Great Restaurants in Xi’an
The longer we have stayed in Xi’an the more we have got to know some quality restaurants in the city that won’t break the bank. Below is a list of some of our favourites in no particular order. The two restaurants just at the end of the alley way are not a bad place to start if you are starving and don’t feel like venturing too far.
The Hunan restaurant downstairs. (on the left)
This place is pretty good for a local and has a strong following during the lunch trade. Great food is accompanied by a smattering of Mao decorations. As a rule, 3 Dishes will set you back about 80rmb. My favourite dish is the bacon and bamboo shoots (ye zhu suan chao la rou). By the way “la” means hot so if you don’t like the spicy stuff it might not be a bad idea to steer clear of this one. Please note English is not their strong suit here but they have a picture menu and try hard.
The Sichuan restaurant downstairs. (on the right with the lanterns).
Like any good Sichuan place worth its salt, some dishes here have a decent kick to them. For the spice virgins, not to worry, you will also be catered for. Guo Li Ren He (that’s the name of the gaff) is slightly pricier than its neighbour though the food is high quality with big portions and they also have the advantage of an English menu. The waitresses can get a bit stroppy at times but you get that on the big jobs aye?
Hai di Lao, just outside the west gate
Hot pot dining experience with outstanding service and food- you are in for a real treat. This is one of the most popular ‘strants in Xi’an so get there early (around 5 unless you plan to wait in a queue for 2 hours). If you do need to wait however they will ease your pain by giving you free snacks, a shoeshine and/or manicure. An absolute feast will cost 2 people around 110 rmb. Don’t forget to order a noodle (you will love the noodle guy). There are actually around 5 of these in Xi’an (and many more across China) though for our money we think the west gate edition ticks the most boxes.
Dai Jia Lou Yunnan Ethnic Minority Restaurant
Inside the west gate by about 200 metres on the north side of West Street (there is a big elephant and some plastic green palm trees outside).
You just don’t get these kinds of places back home and certainly not at the prices on offer here. Fantastic grub in southern Chinese style and I have undoubtedly seen worse decorations. In addition it is possible to order half dishes so you can taste as many yummy selections as your heart desires which is handy considering the menu is as thick as Tolstoy’s War and Peace (not really of course, but for a menu it is a fairly impressive piece of work). There is usually a live show of ethnic minorities on Thursday- Sunday nights, though you should call to confirm and book as it depends on numbers
The Mogui Café,
Just around the corner by the fire station- well it used to be. It has now moved to a much larger location on North Street. Offers a very comfortable environment, soft couches, a decent club toasted sandwich (15rmb) and Chinese nosh. All in all not a bad outfit with wireless internet available and an endless list of “real” coffee. Must admit that it had more appeal when it was actually located by the fire station, but if you have nothing to do there are probably worse options
The Muslim Quarter
You can’t go too wrong in our backyard with a fantastic selection of restaurants, snacks and street food. There is certainly plenty to tempt the palate though the area is renowned for the yang/niu rou pao mo which is a local specialty lamb or beef soup with glass noodles and goes down well in winter. Excellent choice if you are starving as this is quite a heavy meal. Personally I like the street food and snacks in this locale and restaurants elsewhere- the staff can be a bit feisty and/or lethargic.
Tang Dynasty dinner and dancing show.
Try 18 different types of dumplings. Ask us to make a discounted booking for you. See pamphlet for more details
De Fa Chang
Another quality establishment just a stones throw from here, De Fa Chang is a legend in its own mind which is famous for jaouzi. Without doubt they serve some outstanding examples of Chinese dumplings though personally I found the service and prices a bit influenced by the recognition which Lonely Planet bestows. They have a fabulous location nearly straddling the Bell Tower and if you are indeed a genuine jaouzi enthusiast you probably won’t regret shelling out slightly (cough) more than market prices.
The thing about Colabo is that you just wouldn’t expect it to be where it is or ever have a chance of finding it unless we tell you. It is extremely convenient if you just must have some western food, and, I have to say, as far as Italian nosh goes, you could do a lot worse- you’d never guess the owner is Japanese! In fact it is located in the building adjacent to ours (on the east side) just around the corner which during the day operates as an office building for government administrators. Anyway, ask us how to get there (3 minute walk), then head round and go to the 11th floor from whence follow the signs and you should be able to manage a first sighting. As mentioned the flavours seem pretty authentic to my uneducated taste while the portions are a decent size. Furthermore the environment is also fairly pleasant (quiet) although it is a bit on the pricey side when compared to other local restaurants.
Hi Fly Pizza Delivery
Let’s face it sometimes we just need to get it done. These guys do a decent homemade style effort and deliver within the hour. Just come over to 508 to check out the menu and we will put an order through for you.
It’s a bit of a mission to get there (around 10 minutes in a cab if the traffic is ok) but if you are hanging out for some real meat then this is the place for you. The ‘straunt consists of quite a few “islands” each with their own chef barbequing you the beef of your dreams. The first bite will melt in your mouth, and when I say will I mean WILL. Us kiwis are big on meat but this place adds a new dimension (seasoning is generally looked down on by the macho kiwi griller as being effeminate for some reason). I just hope I get a chance to bring my old man here in the future though his char grill still sets the benchmark J. Honestly I thought the Qinbao taste was subtle yet penetrating and depending on your selections it won’t break the bank. I highly recommend getting 1 (or 5) of the steaks yummmmm. Of course it may have just been that I hadn’t had a steak for so long but it was truly mouth watering.
Golden Hans Microbrewery
Again this establishment is extremely popular and you would do well to get there early or stand around aimlessly for a fair amount of time waiting to be seated. The tucker isn’t too bad with something fresh for anyone’s taste presented in buffet style combined with guys doing the rounds with barbeque- but this place is all about the beer. Specifically Hans offers a superb micro brewed wheat lager (German Style) with natural ingredients (read no hangover). I think it is all you can eat and drink for 35rmb at lunch, a price which escalates to 38 for dinner and you pay for drinks. It is not that the staff are particularly incompetent, rather they are simply flogged. It is a big place with a high turnover of guests and under the circumstances the staff do ok. Regular bbq is offered and the buffet has a decent selction. The beer is award winning, and if it is not then it should be- being chemically free it is certainly a refreshing change to the local bottle shop and local pub offerings.
Bacon and Eggs @ Bell Tower Hostel
Not particularly smart business I know sending you to the competition, but if you want a decent brekkie not too far away and relatively cheap then this joint will get your day off to a reasonable start. It is a genuine hostel that is set up for the youngsters but… a good bacon and eggs goes a long way sometimes J
Street by the big Pagoda
And don’t forget the street down by the Big Pagoda on the west side! There must be 20 restaurants offering excellent food in a variety of genres (Indian, Thai, Malaysian etc) combined with a relaxed ambiance in the summer with footpath cafes galore and a view to write home about.