Beijing restaurants - Our Expert's
Top 30

By Tom O'Malley, your Beijing expert

I write for Travel and Leisure (SE Asia), CNNGo, The Beijinger, .... Read more

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Duck de Chine

Price guide: Expensive
#1/30
expert-rated restaurants in Beijing
Expert overall rating:4.9 (out of 5)

Delicious roast duck and classy Cantonese fare in one of the sexiest dining rooms in the city.

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Capital M

Price guide: Expensive
#2/30
expert-rated restaurants in Beijing
Best for Romance -
Expert overall rating:4.8 (out of 5)

Glamorous European fare with an unbeatable view across Tiananmen Square.

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Bei

Price guide: Expensive
#3/30
expert-rated restaurants in Beijing
Best for Gourmets -
Expert overall rating:4.7 (out of 5)

Creative and stylish contemporary Asian fine-dining – it doesn’t get much better than this.

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Dadong

Price guide: Expensive
#4/30
expert-rated restaurants in Beijing
Expert overall rating:4.7 (out of 5)

Dadong’s artistic Chinese continues to wow, but the nightly queues are all about the duck.

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Maison Boulud

Price guide: Expensive
#5/30
expert-rated restaurants in Beijing
Expert overall rating:4.6 (out of 5)

The city’s finest French restaurant in the stately surrounds of the former US legation.

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Chuan Ban

Price guide: Budget
#6/30
expert-rated restaurants in Beijing
Expert overall rating:4.6 (out of 5)

Authentic, mouth-numbing Sichuan cuisine served up Chinese government style.

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Dali Courtyard

Price guide: Mid-range
#7/30
expert-rated restaurants in Beijing
Best for Outdoor dining -
Expert overall rating:4.5 (out of 5)

Fresh and fragrant southwest Chinese cuisine in a picturesque garden setting.

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Made in China

Price guide: Expensive
#8/30
expert-rated restaurants in Beijing
Expert overall rating:4.5 (out of 5)

This lively five-star eatery makes a strong case for the city’s finest Peking duck.

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Mosto

Price guide: Mid-range
#9/30
expert-rated restaurants in Beijing
Expert overall rating:4.4 (out of 5)

Mid-range contemporary European fare with a Latin twist.

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ROOMbeijing

Price guide: Mid-range
#10/30
expert-rated restaurants in Beijing
Expert overall rating:4.3 (out of 5)

This cutting-edge lifestyle destination impresses with inventive, unusual dishes.

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Da Gui

Price guide: Budget
#11/30
expert-rated restaurants in Beijing
Expert overall rating:4.3 (out of 5)

A homely introduction to the piquant spices of Southern China’s Guizhou Province.

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Patara

Price guide: Mid-range
#12/30
expert-rated restaurants in Beijing
Expert overall rating:4.2 (out of 5)

Beijing’s best Thai food in an opulent setting.

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Pure Lotus Vegetarian

Price guide: Mid-range
#13/30
expert-rated restaurants in Beijing
Expert overall rating:4.2 (out of 5)

Marvellously tasty mock-meat in a serene, Zen-like environment.

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Lei Garden

Price guide: Mid-range
#14/30
expert-rated restaurants in Beijing
Expert overall rating:4.2 (out of 5)

Creative Cantonese fine-dining and delicious dim sum close to Wangfujing.

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Jingzun

Price guide: Budget
#15/30
expert-rated restaurants in Beijing
Best for Value for money -
Expert overall rating:4.1 (out of 5)

Affordable roast duck and tasty Chinese fare in a bright, relaxed environment.

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Vineyard Cafe

Price guide: Budget
#16/30
expert-rated restaurants in Beijing
Expert overall rating:4.1 (out of 5)

Bright, sunny café with great pizzas and hearty English breakfasts.

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Hatsune

Price guide: Mid-range
#17/30
expert-rated restaurants in Beijing
Expert overall rating:4.1 (out of 5)

Tasty sashimi and inventive California rolls in a hip, trendy atmosphere.

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Tiandi Yijia

Price guide: Expensive
#18/30
expert-rated restaurants in Beijing
Expert overall rating:4.0 (out of 5)

Exquisite contemporary Chinese in a VIP spot beside the Forbidden City.

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The CourtYard

Price guide: Expensive
#19/30
expert-rated restaurants in Beijing
Best for Romance -
Expert overall rating:4.0 (out of 5)

European fine-dining with an enchanting perch beside the Forbidden City.

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Little Sheep

Price guide: Budget
#20/30
expert-rated restaurants in Beijing
Expert overall rating:4.0 (out of 5)

Gorge on Beijing’s favourite winter dish at this busy Gui Jie restaurant.

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Showing 1-20 of 30 results
Set focus

Leave all your preconceptions on the plane. Chinese food in China - the real stuff - will doubtless come as a big, delicious surprise. The local fare, from the disappearing ‘small eats’ snack culture to haute Imperial cuisine (the food of Emperors past) to Peking duck, is certainly interesting enough, but what folks don’t realise is the sheer regional variety of Chinese food. Noodles and spuds in the north, rice in the south; the numbing, oily spiciness of Sichuan and Hunan versus the ethnic South Asian flavours of Yunnnan, Guizhou and Guangxi.

And what makes Beijing unique (more so than Shanghai, Hong Kong or Chengdu even) is that it has it all. It’s a giant, steamy, mouth-watering melting pot. This is in part due to it being the political centre. Each provincial government in China operates hotels and restaurants in the capital for the comfort of their visiting officials, run by native chefs and with fresh, regional ingredients trucked or flown in daily. One of these – Chuan Ban – is on the list.

Of course, you could spend the whole trip eating spaghetti, sushi, Indian or even fish and chips. As each year goes by, Beijing becomes a more global gastronomic destination. But you don’t what to do that, do you?

A few things to bear in mind

  • Don’t’ worry too much if a restaurant looks grubby. It’s the amount of customers that’s the key. If the place is busy, you’ve nothing to worry about. Bear in mind that Chinese diners tend to use the floor of the restaurant for bones, cigarette ash, and – perish the thought – sometimes even the contents of their throats. Also, remember that Chinese restaurants are bright, brash, communal and loud. So get stuck in and have fun. And don’t be afraid to yell at your fuwuyuan (waiter / waitress). Everyone else does.
  • Smoking is, unfortunately, the norm in most ordinary Chinese restaurants. This is less of a problem in warm weather when you can look for a place with outside seating.
  • It’s perfectly acceptable to take your leftovers home in a doggy bag, so don’t be shy. Ask your waitress to da bao.
  • The Chinese eat their meals early. Lunch can happen at 11am; dinner as early as 5pm. This means you'll have less choice if you're looking for a restaurant on a weeknight after 9pm.
  • When going out for Chinese food, try to muster as many diners as possible. The more people, the cheaper the meal, and the greater variety of dishes you can try.
Set focus

Though it can be a worry for many travellers, eating really is one of Beijing’s great pleasures. It’s my favourite aspect of life here, at any rate. I’m passionate about helping others discover great regional Chinese food, whether it’s a bowl of hand-pulled noodles or some tender barbecued lamb. I’ve picked Chinese restaurants that are accessible and clean, with English menus, decent service and a pleasant ambience. But most importantly, that produce genuinely authentic, delicious food.

As the food critic on a city magazine, I’m also well acquainted with Beijing’s premier international eateries. The restaurants on the list really are the best in their class in terms of cuisine, setting and service, so that if you do decide to have a little splurge on your holidays, you’ve got the best possible chance to have a delicious, memorable meal.