Where (and what!) to Eat in Beijing

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"Chinese food" as we eat it in the West is a pale shadow of the rich and complex flavours that exist in China itself. Our tepid stir-fries, egg roles and chop-suey simply don't hold a candle to the real deal. But knowing what to eat once you've arrived in China can be a challenge: how do you pick from the vast array of regional cuisines, sauces, and preparations...? How do you know what restaurants will offer you the best, most authentic dining experience?

We asked some of our Beijing guides for some of their favourite places to get a great meal in the Chinese capital - and what dishes to try while you're there!

As our guides explain, a great way to experience Beijing culture and even history (while also satisfying your stomach) is to delve into the region's cuisine. But you'll want to choose the right restaurants in which to eat! Beijing-style food is eaten throughout Northern China, and emphasizes light and subtle flavors and the best ingredients.

Here are five suggestions offered by our guides for dishes to try at popular local restaurants in Beijing:

1. Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant
Beijing (Peking) Roast Duck dates back 300 years, and is now a popular meal in many parts of China. It gives a perfect combination of color, aroma and taste, a crisp thin skin, and a mouth-melting, delicious flavor. This is a great place to enjoy the classic meal.

2. Manfulou Hot Pot Restaurant
Hot Pot was created during the Yuan Dynasty, over 1000 years ago.The main ingredient of the modern version of Mongolian-Style hot-pot is prime mutton taken from tiny sheep raised in Inner Mongolia. It supplies sliced beef, chicken, potato, mushroom, spinach, etc, and is considered very healthy. At Manfulou, they will serve you different kinds of sauce as your request, such as green onion, chili oil, shrimp sauce (paste), salt, salted leek buds, and more.

3. Jindingxuan Local Flavor Restaurant
Jindingxuan will serve you 80 kinds of Chinese dishes: Stir-fried chicken, Stir-fried beef with rice noodles, Dim Sum, Sour and spicy noodles, fishes cooked in different way - and many more.

4. Xibeiyoumian Restaurant
This restaurant serves you in a nice atmosphere, with traditional decorations inside. The raw food material is sent from the northwest which gives you a unique regional taste. They cook beef, lamb, fish and chicken in a light way, so you will not find it oily or greasy.

5. Family Cooking
It's a special treat to have a meal with a local family. You are welcomed to share a meal with a local family as your host; they will cook the food for you, and explain the different ingredients. You can visit with the family, talk together, and they will show you how to cook Chinese food. (If you'd like, you can also show them how you prepare one of your dishes from home!) Chat with our guides about how to arrange this sort of experience.

Thank you to our Beijing guides for the insight and recommendations! Dining out tips like these are invaluable for Westerners visiting Beijing for the first time. If any travelers are headed to Beijing in 2018, consider getting in touch with our Beijing guides for more great local insight into the Chinese capital (and to help you arrange an unforgettable meal with a local family!)
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