Bijing's Best Cafes: from delightful outdoor seating to simple menus and fantastic views

Some of the best outdoor cafes in China are in Beijing. The winter weather is so foul and the sky so grey and polluted in winter than when spring and summer finally roll around the residents come out of their homes like bears from hibernation and they stay outdoors until the weather turns on them once again.

Around Lake Hou Hai, Nuage is one of the best restaurants with a view. You can sit outside or enjoy the view through the giant windows. With Vietnamese cafe-style decor and seating, you're sure to find both food and atmosphere that you enjoy at this old-style eatery on the lake.

For a lighter, more Italian option, head to Le Cafe Igosso for some of the best Italian cafe-style dining in the city. proportions are small enough for lunch or big enough for dinner coupled with a desert, and for those eager to take in the city's vibe and do some people-watching the windows make this an ideal cafe for lounging.

Chef Too, The Courtyard and La Taverne are all amazing Western and fusion-style restaurants with cafe vibes, outdoor seating and lighter menu options. You'll find the menus slightly more expensive than average but the decor, outdoor areas and options make up for the elevated costs.

For Chinese cafes, head to Made in China, a local favorite, Dao or Green T. House. All of these offer small servings for lunch, a cafe vibe with Chinese characteristics, and another opportunity to experience the local cuisine culture.

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...  Read More



Ever heard of Taoist cuisine? Well, apparently, the Zhengyi school of Taoism in Sichuan province created vegetarian dishes for longevity and virility. Now they have brought the mystic recipes to Beijing. Set inside an old archway, you'll find a...  Read More

La Taverne


If you are looking for a modest French bistro, cozy and inexpensive, then La Taverne will be the one. Dishes are generally not as rich and creamy as at other French restaurants in Beijing. Recommendations include the pan-fried sea bass, the...  Read More



An open-kitchen restaurant specializing in Beijing cuisine, located inside one of the city's major hotels. All the local street food is served here, except that it's guaranteed fresh and elegantly presented. Try some of the small dishes as...  Read More



Ready for some mouthwatering, spicy Malaysian cuisine? Located down a dark little "Hutong" (alley) and marked with a red lantern first impressions of Cafe Sambal might be that you are approaching an old opium den. This cozy Malaysian restaurant...  Read More

The Courtyard


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...  Read More

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.

Green T. House


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...  Read More



This Vietnamese restaurant is a bit overpriced, but nevertheless an excellent location for a full night on the town, with a dancehall-cum-jazz club downstairs. The rooftop offers beautiful views over Houhai Lake whereas the first floor can be...  Read More

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...  Read More


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.