Street Food Xian – The Best in China 2024

Street Food Xian

When it comes to offering the whole package, few other cities in China can match Xian. Known as the cultural capital of the Middle Kingdom, it boasts not just a plethora or tourist attractions, but the street food Xian scene is arguable the best in the country.

And while other parts of China have struggled to recover touristically, or have reduced their street food, Xian is an exception. The hawkers are busy, tourists are coming and the roads are buzzing with perhaps biggest range of street food within the country.

This is in stark contrast to cities as diverse as Beijing and Dandong that have seemingly taken a battering. What is it then that makes the Xian street food scene so good?

Background to the Xian nightlife

Xian forms what are called the three capitals of China, alongside Beijing (political) and Shanghai (business). Xian of course gets the title of cultural capital, with it not just being an ancient capital of the Middle Kingdom, but also boasting the Terracotta Warriors, as well as other sites such as the City Wall, Bell Tower and Drum Tower.

Therefore it has not only been a popular spot for tourists, but also expats too. I personally have lived here on and off since 2006! Yet while many expats have left – much like the rest of China, the town is still pretty buzzing.

Most of the nightlife is still located within the old city walks, particularly at hot spots, such as the South Gate, the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower.

This includes bars, nightclubs, as well as a the aforementioned virtual street food scene.

Best Street Food Xian

Like the night life of the Xian most of the best street food is found within the city walls, but this is far from saying that it is limited to here. In fact Xian is one of those beautiful places where once the sun starts to set the sights, sounds and smells of street food appear almost from nowhere.

And unlike other locales, such as Tumen thankfully it has bot been resulted out of existence. Where though are the best street food places in Xian?

Muslim Street Xian

Without doubt the most famous place in Xian not just for street foods, but also perhaps eating in general. Meat, predominantly spicy beef and lamb on a stick are the big things here, as well as other “Xian specialities”, such as Rou Jia Mo. Located right next to the Bell Tower in Xian.

You can read our guide to Muslim street here.

Backstreet Bell Tower Xian

Within the city walls there is quite literally street food everywhere, even on main roads, but the best places to go are the big streets. After dark these places fill up to offer an alternative to Muslim street. And what is this alternative? Not being Muslim and this serving alcohol. These places also serve the bars and clubs of the city when they empty out in the wee small hours. Perhaps one of the best of these is round the back and opposite the Drum Tower. The top dish, aside from BBQ here is Xian fried noodles.

Street Food Nanchang Xiang

A street I previously lived on, so somewhere I am perhaps biased towards, know too well, or genuinely has great food. Just off of east street and next to the second hand market the best thing to do here is to eat Xian kou rou, or BBQ. Here restaurants cook up a storm while serving people food and drinks on the street.

Another classic here is the best rou jia mo, also known as “lao po bing”, or wife’s bread.

Xian Kou Rou/Xian BBQ

Kou Rou is the Chinese name for “BBQ meat” and this is frankly the thing to eat when you are traveling in, or living in Xian. Similar enough to other BBQ within China and even Vietnam, it is also quiet unique. Generally the meat sticks tend to be that bit bigger, while there is also a wider array of things. Of my favorites here is the baby sausages, which are almost like a saveloy. These can quite literally be found anywhere that there is apace.

Much of the best of these sit just outside the city walls usually down side streets.

Street Food Majiawan and Xian countryside

As stated Xian is famous fro a while bunch of dishes, as well as its street food. As Xian has developed though and much in line with other cities development has changed things a bit. This though is not the case when you visit the outskirts if Xian where there is a much larger range, including more breads, as well as local fish. This includes street food in Majiawan, Bao Ji and particularly the mountains of Xian.

When out in the mountains one can even pick their own chicken to be killed and eaten, thus ensuring freshness of product!

Must try Xian street foods

While I will later do a. Full article on the best streets foods of Xian, for now I will give some must tries, with a number of diets being full unique to Xian.

Rou Jia Mo

Often erroneously called the ‘Chinese hamburger” this consists of meat stuffed in bread. Rou Jia Mo is available through the country, such as in Guangzhou, but is considered a Xian speciality.

Yan Rou Pau Mao

The most famous dish from Muslim Street and perhaps the most famous from Xian in general. This consists of a noodle soup with lamb with you then ripping up hard bread and dropping it into the soup. You you then eat it.

Xian Cold noodles

Known as Liang Mien this is another popular dish unique to the city of Xian. This cold noodle dish comes with find cut meat, cucumber and a succulent peanut sauce. Very goof, but not exactly Pyongyang Cold Noodles.

Bing Fun and Suan Mai Tang

Bing Fun and Suan Mei Tang are the two soft drinks that are famously indigenous to Xian. The former is a firm Fanta Quest contender, while the later is a court plan concoction that comes in many variations.

Again as stated there are many many other street food dishes that you can try in Xian, which I shall cover later…

Is Xian street food the best in China?

While calling street food Xian the best in China might seem like a grand statement, it is not without merit. Firstly Xian has a a number of its own famous dishes. This is to such an extent that they are available throughout the country.

Secondly you have the whole BBQ thing, which again Xian just seems to do a lot better than other places in China.

And lastly? The fact that unlike other places within the country that seemingly want to sanitize everything Xian still acts as a holdout for independent street food vendors.