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How to Eat Like a Local in Beijing

How to Eat Like a Local in Beijing

Written by GavinUpdated Dec. 29, 2023

One of the best things about traveling is the local food, so while you're in Beijing, it is one of our top priorities that you are eating like a local! Think Beijing duck, dumplings, noodles ...

Finding a Local Restaurant in Beijing

If you want to (and are brave enough to) eat like a local don't go to the tourist areas, where there are Western restaurants, other international restaurants, and restaurants offering standardized Chinese dishes for the tourist market.

China Highlights will make sure that wherever in China you go, you will receive an authentic culinary experience.

How do I find the best restaurant?

To get to the real local food, go slightly off the beaten track and choose the noisiest, busiest, and (most important) best-smelling restaurant you can. If you keep your nose open you shouldn't be disappointed. Ideally you should enjoy your eating like a local!

How do I know if a restaurant is selling authentic local food?

Every city has its local cuisine and palette (see our guide to regional cuisines), and what is offered in the large restaurants is often not what the average local eats on a regular basis. Smaller restaurants and the other options below are often more authentic.

We've created a special Beijing food page on which we list some local Beijing foods, like the classic Peking duck, dumplings and on our Beijing restaurants pages we give a comprehensive range of restaurants and recommendations, including some local favorites. Most Chinese cities have their snack streets, which Beijing does too, and can be a good starting point for local flavors.

How do I know what food to order?

Have a wander around the restaurant, and check out the dishes that are on other people's tables. If you are experiencing language barriers, which you are highly likely to if you've picked a local restaurant, point out the best-looking dishes on other people's tables.

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Other Local Eating Options in Beijing

Family Visits and Local Cooking

Local FamilyFamily visit and eat with locals

For a really local experience China Highlights can organize family visits in many cities (for example on our 3-day Beijing Discover Tour), where you can eat with locals who cook well. Let us know if you're looking for a specific type of food, or if you have food allergies or are traveling with children, and we can make sure we accommodate when we arrange your family visit.

Farmhouse Meals

Farmhouse meals (农家菜) are a popular local option when going out to the countryside. There are farmhouse eateries, offering (organic) home-grown produce and local recipes, near some of the sections of the Great Wall of China. For example, you will get plenty of opportunities to eat like a local on our Beijing Great Wall Hiking Tour.

Our tours can include any food you want!

Hot PotBeijing hot pot is especially popular in the winter

If you have special food requirements, or are especially interested in any aspect of Chinese cuisine or Beijing food, please let us know when you are booking your tour. We can make the reservation for you and tailor your itinerary to fit your needs.

We also have some ready-made food tours to make things easy!

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Further Reading

  • Read more about Beijing's Street Snacks. These are a great start to start exploring Beijing food as you can have them on the go, and they're usually small enough to be able to sample many different types.
  • Read more about Beijing Restaurants here. Let us know which you'd like to eat at during your stay.
  • Noodles are one of Beijing's most authentic foods, read more about Beijing's Best Noodle Restaurants here.
  • Want to learn more about Chinese food in general? You are in the right place!
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