Beijing’s Best Restaurants

From dumplings to duck—specifically Peking duck—China’s capital offers a bounty of delicious meals, both local dishes and international cuisine. Here are our picks of the top places for memorable meals.

Day and night, dumplings are being made by hand, boiled and fried at the original branch of Mr. Shi’s in Baochao Hutong and at the Sanlitun outpost. This is not your corner dumpling joint but a cleaned-up space where the menus are in English and the menu overflows with more than 50 varieties of dumplings. There are the traditional—think pork and chive or leek and egg—and there are the unusual, such as pizza (cheese and tomato). While you can certainly live on dumplings alone, Mr. Shi’s has solid sides, including sliced cold cucumbers with garlic (a treat on hot summer days), a nice tofu salad, and stir-fried egg and tomato, a home-style classic that’s also available in dumpling form.
23 Shatan North Street
This modern French restaurant is located down a hutong (narrow street or alley) and inside a 600-year-old Buddhist temple complex. The dining room was once Beijing‘s first black-and-white television factory. TRB’s space is a handsome study in contrasts: a centuries-old temple in Beijing lovingly renovated to include a bright, clean-lined restaurant serving contemporary European fare. Lunch and dinner are three-, four-, or five-course affairs, available with wine pairings. Dishes on the summer menu include slow-cooked cod with potato fondant and broccoli and, for dessert, chocolate pie with poached pear, pear sorbet, and chocolate sauce. TRB has a second, equally superb restaurant adjacent to the Forbidden City.
3号 Heizhima Hutong
A cooking school by day (Wednesdays and Sundays, to be specific), Black Sesame Kitchen hosts a 10-course family-style meal on Tuesday and Friday nights that allows visitors to sample Chinese dishes from a variety of regional cuisines. Most who arrive at Black Sesame Kitchen are strangers before the meal—but it isn’t uncommon to make friends over good food and generous pours of wine. ¥300 per person; advance bookings only.
乙12号 Xinzhong Street
After decades of rule by innocuous lagers, a small revolution is brewing in Beijing’s beer scene, with a handful of small-scale brew operations popping up over the past few years. Great Leap is among them and brings together foreign beer makers with local ingredients in a way that doesn’t make “East meets West” sound cliché. Take the popular Honey Ma Gold Ale. It has peppercorns from Sichuan, in central China, and Shandong date honey from the coast. Meanwhile, Little General IPA uses Chinese hops, while Danshan Wheat Beer includes black tea from Fujian. All fun to try. Beers at Great Leap start at ¥25 for a pour of Pale Ale No. 6. Great Leap’s flagship brewery and pub, on Xinzhong Street, can handle everything from large parties to single imbibers, offers views of the brewing equipment behind a glass wall, and has a good range of bar food, including a tasty burger and fries at ¥40. Order it and you are almost sure to get one last pint.
67 Xiaojingchang Hutong, Dongcheng Qu, Beijing Shi, China, 100007
Though it’s mere minutes from the chaotic pedestrian street Nanluoguxiang, Dali Courtyard, in a charming brick courtyard house, is as tranquil as the nearby streets are buzzing. Dinner is a set menu here (from ¥150 per person), a small parade of dishes from southern Yunnan Province. Star dishes, like rubing (fried goat cheese), guoqiao mixian (“crossing-the-bridge noodles”), and anything with mushrooms, a food for which Yunnan is known, always make appearances. Other dishes include things like grilled fish colored in chilies, stir-fried wild vegetables, and tofu and mint salad. The food here is on the spicy side, so be sure to ask for it mild. If you’re a vegetarian or have dietary restrictions, have the information written down in Chinese and give it to your server before you order.
China, Beijing Shi, Chaoyang Qu, Maizidian St, 6号楼
Dumplings are a northern Chinese staple—inexpensive, hearty, and with a variety of fillings—and the boiled dumplings (shuijiao) at Baoyuan don’t disappoint. What sets them apart from your corner dumpling shop is the colored dumpling skins, dyed with juice from spinach, tomatoes, carrots, and purple cabbage. Customize your order by choosing your skin and filling—say, a spinach dumpling filled with cucumber, cilantro, pork, and lotus root, or a cabbage-dyed purple wrapper with bean sprouts, crispy rice, pork, and cabbage inside. There’s no denying that these dumplings photograph well, and that, plus the quirky venue—two dining rooms reached by a stroll through a fake garden and over a bridge—makes this a worthy place for a cheap and cheerful lunch or dinner.
Chaoyang, China
By name alone this sounds like a wine bar, but it’s actually a welcoming izakaya, albeit one that has a good selection of wine, as well as sake, shochu, and of course Asahi beer. Vin Vie is on Nongzhanguan Bei Lu, hidden away through a gate and behind a Sichuan restaurant. Dinner here is a cheerful, languid affair as you order a few dishes and drinks, eat and imbibe, and then repeat. Like any izakaya worth its salt, the menu has enough variety to satisfy vegetarians and carnivores. A perfect square of soft, creamy tofu, beef tendon marinated in wine and miso, sardines served warm and in their can, and pickled shishamo (fish) are among the can’t-miss dishes. Reservations are recommended.
12 Yonghegong St, Dongcheng Qu, China, 100007
It’s up to you to make lunch at this cooking school, where Joyce Pan guides her small classes in filling and folding dumplings and stretching noodles. Enjoy the results of your kitchen work paired with a vegetable side dish from Joyce, local fruits, and soft drinks, beer, or wine.

China, Beijing Shi, Chaoyang Qu, SanLiTun, 三里屯北街81号那里花园1楼 邮政编码: 100027
The Moka brothers in question are restaurateurs Daniel Urdaneta and Alex Molina, pals, partners, and owners of Beijing restaurants Mosto and Modo. The pair decided the capital needed a healthy-eats joint and, judging by the packed house, they were right. Moka Bros. has several branches in Beijing, including one in Sanlitun. Lean proteins, vegetables, and whole grains make up most of the dishes here. The menu sections let you know exactly what you’re in for—“Power Bowls” includes salmon sashimi bibimbap, with melt-in-your-mouth slices of salmon served on black rice, avocado, roasted pumpkin, carrots, and seaweed and topped with a poached egg. To drink are various trendy juices and smoothies, among them the fatigue-fighting C-Shot—mango, mixed berries, beetroot, lemon, and ginger.
More From AFAR