Lin Dong Fang Beef Noodles
Perhaps the most famous dish in Taiwan is beef noodles, and perhaps the most famous place to get them in Taipei is Lin Dong Fang on BaDe Road. Beef noodles might be the most straightforward eating experience you've ever had - noodles with beef - but competition over the crown of best in Taipei is relentlessly heated and tirelessly argued about. We'll leave it up to you to find your favorite, but Lin Dong Fang is a great start on your journey toward beef noodle expertise. Don't forget to grab a few of the oily vegetables while you're there, as well.
No. 274 BaDe Road, Section 4
MRT Zhongxiao Fuxing
Yong Kang 15 - Shaved Ice
Yong Kang 15 is the replacement for Ice Monster, which was previously an institution in Taipei, world-famous for its perfect shaved ice and fruit formula. Ice Monster abruptly closed but was months later born again as Yong Kang 15, under the tutelage (though not ownership) of the opener of the original store. The new spot packs as good of a punch as the last, and even with a hip remodeling, but the prices are a bit steeper than the days of yore. On a hot summer day, though, there's still nothing better than a bowl of ice topped with mango and cream.
No. 15, Yongkang St.
MRT Guting Station
Du Xiao Yue - Chinese Noodles
Though this famed restaurant hails originally from Tainan, its 100+ year history on the island and wide reputation make at an important stop on your culinary journey of Formosa. Noodles are made fresh and by hand, and local ingredients get a heavy favoring in the process of cooking. Shipments come daily from Tainan to ensure accuracy and freshness, and only traditional Taizhong vinegar is used in preparation. Taiwanese food is extremely varied and if you want to get a taste of what the south has to offer (Tainan = Tai South in Chinese), make your way to Du Xiao Yue (Chinese for small, passing moon).
No. 12, Alley 8, Lane 216, ZhongXiao East Road
MRT Zhongxiao Dunhua Station
11:30am-10:30pm (closes at 10pm on Sundays)
Tonghua Night Market
LinJiang st. between Tonghua and Keelung Rds.
MRT Liuzhangli Station
Evenings, starting around 5-6pm, ending between 1-4am depending on weather
Taipei is chock-full of night markets, which are all chock-full of food. On the other hand, night markets vary from one to the next - some are huge and crowded, others more homey and intimate. Of those in the big city Tonghua Night Market feels most like a "local" night market that you might find in a small town elsewhere in Taiwan. It's straightforward - just one, long street - and offers just about anything you can think of. Make sure to give local night market specialties like stinky tofu and all flavors of barbecued beasts a fair shot.
Ay-Chung Noodle Shop (Ximen Branch)
No. 8-1, Emei St., Wanhua District (Ximending)
MRT Ximen Station
Mon-Thurs 11am-10:30pm, Fri-Sun 11am-11pm
One of many "famous" joints in Taipei, you'll see a massive line of people waiting for their chance at Ay-Chung noodles in Ximending shopping district. Things in Ximen are notoriously difficult to find, so you'll be best off taking the address with you or looking at the map on the shop's website. Ay-Chung serves up a specialty, thin noodles in a thick, brown sauce of bamboo shoot, parsley and of course the intestine of a pig. It's cheap and the consistency is just right, but don't expect to find a place to sit down (except the sidewalk, naturally).
Cali Curry - Indian Restaurant
No. 2, Lane 118, Heping E. Road, Sec. 2
MRT Technology Building Station
Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm, 5pm-8pm; Sat 11am-2:30pm (closed Sundays)
Cali Curry is one of those frustrating Taipei restaurants that is always jam-packed and is hardly ever open. It seems like they make enough money to pay the rent in about 20 minutes of curry slinging. They make the stuff in a big pot and combine it with various things, usually rice and meat and simple vegetables. It's cheap, you can get it to go, and you can even request "extra curry" for an additional scoop of the good stuff. Cali is usually crammed with students around lunch time, so if you head there around that time, get a takeaway box or get ready to be bumped into several times.
