Beijing sips and bites | From khachapuri to queso fundido, ten updates

Oh, it’s been a long little while since my last “sips and bites” post. Sorry, been busy with work and World Baijiu Day and prepping for Maovember 2021–annual events like WE Brewery’s corn toss tourney in Tianjin and the Dog Pub Crawl in Beijing are already on the slate.

Anyway, from khachapuri to queso fundido, here are ten quick notes about Beijing’s scene. As usual, I don’t claim to be comprehensive. These are about places that I like / frequent / know about.

CHEERS. This wine shop chain took things up a notch with its Sanyuanqiao branch, on the InStreet strip, beside Forno and across from Jing-A. The difference? This one has a licensed kitchen–check out the cheese plates–plus ample seating indoors and out. Wednesday night wine buffets–five wines free-flow for rmb158, with rotating picks each week–and Friday night deals are attracting customers. CHEERS also recently added its first Chinese labels inspired by natural wines.

Jing-A. Speaking of InStreet, the new Jing-A there includes a British pub fare focus, with curries, Scotch eggs et al. Jing-A also just refurbished its Xingfucun location, wrapped up its annual 8×8 craft beer festival, and is working on two new spots–in Wangjing and the 798 art district. Kind of makes you wonder why Boxing Cat Brewery couldn’t survive Beijing, no?

Qubbe. Speaking of which, that ex-Boxing Cat space has been taken over by the Turkish restaurant Qubbe, just around the corner from Turkish Feast. Does one building need two Turkish venues? Maybe lunch-nap-dinner tours there could become a trend?

Georgia’s Feast. Meanwhile, Turkish Feast will soon launch a new menu by chef Recebali Iskanderov and also opened the much-anticipated new Georgia’s Feast, a sprawling affair on Ghost Street. I haven’t made it there but the reviews so far are quite good. The menu includes five kinds of khinkali (“Georgian dumplings”), khachapuri (“Georgian pizza”), plenty of wine options and more. (Photos from Georgia’s Feast)

El Mercadito. This sibling of Mexican restaurant Pebbles is serving the Shunyi crowd. The focus is build-your-own tacos and mezcal, plus other options, from queso fundido to whole chickens. El Mercadito hosted its first agave spirit tasting this week as owner Ray Heng continues to spread the booze of Mexico far and wide. (Photos from El Mercadito)

[UPDATE: Flannel has moved to a new space in Gongti.] Flannel Coffee. The team from Avotaco has gone into coffee and is taking over Pi Bar cafe-style from 10 AM to 6 PM daily, except Tuesdays. Expect about ten coffee options, from rmb30, and enjoy them in the cool confines of Pi Bar, one of my favorite getaways the past two years, due to the high ceiling, the relaxed vibe and a fun slate of events organized by the owners.

Burge’s Bistro & Bar. My favorite new go-to for martinis. The layout, the (usually) funk-based playlist and quality drinks by head bartender Allen and the crew make for a winner. Imbibers have a nice combination of house recipes and the classics, and the staff can also whip up something for particular tastes. These guys are also looking to make a mark on the burger scene. This is the location of the former Nao, the bar of the year that wasn’t.

CP Center. Made my first visit to the CP Center, in the downtown core. Tried the boat noodles at Galanan, checked out the soon-to-open Suppaniga Thai restaurant space, got iced coffee at Tim’s and came home to find this food and drink destination being advertised in the elevator. More details soon.

Dada Beijing: The new Dada opens next Wednesday near Ritan Park. Word is there will be 68 DJs. (They should invite DJ Press Play and make it 69!) Check out my Q&A with Michael Ohlsson about the Dada and China club drink scenes.

Finally, I’ll do a separate post on wine bars as so many interesting places have opened during the past year, including (left to right) White Tiger Village, TRiO, M Natural and Solitude.

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Get regular Beijing updates via my Instagram and Twitter feeds. Also see my sibling sites Grape Wall of China, World Baijiu Day and World Marselan Day. Help cover the hosting and other costs of these sites with a WeChat, AliPay or PayPal donation.

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