interior at Izakaya restaurant in Hualien City

The Best Places To Eat And Drink in Hualien City

Hualien City, Taiwan’s eastern gem, is not only a great place to visit for nature lovers, but also for foodies.

It’s the gateway to the popular Taroko Gorge, however it’s also home to some very good restaurants and it has a thriving cafe scene. So where should you eat and drink in Hualien City?

After trying lots of delicacies this city located between mountain and sea has to offer, I can guide you through where to eat and drink in this underrated Taiwanese city.

girl eating in Izakaya in Hualien City
老時光燒肉酒肴: one of the best restaurants in Hualien City

Key takeaways

  • Hualien City’s culinary scene is diverse, offering everything from traditional Chinese and Aboriginal cuisine to international dishes.
  • For a genuine Japanese dining experience, Zhu Chuan Ri Shi Izakaya Restaurant is highly recommended.
  • 不老時光燒肉酒肴 provides an authentic Japanese Izakaya atmosphere with high-quality food and drinks at reasonable prices.
  • Boutique Coffee invites customers into a historical ambience with globally sourced antiques and unique coffee.
  • Dongdamen Night Market presents an alternative night market experience with local street food and live music.

Best restaurants in Hualien

Here you’ll find some of the best restaurants to try in Hualien City:

Zhu Chuan Ri Shi Izakaya Restaurant 竹汌日式居酒屋

Dive into authentic Japanese cuisine at Zhu Chuan Ri Shi Izakaya Restaurant, a gem located on Jieyue Street in Hualien City.

You don’t have to visit this restaurant because of its fancy decor, however you should visit because of its sushi.

The sushi is very affordable and delicious at the same time. Especially the grilled salmon nigiri and the prawn sushi are very tasty. 

guy standing in front of Japanese restaurant
interior with posters at Japanese restaurant
Inside Zhu Chuan Ri Shi Izakaya Restaurant

鬼斧燒烤屋

Another beautiful Izakaya restaurant with a good atmosphere is 鬼斧燒烤屋. They serve sushi, Japanese chicken and lots of more delicious food. 

Make sure to book your table ahead of time to avoid disappointment; it’s a popular spot that fills up quickly.

interior at Izakaya restaurant in Hualien City
sushi roll with prawn inside
sushi at Izakaya
Some of the food at 鬼斧燒烤屋

老時光燒肉酒肴

Definitely one of the best restaurants here is 老時光燒肉酒肴. Located on Min Guo Road, this gem offers authentic Japanese Izakaya style dining with top-notch service to match.

guy outside restaurant in Hualien City
wall filled with photos at izakaya restaurant

My partner got 4 cushions to sit more comfortably and when my chopstick accidentally fell, I got new ones straight away without asking.

The food is high-quality and the drinks are nice as well. If you want to sit on a chair at a table instead of on the ground, then make sure to have a reservation.

If you don’t have a reservation, make sure to get there on time, around 17:00 o clock when it opens. What’s even better about this Japanese restaurant is that the food is really affordable!

If you can only visit one restaurant during your time in Hualien, then make it this one. This is without a doubt one of the best places to eat and drink in Hualien City. It’s one of my personal favorites due to its affordability, good atmosphere and great service.

lychee drink with cherry inside
white bowl filled with soup
bowl with cucumber and meat at Izakaya restaurant
Some of our food at 老時光燒肉酒肴

More restaurants worth exploring

  • Salt Lick: Visit Salt Lick to taste their signature slow-cooked pulled pork, a dish that bursts with smoky flavours and tenderness.
  • Three Koalas: For salads that combine fresh, seasonal ingredients in creative ways, head over to Three Koalas. Their plates are both healthy and delicious.
  • Island Life Taiwan: Experience the rich and hearty taste of gumbo at Island Life Taiwan, where spices and textures come together in a Louisiana-inspired feast.
  • Lao Pai: Don’t miss out on a slice of authentic Chicago deep-dish pizza at Lao Pai, where the generous fillings and perfect crust will transport you straight to the Windy City.
  • Dos Tacos: Dos Tacos serves up Mexican cuisine with an innovative touch. Enjoy their tacos paired with zesty salsas and cold beverages.
  • Mumin Homemade: Mumin Homemade is your go-to place for comfort food made with love. Their home-cooked meals radiate warmth.

The best cafes in Hualien

Hualien is home to many amazing cafes, so you can’t really go wrong here. However, these cafes are definitely worth visiting when in the city:

Boutique Coffee

If you can only visit one cafe in Hualien City, then make it this one. This place is simply so unique.

