Chinatown, NYC neighborhood guide

Chinatown, NYC is not only a major foodie destination but also a cool place to shop and discover hidden speakeasies

Chinatown, NYC
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Jorge Quinteros

What’s the deal with Chinatown?

Walk through the area south of Broome and east of Lafayette Streets—that’s Chinatown, NYC—and it might feel like you’ve transported to another continent. Mott and Grand Street are chock-full of stands selling exoitc foods such as live eels, square watermelons and hairy rambutans while Canal Street draws you in with some of the best shops for jewelry and gifts. As a major party of NYC’s food culture, you’ll find excellent restaurants in Chinatown representing the cuisine of virtually every province of mainland China and Hong Kong, plus Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai and Vietnamese eateries. As Chinatown—also notable as NYC's largest Asian community—continues to grow, it merges with neighboring Little Italy and the Lower East Side.

If you only do one thing

Explore Doyers Street, an alley-like street with old tenement houses, mom-and-pop businesses and a long and quite frankly bloody history. The 200-yard stretch that bends in a 90-degree angle, was the site of a lot of gang violence in the 19th and 20th centuries, so much so that it was nicknamed "The Bloody Angle." While you're there grab some dim sum from Nom Wah Tea Parlor, which has been in business since the 1920s.

Go off the beaten track

Stop by Magic Jewelry (238 Canal St.), a Chinatown occult shop, to get your aura photographed, and then head to Mmuseumm (4 Cortlandt Alley), a hidden museum that displays seemingly ordinary as extraordinary in a tiny abandoned elevator shaft. It's currently closed but it has a viewing window that is open 24/7. Also check out the Museum at Eldridge Street, the first grand synagogue on the Lower East Side that now does tours.

On a sunny day

Grab a treat from the Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory and take it to Columbus Park.

On a rainy day

Shop at the century-old Wing on Wo & Co. for vibrant pottery and tchotchkes and grab drinks to go at Apothéke, a hidden bar with a chemistry bent.

Get cultured

Stop into the Museum of Chinese in America (215 Centre St.), which traces the development of Chinese communities on these shores from the 17th century to the present through cool objects, images and mixed-media displays. It also has a gallery devoted to temporary art exhibitions.

Chill out

Sit in for a Dharma service or meditation session at Mahayana Temple Buddhist Association (133 Canal St.), which has a 16-foot statue of Buddha—the tallest one in NYC.

Nearest subway stations

Canal Street (4, 6 and the NQRW trains) and East Broadway (F train).

What else is nearby? 

The Lower East Side, The Bowery and Little Italy.


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Things to do in Chinatown, NYC

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New York’s best Chinatown restaurants are more than dim sum and Peking duck—although, the downtown neighborhood is rife with fantastic options for both. No, the food possibilities expand well beyond some of the city’s best Chinese restaurants to include creative Mexican restaurants, ramen dens and Cali-coolcafes. Whether you’re looking for traditional soup dumplings or French-Malaysian fare, these Chinatown restaurants have something for you. RECOMMENDED: Full neighborhood guide to Chinatown NYC

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Restaurants in Chinatown, NYC

Nom Wah Tea Parlor
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Nom Wah Tea Parlor

One of New York's first dim sum houses. 

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Lalito
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Lalito

“Avocado-free zone.” 

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
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Chinese Tuxedo
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Chinese Tuxedo

It's housed inside an old two-story opera house.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Dimes
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Dimes

At this SoCal-inspired café, the lineup can change weekly. 

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Apothéke

This unmarked boîte is the sort of contrived hideout.

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Genuine Liquorette

The bar offers two DIY drinking options.

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