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Review of Urumqi’s Foreign Restaurants

June 19 | 22 Comments

Update 2020: Every single one of the restaurants listed below is now closed. Very few foreigners remain in Xinjiang thanks to China’s attempt to cover up the human rights abuses they are committing against the Uyghur. This post will remain active as a time capsule for what once was.


My son is a little over two years old now and I couldn’t help but laugh yesterday when I asked him what he wanted to eat for lunch. Without hesitation he calmly turned to me and says:

“Pollo, daddy. I want to eat pollo.”

My son doesn’t want pizza, he doesn’t want a hamburger or ice cream. He wants pollo, a signature Uyghur dish here in Xinjiang.

There are no “expat enclaves” here in Xinjiang and although that’s part of what I love about living here, it does make getting away from local cuisine difficult. I want my son to at least appreciate Tex-Mex food, even if he doesn’t love it as much as I do.

So why, when there are all these excellent Uyghur, Hui, Kazakh and Chinese dishes available, would I write about foreign dining options here in Xinjiang? Three reasons:

  1. I’ve met too many foreigners traveling through Xinjiang whose digestive systems just need a break from the local cuisine. Trust me, it could happen to you too!
  2. For the sake of people like me who live here – to let you know what’s available.
  3. To support the foreign business owners here.

Sure, you can stop by KFC or the new string of Burger Kings that are opening up here, but trust me when I say that your money will be much better spent at one of these fine establishments.

Texas Café – Tex-Mex Cuisine

An outside view of the Texas Cafe in Urumqi, Xinjiang 德克萨斯西餐厅

Name: Texas Cafe 得克萨斯西餐厅 (Dékèsàsī xī cāntīng)
Address: 马市巷葡萄长廊 (Mǎshìxiàng pútáo chángláng)
Average Prices: Meal – 50RMB; Coffee – 30RMB
Phone: 281-0025

An inside view of the Texas Cafe in Urumqi, Xinjiang 德克萨斯西餐厅

The Texas Cafe has been around since 2006 and continues to provide the only Tex-Mex cuisine available in all of Xinjiang. I’ve always loved the atmosphere of the Texas Cafe, perhaps because it reminds me of my home in Texas, but also because it’s just very inviting.

Aside from traditional Tex-Mex dishes (burritos, fajitas, tacos), you can also get steaks, burgers and pasta – the regular foreign fare (all halal). Their coffee selection is good and I’m also a big fan of their ice cream. Some of the best in the city, in my opinion.

Finally, the Texas Cafe offers free Wi-fi and a library of books to rent or buy. Because of it’s central location near NanMen, this is one of the first places I suggest when somebody wants to meet for coffee.

Il Pijazza – Mediterranean Cuisine

Il Pjazaa 皮亚萨 a foreign restaurant in Urumqi, Xinjiang

Name: Il-Pjazza (Pí yà sà)
Address: 南湖东路346号无界悠活广场 (Nánhú dōng lù 346 hào wújiè yōu huó guǎngchǎng)
Average Prices: Lunch – 50RMB; Dinner – 80-100 RMB; Coffee – 30RMB
Phone: 418-1751 (Restaurant); 418-1753 (Bar)

An inside view of Il Pjazaa 皮亚萨 a foreign restaurant in Urumqi, Xinjiang

Opened by the same gentlemen who first opened the Aroma (detailed below), the Il-Pjazza is by far the nicest foreign establishment in town. The food is excellent (Maltese, Italian and the traditional foreign fare) and they have an amazing wine cellar if that’s your thing, but what blows me away is how beautiful the place is. There’s outdoor seating, indoor seating, private rooms and even a separate bar off to the side.

This has been a great date night getaway. It’s not the place to bring your computer and get work done, but if you want to bring a good book and sip on a glass of wine during sunset, it’s a perfect option.

Because the Il-Pjazza is so new, most taxi drivers won’t know where it is and map applications don’t yet have the area developed. It’s open, though, and if you just look for a big “YoHo Square” sign you’ll find it tucked away, a bit difficult to see from the street.

The Vine – Caribbean Cuisine

The Vine foreign restaurant in Urumqi, Xinjiang 德曼咖啡

Name: The Vine 德蔓咖啡 (Dé màn kāfēi)
Address: 乌鲁木齐市骑马山路8号 (Wūlǔmùqíshì qímǎ shānlù 8 hào)
Average Prices: Meal – 40-60 RMB; Coffee – 30RMB
Phone: 230-4831

While the Vine currently feels like it’s located in the middle of nowhere, believe it or not this is where Urumqi is growing. Eventually when the new Xinjiang high speed train station opens up, this will be a great place nearby to stop for dinner prior to your journey.

Although The Vine is new at it’s current location, it’s actually been running in Urumqi for quite some time. The sweet lady who runs it has been forced to moved multiple times but has consistently kept it in business longer than most any other foreign restaurant in Urumqi.

Despite this history I didn’t have high hopes when I visited this joint. I was blown away, however, by the unique offerings on the menu. I had chicken in a special peanut sauce and it was awesome. You won’t find this cuisine anywhere else in Xinjiang and that’s what will keep me coming back, even if it is a good distance away.

