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96号-106号 South Luogu Alley
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A Tour of Nanluguoxiang in Beijing Beijing  China

A Tour of Nanluguoxiang in Beijing

In just over five years, Nanluguoxiang -- a nearly one kilometer-long street -- went from off the beaten path, with a scattering of bars, cafes and restaurants, to a stomping ground for mass numbers of tourists who inspired a quick rise in cheap food stalls and a steady fall in foot traffic speed.

Still, that alone is a sight to behold, and the street still retains some charm, particularly during those times -- in the winter or later at night -- when the crowds are lighter. Here are a handful of spots to check on NLGX, going from the south entrance to the north.

- 12SQM. The name once referred to the size of this pub that has since grown to 50 square meters but remains cozy.

- Pass By Bar. The oldest pub on the street, dating to 1999, it has a superb selection of beer -- over 150 brands -- to wash down a "hutong pizza" topped with barbecued lamb.

- Salud. This place has a laid-back vibe, regular live music acts and a dozen homemade rum infusions. Try the spicy "Salud special".

- Plastered T-shirts: A Beijing fave that uses designs from street signs, decades-old ads and propaganda posters.

- Soju Bar / Saveurs de Coree. Just off the main drag: turn east down Ju'er Hutong for about 20 meters. Enjoy a drink at the bar (the soju infused with ginseng for seven years is interesting) then the courtyard atmosphere of the Korean restaurant next door (the bibimbap is good).

Not enough. There are over a hundred more spots on Nanluguoxiang and the nearby hutongs to explore.