The best way to eat well in Beijing at a reasonable price is to go to one of the ubiquitous restaurants where locals eat and choose a few different dishes from the menu. Honestly, anyone familiar with Western currency and prices will find Beijing a very cheap place to eat, especially considering that tipping is not a common practice in China.
Some of the cheapest and most delicious meals can be found on the street. Spicy pancakes (煎饼果子 Jiānbĭng guŏzi) are one of the most popular street snacks, eaten from morning to night, with most carts operating during the morning commute and only reopening at night for night owls and night owls. This delicious pancake is cooked with an egg on a griddle, then a fried batter is added and the whole thing is drizzled with green onions and a hot sauce. The hot sauce is optional. Die-hard fans often go in search of the best cart in town. This treat should only cost ¥2.50, with an extra egg ¥3.
Lamb skewers (羊肉串儿 yángròu chuànr) and other kebabs are grilled at makeshift stalls all over Beijing from late afternoon until late night. In Wangfujing, there is a “snack street” where such common dishes as lamb, chicken and beef are sold, as well as various noodle dishes such as Sichuan-style rice noodles, but the braver ones can also try silkworms, scorpions and various organs that are skewered and grilled to order.
A winter specialty, candied fir berries (冰糖葫芦 bīngtáng húlu), are dipped in melted sugar that hardens in the cold and sold on sticks. There are also variations with oranges, grapes, strawberries and bananas, or with peanut chips and sugar. This sweet snack is also sometimes found in spring and summer, but the berries are often from the last harvest.
The most famous street to eat in Beijing is probably Guijie (簋街/鬼街 Guǐjiē).
Street food in Beijing: Gui Street (簋街) is located in Dongzhimen, east of the Second Belt Street of the western part of Dongzhimen Viaduct and west of the East Final Intersection Street of the East Main Street.
Mistletoe Street is now the center of a culinary paradise with many excellent cuisines. Over a length of one kilometer, 90% of the stores on this street house more than 150 establishments. Most of the capital’s great restaurants are certainly found here.
Peking duck is a famous Peking specialty served in many restaurants, but there are also a few restaurants dedicated to the art of roasting the perfect duck. For a whole duck, it costs about ¥40 in cheap restaurants and ¥160-200 in high-end restaurants. Peking duck (北京烤鸭 Bĕijīng kăoyā) is served with thin pancakes, plum sauce (甜面酱 tiánmiàn jiàng)，and slices of green onions and cucumbers. The duck is dipped in the sauce and rolled up in the pancake with some spring onions and/or cucumber slices. The end result is a delicious combination of the cold crispness of the cucumber, the spiciness of the spring onions and the rich flavor of the duck.
Beijing is also known for its mutton hotpot (涮羊肉 shuàn yáng ròu), which is of Manchu origin and favors mutton over other meats. Like variations of hotpot (general name 火锅 huŏ guō) from other parts of China and Japan, hotpot is prepared in a steaming pot placed in the center of the table itself. Unlike Sichuan hotpot, mutton hotpot has a flavorful, non-spicy broth. If that’s not exciting enough for you, you can also order a spicy broth (warning: it’s bright red, full of paprika and not for the faint of heart!) To play it safe and keep everyone happy, you can order a Yuan-Yang pot (鸳鸯 yuānyáng), divided into two, with spicy broth on one side and normal broth on the other. Ingredients are purchased per plate, including other meat and seafood, vegetables, mushrooms, noodles and tofu, so a vegetarian stew is quite possible. It is accompanied by a dip sauce, usually sesame, which you can prepare yourself with chilies, garlic, coriander, etc. Although the term “raw” sounds dangerous, cooking the meat is the best way to ensure that riskier meats, such as pork, are fully cooked and germ-free. In the city center, a hotpot can cost up to ¥40-50 per person, but in the suburbs, you can find them for ¥10-25. In the cheap versions, spices or broth from previous customers are reused, even if they have already cooked for several hours.
Beijing offers an ideal opportunity to try dishes from all over the country. Some of the best restaurants in Beijing serve dishes from Sichuan, Hunan, Guangzhou, Tibet, Yunnan, Xinjiang and other countries.
For vegetarians, Beijing’s first all-vegetarian buffet restaurant is located at the Confucius Temple (see Dongcheng District for more information).
Origus has many locations throughout Beijing and offers an all-you-can-eat pizza/pasta buffet for ¥39, including soft drinks and a dessert bar. If you’re in the mood for Texas cuisine, check out Tim’s Texas BBQ, near Jianguomen subway station. You can enjoy your favorite American food and drinks there. Tony Roma’s has a branch in Wangfujing (in Oriental Plaza). Korean restaurants are also very common in Beijing. A common meal is homemade barbecue with beef, chicken and seafood, as well as some vegetables like vegetables and potatoes.
All luxury hotels have at least one restaurant, which can offer any cuisine they think their guests will enjoy. In most hotels you will find French, Italian, American and Chinese restaurants. Restaurants that serve abalone and shark fin are considered the most expensive restaurants in town. Expect to pay more than ¥800 for a “cheap” meal in one of these restaurants if you want to spend a little more.