Considering that the coffee is good, they offer free wi-fi and there’s outdoor seating, this is one of those places to sit down and get caught up on emails or social media while traveling.

Rendevouz - Western Bistro

The Rendezvous 瑞都西餐厅, a foreign-owned cafe in Urumqi, Xinjiang

Name: The Rendezvous 瑞都西餐厅 (Ruì dōu xī cāntīng)
Address: 延安路960号 (960 YanAn Road)
Average Prices: Meal – 40-60 RMB; Coffee – 10-25RMB
Phone: 255-5003

An inside view of The Rendezvous 瑞都西餐厅 in Urumqi, Xinjiang

The Rendezvous is the longest-running foreign establishments in the city another restaurant opened here in 2006 (see comments below), but you’d never know it from walking by. As you can see in the photo above, it’s quite inconspicuous from the outside and easy to miss unless you know what you’re looking for. The words “Rendezvous Cafe” are so small on the sign to almost be unreadable.

The food here is great,however, and the shakes are a kid-favorite around here. The location isn’t ideal but there are plenty of buses that pass by.

My only complaint with the Rendezvous is that they don’t offer Wi-fi. Maybe it’s just me, but when I’m traveling around I like to have access to free Wi-fi and for some reason they have decided not offer it. Other than this, though, you will find their sandwiches, burgers, pizza and a variety of other foods a welcome reminder of home.

George & Dragon – Italian Cuisine

George and Dragon English Restaurant in Urumqi, Xinjiang

Name: George and Dragon 乔治龙腾 (Qiáozhì lóngténg)
Address: 师大西路179号 (960 ShiDaXi Road)
Average Prices: Meal – 30-60 RMB; Coffee – 20-30 RMB
Phone: 483-6180

An inside view of George and Dragon English Restaurant in Urumqi, Xinjiang

Opened in 2013, George and Dragon bills itself as an English-themed Italian restaurant. They serve good pastas, pizzas, and burgers for reasonable prices (at least by foreign restaurant standards). I was disappointed to find they don’t serve fish and chips.

There’s free Wi-fi (in fact, I’m writing this article from their dining area right now) and there’s always a TV on playing Coldplay or some other English-based band.

If you’re going to be further north close to YouHao or visiting the Xinjiang Normal University, this restaurant is a nice little getaway.

Aegean Sea – Greek Cuisine

Greek restaurant in Urumqi, Xinjiang

Name: Aegean Sea
Address: 酒花大厦 (behind JiuHua DaXia)
Average Prices: Meal – 30 RMB
Phone: 181-3960-2402

Although this is quite a small restaurant when compared to the others on this list, the Greek restaurant run by Yannis (pictured above) and his sister Sofia has earned a good reputation among the foreigners here for it’s good food and cheap prices.

The only problem is that it can be quite difficult to find. Refer to the map I link to above, but you’re basically looking for a small place behind the tall building directly north of NanMen.

Once inside you can order a gyro (homemade pita), Greek fish (imported and excellent), Greek pasta, Greek pizza and so much more. Seating is limited and they obviously didn’t have a big budget for decorating, but if all you care about is some good Greek food, this is the only place in town.

Aroma – Malta Mediterranean Cuisine

An outside view of Aroma (啊诺玛西餐厅), a foreign restaurant in Urumqi, Xinjiang

Name: Aroma 啊诺玛 (Anuòmǎ)
Address: 建设路196号2楼 (196 JianShe Road, 2nd floor)
Average Prices: Meal – 50-150 RMB; Coffee – 20-30 RMB
Phone: 283-5881

An inside view of Aroma (啊诺玛西餐厅), a foreign restaurant in Urumqi, Xinjiang

Originally opened by the team that is now running the aforementioned Il-Pjazza, Aroma has always been one of the nicer foreign options in Urumqi.

The central location and pleasant atmosphere inside has been one of the keys to its success.

Currently under new management, the Aroma has maintained its menu of Mediterranean fare which, although expensive, is absolutely delicious. The bar is stocked and the coffee is comforting.

I love the quiet, intimate environment the Aroma offers. It reminds me of similarly-priced restaurants in the West and isn’t something you find often here in Urumqi.


Final Thoughts

So there you go! There are a number of other foreign-owned coffee shops, bars and even a chocolatier here in Urumqi, but this list is just focused on those places where you can eat an entire meal.

It’s also worth noting that I am not diving into places where you can get a burger in Kashgar, Turpan or other places throughout the region. Most of those places are locally owned and operated and although they aren’t bad, I’ve never been terribly impressed.

About Josh Summers

Josh is the author of Xinjiang | A Traveler's Guide to Far West China, the most highly-reviewed and comprehensive travel guide on China's western region of Xinjiang. He lived, studied and run a business in Xinjiang, China for more than 10 years, earning recognition for his work from CCTV, BBC, Lonely Planet and many others.

