On first glance there isn't a lot going on to entice you in Beixinqiao, unless you enjoy trying not to get pulled into a mala shrimp restaurant on Guijie, that is. However, a spate of new bar openings and some overlooked restaurants make this unassuming area an increasingly attractive prospect on those evenings when you're bored of the bars in Gulou and the black cab drivers are trying to charge you 40 RMB to go to Sanlitun. Read on to discover our picks of where to eat, drink and be merry in the hutongs around Beixinqiao.
1) Beixinqiao gets tropical: MásView In Map
Set in a peaceful hutong just behind Guijie, Más succeeds where many similar bars fail, creating a rustic, unpretentious space that serves genuinely delicious cocktails. The menu focuses on tropical classics such as mojitos, caipirinhas and daiquiris and a daily happy hour offers a select few cocktails for 30 RMB each and draft Beijing Beer for 10 RMB between 18:00 and 21:00.
Add: 25 Beixinqiao Toutiao, Yonghegong Dajie, Dongcheng District, Beijing
Tel: 010 6405 4337
Opening hours: Tue-Sun, 18:00-late
2) The rum diaries: CujuView In Map
Named after an ancient Chinese ball game, Cuju is tucked away south of Beixinqiao just off Dongsi Bei Dajie. The bar has quite a personality; nominally a sports bar, owner Badr Benjelloun has also amassed possibly the largest and certainly the most eclectic collection of rums in Beijing. Libations include Tiger draft, a good selection of imported beers and generous mixed drinks. Word on the street is that they aim to start serving Moroccan food in the very near future, so watch this space for updates.
Add: 28 Xiguan Hutong, Dongsi Bei Dajie, Dongcheng District, Beijing
Tel: 010 6407 9782
Opening hours: Wed-Mon, 18:00-late
3) Hidden gem: Duo Wei JuView In Map
We Beijingers are spoilt for choice when it comes to Yunnanese restaurants, so it is always a treat to stumble across somewhere new, especially if you are looking for something in a lower price bracket than Middle 8th and its cohorts. Set halfway between Dongsi and Beixinqiao, Duo Wei Ju delivers an affordable menu of Yunnanese classics, plus a few welcome twists. The lime beef (青柠檬爆牛柳, 32 RMB), tender slices of beef coated with zingy lime, coriander and chilies, keeps us coming back again and again. Homesick Brits will delight in the stir-fried peas with Yunnan ham (云腿烩豌豆, 22 RMB), which is more than a little reminiscent of a hearty pea and ham soup.
Add: 1 Zhongjianzi Xiang, Fuxue Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing
Tel: 010 6406 5305
Getting there: Enter Fuxue Hutong from Dongsi Bei Dajie and walk west until you reach a crossroads, approx. 400m
4) Korean elegance: Saveurs de CoréeView In Map
Saveurs de Corée offers sophisticated Korean cuisine in a simple, modern setting, with the food focusing on quality and health. The star of the menu is the smokeless barbeque (including free range Wagyu beef from Dalian), which won't leave you and your clothes smelling like a bonfire, as cheaper Korean restaurants will. The drinks menu covers all the usual favorites, including draught Vedett Extra Blond, as well as a comprehensive selection of traditional Korean spirits and beers. The set lunch for one, including a salad, barbeque dish and a soup, is a steal at 59 RMB and a great way to experience the food if you're on a budget.
Add: 128 Xiang'er Hutong, Jiaodaokou, Dongcheng District, Beijing
Tel: 010 5741 5753
Opening hours: Mon-Fri, 11:30-15:00/17:00-22:30; Sat-Sun, 11:30-22:30
5) Homestyle in the hutongs: El Nido BistroView In Map
Fans of hutong drinking will no doubt already be familiar with El Nido on Fangjia Hutong. Affable proprietor Xiao Shuai has opened a bistro in a larger space on the same hutong. The room itself looks a bit thrown together, but this only serves to enhance the bistro's down-to-earth feel. Described as “Western Homestyle,” the menu touches on all the classics, from lasagna to pizza, with a few heartier dishes thrown in. Most dishes come in the 40-50 RMB bracket, with steak in red wine sauce the most expensive dish at 88 RMB. There is also a comprehensive drinks list; the house red wine is a steal and eminently drinkable at 25 RMB a glass. Although there are still a few kinks to be worked out, we can see this becoming a Beixinqiao favorite.
Add: 64 Fangjia Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing
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