It’s like a little museum filled with antiques from all over the world. The proud owner who collected all of these items throughout the years is happy to share her knowledge about the antiques.

boutique coffee from the outside
interior at Boutique Coffee with antiques inside

A record player from 1911 that actually works, a Geisha cup from Japan that is nearly 100 years old, this place is just filled with hidden gems.

It’s one of the most precious and unexpected places in Hualien. For coffee, history or culture lovers, this is a treasure.

They don’t have any (oat) milk here, but they do have lots of different coffee beans. Come and have a cup of coffee in this heaven of history.

record player inside the Boutique Coffee cafe
The antique record player at Boutique Coffee

Take a bread 光復店

If you want your food to look like small pieces of art, then visit this place. It’s a nice looking brunch restaurant that is worth visiting in Hualien City. It’s a bit more expensive, but if you appreciate food art and plants, then this is your place to be.

Green plants in front of door
Inside Take a Bread Cafe: a couch surrounded by plants
colorful food
cinnamon bun with flower inside
Cinnamon bun at Take a Bread

Bars to visit in Hualien

So, now that you know where to eat in Hualien City, where should you drink? There are a couple of great bars to visit in Hualien City. Here are my personal favorite ones:

島東譯電所

One of the best bars to drink in Hualien City is definitely 島東譯電所. Keep in mind that it can get pretty full though, even on weekdays. For tasty cocktails in an intimate vibe, this is your place.

WaSaBeats

WaSaBeats is a classic cocktail bar worth going to if you appreciate a classical charm paired with good cocktails.

WaSaBeats offers a chill vibe that’s perfect for unwinding after exploring the sights of Hualien. Upstairs you’ll find an inviting space where relaxing on comfy seats with a whisky or cocktail in hand becomes the night’s highlight. Even the lighting is perfect.

Upstairs at WaSaBeats: a couch with dimmed light

The prices may be slightly higher than other spots, but they reflect the quality and ambiance that this bar provides. Soft lighting sets the mood as you enjoy a carefully crafted drink, making it clear why this spot stands out amongst Hualien’s bars.

WaSaBeats creates an atmosphere where each visit feels like an exclusive event.

cocktail with dried orange peel
One of the cocktails at WaSaBeats

Should you visit Dongdamen Night Market?

Is Dongdamen Night Market among the best places to eat and drink in Hualien City? Is it really worth visiting?

The answer is: it depends.

people waiting in line for food stall at Dongdamen Night Market
Line at Dongdamen Night Market

Not as good as the buzzing Raohe Night Market in Taipei

Dongdamen Night Market might not pull you in with the same allure as Taipei’s Raohe, with its great amount of stalls.

Here in Hualien, don’t expect to find that iconic range of street food or the vibe that makes Raohe a highlight. Personally, I thought the street food at the night markets in Taipei was a lot tastier.

ice cream stall with guy in front of it
food stall at night market
man holding fried chicken piece with chopsticks
Street food at Dongdamen Night Market

What to expect at this night market

So, what can you really expect at this night market?

You can expect to find lots of food such as corn or stinky tofu, bubble tea, ice cream, some live music and large spaces to sit and eat. You can also expect to find several games to play here.

What’s nice about the night market, is that it’s located near to the sea and that it often has live music performances.

stall at night market with Chinese characters on it
live music performance at night market
Performance at Dongdamen Night Market

Nice to visit when in the area but not a must-visit place

Dongdamen Market is definitely nice to visit when you’re in the area already. You can grab a snack, enjoy some live music, and soak up the local atmosphere close to the serene seafront.

However, if your travels in Taiwan have already included night markets like Taipei’s Raohe or the large Shilin Market, this place might feel less extraordinary.

The charm is subtle here; it won’t overwhelm you but will offer a pleasant experience worth checking out if you’re nearby.

Appreciate Dongdamen for what it is – a space where food, fun, and culture are combined – without expecting it to be the highlight of your trip.

people sitting drinking at night market
man in front of table at night market with Chinese sign above him
people walking at Dongdamen Night Market

In conclusion

Now you know where to eat and drink in Hualien City. Visit some of its authentic Izakaya or learn about antiques at Boutique Coffee. If you’re keen on visiting a night market here, then visit the Dongdamen Night market.

For a classical cocktail bar, head over to WaSaBeats. Make sure to enjoy Hualien’s food and drink scene during your travels, as the great food culture is one of the main reasons to visit the country.

Away with Danae

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