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A Breakfast Layover In Beijing, Done Right.


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Dacie Acuna



Welcome to Beijing, China’s vibrant and bustling capital city. From its rich history and iconic landmarks to its diverse culinary scene, Beijing offers a multitude of experiences for travelers. And what better way to start your day in Beijing than with a delicious breakfast?


Beijing is a city where food culture thrives, and breakfast is no exception. Whether you’re an early riser looking to fuel up for a day of exploring or a food enthusiast eager to dive into the local flavors, Beijing has something to offer for every palate.


In this article, we will explore the best breakfast options in Beijing, from traditional Chinese choices to popular Western-style spots. We will also delve into the world of street food, regional delicacies, and historic breakfast spots that offer a glimpse into Beijing’s rich culinary heritage.


So, if you’re planning a trip to Beijing or find yourself on a layover in this vibrant city, read on to discover how to make the most of your breakfast experience in Beijing.


Finding the Best Breakfast Options in Beijing

When it comes to finding the best breakfast options in Beijing, it’s important to explore a variety of choices that cater to different tastes and preferences. From traditional Chinese breakfasts to international fare, Beijing has it all. Here are some tips to help you find the perfect breakfast spot:

  1. Exploring Traditional Chinese Breakfast Choices: Start your day like a local by trying traditional Chinese breakfast dishes. From savory jianbing (a delicious crispy pancake filled with various toppings) to warm and comforting bowls of congee (rice porridge), you’ll find a range of flavors to tantalize your taste buds.
  2. Trying Authentic Street Food: Beijing’s vibrant street food scene offers a plethora of breakfast options. Head to the renowned Wangfujing Snack Street, where you can sample delectable treats like fried dough sticks known as youtiao or stuffed buns called baozi. Be sure to keep an eye out for vendors selling local favorites like jianbing guozi, a crispy jianbing folded around a youtiao.
  3. Seeking Out Popular Western-Style Breakfast Spots: If you’re in the mood for a taste of home, Beijing boasts a wide range of popular Western-style breakfast spots. Enjoy a fluffy stack of pancakes, eggs benedict, or a classic bacon and eggs breakfast in one of the city’s many trendy cafes and brunch spots.
  4. Enjoying a Traditional Tea Ceremony: Indulge in the rich tea culture of Beijing by starting your day with a traditional tea ceremony. Visit a tea house and savor the aromatic flavors of Chinese tea while immersing yourself in the serene atmosphere.
  5. Exploring Local Markets and Food Stalls: Beijing’s bustling markets and food stalls are treasure troves of breakfast delights. Wander through the narrow alleys of the famous Donghuamen Night Market or explore the vibrant Gui Street Market, where you can find a variety of street food options, including grilled skewers, dumplings, and steamed buns.
  6. Sampling Regional Delicacies: Beijing is not only known for its local flavors but also for its diverse regional cuisines. Explore the city’s various districts and neighborhoods to discover breakfast specialties from different regions of China. From spicy Sichuan-style noodles to delicate Jiangsu-style dim sum, Beijing offers a culinary journey across the country.
  7. Visiting Historic Breakfast Spots: Immerse yourself in Beijing’s rich history by visiting historic breakfast spots that have been serving up traditional fare for generations. Step into a time capsule at places like Xi Lai Shun, known for its mouth-watering Beijing-style snacks, or the renowned Rui Fu Yuan restaurant, a favorite of emperors and dignitaries.
  8. Including Vegetarian and Vegan Options: For those with dietary restrictions, Beijing has a growing number of vegetarian and vegan-friendly breakfast options. Look out for places that offer plant-based versions of traditional Chinese dishes or specialized vegetarian and vegan cafes that serve up delicious and nutritious morning meals.

With so many breakfast options to choose from, exploring the diverse culinary landscape of Beijing is an adventure in itself. From traditional Chinese breakfasts to international delights, there’s something to satisfy every palate and start your day off right in this vibrant city.