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  1. Fact Checking: The Rendezvous is NOT the longest-running foreign restaurant. It also opened in 2006 right around the same time as the Texas (maybe even a couple of months later). The Vine on the other hand, was for the longest time, the only Western option in town. I know it had already been open for at least 5 years (maybe more) before I moved to town. It was forced to change location twice in the last few years, and I have yet to visit the one pictured above. Just thought the hard working women at the Vine should get the recognition they deserve, both for longevity and perseverance. Thanks for the post, I didn’t know about half of those places and will have to check them out as I am passing through.

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    Josh Summers on June 21st, 2014 at 5:07 am

    Ha! Thanks so much for the fact check :) I’ll edit the article to reflect what you’ve shared.

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  2. Thanks for the info. I will be moving to urumqi mid aug. Was hoping to see more blogs but couldnt find any updated one.

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    Josh Summers on June 21st, 2014 at 5:12 am

    Yea, not too many Xinjiang-based blogs on the internet ;) Glad you were able to find this one, though and I hope to see you around here when you move in August!

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  3. In Fremont, CA, one big thing is Indian-fused pizza. My favorite is Tandoori Chicken pizza. And instead of a shaker of red peppers, you get a shaker with curry powder to put over it. I think you should slowly introduce your son to pizza through “Uyghur-fused pizza”, and slowly wean him off. If anything, I think this is a good business idea if you ever move away from XinJiang.

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  4. Hi – this is not a foreign restaurant by any stretch, but I once went to a very amusing Hunanese restaurant which had loadsa Mao memorabilia in it in Urumqi (including staff in costumes) – but cannot find it again. Do you know where it is? Do you know which I am talking about?

    [Reply]

    Josh Summers on June 21st, 2014 at 5:13 am

    Hmm…no, I don’t recall any such restaurant that I’ve seen, but if I see it I’ll let you know!

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  5. Oh man, I have fond memories of Texas Cafe! My friend and I had eaten only local cuisine for our week and after a nasty case of food poisoning on the Karakorum Highway, this place was *heaven*.

    Glad to see it’s still doing business. It’d be a huge hit here in Nanjing.

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    Josh Summers on June 21st, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    As you can imagine, it’s hard to keep a restaurant business running here in Xinjiang – especially after any major terrorist incident. Thankfully the Texas has managed to keep it’s doors open and I hope for everybody’s sake they continue to do so!

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    Chris on November 3rd, 2014 at 12:30 am

    It’s those kind of establishments that really help to define an expat’s time in a new place. They were so welcoming when we dropped in, and I dug that they also sold foreigner ‘essentials’ for those who were homesick. Reminded me of my favourite restaurant in Gwangju, South Korea.

  6. I didn’t see any of these places when I was there in 2004. Could be b/c I wasn’t looking, but I feel like Urumqi has grown a lot since then. I’d LOVE to go back!!!

    I could eat laghman every day :) I haven’t been able to find it/make it since leaving that summer. Ugh!

    [Reply]

    Josh Summers on June 21st, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    Yea, most of them aside from a different location of the Vine were not yet open in 2004. Come on back and check the city out now, Jason!

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  7. Dear Josh,

    I think you got them all, except maybe the western food outlets in the hotels (the only one note worthy may be the Hua Ling Thai Restaurant). One new addition 70km outside Urumqi is the 1308 Drei Kronen Brauhaus in the Hutubi Cattle breeding Farm compound. German brewmaster Oliver Ellrott (13579622026) is on site, could send you a few pictures, and makes the beers himself. The 300sqm Bavarian beer hall is ready, full kitchen to be added in 2015, but local kebabs match well.

    [Reply]

    Josh Summers on June 23rd, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Very interesting, Andre. Thanks for sharing! I’d heard something about the brewery, I believe on Linkedin, but I’ve never talked with anybody who’s been there. Please do send some pictures and I’ll try to find a way to check it out myself.

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    Andre on June 30th, 2014 at 6:50 am

    Dear Josh, could you send your e-mail to Oliver under above number by sms, then he can forward some pics and travel info to the brewery. Thanks, André

  8. Looking back at this post, because we are wanting to hold a baby food taste test some where in Urumqi… do you have any information about the Agapa coffee house I hear it is somewhere near Parksons at the hong shan bus stop

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    Josh Summers on October 17th, 2014 at 2:22 am

    As a matter of fact I do! :) I didn’t include them on this list because 1) they aren’t foreign owned and 2) they’re not really a restaurant.

    But anyhoo, here’s their info: They’re located in the old Hong Shan park just nearby Parksons. They’re actually inside the park in a standalone building and they serve good coffee and ice cream. You can get a hold of them at this number: 136-9937-0780

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  9. Hi Josh, just wanted to thank you for this list which helped a lot while staying in Urumqi. We sadly found out that the Texas has been closed. Luckily, the Rendezvous is still running and now offers free wifi! :)

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  10. Great reading. The Texas Cafe has closed. I am looking for other western food restaurants in Urumqi. Thanks for your blog!
    Stephen
    21 August 2018

    [Reply]

    Josh Summers on August 21st, 2018 at 8:40 am

    Hi Stephen, you’re correct – the Texas Cafe closed a couple years ago. I need to update this post. The truth is there aren’t any good western food restaurants in Urumqi unless you consider Burger King an option :(

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