Sababa Pita Bar (Gongguan Branch)
No. 17, Ln. 283, Roosevelt Rd., Sec. 3
MRT Taipower Building
One of the classic expatriate stops in Taipei is Sababa, one of those rarities where foreign food tastes just about as good as it should even though you're thousands of miles away. It's a pita bar that makes the pitas like they should be, warm and fluffy with the right mixture of wheat and flour. The hummus is legitimate and the store's success is leading to expansion into more creative territory. The falafel is crispy and airy. Just be careful of the fact that something in the mixture gives you some serious gas the next day.
Dosanko Japanese Ramen
No. 5-3, Lane 66, YiTong Street
MRT Nanjing E. Road Station
No trip to Asia is complete without experimentation into ramen noodles, and Dosanko is the place to sample a wide variety of the choices. The menu is massive and has tons of pictures for the Chinese-illiterate. Taipei is filled with noodle shops but the Japanese specialization in the field does not quite match that of Tokyo, where the number of varieties of ramen challenges the number of people in the city. Dosanko will bring you closer to the Japanese way of doing it, complete with those oh-so-tasty sesame salads.
Eddy's Cantina - Mexican Restaurant
151-1 Zhongshan Rd (Danshui)
MRT Danshui Station
Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm, 4:30pm-10pm (closed Tuesdays); Sat-Sun 11:30am-10pm
It's way up in Danshui, but basically everybody agrees that the only place in the city of Taipei to eat actual Mexican food is Eddy's Cantina. Eddy hails from Guadalajara and claims that all the recipes he uses are family hand-me-downs that he grew up eating. It might seem like a trip all the way to Danshui isn't quite worth it, but if you've gone a long time without the tangy cilantro-lime , coupled with the zing of a jalapeno, it starts to wear on you and you become willing to go the distance. Eddy also delivers frozen goods through 7-11's delivery service, so if you need the fix brought to your house you can do it that way also.
Meet Fresh - Chinese Restaurant
Local chain with locations all over the city
Most branches open 10am-11pm
There are dozens of "Meet Fresh" in Taipei - they'll be a bit tough to come across via their website which only has Chinese, but if you can manage to ask a local for the nearest xian yu xian you're probably only a block or two away anyway. Meet Fresh serves up the classic Taiwanese sweet specialties, from herb jelly to taro to some really authentic-tasting pearl milk tea. The scheme of Meet Fresh is also, fittingly, refreshing, a nice blend of the traditional elements (low-seating tables in and outside) and clean, minimal design. They also have English menus which makes entry into the vast world of Taiwanese desserts easier.
Pin Xian Fried Dishes - Taiwanese Food
No. 68 Leli Rd.
MRT Liuzhangli Station
Rechao is a classic get-together for Taipeiers. Pin Xian is typical of the fried fish, tofu and fresh vegetable selections of other Rechao, but has a much more down-home feel and is considerably less expensive than other selections. It's near the Liuzhangli MRT Station and is characterized by Christmas lights haphazardly arranged around the outside. Meet up with dozens of friends, the place is busy but always seems to find room for huge groups somehow, and order bottle after bottle of Taiwan Beer. At least, that's what you ought to do.
Best Mid-Range Taipei Restaurants
Din Tai Fung (XinYi Branch) - Chinese Restaurant
No.194, Xinyi Road, Sec. 2
Mon-Fri 10am-9pm, Sat-Sun 9am-9pm
MRT Da-An Station
Perhaps the most famous restaurant in Taipei, Din Tai Fung specializes in churning out basket after basket of steamed dumplings, and is often hailed as one of the greatest dumpling spots on the planet. The skin of the dumplings is paper thin but never tears, a classic metric for the quality of preparation. Din Tai Fung has expanded to other locations in Taipei and worldwide, with branches in Japan, Singapore, Australia, the US and more. The XinYi branch in Taipei is the original, though, so that means it's time to make your pilgrimage. Din Tai Fung XinYi is, unfortunately, not very close to any MRT stations, bus buses are exceptionally common on XinYi Road.
