RESTAURANTS AND BARS
Local food, of course, is relatively cheap and varied, although you'd be forgiven for thinking that people in Lanzhou only ever eat beef noodles. Try these other noodles: huìmiàn (烩面), which are soupy, with lots of vegetables; zájiàngmiàn (杂将面), which uses a soya bean beef mince sauce; yángròu miànpiàn (羊肉面片), which is 'square noodles' with a lamb and vegetable soup. In the summer, most restaurants also serve cold liángmiàn (凉面) noodles (tofu and vegetables, no meat).
When eating out at night markets (or, indeed a high-end restaurant in Lanzhou) look out for liángpí (凉皮) - also known as niàngpí (酿皮) - a kind of rice or wheat 'dough', which has been steamed and cut into strips, served with sesame, chilli, and vinegary sauces.
There are a few Uighur restaurants in the city, serving cuisine from Xinjiang Province. (I know of three, but there may be more?). Uighur restaurants can be identified by the huge woks of shǒuzhuāfàn (手抓饭) outside.
Look out for other Asian restaurants, including Korean (where you can grill your food at your table), Japanese and Thai.
You can find numerous bars and restaurants along certain stretches of Xizhan (西站), Gannan Lu (甘南路) and Maijishan Lu (麦积山路). The Kui Livehouse bar seems to be the place where touring Chinese independent bands play.
There are no Starbucks or Macdonald's, but there are other western fast-food options (a number of KFCs, China's 500th Pizza Hut, and some bakeries) and several supermarkets where you can buy imported food and drinks.
If you visit the 'square noodles' restaurant mentioned above, look out for the fish-shaped sign for the Zhèngníng Lù Xiǎochī Yèshì (正宁路小吃夜市) Night Market (map) across the street. This is one of the better night markets in the city, as recommended on the Isidor's Fugue blog (17 June 2012) and on the 天外飞熊 blog.
For something a bit more upmarket for a group meal out, Lanzhou's specialities are shǒuzhuā yángròu (手抓羊肉), which is steamed or boiled lamb; and huángmèn yángròu (黄焖羊肉), which is a braised lamb stew. Both are served in traditional Hui Muslim restaurants. The Mǎ Dà Húzi (马大胡子) restaurant is well-known, but a bit far from the city centre. The name means 'Long-bearded Ma', Mǎ 马 being a common Hui Muslim family name. More convenient would be Huánghé Lóu (黄河楼), which is on the north bank of the river, a few minutes walk to the east of the White Pagoda Hill Park entrance.