The Best Restaurants in Taipei

In this modest Asian city, a vast galaxy of street food, night markets, and closet-sized seafood restaurants awaits. Don’t forget that small can be mightily good.

Highlights
No. 101號, Jihe Road, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111
Calling all lovers of food: Shilin Night Market is the largest of many night markets in Taipei. It is easily accessible by MRT and has endless stalls of restaurants/stands as well as shops. Bring a friend so you can share and experience more of the many dishes that this great market has to offer. If you do take the MRT, make sure you get to the platform before 12am because the trains stop running after that. If you stay past 12am, you will need to catch a cab to get back to your hotel.
1 南京西路
I found a new food obsession when I visited Taiwan, Peking duck. This traditional Chinese dish isn’t just served in Taipei–it’s been elevated to a form of culinary art. While you can find several great purveyors of this delicacy in Taipei, my favorite is the Celestial Restaurant in Zhongshan District. The adventure starts by ordering how you want to duck presented. Your options are duck served in one, two or three ways. Option one is the classic serving of the tasty duck, option two involves mixing the meat with scallions and soy sauce and serving it over rice and the third way is making a soup from the stock. Keep in mind, it’s not one or the other, if you order it three ways, you get all three ways. The classic is of course the best and more than enough food for several people. The duck is first presented to the table in all of its roasted goodness before the skin is served to the salivating diners. The proper procedure is to wrap pieces of the skin along with scallions and hoisin sauce in a small crepe. This simple layering of flavors quickly became one of my favorite meals I’ve ever had. After a few quality moments with the skin, the duck meat is then served, diners consuming it again with the scallions and crepes. I feel cheated that this was the first time I ever had an expertly prepared Peking Duck but it is without exaggeration when I say I would fly back to Taipei just for the chance to enjoy this remarkable meal a second time.
No. 297號, Section 4, Zhongxiao East Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Taiwanese-style shaved ice desserts (known as “bao-bing” in Chinese) consist of large bowls of finely shaved ice topped with a variety of sweets, including condensed milk, beans, jellies, and fresh fruit. For fifteen years, Ice Monster was a tiny open storefront hawking mango shaved ice on Taipei’s famous foodie destination, Yongkang Street. Its recent move to the trendy East District includes a thorough re-branding as well as a creative expansion of their menu. Although Ice Monster’s mango shaved ice is still a must-order, non-traditionalists will enjoy digging into their new innovative creations like taro and red-bean milk “avalanches”, or sampling a few of their handmade popsicles. My personal favorite is a tribute to Taipei’s most famous drink: a “deconstructed boba milk tea” made with milk tea shaved ice and served with tapioca “bubbles” on the side. 886/(0)2-8771-3263
No. 85, Section 2, Bade Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10491
While the Taipei Brewery (housed in an old warehouse) doesn’t look it from the outside, inside it is Oktoberfest every day. Serving fresh Taiwan beer, the atmosphere is festive and lively, especially on the weekends when bands join the fun for a sometimes loud but always fun experience. The food options here are somewhat limited (mostly pub-style cuisine), so eat beforehand if you want a more robust meal. The Brewery is especially popular among locals, so be sure to visit if you want to escape the Western bubble.
No. 379號, Section 4, Xinyi Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110
Woolloomooloo’s quirky name was sourced from a town in Australia, as are the coffee beans used to make its signature “flat white” coffee drink (served in a glass, Aussie style). Opened by a Taiwanese-Australian architect, this popular eatery offers a solid menu of Western dishes in an industrial-chic space. Though it’s called a “cafe”, Woolloomoolo is more communal canteen than intimate coffee shop, boasting long wooden butcher tables and steel-clad walls. Though its menu includes staples such as pizza and pasta that are found in almost all of the many Western-style cafes throughout the city, Woolloomoolo stands out from the pack through specialties like Aussie meat pie and Greek moussaka. Avoid the lunch rush on weekdays, when Woolloomoolo transforms into a sophisticated cafeteria, with crowds of nine-to-fivers squeezed around the tables to take advantage of the hearty lunch specials. Patio seating is also available at the Xinyi location, a perk rarely seen in Taipei eateries. When weather permits, enjoy a flat white made with imported Aussie beans while sitting in the sunshine. 886/(0)2-8789-0128 (Xinyi Store)
110, Taiwan, Taipei City, Xinyi District, 台北市信義區松仁路93號
This incredibly innovative Catalan-inspired restaurant is led by world renowned chef Daniel Negreira, who learned his craft under the watchful eye of Ferran Adrià at the former Number 1 restaurant in the world, elBulli. DN innovación is a great example of how fine dining has recently exploded in Taipei, a city known as much for its food as for its tourist sites. Although Negreira was trained in the mountains of Spain, he gains a lot of inspiration from Taipei, especially the city’s many markets. Be sure to make reservations well in advance, as this popular restaurant fills up fast.
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