually, they are on the original Dashilan location (it closed some time ago).
Although they retained the traditional Hunan taste, Southern Fish gives their meals a modern touch to appeal to more customers. You can also try some of their braised dishes or smoked pork belly as well as spicy pickled chillis. We love that it has less oil and salt but still as delicious as ever.
Take note that they have a menu written in Chinese, but there are pictures that you can refer to when ordering. And to help douse the spice, make sure that you order some bottles of cold beer to douse the best local food in Beijing.
Overall, the place is an intimate eatery and budget-friendly for those who are watching their Yuans. The waiters don’t speak in English, but they will try to communicate as much as they can.
Location: 49 Gongmenkou Toutiao, Xicheng District
Phone: 8306 3022, 8315 2539
[su_service title=” Jubaoyuan ” icon=”icon: star” icon_color=”#FCAF3A” size=”32″ class=””][/su_service]
Saying that Jubaoyuan is an institution is an understatement. This is a popular restaurant in the whole country, not just in Beijing. Moreover, this is a Muslim hot pot joint located at Ox Street that witnesses nightly queues of hungry customers.
The place offers the best halal hot pot with Inner Mongolian beef and lamb cooked in the scalding hot soup. It also comes with lots of mushrooms, tofu, and veggies that will make your mouth water.
What we love about Jubaoyuan is they have their butcher, which means that every cut you get is prime and fresh.
It’s one of the best hot pot joints in the capital, and it’s also very budget-friendly. This is just a small joint, but the place is clean and comfy for a nightly hot pot.
Aside from their tasty soup, you should also try their delicious baked sesame cake. Take note that the staff doesn’t speak English and the menu doesn’t have pictures. We recommend that you take photos from their online reviews and use it to give them your order.
Location: Niu Street West Li ShangYe 1 Building 5-2, Beijing, China
Phone: +86 10 8354 5602
[su_service title=”Haidilao ” icon=”icon: star” icon_color=”#FCAF3A” size=”32″ class=””][/su_service]
If there’s a quintessential budget hot pot place, it would be Haidilao. It has dozens of branches all over China and it’s almost a sin not to try their meals. Also, they give free drink refills and snack. This may sound weird, but the place also offers complimentary services like mani-pedi, fruit plate for waiting diners, and even shoe shine.
Every Haidilao’s highlight is the tableside noodle pulling tricks courtesy of the waiters. Also, you should try and see their sauce bar where you can mix and match your preferred flavors.
Haidilao’s branch in 88 Shopping Mall has these little robot carts that the staff use to serve food. Although it’s not a candlelight type of restaurant, you’ll get to eat premium Beijing food without breaking the bank. Besides, Haidilao is an institution. Even your tour guide will recommend the place.
Overall, the service is excellent and the staff is always willing to go above and beyond. If you’re new to hot pot, you can ask the server to show you how to prepare it. The staff doesn’t speak English, which could be challenging.
Location: 8/F, In 88 Shopping Mall, No.88 Wangfujing Main Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China
Phone: +86 10 5762 0153
[su_service title=” Zhang Mama ” icon=”icon: star” icon_color=”#FCAF3A” size=”32″ class=””][/su_service]
Zhang Mama is a restaurant empire that started from a family of exiles from Sichuan. Back in 2010, they only have a small hutong place where customers would queue for hours just to taste their delicious yet affordable dishes. Now, they have multiple and large branches in Beijing, with Jiaodaokou Nandajie as the biggest.
The place serves the best local food in Beijing like paigu, xia, and smoke Sichuan pork rump. Their menu is composed of mostly Sichuan spice fixes that locals and tourists crave for. You can also try their Dan dan noodles, kun pa chicken, and dumplings.
The queue is shorter on later hours of 8 pm to 9 pm. Still, it’s worth queuing since the food is super cheap, clean, and one of the most delicious in Beijing for its price range. Pair it with bottles of cold beer and you’ll never want for more.
The only thing that’s missing is an English menu. Anyway, the staff is attentive and accommodating regardless of the language barrier.
Location: No.76 Jiaodaokou South Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China
[su_service title=” Bayi Laoye” icon=”icon: star” icon_color=”#FCAF3A” size=”32″ class=””][/su_service]
Affordable and delicious – that’s what Bayi Laoye offers its patrons. It’s a small yet popular eatery that serves Xinjiang dapanji, mutton skewers, nang bread, wheat noodles, and more of the best local food in Beijing.
You’ll be surprised to see chandeliers, Italian-inspired ceiling murals, and costumed staff. It’s not a posh place, but it’s unique in its own sense.
What we really like about Bayi Laoye is they manage the crowd and queues really well. Even during peak hours, you wouldn’t have to wait for hours just to be served.
Tip: you can order their banquet dishes in a small portion. Although an eatery, it’s perfect for date nights too.
Location: ZhongGuanCun DongLu 118Hao JinWuXing ShiChang 1Lou, Beijing, China
Phone: +86 10 8211 1181
If you’re looking for the best local food in Beijing, the 10 restaurants we listed here will surely satisfy your cravings. Have you tried any of these places? Does the food meet your expectations? Let us know below!