For being the second busiest airport in the world, Beijing Capital International Airport doesn’t offer a lot in terms of food and drink. The long hallways and wide open spaces will make you long for poorly planned airports overcrowded with dining options.
You’ll notice two things about the restaurant scene when you first arrive. One: There are a lot of chains. Two: There are even more coffee shops. This can be either good or bad depending on your tastes, but you definitely won’t be getting over any jet lag with these options (fast food and coffee are the opposite of the best food to avoid jet lag). This guide won’t name any of those places, since you’re not going to be blindsided with surprising choices when ordering from KFC or Burger King.
To be completely honest, your best bet is to head to the Hilton near Terminal 3 if you have enough time. It’s a five-minute train from the airport and there’s a 24-hour shuttle that can take you back to terminals 2 and 3. Options for eating at the Hilton include 360 Casual Dining (international food), Compass Grill (steak, seafood, and Eastern specialties), Long Bar (cocktail and wine bar with live music), My China (Sichuan and Hunan cuisine), The Point Lobby Lounge (tea, coffee, pastries, and sandwiches), and Yue Shang (dim sum and other southern Chinese specialties).
If you don’t have time to escape but still need some food, these are the best places to eat in every terminal of Beijing Capital International Airport once you’ve gone through security.
Kangzai: A Chinese wonton soup chain that’s known for its prawn wontons.
Hehegu: Chinese fast food where you get to choose your sides and mains from pre-cooked options.
Terminal 2, Domestic
Tai Hing: Where to go for a quick meal. The Hong Kong style cafe restaurant serves up dim sum and noodles.
Acasia Deli Cafe: A variety of Western-style sandwiches as well as some noodles and soups.
Terminal 2, International
Viojoy: Chinese fast food with noodles, soup bowls, and rice options. The food isn’t bad, but goes down better with a beer.
Grab&Fly: Pre-made pastries that will do in a pinch.
Terminal 3, Domestic
Ajisan Ramen: Japanese ramen that’s warm and filling. Plus it’s the only decent non-chain food you’ll find in the terminal. The bowls won’t blow a ramen lover away, but they contain the baseline of what ramen should be: a thick broth, soft bamboo shoots, noodles, and thin slices of pork. If the name sounds familiar, it might be because the chain has outposts in New York City as well.
Terminal 3, International
Crystal Jade Kitchen: Your best bet for food in Terminal 3 is Crystal Jade, a Cantonese restaurant chain with locations in Beijing and Hong Kong. Order any of the dim sum or try one of the broth-based noodle dishes if you need something to warm your soul after a long flight.
Prik Thai: Thai food, but airport style. Prik Thai has a selection of decent curries along with Singha and the usual suspects when it comes to beer. The seating is a floor above the check-in and ticketing area, so at least you’ll have something to look at.
O’Learys: An American version of an Irish pub in an airport. The food here ranges from scrambled eggs and pancakes to chicken wings to quesadillas. The food is more swing and a miss than home run. Best to stick to the beer here.