Exploring Traditional Chinese Breakfast Choices

When it comes to breakfast in Beijing, exploring traditional Chinese choices is a must. The city offers a wide variety of delicious and unique dishes that locals have been enjoying for centuries. Here are some traditional Chinese breakfast options you should try:


Jianbing: One of the most iconic breakfast dishes in Beijing is jianbing. This savory pancake is made from a mixture of mung bean and wheat flour, which is spread thin on a hot griddle. It is then topped with various ingredients like eggs, scallions, cilantro, and crispy cracker sheets. The jianbing is folded up and served piping hot, creating a crispy and flavorful treat that is both satisfying and portable.


Congee: For a comforting and heartwarming breakfast, try a bowl of congee. This rice porridge is cooked slowly with water or broth until it reaches a creamy consistency. It can be served plain or topped with a variety of ingredients such as preserved vegetables, pickles, century eggs, or shredded meat. Congee is not only delicious but also soothing to the stomach, making it a popular choice for locals.


Soy Milk and Youtiao: Another classic combination in a traditional Chinese breakfast is soy milk and youtiao. Soy milk is made by soaking and grinding soybeans, resulting in a smooth and creamy beverage. Paired with youtiao, a deep-fried dough stick, it creates a harmonious contrast of textures. The crispy youtiao can be dipped into the soy milk or enjoyed on its own, making for a simple and satisfying breakfast.


Baocai (Steamed Buns): Steamed buns, or baocai, are a staple in Chinese cuisine and make for a filling breakfast choice. These fluffy buns are filled with a variety of ingredients, including char siu (barbecue pork), vegetables, or even sweet fillings like red bean paste. Baocai can be found in many street-side stalls or dim sum restaurants, and they are a popular grab-and-go option for busy commuters.


Douzhi: Douzhi is a fermented mung bean soup that has a distinct tart and slightly sour flavor. It is a traditional and nutritious breakfast option in Beijing. The soup is served hot and can be garnished with ingredients like shredded tofu, pickled vegetables, or chili oil. Although it may take some getting used to for those unfamiliar with its unique taste, douzhi is a beloved breakfast choice among locals.


Exploring traditional Chinese breakfast choices in Beijing allows you to immerse yourself in the rich culinary heritage of the city. Whether you prefer the savory flavors of jianbing or the comforting warmth of congee, these dishes offer a glimpse into the breakfast traditions that have shaped the culture of Beijing for generations.


Trying Authentic Street Food

One of the best ways to experience the vibrant food culture of Beijing is by immersing yourself in its authentic street food scene. The city is known for its bustling street markets and food stalls that offer a wide array of delectable treats. Here are some must-try authentic street food options for breakfast in Beijing:


Youtiao and Doujiang: Youtiao, also known as Chinese fried dough sticks, are a popular breakfast snack in Beijing. Made from deep-fried strips of dough, they are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Youtiao is often enjoyed with doujiang, a sweet or savory soy milk beverage. This classic combination is perfect for a quick and filling breakfast on the go.


Baozi: Baozi are steamed buns stuffed with a variety of fillings. From savory options like pork, beef, or vegetables to sweet fillings like red bean paste or custard, baozi offers a satisfying and portable breakfast choice. These fluffy buns can be found in street-side stalls and are often enjoyed with a cup of hot tea.


Jianbing Guozi: Building upon the traditional jianbing, jianbing guozi is a popular street food breakfast option in Beijing. It takes the form of a jianbing folded around a youtiao, creating a delightful combination of flavors and textures. The crispy youtiao adds an extra crunch to the already delicious jianbing, making it a perfect choice for those who want a hearty and flavorful breakfast.


Shao Bing: Shao bing is a flaky baked pastry that often contains fillings like roasted meat, scallions, or sesame seeds. This handheld delight is perfect for those seeking a savory and filling street food option for breakfast. You can find shao bing in street markets or small local bakeries, where they are often enjoyed with a cup of hot soy milk.


