Freshwater fish including eels and crustaceans are featured prominently in local dishes. Infusions of Longjing tea, ginger and soybean milk are also common. Beggar's chicken, baked in an earthen oven, is a land-based specialty featured on menus across the city. West Lake vinegar fish and fried shrimp are also popular.
The modern commercial district has plenty of national chains and more than a few Western fast-food restaurants. That aside, most tourists focus on the lakeside where there are atmospheric, historic restaurants abound.
As with the rest of Hangzhou's commerce, the best restaurants are perch on the lakefront. Most of these serve local cuisine, but there are a few lakeside restaurants that branch out into mainstream Chinese cooking. Expect prices to be higher but still affordable on this premium real estate.
The streets that branch out from Hangzhou Fish Market light up after hours. It transforms into a lively restaurant district where local eateries serve up the day's fresh catch. Tourists won't find many English-language menus, but this is the sort of place where you're better off pointing at your fish and trusting the chef with the details.
Zhejiang University is west of the lake and operates a commercial district that is independent from the main tourist districts. This is a good place for simple, straightforward Chinese food, but there are also a few finer family establishments near the hotels in this part of town.