Salud is an outstanding and representative addition to the global village growing up around foreigner-friendly Nanluoguxiang. Two Frenchmen opened the nightspot in Beijing this March and imbued it with Spanish ambience.
"We lived in Spain for a year and we were looking for the right concept; we wanted to do something different," says co-owner Nicolas Pellissier, whose comrade in arms, Yannick Gauther, already owns a French restaurant in the capital city.
Tapas, house wine and live bands make this place a harmonious hotspot for international music fans and their Chinese counterparts. They pack the place to bob their heads for Wednesday jazz nights and impromptu jam sessions on the weekend.
These musical meetings gather maestros who wield instruments other than the conventional keyboard-guitar-bass-drum kit setup, such as mandolins, oboes, saxophones and air organs. Performers come and go mid-set - further evidence of the level of improvisation at work - but they never miss a beat.
When there's no music, Salud also has a large projection screen for movie showings and major sporting events.
The downstairs is usually crowded, and on weekends the challenge isn't just finding a place to sit; finding standing room is tough enough.
But Salud has an incredible mezzanine, which usually has available seats and always has good views of the action below. From this second story, servers relay drink orders to bartenders who hoist beverages up, saving them from navigating the stairs or crowds. The northernmost section of the mezzanine is private and can only be accessed by crossing a narrow bridge.
A warm color scheme of balmy reds, oranges and yellows complement the house's hot wine, 10 varieties of which are fermented in enormous glass jugs behind the bar and served on the other side for 15 yuan a cup. The place also serves cocktails for 30 yuan and has nine types of beer, including four Belgian varieties, for between 15 and 40 yuan. Drafts come with a free plate of one of 20 varieties of tapas.
Location: 66 Nanluoguxiang, Dongcheng District.