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10 places in Beijing to eat & drink under 30 USD

For a foreigner who comes to live in China for the first time, Beijing can be truly overwhelming: a lot to see, many places to go and many new things to try, not to mention an amazing shopping experience. Sometimes it might be hard to benefit from all Beijing has to offer with a limited budget. To help newcomers from all over the world to have a great time in Beijing without high expenses, we have created a list of the 10 TOP affordable hangouts.

Eat, drink and enjoy your time in China!

Western 

Lush 

2/F, Bldg 1, Huaqing Jiayuan, Chengfu Road, Haidian District, nearest subway – Wudaokou (五道口), Exit B

海淀区成府路华清嘉园1号楼2层(五道口城铁站对面)

Lush is definitely one of the oldest and most popular student hangouts in Wudaokou area – for 12 years now, people have been eating burgers, sandwiches, salads and drinks here, almost 24/7.
Lots of students come there to grab a bite and read in the afternoon as well as have dinner or a late night snack after clubbing. Needless to say that Lush is always a vibrant and fun place. 

Special recommendation: Original Lush Burger, club sandwich
Additional: Lush offers a lot of activities: Pub Quiz, Open Mike, Martini Night and much more!

PBD Pizza Bar 

Weigongcun branch (魏公村店)

3 Weigongcun Road (BFSU North Campus Gate), Haidian District, nearest subway – Weigongcun (魏公村) Exit D

魏公村路3号(外国语大学北外宾馆北)

UIBE branch (对外经贸店)

Unit 6, 315 Shaoyaoju North Lane Apartment Complex, across the road from East gate of UIBE, nearest subway – Shaoyaoju (芍药居) Chaoyang District

芍药居北里315-6

PBD is a great place to have dinner with friends – pizza is delicious, drinks are cheap, and you can play board games or throw darts. Another great thing about PBD is the atmosphere – you can always meet people and dance if you are in the mood, even climb a chair to show your dance moves if you want to. 

Special recommendation: PMB pizza with extra tomatoes and cheese, Caesar salad, chicken sandwich 

Additional: It is better come around 7-8 on Fridays and Saturdays, otherwise waiting for a table can take a long time. 

Helen’s Café

Multiple locations, most popular:

Wudaokou branch (五道口店)

11 Dongsheng Apartments, Chengfu Road, Haidian District, nearest subway – Wudaokou (五道口), Exit B

东升园公寓11号楼底商, 海淀区成府路五道口城铁站路口往南走200米

Shaoyaoju (UIBE) branch (芍药居店)

Unit 6, 315 Shaoyaoju North Apartment Complex, across the road from East gate of UIBE,  Chaoyang District, nearest subway – Shaoyaoju (芍药居) Exit A

芍药居北里315-6

Helen’s is another quite old and famous student hangout – it started in Wudaokou, but at the moment there are four different locations in Beijing, mostly near universities. Helen’s and PBD share the same concept: affordable prices and making some friends. However, Helen’s is even more about the union of different cultures – the whole place is covered in flags and visitors can write welcome messages on the walls and tables. 

Special recommendation: baked Bolognese, tuna & cream pasta, veggie burger.

Additional: It is better come around 7 on Fridays and Saturdays, otherwise waiting for a table can take a long time. 

Sunnie American Diner

30 Sanlitun North, Chaoyang District, nearest subway – Tuanjiehu (团结湖) Exit A

三里屯北街30号

This place is the only one in the selection of Western hangouts that is not located anywhere near universities. It was not designed for students, however, due to the price range, we can easily call Sunnie a student hangout. Here you can find the usual variety of dishes served in a typical American diner, and they are quite delicious. Sunnie is very quiet, and it even has a family spirit: since there are only 4 or 5 staff members, they will remember you and your food preferences if you come several times. This diner is most suitable for brunch, lunch or very early dinner. 

Special recommendation: Caesar salad with chicken, BLT sandwich, shrimp & avocado salad, cream & mushroom soup

Additional: Sunnie has great Thanksgiving offers every year

 

Chinese

Mr. Shi’s Dumplings (老石饺子)

Most convenient location – Sanlitun branch (三里屯店)

No. 37 Sanlitun South, Chaoyang District, nearest subway – Tuanjiehu (团结湖) Exit A

朝阳区 三里屯南37号楼 

Mr. Shi’s is a legendary place known for the best dumplings in China – steamed or fried, with traditional or exotic fillings, these dumplings are definitely worth trying. The place itself is quite cozy, clean, and the staff is very friendly. You can also write something on the wall to perpetuate the tradition and leave your mark on this place. 