Mala Tang: Mala Tang is a popular spicy hot pot-style dish that can be enjoyed as a breakfast option in Beijing. It consists of a variety of ingredients like vegetables, meat, and tofu, cooked in a flavorful and tongue-tingling spicy broth. Customize your bowl with your preferred ingredients and spice level to create a breakfast experience that packs a punch.


Exploring the authentic street food options in Beijing not only allows you to indulge in delicious flavors but also provides a glimpse into the bustling atmosphere and local food culture of the city. Be sure to venture out to street markets like Wangfujing Snack Street or Donghuamen Night Market to discover the diverse range of breakfast delights that Beijing has to offer.


Seeking Out Popular Western-Style Breakfast Spots

While exploring the culinary delights of Beijing, you may find yourself craving something familiar and comforting. Luckily, Beijing is home to a thriving expat community and a booming café culture, offering a wide range of popular Western-style breakfast spots. Here are some top recommendations for satisfying your cravings in Beijing:


Café Zarah: Located in the historic hutong area of Beijing, Café Zarah is a beloved spot for expats and locals alike. This cozy café offers a European-inspired breakfast menu that includes classics like eggs benedict, French toast, and hearty breakfast platters. Pair your meal with a cup of quality coffee or a refreshing tea to complete the experience.


Moka Bros: For health-conscious breakfast options with a Western twist, Moka Bros is the place to be. This trendy café serves up a variety of nutritious dishes, including smoothie bowls, avocado toasts, and protein-packed breakfast burritos. From gluten-free options to vegetarian and vegan choices, Moka Bros caters to various dietary preferences.


The Orchard: If you’re in the mood for a brunch-style breakfast, head to The Orchard. Known for its relaxed atmosphere and spacious outdoor seating, this charming restaurant offers a range of classic breakfast dishes with a Western flair. Indulge in fluffy pancakes, eggs any way you like them, and freshly baked croissants for a delightful morning treat.


TRB Bites: For a more upscale breakfast experience, TRB Bites is a must-visit. This stylish restaurant serves up gourmet breakfast options in a contemporary setting. From creative omelettes to decadent pastries and artisanal coffee, TRB Bites guarantees a luxurious start to your day.


Café Flatwhite: A favorite among Beijing’s expat community, Café Flatwhite is renowned for its top-notch coffee and mouth-watering breakfast offerings. From hearty breakfast sandwiches and smashed avocado toasts to perfectly brewed espresso, this café provides a taste of home for many visitors.


Commune Social: For a unique twist on the breakfast experience, Commune Social offers a fusion of Western and Asian flavors. This hip and trendy restaurant serves up innovative dishes like fluffy pork belly buns, Hong Kong-style French toast, and Korean-inspired breakfast bowls. Explore the diverse menu and enjoy a memorable breakfast with a twist.


These popular Western-style breakfast spots in Beijing offer a slice of familiarity in a foreign land. Whether you’re craving a classic American breakfast or a trendy brunch experience, you’ll find a wide array of options to satisfy your taste buds and start your day off right.


Enjoying a Traditional Tea Ceremony

When it comes to breakfast in Beijing, it’s not just about the food but also the experience. One unique way to start your day is by immersing yourself in a traditional Chinese tea ceremony. Tea holds a special place in Chinese culture, and partaking in a tea ceremony is a delightful way to awaken your senses and embrace the serenity of the morning. Here’s how you can enjoy a traditional tea ceremony in Beijing:


Visit a Tea House: Beijing is home to numerous tea houses that offer a serene ambiance and a wide variety of tea choices. These establishments often have knowledgeable tea masters who can guide you through the intricacies of tea preparation and share fascinating insights into Chinese tea culture.


Select Your Tea: Once you’ve settled into the tea house, it’s time to select your tea. Beijing offers an extensive selection of tea, including green tea, black tea, oolong tea, and more. Each tea variety has its own distinct flavors and health benefits, so take your time to explore and discover the flavors that resonate with you.


Experience the Brewing Process: During the tea ceremony, the tea master will demonstrate the proper brewing techniques. From rinsing the tea leaves to carefully pouring the hot water and controlling the steeping time, each step is performed with precision and reverence. Observe their graceful movements and soak in the soothing aroma that fills the air.


