Best restaurants in Los Angeles: Chinatown's best food and bars

Check out the best restaurants and bars in Los Angeles' Chinatown with our guide to the area's newcomers and old-school favorites.

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Snack

Tin Bo Inc.

  • Price band: 1/4

The dusty, sweet smell of arid ginseng surges through your senses the second you enter this huge vault of dried herbs, exotic mushrooms and prized teas—perfect one-stop shopping for the alt-medicine crowd, budding herbalist and Chinese traditionalist. And even if you don't know what to do with that deer antler albumin, fish floss or shark cartilage, you can score family-sized packs of dried goji berries at rock-bottom prices ($4.99), pickled fruits and an extensive collection of whole-leaf tea worthy of its own Dewey decimal system.

  1. 841 N Broadway
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Thong Lo

  • Price band: 1/4

After getting a whiff of one of Chinatown's live fowl markets, you may need to force sweeter sensations into your mind. Adjacent to the restaurant supply megastore, LAX-C, you'll find Thong Lo, where a matronly soul named Mae Ting hand makes Thai coconut custard tarts, taking her time over a circular griddle pocked with rounded curves like a cast-iron moonscape. Inhale deeply as she forges rice flour into the tiny treats known as khanom krok ($3 for a small bag)—rich and ethereal contenders for the best dessert in the 90012.

  1. 1100 N Main St
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Queen's Bakery

  • Price band: 1/4

A long-standing staple holding the best of both worlds, this bakery is a great stop to stock up on almond cookies ($1), shredded pork bread ($1.15) and sweet, steamed Mandarin buns ($1.30). Browse the Western-style pastry display for gussied-up fudge brownies topped with cream and a cherry ($1.50), tiramisu ($2.75) and multi-layered, chocolate Vienna cake ($2.50). To take home, loaves of sliced sandwich bread beckon from the shelves, with interesting incorporations such as red bean paste, taro and coconut raisin ($2.45).

  1. 809 N Broadway
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Ten Ren's Tea Time

  • Price band: 1/4

Jasmine, oolong, green, white and black—the gang's all gathered here in bulk at this bright and modern tea shop. Consider the colossal collection of dried leaves in one of the boba tea blends ($4.50), markedly different than the usual over-sweetened stuff with true herbal flavors, inspired varieties such as passion fruit and red bean and housemade tapioca pearls.

  1. 727 N Hill St
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Late night

Hop Louie

  • Price band: 1/4

Before this institution gets taken over by some clever entrepreneurs with a more clear-cut concept, you should take it over for a night with your whole gang, who will basically have the building to themselves. Sure, the room smells as ancient as the old guy guarding the door and the drink selection leaves as much to be desired as the surly, conspiratorial service, but you’ll be drinking well liquor in an old chop suey joint and taking smoke breaks under the seductive sway of Mei Ling Way's floating lanterns. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better late-night place that really reminds you that you’re still in Chinatown.

  1. 950 Mei Ling Way
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Melody Lounge

  • Price band: 1/4

Sweet relief for thirsty beer geeks is now found in the neighborhood's best (and only) draft craft beer selection. Under new owners, the karaoke is taking a backseat to great brews in a tight room of lacquered walls, glowing lanterns and display tables stuffed with the cans of fallen beer brands. Catch labels such as Chimay, Angel City, Drake's, Hangar 24 and Eagle Rock Brewing on the chalkboard tap list, while a fridge holds bottled brews like Ommegang's Rare Vos Amber, Cismontane's Riesling and Pilsner blend, several Belgian beauties and a swell of super-cool locals. Catch an extended happy hour from 5 to 9pm.

  1. 939 Hill St
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