Xi’an China – Best Places to Eat and Dishes to Try
Dishes that are Unique to Xi’an
Yang Rou Pao Mo is a mutton and bread stew. You are given a piece of thick chewy bread that you should break into small bite sized pieces before the thick mutton soup is poured over the bread. The soup or stew contains pieces of mutton, noodles and onions. There are variations of this dish using beef instead of mutton, it is usually served with pickled garlic and chili.
Biang Biang Mian is a local dish of wide noodles which comes in a spicy broth and has toppings such as eggs, tomatoes and beef. It is an extremely tasty noodle snack.
Rou Jia Mo is labeled as a local style of hamburger; it is a sandwich that contains slices of pork, beef or lamb. You can find this local delicacy in several locations across the city.
Xiao Long Baozi are baskets of steamed dumplings and commonly eaten as a late night snack, they cost CNY3-5 for a basket. Da Baozi (big steamed buns) are available as a breakfast snack and look a little like a steamed pasty. Guan Tang Baozi are another version of steamed buns, these have sauces inside.
Shi Zi Bing is a type of sweet bun, made from persimmon and stuffed with black sesame paste. They are deep fried and sticky to eat. You will find these sweet snacks in the Muslim Quarter and they cost from CNY1-2 each.
Lu Dou Gao are green bean cakes with various fillings (sesame is a popular one), six cubes of cake should cost about CNY5, they are mostly found in the Muslim Quarter.
Cheap Restaurants and Street Food in Xi’an
The Muslim Quarter is located close to the Drum Tower, it has a good mix of cheap restaurants as well some higher priced ones. In addition to the local foods listed earlier you can buy lots of dried fruit (particularly dates), nuts and seeds.
Street food is usually available from the early evening until late into the night, you can get noodles, soups and dumplings etc. There are dozens of food vendors that set up each evening with a small red lamp to illuminate their product. Just outside the Muslim Quarter you can find some additional sellers of street food, because these streets are a little harder to reach the prices are a little cheaper. The stalls with the longer lines of people waiting to be served are good indicators of where to find the best street food.
A good street for cheaper priced restaurants is Xiyang Shi, it is close to the mosque in the Muslim Quarter, and here you can buy a dish of noodles for about CNY10.
Wen Xin Jiaozi Guan on Xushimiao Street is a good restaurant for Jiaozi (Chinese dumplings), they have an endless supply of fresh jiaozi in several flavours. They cost from CNY5 for a bowl.
Lao Sun Jia on the 1st floor of Dong Dajie has some of the best tasting Yang Rou Paomo in the city, there is no English spoken here but if you bring the name of the dish written in Chinese they will understand you.
The Best Restaurants for Local Food in Xi’an
The 5 Senses restaurant is located in the lobby area of the Westin Hotel and just across the street from the Wild Goose Pagoda. This restaurant serves a modern style of Shaanxi cuisine using originality in its well presented dishes. They also sell Cantonese style dim sum if you want something different from local food.
The Tang Paradise Hotel is located in the Qujiang resort close to the Wild Goose Pagoda; it has a dinner show within its 165 acres of theme park. All the buildings in the park are built in the style of the Tang dynasty. It is best to visit at night when you can enjoy your dinner before watching a show that includes dancers and fireworks.
Western and International Food in Xi’an
Xi’an has lots of choice when it comes to international food, here is a selection of what is available.
The Caprice Bar and Restaurant is popular with the local ex-pat community and can be found on the corner of Yan Nan 3rd Road and Furong West Road in Qujiang district. It is open from 11am until 10pm with a combination of a steakhouse, Italian food and a British style pub. Food prices begin at CNY30.
The Green Molly is a restaurant and a pub on the corner of Keiji and Gaoxin Roads. They serve American, Mexican and European food. The pub located downstairs has a selection of imported beers and wine, they also mix some delicious cocktails. It is open from 10am until 11pm.
The Delhi Darbar on Dayanta West Road is an authentic Indian restaurant selling Northern Indian food. The service is very good, great tasting food at reasonable prices. The average price for a meal here is CNY40.
Cafes and Coffee Houses in Xi’an
The Village Café is a nice place to sit and watch the world go by on Shi Da Road. In addition to its selection of coffees you can choose from their burger menu, steaks, desserts and drinks. The food prices will usually cost from CNY30 to CNY60 per person.
You can find the Small World Café in two locations in Xi’an, both are run by a woman from the Netherlands. One is located just outside Jian Guo Gate (Jianguomen), the other is at Dayanta, south east of the Wild Goose Pagoda. They are both open before noon and close at 10.30pm. They both have the atmosphere of a European café. They sell good food including, pizza, salads, cakes and fried chicken. The café at Dayanta has great views of the Wild Goose Pagoda.
Bars, Pubs and Drinking Venues
In Xi’an most people that want to go out drinking do so between 10pm and 1am, there are a few clubs that stay open until 4am. There is not one bar street, but several areas with a small selection of bars. In the summer months the area close to the South Gate is pleasant to sit outside during the evening along Nandajie. Along here you will find some clubs and restaurants that remain open long after midnight.
In Fuxiang Street there are around ten bars close to each other, the ‘1+1’ club is popular among foreigners. It has two dance floors, one plays J-pop, the other hip hop. Go up to the 5th floor open air bar, there is live music every night. The Mix Bar in the Westin Hotel has a pool table and show live sports events.
The Belgian Bar is 150m from the South Gate and is the only Belgian Bar in the city; it has a friendly pub atmosphere with a huge range of local and imported beers and is a popular hangout for both locals and ex-pats. Another popular bar nearby is the Near Wall Bar, it is the only pub in Xian that brews its own beer including several western style craft beers. They have a happy hour each night until 9.30pm. it is nice and peaceful in the early evening, it gets very busy later.