I love Beijing, I love its streets, I love its food, I love its people. Like any major Chinese cities, there are hundreds, probably thousands of cheap, little restaurants around the city that serve the needs of the people living in the neighborhood. In the past I'd come across such a location, a place where "everybody knows your name", where people from the neighborhood come to have a snack or drink when their wife is busy or when they don't feel like cooking. Every now and then a tourist or foreigner will stumble in, but these are somewhat rare (especially the foreigners who may find it to be too small or not exactly what they're used to).
They don't know what they're missing, though. If they only walked in they'd be greeted by really nice staff, a number of really traditional Beijing dishes (things like mao doufu, baodu, and mending roubing) and other "homestyle" dishes at incredibly reasonable prices. The beer is cold (and only RMB4 a bottle), the baijiu is abundant, and a few doors down is one of Beijing's best yangrou chuanr and chicken wing stands (and he'll deliver to the restaurant for you).
It's not far from one of the city's main shopping areas, where tourists are constantly searching for local culture and local food when all along its right under their noses. It's the kind of place where you can walk out totally stuffed and only have spent around RMB50 or just go in for a chuanr or two, a bowl of noodles, and a beer and leave only RMB15 lighter than when you came in.
It's the kind of place men go to discuss manly problems over beer, it's usually open until 2 am, so all but the latest bar crawlers can still be treated to a snack (though the chuanr guy may close up shop a little earlier), and the staff isn't going to bother you or try to hustle you out. The tables are close together, but not too close, so that you have your privacy, but if there's something interesting on tv or if you make a new friend at the table next door, you can enjoy each other's company. Being a small place with a high rent and drawing from their neighborhood, they understand the idea of service (so rare among restaurants here) and take care of their regulars.
I don't get there as often as I once did, but every time I go back I realize how much I love this place and how great it is. It's not unique, there's probably one similar in every neighborhood, but this one was in my neighborhood and I fell in love with it. While the city has a lot of bars that are great, when I really want to sit down, drink, and chat, this is the place I'm coming. Everyone has their own favorite spot in this large city, this is mine...