Copo de Cafe
No. 61-1 Yusheng St., TianMu
Tues-Fri 12:30pm-10pm, Sat-Sun 9am-10pm (closed Mondays)
MRT Zhishan Station
Though a bit difficult to find, Copo de Cafe in TianMu is a great treat for coffee and sandwich, coffee and scone, or coffee and dessert lovers. It's tiny and quaint, with owners who are willing to accommodate you personally and are always introducing new items into the menu. The best way to get there would be to take the MRT to Zhishan Station then take a taxi, as finding it on your own is a challenge. It's right next door to a 7-11 (if that helps) and is characterized by its pale blue and white color scheme. If you are staying in the area, make sure to check it out.
Saffron Fine Indian Cuisine
38-6, TianMu E Rd
11:30am-2pm (closed at this time on Monday), 5:30pm-9:30pm
*No nearby MRT
TianMu is Taipei's rich northern suburb, where diplomats live and English is the lingua franca. Though it may be a bit inconvenient, you'll have to make it that far if you want legitimate Indian cuisine. Saffron is a classy place situated near Taipei American School, and has all of the offerings you could hope for in a place serving up the dishes of the subcontinent. The owner of Saffron is an Indian who has been doing business in Taiwan for some time, and opened the restaurant to bring the cuisine of his home to Taipei, which is otherwise totally lacking in the department.
Greek - Go!
No. 5, Lane 59, ShiDa Rd.
Finding Greek food in the city takes a bit of digging, but Greek-Go! is a fine option if you're craving some feta cheese and the appropriate accoutrements. Like a lot of the more international spots in Taipei, this one is in the ShiDa Night Market area, and should be easily identified by the distinctive bright-white Mediterranean stucco exterior and the exuberant blue and white of the Greek flag hanging down from above. The interior of Greek-Go! will make you feel at home, essentially because it's decorated the inside of a house. If you're itching for a Greek salad, keep in mind that salad lettuce in Taiwan, and at Greek-Go!, is pretty substandard.
Yue Yan Pho (Vietnam Garden)
No. 12, Lane 155, Dunhua N. Road
Mon-Fri 11:30am-3pm, 5:30pm-9pm; Sat-Sun 11:30am-9pm
MRT Zhongshan Junior High School Station
The Pho chain has been catching on in the city, but this is the original branch of the Vietnamese restaurant. If you're looking for a real touch of Vietnam, it's most likely the most solid option that Taipei has to offer, and they even carry that awesome, blood-red (American-made) Sriracha hot sauce that everybody loves. Pho is the Vietnamese version of beef noodles, but the French bread sandwiches and other noodle options shouldn't be left out of the decision-making process. If you happen to be in the area around The Diner (DunHe Branch), next door is another convenient Pho location.
El Patio de Mi Casa - Spanish Restaurant
No. 12, Ln 97, Songjiang Rd, 1F
11:30am-2pm, 6pm-10pm (closed Mondays)
MRT Zhongshan Station, but you will need to take a bus or taxi from there
My house's patio, the name of this restaurant, started out just about that way, as a "restaurant" run out of an apartment the two Spanish owners rented. Since that time, the two have moved to a proper location to serve up the specialties of their homeland. El Patio puts you in a good mood with brightly-colored walls and personalized service. It's a bit cramped but there's not a lot of truly legit Spanish food in Taipei. The two owners are also musicians, so if you are lucky you might get a chance at a free performance around closing time.
Mogu / Booday
No.18-1, Lane 25, Nanjing W. Rd.
MRT Zhongshan Station
Booday is a multi-purpose organization that makes and sells magazines, food and handmade textiles. The building is three floors - the first floor sells handmade goods, the second floor is a café and book/magazine shop, and the third floor is the design studio. The thesis of Booday is healthy living, and if you need a retreat from the oily, salty cooking of Taipei it's a great stop. The small second-floor café is quaint and comfy, and you may find yourself kicking back with the organic desserts and coffee for hours. Be sure to spend a good chunk of time browsing their goods as well, they have a lot of character and make great souvenirs.
