The Best Restaurants in Xi’an

Pack your hunger: the streets of Xi’an are packed with dumpling shops and noodle carts and wonderful smells that will keep you distracted planning about your next meal.

127 E 1st Rd
Muslim noodle restaurants are ubiquitous all over China, but Xi’an, with its large Muslim population, has a far better class of them. Most restaurants have photos of the various dishes on the wall, and all you have to do is point. My personal favorite is 面片, which translates as “noodle flakes.” The chef has a clump of dough and flicks thin slices of noodle off into boiling water. At Lanzhou Muslim Traditional Beef Stretched Noodles I like the noodle flakes with beef and potato gravy, but the options for toppings are endless.
80 Nanyuanmen, ZhongLou ShangQuan, Beilin Qu, Xian Shi, Shaanxi Sheng, China, 710001
You can’t talk about Xi’an without talking about biangbiang noodles, a unique Shaanxi food. The character for biang is one of the most complex among noodles, and is achieved by kneading the dough 58 strokes. With all the hype about the giant character, I was expecting the noodles to be a bit of a let-down—oh, was I wonderfully wrong! The noodles are huge, practically long lasagna sheets. The sauce reminded us of a kind of thick minestrone soup: tomato, flakes of slow-cooked lamb, and fresh herbs. It’s such a cheap, hearty, and delicious meal—I would eat this every day if I lived in Xi’an.
China, Shaanxi, Xian Shi, Yanta Qu, GaoXin ShangQuan, 高新区科技路徐家庄附近(近白沙路) 邮政编码: 710065
Delhi Darbar is an excellent Indian restaurant in Xi’an. I usually order palak paneer and malai kofta when trying a new Indian restaurant, because unlike curries, it’s really hard to make these without fresh ingredients. (In China, you either need to make your own paneer or serve something with shelf-stable cheese in it.) The dishes were perhaps a bit bland and safe, but they unambiguously passed the quality test. We also had some veggie raita and garlic naan, both of which were highly delicious. We knew this place was legit when we asked for some pickles and they brought us a half-full jar of imported spicy Indian pickles.
China, Shaanxi, Xian Shi, Yanta Qu, GaoXin ShangQuan, 高新一路 邮政编码: 710065
This is a slightly odd place. It’s in the middle of a commercial area, with no restaurants in sight. If you get to the right block, it’s actually behind a large building. You have to knock and be let in like a speakeasy. Once inside, it’s a pretty normal expat locale. The first floor is a Spanish restaurant, supposedly with one of the only wood-burning pizza ovens in Xi’an. Downstairs is the real Green Molly, an Irish pub. You can also order food here. The pizza was disappointing, but the Caprese salad and potato skins were outrageously good. Green Molly is 200 meters north of Ginwa Shopping Center on the intersection of Gaoxin Road and Keji Road. It is behind the GAOKE building.
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