Beads and Incense | 4 p.m.
佛珠和香火 | 下午4点
In the new Beijing of star-architect towers and gleaming Porsches, the Lama Temple (also known as Yonghe Temple) stands as a reminder of a less material and more spiritual time. Built as a prince’s home in the 17th century, the complex was gradually transformed into a lamasery and is today one of the most active — and colorful — Buddhist temples in the city. Beijingers pray amid gnarled pine trees with burning joss sticks held aloft and shopping bags slung over wrists, while monks offer quiet blessings of beads brought by visitors in hidden corners. Outside the lovely gingko-lined entrance are shops crammed with Buddhist trinkets and incense, the sounds of Tibetan music floating down the street. Admission is 25 renminbi, or about $4 at the rate of 6 renminbi to the dollar.
Beijing Brews | 6 p.m.
北京精酿啤酒 | 下午6点
The traditional hutongs around the Lama Temple are a fantastic place to soak up Beijing street life. Avoid overly gentrified Nanluoguxiang, a crowded strip of T-shirt and snack shops, and head instead to the maze of alleys around quieter Baochao Hutong to the west. Here, locals gather for nightly mah-jongg games and sip beer at dumpling shops beneath gray-tiled rooftops sprouting tufts of grass. Grab a pint yourself in the tree-shaded courtyard at Great Leap Brewing, a pioneer in Beijing’s craft beer scene that makes unique ales like Iron Buddha Blonde, infused with tea from the mountains of Fujian province (40 renminbi). Continue the hutong pub crawl at nearby Slow Boat Brewery Taproom, which was opened a little over two years ago by a pair of Americans and has more than a dozen unpasteurized beers on tap, such as Helmsman’s Honey Ale (40 renminbi) brewed with honey from local bee farms.
The Spice Is Right | 8 p.m.
这里的辣味最正宗 | 晚上8点
It’s brightly lit and raucous and if you come too late, the indifferent servers may begin stacking chairs around you as you finish your meal. Beijing may have more refined Sichuan restaurants these days, but Chuan Ban has retained a loyal following among locals because of its authentically mouth-numbing food — to be expected of a restaurant run by the Sichuan provincial government. The novel-length menu contains some perplexing dishes like Spicy Duck Lips, but there are safer standouts like mapo doufu (cubes of tofu swimming in crimson chile oil and smothered in ground Sichuan peppercorns; 18 renminbi) and stir-fried shrimp balls heaped with ground pork, preserved vegetables and diced chiles (78 renminbi).
Gentle Gentrification | 11 a.m.
温和的改造 | 上午11点
While many of Beijing’s hutongs have been demolished over the years, others have been leveled and replaced with prettified versions of their former selves, turning neighborhoods into theme parks. The Dashilar neighborhood, one of the oldest in Beijing, is following a different path, with architects and designers leading a more sustainable gentrification process to try to retain the fabric of the community. One former factory in a 1950s Art Deco building has been gorgeously renovated into a cafe, Spoonful of Sugar, that serves organic coffee from Yunnan province and chocolates infused with fiery Chinese er guo tou liquor. Down the lane, check out the Ubi Gallery for handmade designer jewelry and Chinese ceramics, and the Li+U Workshop for handsome leather bags and wallets, made right there in the store.
经过这么多年，北京的很多胡同都被拆除了，还有些胡同被拆除后，在原址上盖起了新的美化版，附近区域也变成了主题公园。大栅栏是北京最古老的区域之一，它的改造模式与众不同，建筑师和设计师们主导着更具可持续性的改造过程，努力保持社区的质感。壹勺子糖咖啡馆由一座20世纪50年代装饰艺术风格的建筑改造而来，这里本来是个工厂。这家咖啡馆供应云南有机咖啡和加入浓烈二锅头的巧克力。沿着胡同，你能找到Ubi艺廊(Ubi Gallery)，这里有手工制作的高档珠宝和中国瓷器，还有Li+U工坊(Li+U Workshop)，这里的漂亮皮包和钱夹都是在店里制作的。
Fit for a King | 1 p.m.
炸酱面大王 | 下午1点
As the name suggests, Old Beijing Zhajiang Noodle King does one thing really well: zha jiang mian, a hand-pulled wheat noodle dish that’s just as evocative of Beijing as roast duck or hearty dumplings. So popular is this local chain that the lunch rush can feel manic: Waiters dash up and down stairs shouting orders and numbers of guests, while diners crowd around wooden tables slurping bowls of noodles topped with shredded cucumber and radish, bean sprouts and a tangy sauce made with minced pork and fermented soybean paste. It’s not only tasty, but lunch for two will set you back only 36 renminbi.