Inside the Barbecue City That Is China’s Hottest Tourist Destination

For many visitors, the crazy crowds are the point, after China’s prolonged Covid lockdowns. At one of the most popular barbecue restaurants, where hundreds of diners perched on tiny folding stools around outdoor grills, officials had designated an elevated viewing platform just for tourists to watch the people below eat, through a cloud of cumin-scented smoke.

Li Yang, a local, snagged a table around 6 p.m., after having lined up at 3 a.m. His commute to his job at a steel company was now clogged with traffic. But he didn’t mind.

“To see all this liveliness, after three years of the pandemic, my heart feels pretty warm,” he shouted, over the sounds of maracas shaken by four men, seemingly unaffiliated with the restaurant, who were gallivanting between tables serenading diners.

Several tables away, Bai Lingbin, 25, was already digging in, having waited since midnight. His grill, shared with four other men, was piled with toothpick-thin skewers laced with crispy pork skin, sweet potatoes and wraps.

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