Savor the Tea: Once the tea is brewed, it’s time to savor the flavors. Take small sips and let the tea envelop your palate, appreciating its nuances and complexities. Engage in conversation with your fellow tea enthusiasts or sit in quiet contemplation as you enjoy the serene atmosphere and the meditative nature of the tea ceremony.


Learn about Tea Etiquette: As you partake in the tea ceremony, you may also learn about the customs and etiquette associated with tea drinking in China. From the proper way to hold a teacup to the gesture of showing respect to the tea master, these rituals add depth and meaning to the experience.


Enjoying a traditional tea ceremony in Beijing is not only a unique breakfast experience but also a chance to connect with Chinese culture on a deeper level. It allows you to slow down, appreciate the art of tea preparation, and find tranquility in the rhythm of the morning. So take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and let the gentle aroma and flavors of tea transport you to a place of harmony and serenity.


Exploring Local Markets and Food Stalls

If you’re looking for a breakfast adventure in Beijing, exploring the local markets and food stalls is a must. These bustling hubs of culinary activity offer a vibrant and diverse array of flavors and aromas. Here’s why you should venture into the local markets and food stalls for a memorable breakfast experience:


Authentic Local Flavors: Local markets and food stalls are where you’ll find some of the most authentic and traditional flavors of Beijing. From steaming bowls of noodles to fragrant dumplings and savory pancakes, these vendors have perfected their recipes over generations, delivering truly delicious and authentic dishes.


Street Food Delights: Beijing’s street food scene is legendary, and exploring the local markets and food stalls provides the perfect opportunity to indulge in a wide range of street delicacies. Sink your teeth into succulent skewered meats, savor the crispy texture of bing (Chinese pancakes), or try the aromatic jianbing (Chinese crepes) filled with various ingredients. The options are endless and each stall offers its unique twist on classic Beijing street food.


Interaction with Local Vendors: One of the joys of exploring local markets and food stalls is the chance to interact with the friendly and passionate vendors. Learn about their culinary techniques, hear their stories, and discover the personal touch they bring to their food. It’s a wonderful way to connect with the local culture and gain a deeper understanding of Beijing’s food traditions.


Variety and Exploration: The local markets and food stalls of Beijing offer an incredible variety of breakfast options. From regional specialties to international flavors, there’s something to satisfy every craving. Navigate through the colorful displays of produce, spices, and enticing street food offerings to embark on an epicurean adventure.


Cultural Immersion: Exploring local markets and food stalls is a true immersion into the vibrant culinary culture of Beijing. Witness the lively atmosphere, observe the locals going about their daily routine, and soak in the sights, sounds, and smells that make these markets come alive. It’s an experience that engages all your senses and offers a deeper understanding of the city’s authentic food heritage.


So don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path and delve into the local markets and food stalls of Beijing for a breakfast experience like no other. From the aromatic street food to the warm smiles of the vendors, you’ll discover a treasure trove of culinary delights that will leave you with lasting memories and a satisfied palate.


Sampling Regional Delicacies

One of the most exciting aspects of exploring the breakfast scene in Beijing is the opportunity to sample regional delicacies from different parts of China. As the capital city, Beijing is a melting pot of regional cuisines, each offering its own unique flavors and specialties. Here’s why you should venture out and sample regional delicacies for a diverse and flavorful breakfast experience:


Sichuan Cuisine: Known for its bold and spicy flavors, Sichuan cuisine makes a fiery entrance into Beijing’s breakfast scene. Start your day with a bowl of spicy Sichuan-style noodles, featuring tender noodles bathed in a tongue-tingling chili oil broth, or try the iconic dandan noodles topped with minced meat and crushed peanuts.


Shanghai Dim Sum: Shanghai-style dim sum, or xiaolongbao, is a breakfast treat you shouldn’t miss. These small soup dumplings are filled with flavorful meat or seafood, nestled in a delicate and steamed dough. Bursting with savory broth, xiaolongbao offers a comforting and satisfying start to your day.


