Yes, Tianjin might not be the first city that comes to mind when you think about visiting China and enjoying fantastic cuisine. But maybe it should be one of them. Tianjin is one of the largest cities in China, both in population and in physical size, and is also one of its most international and cosmopolitan locations. This means that it flaunts a number of famous dishes of its own, but also plays host to visitors and immigrants from the world over. And as in most places in western China, the building boom surrounding the Olympics maximized construction of all tourism-related building - including restaurants, of course.
This means that you can get food of many different regions and price ranges. Not surprisingly, given its history, Tianjin has several excellent European restaurants. Mainly located in the former English and French concession areas, you can get everything from Irish beer to pizzas to foie gras in these cafes and patio gardens. It may seem like it would feel odd to be enjoying a prix fixe meal like you'd find in any good restaurant in Paris, but in Tianjin it feels surprisingly familiar. Somewhat closer but still international cuisines like Thai and Indian are also quite common.
To try Chinese food, Tianjin-style, head to one of the food streets around downtown. Restaurants here range from tiny street stalls to top-notch fancy dining halls, so you can experience the range of quality and style. Tianjin's most famous dish is dumplings, or baozi, but fried cakes and porridge are also high on the list. And of course there are restaurants featuring the many varied cuisines of China itself, from the fiery oils of Sichuan to the dim sum of Guangdong. If you keep an open mind and open stomach, you'll find things here to try that you never knew were served - let alone served up as such delicacies.
152 Yingkou Road
In the Eiffel Grand Hotel
2/F, 2nd District, Nanshi Food Street
Shiying Lu at Tianta Ave
Across from Tianyuan Hotel
No.61, 3rd Area Nanshi Food Street
No. 90, 4th Area Nanshi Food Street
219 Jie Fang North Road
Hyatt Regency Tianjin