China can be challenging when it comes to food, I find. Up front I usually give up my almost-vegetarian ambitions: I know it’ll make finding decent places to eat that much harder if I insist on reasonable vegetarian options.
Luckily, if you are vegetarian and you’re not too stuck on wanting Chinese food there are some pretty nice options around Beijing to try out – and there probably are good options for Chinese cuisine as well, so please leave your tips in the comments.
Vegetarian restaurants in Beijing
Wagas quickly became a favourite coffee and food place for me when I discovered it last year. Luckily it’s a chain restaurant so it’s in plenty of places. The good service, nice atmosphere and almost always excellent wifi already make it a good choice, but I love their food menu. Healthy, freshly made and it includes some good vegetarian options of salads, pasta’s, curry’s & sandwiches. Favourites are the Turkish pita with roasted pumpkin (and other veggies) and the spinach wrap with falafel and hummus.
Elements Fresh is another restaurant chain which serves good lunch food. I love their salads, filled with loads of vegetables.
Two local restaurants in Beijing that I discovered this week are:
> Backyard Café, tucked away in the embassy area is a cute little cafe aiming for health and wellness with fruit juices named ‘Liver cleanse’ to name one example. Not all their food is vegetarian but they seem to mostly use organic ingredients in their dishes.
> The Veggie Table is located in the Wudaoying Hutong near the Lama Temple. A fully vegan restaurant with great food. A comfortable and relaxed place, with a wide range of food and drinks on their menu. Including veggie burgers, but also apparently the best hummus in Beijing. The Veggie Plate gets their vegetables from local Beijing farms (including the Little Donkey Farm) and has an extensive explanation on why they serve the food the way they do. Further down the Hutong on the left hand side is a Chinese vegetarian restaurant, which I haven’t tried but could be worth a shot if you’re looking for local cuisine instead of curry or couscous.
Looking to get your hands on organic products to start cooking with yourself? One place to get these are small local farmers’ markets. There are several around, one option is the Farm to Neighbours market organized each Sunday in Baocheng Hutong.
Of course, other restaurants will have vegetarian dishes as well. But be careful, names of dishes can deceive. The vegetable ramen in a small Japanese place in District 798 looked great, but included meat after all.