To get you in the mood for the ongoing voting in the 2014 Pizza Cup (The Sweet 16 was announced on Thursday – vote here to send your favorite on to the next round), we've sent our minions out to patrol the streets for pizza. Here's a selection of what they've found:

Ah your student days. A time to look back on with nostalgia and, if you did it right, not a small amount of mortification. Also a time when, free from the shackles of parentally imposed nutritional guidelines, pizzas, burgers and wings become the height of culinary enjoyment. 

The insightful people behind local chain Laker's have clearly realized this, since they have set up shop near several of Beijing's universities, including UIBE, Beijing Foreign Studies University and Communications University. The shops peddle a menu of quick, easy Western food options, along with a range of reasonably priced beers and cocktails, that appeal to local and foreign students alike. Clearly it's a successful formula, because on any given night most of their locations are packed out.

What of the food? Pizzas are the main attraction. These are American-style pies, with relatively thick, doughy crusts. The best seller is the Lakers Special Pizza (RMB 72 for a 12-inch pizza), a hearty combination of beef, bacon, onion, ham, salami, tomato and mozzarella. The ratio of toppings to cheese is quite high, so those that prefer a cheesier pie should be forewarned. That being said, that same ratio makes for a pretty satisfying pizza, which left us full after just a few slices. 

Pizza aside, the menu runs to some interesting pastas, salads and main courses. We enjoyed a grilled chicken salad (RMB 60), which hid tasty niblets of walnut in its leafy depths. Pastas, such as the spicy shrimp spaghetti (RMB 58), are well seasoned, but overall you would be better off sticking to the pizzas.

Also of note, Laker's latest location is in the relatively newly opened Tourist Center at Mutianyu Great Wall. Some may balk at the idea of pizza by the Great Wall, but you have to applaud the ingenuity who hasn't come down from a day on the wall, only to be confronted with a two hour journey back to Beijing and no decent food options in sight? 

Unfortunately, Laker's has already been eliminated from the Pizza Cup, but their restaurants are still open around town serving reliable, homey fare. See their directory listing for all eight locations.

More stories by this author here.

Email: [email protected]
Instagram: @gongbaobeijing
Twitter: @gongbaobeijing
Weibo: @宫保北京

Photos: Robynne Tindall

Visit the original source and full text: the Beijinger Blog