Put down your cold coffee and get inspired by Beijing’s best breakfast and brunch options, which range from the cheap and cheerful to the outrageously lavish.
A day out exploring in Beijing can take its toll. Which is why it’s advised to fuel up with hearty breakfast before you begin. Luckily, whether you happen to be in the hutongs, the art district or the CBD, the city offers plenty of choices to suit all tastes and budgets – from delectable dim sum and cheap bao, to English fry-ups and all-you-can-eat brunches.
Hotel Restaurant, Seafood, Chinese, British, Middle Eastern, Thai, Fusion
Nuo Hotel’s N’Joy Sunday brunch (simply titled “The Brunch”) is a top-notch experience that delivers on both quality and quantity. It begins with welcome canapés and features sea urchin, a lobster salad live cooking station, caviar and food stations groaning under every type of cuisine imaginable, including Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese and Middle Eastern. Add six types of champagne, faultless service and a classy yet unpretentious atmosphere, and it’s easy to see why N’Joy is often considered the best brunch in Beijing.
Located in Sanlitun, The Opposite House’s Jing Yaa Tang offers all-you-can-eat dim sum brunch in a stylish space. The Chinese restaurant serves up endless amounts of authentic local dim sum dishes such as xiaolongbao (steamed buns), har gow (Cantonese dumplings) and egg tarts, plus Chinese tea (a traditional feature of dim sum brunch, also known as yum cha) or free-flow sparkling wine. Each dish is freshly made and elegantly presented, creating an atmosphere that is more fine-dining than raucous restaurant. Arrive on an empty stomach and ideally with a group of friends.
Boutique Hotel Restaurant, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern
Gulou restaurant Toast serves up flavoursome East Mediterranean-inspired sharing plates atop its Orchid Hotel perch. The restaurant is a local favourite thanks to its warm service and range of creative breakfast and brunch dishes, including shakshuka, beef and lamb kofte, and hummus. Order a bunch of plates and soak up the restaurant’s cosy hutong vibe – the intimate atmosphere is ideal for dates. Plus, if you’re visiting during Beijing’s summer months, the rooftop terrace opens up for a charming al fresco experience.
Hidden behind a green gate in the middle of a rackety vegetable market in northeast Beijing, Green Cow City Cafe is hard to find but worth the journey. The café’s delicious farm-to-table-style brunch menu includes thin-crust pizza, homemade bagels, fresh garden vegetable salads and velvety-rich ricotta pancakes. Quirky ornaments, friendly proprietors and an outdoor seating area lend the café a pleasant neighbourhood feel.
For a cheap and satisfying breakfast in Beijing, there’s nothing better than baozi (also known as bao). For a local breakfast experience, take a trip to Qingfeng Steamed Dumpling Shop. There are branches all around town, but the one just off Wangfujing’s famous shopping street is always buzzing. The chain offers a menu of simple favourites, with a focus on various types of buns and porridge. You’ll never order the wrong thing here and will always leave satisfied. And, unlike most bottomless brunches, this quick breakfast means you’ll have plenty of time left to enjoy the rest of your day.
Craft Ale Bar, Gastropub, Pub, Pub Grub, German, $$$
Arrow Factory is a homely joint that offers a range of solid brunch choices, including a “full English fry-up” (sausages, bacon, baked beans and more) and vegan-friendly dishes such as falafel salad. For homesick foreigners, the traditional home-cooked roast hits the spot. Featuring roast beef and gravy, potatoes and a homemade Yorkshire pudding, the Sunday-only meal is reminiscent of a classic pub lunch and is only available via advance reservation. Wash it down with a house brew, house wine or Prosecco for an additional ¥30 (£3.40). One for beer lovers and those enjoying a lazy Sunday.
Meat and seafood dominate the brunch menu at China World Mall’s Spanish restaurant Migas Mercado. Star dishes include paella, roast pigeon, lamb rack and lobster, so the best way to sample everything is to order a few big plates to share. With beautiful views over the Central Business District, Migas Mercado is a top scenic brunch option. It’s also a boozy one: the free-flow deal for an added ¥168 (£19) includes wine, sangria, cava and Bloody Marys.
Diners flock to this Sanlitun restaurant for its great value food and chic atmosphere at all times of the day, and a morning breakfast or brunch is no exception. Here you’ll find the classics done exceptionally well: eggs benedict, blueberry pancakes, oysters, mac and cheese, and Mosto’s signature creme brulée, to name a few. Pick three courses from the varied list and prepare for an experience that’s like fine-dining, but without the price tag.
For a lavish brunch experience, fine-dining favourite TRB Hutong is the gold standard. The five-course menu, available at both TRB locations, offers a range of French-inspired choices such as foie gras terrine, lobster, confit pigeon and eggs florentine. The accompanying wine pairing is also recommended as it’s known for being on point and generous with pours. Warm, attentive service and an intimate atmosphere make TRB the perfect special-occasion brunch.
Tribe is a convenient and tasty option for health-conscious diners. Located at various spots around Beijing, including Sanlitun and Wangfujing, Tribe’s Solana branch in particular has a wider menu choice due to its bigger kitchen. The balanced lifestyle purveyors cater to all tastes and food allergies, with brunch offerings including avocado egg toast, rice crepes, breakfast wraps, smoothie bowls, coconut yogurt and plenty of fresh juices and smoothies. Each dish is labeled with its qualities such as vegetarian, paleo or high protein. Save room for the surprisingly good “healthy” desserts.
The world’s most quintessential brunch item gets the star treatment at Shuangjing’s Tiger Pancake House. Loaded with syrup, fruit and other sugary accompaniments, the fat stack of carbs is bound to get your heart racing. If that doesn’t sound appealing, the restaurant offers plenty more besides, including eggs, waffles, burgers, and even Asian fusion. The family-friendly spot is relaxed and the food reasonably priced, making Tiger Pancake House a reliable choice.