While brunch has become a mainstay of many of the coastal cities in China, Xi’an has long lacked anything approaching the leisurely gourmet experience that is a nice brunch. While there are many great breakfast foods, and plenty of 5-star hotel buffets for you to stuff your face at, the brunch experience, a.k.a. sweet or savory breakfast style foods and some sort of boozy accompaniment that will help ease out the aches of a night of overindulgence or as a way to kick start a fine weekend.
It’s safe to say that cocktails have taken Xi’an by storm. There are more cocktail bars than any one person would be able to visit, and there are new bars opening all the time, even as older bars close. But even with the vast variety, bars can sometimes start to feel…generic. It’s always the same drinks, mixed in very similar ways, without out much in the way of theme or originality. It’s often that I walk into a bar and recognize every single drink, and every single bottle on the wall. So, it takes something unique to impress me.
Shuyuan Men is an area of Xi’an located just inside of the South Gate, running along for a few hundred meters until eventually terminating close to the Forest of Steles near Wenchang Gate. This area is often visited by tourists, who come looking to pick up some trinkets or calligraphy – something to take home that looks like it has some cultural value. And, indeed, Shuyuan has become the home of some of Xi’an’s various artists, especially those that specialize in the ancient Chinese art of calligraphy.
Agood burger can be hard to find in Xi’an, with most offerings being of the bland fast food variety. That was until the minds behind Westhouse opened up EGG BANG in the Saige Mall at the close of 2019. It was refreshing. It was delicious. It was good. But then COVID hit and Saige decided to renovate their 6th floor, eliminating many restaurants, including EGG BANG. It was a sad discovery. But not one to stay down, they got back at it soon after by opening a shop at Momopark, and their most recent outing, a shop at CityOn Mall in the North.
If you haven’t noticed, people around Xi’an really like bars. It’s seems like there is a new bar that pops up every day, and there are more always on the way. However, most of these bars fall into two distinct categories – beer and cocktails. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with a nice cold craft brew or an expertly mixed concoction, there is something that has been missing from the landscape for quite some time – a wine bar. Enter CUB.
The fortifications of Xi’an, better known as the Xi’an City Wall, are a prominent feature of Xi’an and are often used in the symbolism and iconography of the city. As one of the largest and most complete fortifications of its kind, the Xi’an city wall has endured the constant expansion and renovations of a modern Chinese city. In fact, the Xi’an City Wall has been incorporated into the infrastructure of the city, standing not only as a testament to the historical nature of the city, but also as a functional part of the overall landscape.
Craft Breweries have become increasingly popular in recent years, with many small micro-breweries popping up all over the country. With the increasing popularity, a few names have made it big, and have begun spreading to other cities in China, including Xi’an. One of the most recent additions to the Xi’an scene is Boxing Cat Brewery.
Isola del Nord has been a staple on the Xi’an scene for longer than most foreigners have been in China. This cozy little restaurant, located on the 11F of the KI Building on North Street, has steadily served up some of the best Napoli-style pizza in the city, along with exceptional Italian foods, for 13 years now. So, how does the restaurant hold up after all these years?
It’s never easy to maintain a restaurant at the best of times, and the past year and a half have been some of the roughest in recent memory, presenting a challenge to the entire industry. Yet, through all of this, Isola has stood up to its reputation, and continues to provide one of the nicest dining environments in the city.
Opened just six months ago at the tail end of 2020, Nick Motors Coffee is a small little café on Defu Xiang, also known as Bar Street. Opened by a group of friends with a passion for motorcycles, this coffee shop is located right next to the only motorcycle wash in the downtown area. The owners opened the shop so that they would have a place to sit, relax, and have a cup of coffee while waiting for their bikes to get cleaned.
The name of the shop was selected because they thought that it sounded like the name of an old school repair shop, so there’s no actual person named Nick inside, but there are a few seats and narrow tables to sit down and have a coffee. The entire front of the shop is made from glass, so you can look out on the sleepy street and admire the numerous motorcycles parked out front, either waiting to be cleaned or having just finished. There’s even a space inside for motorcycles that are currently for sale, currently being occupied by a 500k beauty of a motorcycle.
Leban is a name that many foreigners in Xi’an are familiar with, as they have been operating for many years at this point (we wrote about their first location all the way back in October 2015). In the time since their inception, the café and bakery has expanded out to many locations throughout the city, expanding their menu and refining their craft in order to deliver a consistent, high-quality product.
Their newest venture is no exception, venturing for the first time to the north of the city. Located at the Wenjing Lu subway stop, not far from the government center at XingZhengZhongXin, this Leban has upped their game quite a bit, having more seating (indoor and outdoor) and an more extensive menu than any of their other locations. The interior is decorated in a modern chic style, with low tables and chairs – not the best if you’re tall – as well as some booth seating and regular-sized tables and chairs. There is a sliding wall that gives you access to the mall, if you’re into the whole secret panel door feel.