Beijing is hardly the top choice for foodies who crave Chinese food – often the only local cuisine that comes to mind is the ubiquitous Peking duck. But while Peking duck itself is definitely worth the trip, the biggest advantage of the Chinese capital is that it attracts the pick of fare all over China. If you find yourself in Beijing and want to sample the best of the country’s dishes, be sure to check out the following places.
Where to get the best Peking duck
Peking duck is a treat for both the stomach and the eyes. The best Peking duck restaurants usually have chefs preparing the duck in front of diners before they serve it. You’ll see how the tender duck meat and crispy skin are separated in the most skillful manner, and can even tailor your meal by asking the chef to cook soup with the duck bone or save it for takeaway.
The most time-honored brand of Peking Duck is Quanjude. Its flagship store in Qianmen is always fully packed, with a long queue outside. Apart from Quanjude, there’s Da Dong, a contemporary Peking Duck restaurant once visited by former US first lady Michelle Obama, and Liqun, a hutong Peking Duck restaurant opened by a former chef of Quanjude.
Beijing – street snack heaven
Beijing is way more than a city for Peking Duck. It is also a heaven of street snacks: from the variety of snacks that were passed down to the public from the imperial court, like wandouhuang pea cake and lvdagunr, the snacks invented by the long-established halal restaurants in Beijing, like aiwowo, to the probably less historical but an essential part of almost every Beijinger’s childhood memory – bingtanghulu (candied hawthorn), the street snacks are a treasure of Beijing’s food culture.
A secret that only the hardcore foodies know
What you’re going to read here is a secret about Beijing that only circulates among the hardcore foodies, and also what make the foodies feel so proud of living in Beijing: That is the fact that nearly all of the other Chinese provinces’ authentic flavors are accessible at their Beijing offices. For example, you may easily taste the original flavor of cross bridge rice noodles at the Butterfly Spring Hotel, which is attached to the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture’s Beijing Office, or kung pao chicken at the Xinchuanban Restaurant, which belongs to the Sichuan Province’s Beijing Office.
It’s a matter of luck when it comes to hutong restaurants
Although we made a list of the best hidden hutong restaurants in Beijing, there are two appendix clauses you need to know: 1) nearly all hutong restaurants are more or less hidden (just imagine the maze-like topography of Beijing’s hutong alleys), and 2) good hutong restaurants are actually inexhaustible. For foodies, little is perhaps more fun than discovering the hidden delicacies by themselves, but still, searching for good hutong restaurants is like a gamble – you never know what’s behind that inconspicuous restaurant door or the shy, tongue-tied shop owner. It might be just what it looks like, but once it surprises you it’s going to be one of your most unforgettable food-hunting experiences.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.