Special recommendation: classic pork & cabbage dumplings, cheese dumplings, chicken & corn dumplings

Additional: Mr. Shi’s is quite famous already, so waiting for a table can take a lot of time, sometimes.

Baoyuan Dumplings (宝源饺子屋)

North of 6 Maizidian Street, Chaoyang District, nearest subway – Liangmaqiao (亮马桥), Exit C or Zaoying (枣营) Exit A

朝阳区麦子店街6号楼北侧

Baoyuan is one of the most popular Beijing dumpling restaurants because of its exquisite selection of dumplings, as well as its regular Chinese dishes that are mouthwatering. But the most creative fact that won Baoyuan a lot of customers is the possibility to get Rainbow dumplings – you can choose plain or colored dumplings, which comes in handy when you order multiple kinds, and it is difficult to tell one flavor from another. To make your meal colored, the Baoyuan staff uses the technique of steam for its dumplings, utilizing fruits and vegetables - spinach, blueberry, carrot, and grape.

Special recommendation: classic pork & cabbage dumplings, shrimp & egg dumplings, beef & celery dumplings

Additional: There are private sections available for those who come as a group.

Taishuxi Home Cooking (太熟悉家常菜)

Most convenient location – Tuanjiehu branch (团结湖店)

13 Tuanjiehu Road, south side of Tuanjiehu Park, Chaoyang District, nearest subway – Hujialou (呼家楼) Exit B

团结湖路13号(团结湖公园东门南侧)

Taishuxi is the best place to try traditional local food as well as the famous Beijing Duck! The variety of the menu is great, and the prices are just a little bit higher than in street food joints. If you want to taste China as it is – from regular homemade dishes to special occasion family dinners, Taishuxi is the place to go. 

Special recommendation: fried squid, mu’er (木耳) mushrooms, Beijing Duck.  

Additional: It is better to book a table, especially in the evening – the place is usually packed.

 

Japanese

Isshin (一心日本料理)

Most convenient locations:

Jianwai Soho branch (建外店)

Rm 1501, Bldg 15, Jianwai Soho, 39 Dongsanhuan Zhonglu, Chaoyang District, nearest subway – Yong’Anli (永安里) Exit C

朝阳区东三环中路39号建外Soho15号楼1501

UIBE branch (对外经贸店)

Door 3, Bldg B, Ziguang Development Plaza, 11 Huixin East Street, Chaoyang District, nearest subway station – Huixinxijienankou (惠新西街南口) Exit B

朝阳区惠新东街11号紫光发展大厦B座3单元

Isshin is famous for great Japanese dishes and reasonable prices as well as convenient promotions (half-price sushi, or buy one-get one) – you can try a great variety of sushi as well as cold and hot noodles, hot pot and even some teppanyaki.  

Special recommendation: Isshin Sushi, ramen noodles in miso soup

Additional: as any Japanese place, Isshin stops working from 15.00 p.m. to 17.00 p.m., and the prices in the Jianwai branch are slightly higher than in the UIBE one. 

 

Middle-Eastern - halal 

Desert Rose (沙漠玫瑰土耳其餐厅)

39 Shenlu Street, Building 1, 1-07, Chaoyang District, nearest subway - Chaoyangmen (朝阳门) Exit A
神路街39号院1号楼1-07

Not a lot of people are familiar with this restaurant since it is located in the Russian area (Yabaolu), but those who visit it once always come back for more, especially Muslim community members.
Desert Rose offers a wide selection of Turkish, Arabic, Persian, etc. dishes for relatively low prices as well as a satisfying shisha (hookah) experience.
All the meat served in Desert Rose is halal, the restaurant also has a prayer space on a second floor. 

Special recommendation: Any kebab – all of them are sensational, dumpling soup, bean soup, puff-bread, yigur salad and lamb dumplings

Additional: The place is halal, so no alcohol allowed 

 

Drinking

Heaven Bar & Supermarket (天堂便利店)

14 Xindong Road, Chaoyang District, nearest subway – Tuanjiehu (团结湖) Exit A

 朝阳区 新东路14号幸福村中路交叉口路东

If we are talking about Heaven, “Bar & Supermarket” are not two different places and certainly not a metaphor. Heaven is literally a supermarket with a bar and tables on the second floor.
The main perks of this place are the cheap drinks of any kind and its great location – most people hang out there before going clubbing or dancing.  

Special recommendation: A great variety of bottled beers from all over the world

Additional: Sometimes you can watch sports events broadcasted in heaven, which is really nice to do on a summer terrace. 

Photo credit: dianping, thebeijinger, opensnap

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