The recently opened C&C Park, or Culture and Creative Park, is still a bit rough around the edges, but the arty area – a complex of renovated, red-brick buildings that once made up an old printing factory; kind of like a mini-798 – already boasts a number of intriguing spaces to explore. Drop by to watch a play at the impressive-looking 77 Theatre, or drop into Meridian Space, a creative hub with a gallery, workshop rooms and café-cum-bar. Grab a drink and check out the rooftop terrace, which offers impressive views of old Beijing and beyond. The busy sound of drilling suggests that more places will soon open in C&C Park – we’re intrigued by what looks like a Wild West saloon being put up at the entrance – making this hip area well worth a visit.
C&C Park 77 Meishuguan Hou Jie. Meridian’s café open 10am-10.30pm daily (5160 0496).
If you still haven’t got your art fix then head through the hutongs to Yishu 8. Formerly the Sino-French University, these historic buildings now host collaborations of Chinese and French artists. With a focus on cultural exchange through art, Yishu 8 holds regular exhibitions of its residents’work. If the art, peaceful courtyard and well-maintained exemplar of traditional Beijing architecture aren’t enough to draw you in, they also have a unique fresco with Sun Yat-sen’s last will and testament on display.
Yishu 8 20 Donghuangchenggen Beijie (6581 9058). Open 11am-7pm daily.
Chuanfu manages to provide a refuge from the noise and heat of the hutongs without losing any of the streets’ energy and excitement. At first glance, Chuanfu seems like a standard barbeque joint, albeit with bargain prices. Keep flipping through the menu, however, and you’ll find they offer everything from steak and oysters to grilled silkworm chrysalis – yep, silkworms! This is the perfect place to gorge on barbeque in a cool and spacious courtyard.
Chuanfu Restaurant 28 Dafosi Dongjie, 200 metres north of Sanlian book shop (6422 0055). Open 11am-2am daily.
If you want to combat Beijing’s smog one pot plant at a time, Meishuguan Houjie offers two rosy options. The first, Linlinxianhualipin, is so full of different flora that it’s like emerging into a rain forest; you can’t even see the walls. If you’re overwhelmed by the choice, head next door to Dianhuaxiandingyuan. Its selection is more limited, but the friendly proprietors will likely offer you a fresh cup of tea. Remember to buy a rose (5RMB) on the way out for your significant other.
66 & 68 Meishuguan Houjie (6402 3403/6407 4994). Open 11am-8pm daily. 东城区美术馆后街66&68号
Translating as ‘The Prosperous Tea Shop’, this wee tea emporium certainly has it all, from Taiwanese oolong to Yunnan’s pu’er. If those aren’t your cup of tea (sorry, had to be done) then don’t despair; the friendly owner will patiently guide you through the exhaustive options until you taste your way to the perfect cuppa.
Home to the Liu family for more than a century, this siheyuan restaurant has been serving up home-style Beijing cuisine for over 15 years. They offer roast duck and other Beijing specialties for bargain prices, and boast an intriguing (or terrifying) collection of Chinese medicinal wine, replete with snakes and other mysterious floating ingredients. This taste of lao Beijing is a gem.
Liuzhai Shifu Restaurant Jiangjia Dayuan Hutong (opposite Sanlian bookstore), Meishuguan Dongjie (6400 5912). Open 11am-10pm daily.