Maryjane Pizza ShiDa - Pizzeria
No. 25, Lane 44, TaiShun St., Da-An District
MRT Taipower Building Station
Mon-Fri 12-2 pm, 5:30-9:30 pm; Sat-Sun 12-3:30 pm, 5:30-10:30 pm
Often hailed as one of the top pizza joints in Taipei, Maryjane has restaurants in ShiDa and Gongguan. There is a huge menu with an endless range of options, all of which you'll be happy with if you've been itching for the cheesy goodness for a while. Both locations (the address listed above is of the more popular Shida location) are cozy, tucked away into the alleys of the university neighborhoods. They both get pretty packed around prime dinner and lunch time, so be prepared to wait, especially if you're in a large group.
Truva - Turkish Restaurant
No. 3, Lane 181, AnHe Road, Sec. 2
MRT Technology Building Station
Truva is just about the only Turkish food you'll find in Taipei, and its ominous, Gothic castle exterior might dissuade you from making your way inside. If you do, however, you'll find that the food offered is pretty decent. There are some things that you can't really get anywhere else in Taipei, like Turkish ice cream. Along the same lines, Sababa Pita Bar is a good Middle Eastern option but it's a very casual dig, not appropriate for schmoozing with business partners or going on dates. Also, be warned that Truva has a bit of a reputation for charging hidden fees for things like bottled water and extra pita.
Mala Yuanyang Hot Pot - Taiwanese Food
No. 62, XiNing S. Road, 2F
MRT Ximen Station
Hot pot is of course one of the staples of eating in Taiwan, but spicy hot pot is where the real aficionados go. Spicy hot pot places are incredible, a flat-rate price and from then on anything you can grab with tongs and toss into your pot is fair game. Stores almost always have free deserts also, and Mala Yuanyang is no exception, offering unlimited Movenpick and Haagen-Daaz ice cream. Tables at Yuanyang are limited to a two-hour stay, so don't think you'll be able to come in and take advantage of the all-you-can-eat for six hours without leaving.
Primo Trattoria - Italian Restaurant
No. 14, Lane 107, Fuxing S. Rd, Sec 1
MRT Zhongxiao Fuxing Station
Sun-Thurs 11:30am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11:30am-11pm
Decked out in mostly white, Primo Trattoria near the Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT Station offers a glance into the way Taipei usually presents pasta. Pasta in the city is usually given with a package deal of soup and salad, and the soup is generally cream-based. Primo has one of the best executions of this model, and offers a lot more variety in the pasta options. The kicked-back, affordable vibe at the restaurant makes it a great spot for an evening away from Taiwanese local cuisine.
The Diner (DunHe Branch) - American Food
No.6, Lane 103, Sec. 2, Dunhua S. Rd
MRT Technology Building Station
Mon-Fri 9am-12am, Sat-Sun 8am-12am (last call at 11pm)
Serving up American diner classics, the aptly-named "Diner" dishes out the omelets, French toast and pancakes that you crave. Quaintly tucked back into a small garden, the store at Dunhua S. Road is a favorite stop for the hip thirty-something crowd in Taipei. Don't be alarmed by the especially yellow eggs, that's pretty standard-issue in Taiwan. The Diner's primary draw is the breakfast feast, but lunch items are also a delicious choice. Brunch is packed, so don't show up starving - you might have to wait for an hour or two, true to the hot-spot American diner experience.