Guangzhou’s Morning Tea: Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is famous for its morning tea culture. Explore Beijing’s dim sum restaurants during breakfast hours to sample a variety of steamed and fried delicacies, including cha siu bao (barbecue pork buns), cheong fun (rice noodle rolls), and har gow (shrimp dumplings).


Hunan Cuisine: Hailing from the spicy heartland of China, Hunan cuisine offers a breakfast experience that packs a punch. Taste the bold flavors of pickled vegetables, fiery chili peppers, and succulent meat dishes. Try the famous Hunan rice noodles, tossed in a spicy sauce and topped with fragrant herbs and crispy tofu skin.


Beijing’s Imperial Cuisine: Explore the historical roots of Beijing’s breakfast scene by sampling the delicate and refined flavors of imperial cuisine. Indulge in dishes like the century egg congee, showcasing the delicate preserved egg in a smooth and comforting rice porridge, or the crispy and aromatic Beijing-style sesame seed cake.


Jiangsu’s Suzhou-Style Breakfast: Transport yourself to the charming water towns of Jiangsu by sampling Suzhou-style breakfast dishes. Start your morning with savory xiaolongbao, filled with a mixture of minced pork and crab meat, or indulge in sweet and sticky glutinous rice dumplings known as tangyuan.


By sampling regional delicacies in Beijing, you’ll embark on a culinary journey across China without leaving the city. Each regional cuisine offers a unique culinary identity and ingredients that showcase the diverse flavors and traditions of the country. So, step out of your culinary comfort zone and expand your breakfast horizons by exploring these regional delicacies.


Visiting Historic Breakfast Spots

For breakfast with a touch of nostalgia and a glimpse into Beijing’s rich history, consider visiting the city’s historic breakfast spots. These establishments have stood the test of time, serving up traditional fare and embodying the culinary heritage of Beijing. Here’s why you should venture to these historic breakfast spots:


Xi Lai Shun: Established in 1895, Xi Lai Shun is a culinary landmark in Beijing. Located in the heart of the city, this restaurant specializes in Beijing-style snacks and breakfast dishes. From flaky pastries known as shaobing to savory dumplings, Xi Lai Shun’s breakfast menu offers a taste of the city’s culinary traditions and the flavors that have delighted locals for over a century.


Rui Fu Yuan: Step into history at the renowned Rui Fu Yuan, a restaurant that dates back to the Qing Dynasty. This historic establishment is known for its exquisite imperial cuisine and has been frequented by emperors and dignitaries. Indulge in signature dishes like the Eight Bowl Feast, a lavish breakfast spread fit for royalty, and experience the opulence and grandeur of ancient Chinese dining culture.


Dong Si Min Xiang: Located in a traditional courtyard setting, Dong Si Min Xiang is a hidden gem that offers an authentic breakfast experience. This historic establishment specializes in traditional Beijing snacks, such as jianbing, stuffed pancakes, and assorted small dishes. As you savor the flavors, you’ll be transported back in time, imagining the bustling streets of old Beijing.


Yang Xiezai: For a taste of Beijing’s old alley ambiance, make your way to Yang Xiezai. This time-honored eatery is known for its crispy and flavorful jianbing. As one of the oldest jianbing shops in Beijing, it has stood as a testament to the enduring popularity of this beloved breakfast treat.


Chaoyangmen Soup Restaurant: Founded in 1910, Chaoyangmen Soup Restaurant is a historic establishment renowned for its nourishing soups. Delve into a bowl of rich and flavorful soup, from classics like pork rib soup to more unique creations like tomato and egg soup. Alongside the soup, you can find a range of breakfast dishes such as dumplings and noodles.


By visiting these historic breakfast spots, you not only indulge in delicious food but also immerse yourself in Beijing’s extensive culinary history. From the old techniques and time-honored recipes to the charming ambiance and nostalgic atmosphere, these establishments offer a truly unique breakfast experience that connects you with the city’s past.


