The foreign food and drink scene has blossomed in Sanlitun South over the past year or two with the addition of places liks The Rug, Jing-A, Okra, Taco Bar and Home Plate Bar-B-Q. Add in older venues like Q-Mex, D Lounge, The Local, Kro’s Nest and Janes & Hooch, veterans like Nanjie and The Bookworm, and soon-to-open spots like Pop-Up Bar and a lounge with drinks by Paul Hsu, and the city’s eaters and drinkers have an excellent mix of places to enjoy.
It’s not exactly news this place is busy. Take last Wednesday, an overcast and ultimately rainy night: I found Jing-A full — I got the last seat at the bar — and then met wine trade friends at D Lounge and found that place packed. It looked like Q-Mex, just across the street, had a big crowd as well.
As better weather approaches, it would be ideal to see traffic limited on one or two of the area’s narrow streets, more outdoor seating added, and either the grounds of 1949: The Hidden City or the parking lot surrounded by Janes and Hooch, The Local and Jing-A — or both — home to events like craft beer festivals or food fairs featuring the city’s niche vendors.
Even if none of that happens, there are all still those excellent eats and drinks as well as outdoor seating options at Q Mex, The Local, Home Plate and elsewhere, plus word that Jing-A will add three or four dozen seats out front this summer. And there remains the underrated bar Nanjie, where you can grab a big bottle of Samuel Smith and a seat on that second-floor deck and watch the world go by.
Anyway, there are nearby areas that are also nice, such as Xingfucun Middle Road and its alley with Frost, The Big Smoke, The Corner Melt and BBC, or that have potential, such as Sanlitun SOHO, which would do well to cater to the younger crowd that is already frequenting it’s thirty-plus hair salons, but Sanlitun South is hard to resist right now with its superb mix of bars and restaurants.