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Looking for a place to try Beijing’s most exciting street foods all at once and for low prices? Look no further than this list of Beijing’s best food streets for recommendations, and check out Glutton Guides Beijing for more sit-down restaurants, bars, desserts, and more!
Beijing may not boast picturesque lanes lined with vendors hawking snacks from their stalls in the open air, but still there are a couple culinary streets to cruise.
Huguosi Snack Street 护国寺小吃街
From Changsha-style stinky tofu to Hangzhou soup dumplings, this pedestrian street in Beijing’s west offers a selection of regional snack foods. It is hands-down the best place to sample Beijing snacks, with the flagship outlet of Huguosi Xiaochidian (护国寺小吃店, 93 Huguosi Dajie) that serves up the whole range of ancient and contemporary treats.
Try traditional dishes like a millet and rice flour porridge topped with sesame paste (面茶 miàn chá) or even boiled tripe (爆肚 bàodǔ) – possibly an acquired taste but certainly a straight-up classic. Down the road, you’ll also find an outlet from donkey sandwich shop Wang Pangzi (113 Huguosi Dajie). The new Xintiandi mall (85 Huguosi Dajie) might be a bit of a blight on the traditional aesthetic of the street, but if you’ve had enough of Chinese food for the moment, head inside the mall to local pub Nbeer where you can try a massive variety of microbrews from around China. Also check out the decent Mexican restaurant Xalapa opened by an Argentinian expat.
Known in English as ‘Ghost Street’ (pronounced guǐjiē), the ‘gui’ in the Chinese name for this two-block strip of street refers to an ancient bronze vessel for holding food. Apparently, in the Qing Dynasty, the deceased were transported out of town for burial via a nearby city gate (Dongzhimen); the street was lined with funeral shops and locals began referring to it colloquially as ‘Ghost Street’.
Only recently did the government change the name to characters with the same pronunciation but a different, more auspicious meaning. Now the street is jam-packed with Sichuan restaurants, which are open until the early morning or even 24 hours. The scene really gets going from around 8pm onwards, with crowds of young locals getting together for Chongqing-style roast fish (烤鱼 kǎo yú) and spicy crayfish (麻辣小龙虾 málà xiǎolóngxiā). Huda Restaurant (胡大饭店; 233 Dongzhimen Dajie) is a very popular choice for crayfish, but you can’t go wrong anywhere with a long line of customers waiting for a seat.
Touristy Food Streets
Wangfujing Snack Street 王府井小吃街
This food street located east of the Forbidden City is one of the best-known food streets in Beijing. Here you’ll find yourself fighting crowds of selfie-stick wielding tourists for overpriced, tasteless and often downright questionable street foods. The main attraction is deep-fried skewers of scorpions, silkworm cocoons and even seahorses. If you’re into eating Fear Factor style, this busy, touristy market will provide some kicks. If you’re curious, use it as a reference for the huge variety of traditional snacks available in Beijing, but please, sample at other locations in the city provided in this guide. Prices are high, crowds are thick and the snack quality is very low, but it is a unique and curious scene. Donghuamen Night Market used to be nearby, another very popular snack street, however the government recently ordered it closed.
Nanluoguxiang is another well-known pedestrian street filled with souvenir shops and small snack stalls. It’s an adventure into modern China’s characteristic chaos and not for the faint of heart, as it tops domestic tourists’ lists. On weekends and temperate days, visitors regularly jam the narrow street and the occasional car pushes its way through. Snacks are more contemporary-style – churros, foot-and-a-half tall soft-serve swirls – but give an insight into mainstream Chinese youths’ tastes.
Can’t get enough of the delicious Beijing food you tried on the street? Why not take a look at Glutton Guide Beijing for more scrumptious suggestions?