Beijing Does Breakfast: The best of local and international breakfast and brunch options in the capital

If you're craving an American breakfast experience you'll have to head to Grandma's Kitchen, a delightful eatery based of the home-style diners of America. You'll find pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns and even a vegetarian option. Milk shakes, pizzas, burgers and a few Mexican delights for lunch and a hearty dinner menu of meatloaf, steak and the like. For an American tummy, Grandma's does the trick, and breakfast is served all day long.

For the British palate, head to Sanlitun where you're more likely to find baked beans and a tomato as your side dishes. The toast will be deep fried just like the Brits fancy it at Chef Too.

For a classier, albeit less breakfast-like brunch head to The Courtyard or Le Cafe Iggoso, where you'll get delightfully large servings of pasta, veggies or other lunch options starting early enough in the day to dub them "breakfast."

For a more exotic brunch, Taj Pavilion, Traktirr or More's offer regionally specific cuisine and brunch/lunch options that will keep your belly fully and your wallet happy. Indian, Russian and Belgian, respectively, these restaurants have quite a reputation for quality, sanitation and happy customers.

Chinese chow for breakfast can be a bit on the rough side in terms of acclimation for tourists and expats. Still, it's worth a try one morning and Green T. House is the place to try it. Head in around 11am for the brunch options and to catch an early seat. The menu will be identical to the dinner menu, so don't be shocked by the lack of breakfast-like foods.


This exquisite and super-chic restaurant is not just a place to be seen, it's a very pleasant dining experience altogether. Imaginative fusion dishes are carefully crafted to suit both Chinese and Western tongues. Lightweight and healthy dishes are complemented by fine Chinese teas.

Local Expert tip: Chinese eat normal, non-egg based dishes for breakfast. Try an authentic breakfast or brunch here today!

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Belgian chef Renaat Morel is well-known in Beijing and has built a solid reputation over the years. Although his cuisine is French by nature, there are some Belgian features that are endearing – pigeon in aspic and dark cherry sauce, Flemish beer beef stew, Osterade-style fillet of sole, and waffles. There's also a selection of Belgian beers, which aficionados of ale will appreciate. The wines are mainly French though and the entrees are splendid.

Local Expert tip: The lunch and brunch options are delightful.

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Friendly Indian smiles greet you in this simple Indian diner. The food is always good and heartily filling. Recommended dishes include vegetable kofta curry, mutton rogan josh and chicken tikka masala. All rich and creamy. There is a second branch near the Lido area.

Local Expert tip: Try the weekend brunch for the best bang for your buck.

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More like a small Russian beer hall than a restaurant, this is a favorite with all Russians in the capital. Steaks are enormous, salmon skewers irresistible, and the borscht and baked carp with cheese are rich and filling. Shots of vodka seem to be flowing all night among the Russian revelry.

Local Expert tip: For Russians, there are few more authentic, speedy and affordable options in Beijing.

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This Texas-themed, bar-restaurant-saloon serves many of Uncle Sam's favorites, such as steaks, burgers, chili and jalapenos, cole slaw and BBQ spare ribs.

Local Expert tip: Miles away from home, brunch at Tim's means a taste of the motherland.

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Chaoyang East District

An ornate staircase takes you up to Flo's, perhaps Beijing's best-known French restaurant. Favorites include pan-fried rib short loin veal with mushrooms and the chef's specialty, hot goose liver with apple. A modest selection of wine is available.

Local Expert tip: An awesome option for weekend brunch.

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Chaoyang East District
Le Cafe Igosso

After so many rice dishes in Beijing, you might find yourself with an aching for pasta. This cute little Italian is located at an ugly junction, but is lovely inside. You are invited to sip a cocktail or a martini in the second floor bar while browsing the menu. Both the chef and the owner are Japanese, so seafood dishes are delicious. Try the seafood pesto salad and either the seabream or beef carpaccio. The mustard roast duck is excellent as are the pasta specials. A modest selection of wine is available. On weekends, this small restaurant has live jazz music.

Local Expert tip: A great retreat for seafood or brunch on weekends.

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Chef Too Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Chef Too

A modest diner gaining repute in Beijing for its steaks, which are some of the best in the capital. Try the filet mignon or the pork chops. Salads are fresh and the desserts are homemade. Chef Too does a great Sunday brunch too and is popular with expats.

Local Expert tip: Try the Sunday brunch!

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One of Beijing's best-known and most exquisite restaurants, The Courtyard is often described as specializing in fusion cuisine; however a more apt title would be "East meets West" cuisine. The menu features treats such as jumbo shrimp with lemongrass-caramel glace, foie gras brûlée, cashew crusted lamb chops, and sea bass with pickled bell peppers. There's also an excellent selection of wine available. The Courtyard is ideally located at the east gate of the Forbidden City and offers diners a precious view. As you would expect, the interior of the restaurant is elegant, the walls decked with contemporary Chinese art. There's also a cigar room and a small basement art gallery.

Local Expert tip: In summer, sit outside where the patio gives you full advantage of the venue's charm.

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Grandma's Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Beijing Haze

A must for homesick Westerners who are craving authentic American meals and atmosphere. It's all here: Philadelphia cheesecake, blueberry pancakes, hamburgers, fries, pizza and more. In 2007, "That's Beijing" readers awarded Grandma's Kitchen as Best Brunch and Best Family Meal.

Local Expert tip: During lunch and dinner hours, the place can get quite busy. Eat during off hours here for optimal ambiance.

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Meet Lauren Johnson

Lauren has been living in Asia for the past five years. She holds a master's degree in Asian history. Lauren spends her free time reading, writing and traveling and visiting zoos in every city possible.