Including Vegetarian and Vegan Options

Beijing is a city that caters to a diverse range of dietary preferences, including vegetarian and vegan choices. If you follow a plant-based lifestyle or simply want to explore the vibrant vegetarian and vegan food scene, you’ll find a variety of options for a satisfying breakfast in Beijing. Here’s why you should explore the vegetarian and vegan offerings in the city:


Variety and Innovation: Beijing’s vegetarian and vegan scene is constantly evolving, offering a wide range of innovative and delicious options. From plant-based versions of traditional Chinese dishes to creative and globally-inspired breakfast plates, you’ll find an array of flavors and textures that cater to a plant-based lifestyle.


Health and Nutrition: Opting for vegetarian or vegan breakfast options allows you to prioritize your health and nutrition. Many vegetarian and vegan dishes are packed with fresh vegetables, whole grains, and plant-based proteins, providing a balanced and nutrient-rich start to your day.


Ethical and Sustainable Choices: Choosing vegetarian and vegan breakfasts in Beijing also aligns with ethical and sustainable practices. By opting for plant-based options, you contribute to reducing the environmental impact of animal agriculture and support more sustainable food choices.


Specialty Vegetarian Restaurants: Beijing boasts a growing number of specialty vegetarian and vegan restaurants that focus exclusively on plant-based cuisine. These restaurants offer a wide variety of options, ranging from comforting breakfast bowls and tofu scrambles to vegan pastries and smoothie bowls.


Customizable Options: Many traditional breakfast spots in Beijing also provide customizable vegetarian and vegan options. From noodle shops to street food vendors, you can often request modifications to suit your dietary needs, such as omitting meat or adding tofu or extra vegetables.


Fusion and International Choices: Beijing’s vegetarian and vegan food scene also includes a fusion of flavors from around the world. Enjoy breakfast offerings influenced by international cuisines, such as vegan breakfast burritos, avocado toast, or plant-based smoothie bowls.


Whether you follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle or simply want to incorporate more plant-based meals into your diet, Beijing offers a wide range of options to cater to your needs. With its diverse and innovative vegetarian and vegan breakfast choices, the city ensures that everyone can enjoy a delicious and satisfying start to their day.



Breakfast in Beijing is an experience that goes beyond just a simple meal. It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich culinary heritage of the city, from traditional Chinese breakfast choices to exploring local markets, historic spots, and savoring regional delicacies. Whether you’re a food enthusiast seeking new flavors or a traveler looking to connect with the local culture, there is something for everyone in Beijing’s breakfast scene.


From the savory and satisfying jianbing to the comfort of a bowl of congee, traditional Chinese breakfast choices provide a glimpse into the flavors that have sustained locals for generations. Exploring authentic street food offers a chance to sample the vibrant and diverse street delicacies that Beijing is famous for.


If you’re craving familiarity, Beijing’s popular Western-style breakfast spots cater to your desires with their stacks of pancakes, eggs benedict, and other classic dishes. For a unique and serene experience, participating in a traditional tea ceremony allows you to appreciate the art and ritual of Chinese tea culture.


By venturing into local markets and food stalls, you can indulge in the authentic flavors and interact with passionate food vendors. Sampling regional delicacies takes you on a culinary journey across China without leaving the city, allowing you to explore the diverse regional cuisines that Beijing has to offer.


For a touch of nostalgia, visiting historic breakfast spots connects you with Beijing’s culinary heritage. Strolling through the charming hutongs and savoring traditional dishes in these establishments transports you back in time.


And for those following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, Beijing provides a range of plant-based breakfast options that cater to diverse dietary preferences.


In conclusion, breakfast in Beijing is a gastronomic adventure waiting to be explored. From the bustling local markets to the hidden historic spots, there’s a wealth of flavors to discover. So, whether you’re a foodie seeking culinary delights or a traveler looking to connect with the local culture, Beijing’s breakfast scene guarantees a memorable experience that will leave you with a satisfied palate and memories to cherish.