Let’s face it. No matter how long we’ve been in Taiwan and come to love its amazing culinary variety – from our favorite hole in the wall restaurants and night market stalls all the way to Michelin-starred Restaurants serving the highest quality dishes from every corner of the Middle Kingdom – every now and again we long-time expatriates find ourselves pining for the comfort food of youth.
Not surprisingly, this culinary homesickness often strikes hardest around the holiday season, a time of year in which fond memories of home (chestnuts roasting on an open fire) tend to be exaggerated, while less prosaic memories (Uncle Elmer shotgunning eight cups of eggnog and going on a right-wing rant) are forgotten.
In order to help alleviate this homesickness, Taiwan Scene has prepared a list of restaurants around Taipei that are favorites of long-time western expats aching for comfort food.
Since new places are popping up all the time (and we’ve already got plenty of great Taiwanese restaurants on our editorial plate), we’ve gone ahead and reached out to folks over social media for their own suggestions:
We’ll intersperse the crowd-sourced tips with our own seven favorite homesickness-alleviating Western restaurants in Taipei!
Da’An District, No. 5, Lane 114, Shida Road (Nearest MRT: Taipower Building)
A long-standing favorite among locals and Taipei’s expat community alike, KGB offers a good variety of burgers using top quality beef, chicken and lamb, as well as a reasonable number of vegetarian options. Their salads are some of the best you can find in Taipei, and their milkshakes bring all the boys (and girls) to the yard. As far as ambiance goes, comfortable seating, cool music and an ample variety of imported beer and cider make this a great place to while away an afternoon.
A well-received suggestion from Leslie Nguyen-Okwu about pizza, brownies and chocolate chip cookies:
Xinyi District. 100 An Ho Road Section 2. (Nearest MRT: Xinyi Anhe or Liuchangli)
Since opening up in 2001, Carnegie’s Taipei has become the to-go spot to eat, drink and be merry (or eat and drink away the homesickness) in the upscale Xinyi district. The restaurant offers an excellent variety of western food, regular barbeques on their wooden terrace, strong drinks and party atmosphere that’s legendary among Taiwan’s expat scene. Carnigie’s is definitely the place to go over the holidays, as they offer traditional holiday meals over not just Christmas and Thanksgiving, but St. Patrick’s Day as well. (Corned beef and cabbage, anyone?)
Robert Dawson offered a couple of tips for finding western food in Tainan:
Da’An Branch: No.200, Sec.2, XinYi Road (Nearest MRT: Dongmen)
Xinyi Branch: No. 3, Lane 169, Section 1, Dunhua South Road (Nearest MRT: Zhongxiao Dunhua)
When it first opened in 2008, Toastaria was among the Shida district’s hippest spot to get sandwiches, fries, shakes and western food in a friendly atmosphere. Though the original shop is long gone, management has since expanded to two locations and expanded their offering well beyond their toasty origins to include a full Mediterranean-style kitchen offering flavors from Morocco to Israel, Greece to France. They also serve excellent drinks, and of course, some of the best sandwiches in Taipei.
Leewi Lin had suggestions for Chicago Pizza and Colorado Chili in Kaohsiung:
Shilin / Tianmu District, No. 5, Dexing West Rd (Nearest MRT: Zhishan)
Expats in the know have been heading to Wendel’s German Bistro in Tianmu for decades. The restaurant serves German standards liked pork knuckles, sausage and sauerkraut (and other Germanic dishes worthy of any self-respecting Kaiser), as well as less-specifically Teutonic fare like great salads, full-skillet breakfasts, home-made soups and more. Wendel’s also boasts one of the best bakeries in Taipei, so even if you’re only in the market for fresh bread it’s worth stopping by. Wendel’s has a lovely outdoor dining area as well.
Richard had a very specific recommendation for getting apple pie in Taipei:
Locations around Taiwan. Click above for website.
The fact that Alleycat’s has gone from “beloved westerner hangout” to “respected Taiwanese chain” speaks volumes, and while you may not run into other westerners at any one of their dozen branches around Taipei (now extending into other Taiwanese cities), you will get a pretty decent Italian-style thin crust pizza. Having branched out physically, Alleycat’s has also extended its menu to include pastas, deserts, soups, wine and more, making it a good place to go to satisfy your hankering for Western food.
Marcus and Erik chimed in on fellowship, cheer, and pizza in Taipei:
6. Macho Tacos
Da’An District, No. 15, Pucheng Street (Nearest MRT: Taipower Building)
A relative newcomer (at least compared with most of the spots on this list), Macho Tacos is an increasingly popular hangout for students (domestic and imported) looking to satisfy an itch for that most American of cuisines, Mexican food. Macho Tacos serves the usual array of Mexican fare including burritos, nachos, rice and beans, and of course, tacos (hard and soft). It’s also the go-to spot in Taipei for Mexican beer and Margaritas. And it may well be the only spot in Taiwan (at least that we’ve found) to get Horchata, a delicious sweet beverage made from rice milk, cinnamon, and other tasty spices.
Some suggestions for Western food in Taipei from blogger Hungry Girl in Taipei:
7. Maji Square
Zhonghan District No.1, Yumen Street (Nearest MRT: Yuanshan)
Not a single restaurant but a multi-use public space and food court, Maji Square has become one of the hippest spots to hang out in Taipei for pretty much anyone. Located on the northern end of the square is an outdoor performance spot (which doubles as a farmer’s market on the weekends) with a few restaurants, while on the southern end are several good restaurants surrounding a more-or-less communal outdoor dining area. Especially popular is the British pub serving pub standards like fish and chips, bangers and mash, and of course a very nice selection of spirits and libations. Next door is an Argentinian BBQ, and next to that a seafood joint. Connecting the two ends is a long food court with stalls serving everything from Vietnamese to Indian to bubble tea. Maja Square is especially popular with families, as there’s plenty for kids to do while mom and dad relax and catch up with friends over a pint.
And finally, there’s this spot, recommended by your humble narrator. Not exactly a popular hangout for Westerners, being in far-flung Muzha, but they make a good western-style breakfast and serve a bottomless cup of coffee. Plus, they’re right around the corner from my apartment, making it my go-to spot to work when my Internet goes out! The place is called Hunger, it’s in the Muzha District, 51 Zhongshun Street Section Two, and the nearest MRT is Wanfang Hospital (but it’s a long walk from there).
Got your own ideas on where to go to get good Western grub in Taipei? Leave your comment below!