Dali Courtyard $$
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67 Xiaojingchang Hutong, off Gulou Dongdajie
HOURS: Daily 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 6-11 p.m.
COST: Most entrées between ¥100-500
METRO: Guloudajie (Line 2)
One of Houhai’s most atmospheric restaurants, Dali Courtyard serves up traditional Yunnan food under the stars. It’s tricky to find it (head all the way up the hutong and turn left when you see the red lantern), but well worth the search.
Tables are arranged in the open-air courtyard, and the food comes in set menus. Choose a set price option, and sit back as your food is delivered dish by dish. The menu is seasonal, but staples include fried mint leaves, meat jerkies, sautéed wild mushrooms, and fried goat cheese.
Vegetarians are catered for, but it’s often a case of picking your way around the meat, so it might not be the best option for strict no-meat diners.
The courtyard tends to be covered between November and April, though that doesn’t take away from the atmosphere. The rooms off the courtyard are filled with traditional furniture and quirky ornaments.
© Susie Gordon from Moon Beijing & Shanghai, 2nd Edition