Beijing has an amazing array of affordable restaurants. At every corner there is a small stand selling chuan’r (meat on a stick) or fried rice, fried noodles or the famous egg pancakes that everyone chows down on for lunch around the busy office zones. Still, if you want western food for cheap there are a few options you might b interested in.
Bita-a-Pita won’t break the bank, yet it offers amazing Israeli food, including amazing hummus, falafel, lemonade and salads. For around $10 you can treat yourself to something healthy, tasty and affordable without really leaving the main areas or compromising on quality. And since the Israeli owner is always wondering around, you’re sure to get great service as well!
Pass by Bar is a cheap, local favorite. It has everything from pizza to Chinese food, to pasta and even breakfast. You can eat for under $10 and yet leave full and happy. Service is bilingual and decent, and the décor, set inside an old refurbished hutong, is classic Beijing without being kitch. The rest of the menu may be a bit on the pricy side, but the RMB15 ($2) breakfast is hearty and filling, and perfect for travelers on a shoestring.
Amigo, located on Gulou, has a special RMB8 taco that is hearty and rich without being expensive. For $1 you get meat, tortilla, beans and salad all in one tasty dish and when you add in the cost of a drink for RMB15 you’re walking away for a few dollars while still enjoying an awesome little meal.
Fish Nation, located in Sanlitun, is a prime midnight eating hole. You’ll find drunks and semi-drunks in all stages of non-sobriety chowing down on fried fish and French fries (British style). The cost isn’t high, and considering the 1am option, it really stands out as one of the few places with decent quality in Beijing’s party back alleys for decent grub. Your standard fish and chips combo will run you around $6, making you the star of the midnight hour.
Blue Frog is a pretty expensive restaurant, but on Monday nights you can get two-for-one on burgers and drinks from 6-8pm. Two folks can walk in, eat a high-quality meal in a fine establishment on the cheap and walk out without bankrupting themselves. The drinks two-for-one special is daily from 6-8, which attracts the after-work crowd and those eager to start their party early on.