We know, Beijing is hardly the first city in mind when it comes to great Western-style brunching with its historical centre, courtyard hotels, and its climate challenges (it’s one of those places where hotels install centralised PM2.5 air purification systems). However, this means you’ll never want to waste a highly anticipated day of great weather, and heading out to brunch at some of our favourite spots in the city is a great way to make use of it. Here’s where to go:
For brunch in the hutongs: Toast
A favorite among locals for many years, Toast is tucked within the boutique hotel The Orchid – a sanctuary nestled within the dusty clamor of traditional Beijing courtyards. Whether you’re an in-house guest in one of the hotel’s finely appointed rooms or just looking for a decent brunch joint, Toast serves tranquility in its unique greenhouse roof terrace.
Diners are treated to a sumptuous selection that cuts a wide swath of influences from the Mediterranean (think shakshouka, frittata and hummus), Chinese (jianbing), and of course, the stalwart full English breakfast. While Toast might prove to be a difficult diamond to find in Beijing’s hutong rough, it is well worth the effort for a serene reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the capital city.
Toast is located at The Orchid, 65 Baochao Hutong, Dongcheng District, +86 10 8404 4818. Brunch is available daily except Tuesday from 10am to 2.30pm.
An everyday affair: The Daily Bagel
This scrappy outfit deserves to be on this list for persevering in its noble crusade to bring bagels hand-crafted from scratch every day to Beijingers. The Daily Bagel’s passionate team have earned the trust of its loyal following, who followed them from pop-up to pop-up before they settled into a quaint space in Liangmaqiao. The menu of daily made bagels – onion, cheddar jalapeno, “everything” – can be toasted and schmeared, or topped indulgently in house specials. The favorite Tokyo Morning features your choice of toasted bagel topped with smoked salmon, umi shiso cream cheese, avocado, cucumber, nori and furikake.
The Daily Bagel is located at Level 1, FX Hotel, 39 West Maizidian Street, Chaoyang District. Open Tue-Sun 8.30am-8pm. Closed Mon.
Best in Sanlitun: EL Barrio
Aptly called “the neighborhood” in Spanish, El Barrio is the life of the block party that is Nali Patio, Beijing’s white-washed, Santorini-inspired compound housing trendy bars and restaurants. Guests looking for authentic Mexican cuisine can choose to dine inside its brightly colored, mosaic-like walls or al fresco in its gorgeous, outdoor patio.
Gather your crew together over hearty Mexican breakfast staples such as huevos rancheros and chilaquiles over bottomless margaritas and micheladas. Tortillas here are freshly made in-house by head chef Bollo, who made his Asian culinary debut here in El Barrio. For more spirited guests, El Barrio also boasts a tequila and mezcal bar run by the knowledgeable Rodrigo, who offers tasty libations of his own creation.
El Barrio is located at Level 2, Nali Patio, 81 Sanlitun Bei Lu, Chaoyang District. Weekend brunch is available on Sat and Sun 12pm to 3pm.
For a farm-to-table brunch: Green Cow City Café
Green Cow checks all of the boxes for the well-intentioned farm-to-table evangelist. The cute, elderly couple that operates the eatery source all raw ingredients from their own farm just outside of Beijing. Expect homecooked, simple breakfast staples such as organic eggs from their chickens, cheese churned from the milk of their cows, as well as freshly made pizza and pasta made from flour milled from their own wheat.
Green Cow might be difficult to locate as its exterior looks like a scrapyard located near a dusty local market and decrepit canal. But step through its unmarked door and you’ll find an inviting rustic courtyard with wooden benches or sit inside in a comfortably eclectic café.
Green Cow City Cafe is located at Building 13, Third Street, Jiuxianqiao, Chaoyang District. Open Tue-Sun 9am-8pm. Closed Mon.
For the extravagant weekend: Il Ristorante Niko Romito
Looking to treat yourself in Beijing? You’ll find a most decadent of brunches at The Bvlgari Beijing’s Il Ristorante-Niko Romito. Garden terrace views are framed by floor-to-high-ceiling windows of the dining lounge, which is awash in a natural glow that gently reflects off the island copper bar, while guests drape themselves on tanned leather chairs beneath Murano glass chandeliers.
The lavish Italian spread sports a well curated list of delicacies: aged prosciutto, imported parma ham, an entire wheel of parmesan reggiano, buffalo mozzarella, fresh lobster, oysters on the half shell, carved rack of lamb, pistachio-dusted cannoli, and velvety tiramisu. Occasionally, impeccably trained staff stop by your table and delight with ad hoc treats of caviar and toast points. We recommend opting for free flow bubbles so you can take a post-buffet stroll in the adjacent manicured garden, with champagne flute in hand.
Il Ristorante-Niko Romito is located at The Bvlgari Hotel Beijing, Building 2 Courtyard, 8 Xinyuan South Road, Chaoyang District, p. +86 10 8555 8555. Weekend brunch is available weekends 11.30am to 2pm, priced at RMB 588 on Saturday and RMB 618 on Sunday, includes free-flow soft beverages. Wine packages start from RMB 298.
Top image: El Barrio