Patio Thai Cuisine - Thai Restaurant in Taipei
No. 12, Alley 247, Dunhua S. Rd., Sec.1
MRT Zhongxiao Dunhua Station
Thai fusion is not something you'll only find in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Patio near Zhongxiao Dunhua serves up the spicy Southeast Asian favorites with twists like Thai fish tacos and a number of curries, fishes and more. The atmosphere is clean and contemporary, with excellent service. The restaurant is also right behind the Eslite Dunhua Bookstore, a 24-hour hotspot for Taipei's intellectuals, and a great reason to head into that area. Patio has other branches but the menus aren't quite the same, and the atmosphere at this one is superior.
Best High-End Taipei Restaurants
No. 168 Prime Steakhouse in Taipei
No. 168, Jingye 4th Road (Grand Victoria Hotel, 4F)
Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm, 6pm-10pm, Sat-Sun 12pm-3pm, 5:30pm-10pm
MRT Jiannan Rd. Station
Up in the NeiHu region of North-Eastern Taipei City, the No. 168 Prime Steakhouse is attached to the Grand Victoria Hotel and near the Miramar shopping and cinema plaza. The restaurant is lovely, with a wide-open design where chefs make steaks and pizzas and pastas in plain sight. If you're looking for your filling of a steak dinner with paired wine, No. 168 has set wine-pairing meals for you. In addition to the variety of steak applications, pizza and pasta are available. No. 168 also has private rooms that house up to 50 people.
Forchetta - Italian Restaurant
No. 4, Alley 127, AnHe Road., Sec 1
MRT Da-An Station
Taiwanese chef Max at Forchetta uses his expertise from a variety of Western restaurants in Taipei to create an East-West blend that is hard to come by anywhere else in the world. The chef puts a heavy focus on simple, elegant presentation. The dishes are gorgeously plated and have taste to match. The restaurant is cozily place behind its own little garden. Cuisine at Forchetta focuses mainly on Mediterranean dishes from Spain and Italy, made of course with Taiwanese ingredients and with enough Asian flair that you'll be able to recognize it. Keep in mind that it's a bit of a walk from the MRT, so you might opt for a cab.
Dozo Izakaya Dining Bar - Japanese Food
No. 102, Guang Fu S. Road
6pm-3am (last call for food orders at 2am)
MRT Sun-Yat Sen Memorial Hall Station
Izakaya, if you're unfamiliar with the term, is a Japanese drinking-eating establishment. Izakayas are loaded with picture menus that allow you to point and shoot, as it were, and the alcohol flows like water. Dozo is one of the best Izakayas in Taipei. In addition to traditional Izakaya fare such as sashimi, grilled skewers and loads of tofu varieties, Dozo brings some fusion into the mix with experimentation in Western and pan-Asian cuisines. Dozo is open late, so if you're looking for a spot to fill your stomach with sashimi and your brain with sake or beer, it's the right place to do it.
Niu Sushi - Japanese Restaurant
No.150, XinSheng N Road, Sec. 1
MRT Zhongshan Station
Niu Sushi comes highly recommended as one of if not the top sushi joint in Taipei, thus making it one of the best outside of Japan. It's got the traditional sushi feel where you sit around the chefs and watch them do their thing inside the sushi chamber. You can order a la carte or opt for the chef's choice menu, which requires choosing from a price range that fits your hunger level and wallet size. Niu Sushi is small and popular, so if you're looking to go during a busy time or with a larger group of people, make sure to reserve a spot.
Flavors Swedish Restaurant
No. 13, Alley 26, Lane 300, RenAi Rd, Sec. 4
MRT Zhongxiao Dunhua Station
Tue-Fri 6pm-10:30pm; Sat-Sun 12pm-2:30pm, 6pm-10:30pm (lunch by reservation only)
When you think of Taiwan, probably the last thing that comes to mind is Swedish food. Well, contrary to your expectations, Flavors restaurant is actually pretty good. It has a huge menu of Scandinavian stuff that you may have never tried anyway. Husband and wife culinary couple Ola and Stephanie presents gorgeous dishes that will definitely challenge the check-out food at IKEA, which may arguably the most common interaction we have with the food of Sweden. Whatever you do, leave room for the delectable desserts.
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