Beijing’s pollution is no joke, but when the air is clear, the sky turns a brilliant blue and China’s capital city truly shines. When only alfresco eating will do, head to these four restaurants for Beijing’s best outdoor dining.
Australian Michelle Garnaut has a knack for securing spaces with sweeping views. Her Shanghai venue sits right on the Bund, while this Beijing restaurant offers tremendous vistas of Tiananmen Square and its towers. By day, the sun shines on the lovely terrace on which locals and visitors alike dig into contemporary (yet seasonal) Aussie dishes such as tender marinated lamb with polenta, sautéed spinach, grilled onions, and linguini with zucchini and pine nuts. At night, Tiananmen lights up and every head on the patio turns and stares wide-eyed. On Beijing’s crisp fall nights, cashmere blankets are made readily available.
The modern Mediterranean restaurant at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star property The Opposite House Beijing eschews scapes for a tranquil walled patio. From the kitchen at Sureño, helmed by chef de cuisine Laia Pons, come Spanish, Greek and Italian-influenced plates such as spanakorizo, a traditional spinach and rice stew. The curated selection of Greek wine, available by the glass and bottle, includes Vinsanto Boutari, a crisp, refreshing dessert wine best enjoyed at sunset, surrounded by the restaurant’s terrace greenery.
The promise of outdoor dining is in the name of this Beijing stalwart, which serves the cuisine of southern Yunnan province. Dali Courtyard has two branches, both tucked away in hutongs — narrow alleyways lined in courtyard houses. Each has serene inner areas dotted with foliage and warmly lit by candles come nightfall. The romantic ambience means tables quickly book up. Another note: There’s no menu here. Lunch and dinner are prix fixe sets based on what the Yunnan-native chef Chen Mingbin decides to make. Possible options include mixed mushrooms, (for which Yunnan is well known), chili fish or spicy mint salad.
Award-winning architect and MIT professor Yung Ho Chang designed this suitably regal courtyard. He even included a fog machine to give the space a mountaintop atmosphere. In one of Beijing’s trendiest hutongs, chef Pan Jianjun — a disciple of a Buddhist monastery — serves intricate and lovingly plated vegetarian dishes. Where possible, chef Pan and owner David Yin source vegetables from nearby organic farms. The result? Healthy, clean dishes packed with flavor. Even carnivores will sink their teeth into meaty sautéed matsutake mushrooms with asparagus and braised tofu that’s topped with ginkgo nuts, seaweed and a dash of chili. Making a concession to urbanites, King’s Joy has a lengthy wine list but balances it with a menu of drinks for the health-conscious that includes options such as chilled papaya milk.
Photo Courtesy of The Opposite House Beijing