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Yank Sing
Photograph: Courtesy Yank Sing

The 16 best Chinese restaurants in America

From Michelin-starred spots to mom-and-pop favorites, dig into authentic dishes at the best Chinese restaurants in America

Clara Hogan
Written by
Clara Hogan
Written by
Ruth Tobias

Chinese cuisine is integral to American culinary history and culture, making its flavorful entrance in the mid-19th century during the California Gold Rush when the first wave of Chinese immigrants set foot on American soil. Over the years, Chinese entrepreneurs adapted their traditional dishes to suit the American palate, giving rise to staple dishes in the American repertoire such as General Tso's Chicken or Mongolian Beef—delicious creations that might raise eyebrows in the mainland.

Today, American Chinese food firmly stands as a category of its own. Chefs across the country continue to put their own regional and personal spins on these dishes. At the same time, a new wave of restaurants are introducing more Americans to traditional Chinese food—after all, while Cantonese cooking laid the foundation for American Chinese cuisine, it merely scratches the surface of the rich tapestry of flavors found across various provinces.

Our picks include family-run joints serving mouthwatering noodles, trendy dim sum spots drawing long lines and fine-dining institutions challenging preconceived notions of what American Chinese cuisine can and should be. From an unassuming strip mall in Las Vegas to an elegant former banquet hall in San Francisco to a cozy neighborhood noodle shop in Chicago, we present the 16 best Chinese restaurants in America to visit now. 

Best Chinese food in America

Mister Jiu's | San Francisco, CA
Photograph: Courtesy Mister Jiu's

1. Mister Jiu's | San Francisco, CA

As the only Michelin-starred restaurant in America categorized as Chinese, the impact Mister Jiu's has had on the country's fine dining scene since it opened in 2016 can't be overstated. Chef/owner Brandon Jew opened the groundbreaking restaurant in San Francisco's Chinatown that previously housed a legendary Chinese banquet hall and restaurant, Four Seas, and began pushing the boundaries of Chinese American cuisine. Ever since, the restaurant has received well-earned praise, including receiving one Michelin star. Last year, Jew changed the menu from a la carte item to a set, five-course tasting menu. Diners can also add a banquet-style entree (including his signature Liberty Farms Peking-style roast duck.) If you're looking for a more casual option, head upstairs to Moongate Lounge, a cocktail lounge offering a curated food menu.

Din Tai Fung | Los Angeles, CA
Photograph: Courtesy Jakob N. Layman

2. Din Tai Fung | Los Angeles, CA

There is a go-to restaurant for every kind of Chinese dish in Los Angeles—Beijing’s xiangbing (meat pies), Peking duck, cold noodles—but for xiao long bao (soup dumplings), we go to Din Tai Fung. Now, with locations in L.A., San Diego, the Bay Area, Seattle, Portland, New York, and Vegas, the Taiwanese dumpling house is a favorite among both tourists and locals for slurping down pork dumplings (pork and shrimp is another popular option) for lunch or dinner. While xiao long bao are a must-order item, don't skimp on the many other fan favorites, from wok-fried noodles to wontons to desserts like the Sesame & Mochi xiao long bao. 

Xi’an Famous Foods | New York City, NY
Photograph: Courtesy Annabelle Nyst

3. Xi’an Famous Foods | New York City, NY

Chinese food fanatics have rejoiced in recent years as Xi'an Famous Foods, a Flushing chainlet, rapidly expanded, opening four shops in Manhattan and three in Brooklyn. (Queens is now home to five, and the brand released a much-lauded cookbook in 2020.) On offer here is the cuisine of Xi’an, an ancient city in North Central China that was once a vital part of the Silk Road trade routes. The cumin-spiked "lamb burgers," tangy liang pi cold noodles and warm tofu submerged in crimson chili oil are all must-haves.

Yank Sing | San Francisco, CA
Photograph: Courtesy Jun Seita

4. Yank Sing | San Francisco, CA

The aromas coming from the steamed and fried dumplings at Yank Sing are so tantalizing that you’ll likely gobble them down before finding out what’s in them. Exceptionally fresh and flavorful dim sum keeps this longtime restaurant thriving in an unlikely corner of a massive office complex. Ordering is half the fun at this trolly-service dim sum institution: Just point at what looks good as the waiters roll their carts past your table. Favorites include Shanghai dumplings with pork, scallion, ginger and a shot of hot broth, stuffed crab claws, and goldfish dumplings filled with crunchy shrimp and bamboo shoot tips.

Facing East | Bellevue, WA
Photograph: Courtesy Facing East

5. Facing East | Bellevue, WA

A David to the Goliath of chains like Din Tai Fung and Boiling Point that keep sprouting up around Seattle, Facing East derives its staying power from owner Yu-ling Wong’s deeply personal approach to the food of her homeland, street eats in particular. Noting that, per Taiwan’s complicated political history, its cooks have incorporated "a lot of different cuisines" (Fujian above all, with “a little bit of Japanese influence”), Wong brings her own modern sensibilities to bear on the classics, whether exchanging caul with tofu sheets or using beet juice for coloring. As a result, staple comforts shine lighter and brighter, from the cracklingly crispy Tainan shrimp rolls and soulful pork-belly stew over rice to specials like bamboo shoots with salty egg yolk and garlic or shaved ice with fresh mango in season—not to mention the legendary pork "burger," an overstuffed bao sprinkled with peanuts and herbs.

Chengdu Taste | Los Angeles, CA
Photograph: Courtesy Chengdu Taste

6. Chengdu Taste | Los Angeles, CA

After running a successful restaurant in China and working at the Panda Restaurant Group in Los Angeles, Tony Xu opened Chengdu Taste in 2013. The San Gabriel Valley—and the rest of Los Angeles—quickly took notice, and the lines haven’t let up since. Fiery Szechuan dishes fill tables with intoxicating smells and an overarching red hue that indicates an intimidating spice level. Start slowly, perhaps with cold mung bean noodles slathered in chili paste, then move to more grandiose items: boiled fish in green pepper sauce, stir-fried pig’s intestines, lamb on toothpicks with cumin. A green peppercorn here and there will sometimes numb your mouth, but the flavors at Chengdu Taste are all intense, wonderful, and worth the wait.

Noodlebird | Chicago, IL
Photograph: Courtesy Martha Williams

7. Noodlebird | Chicago, IL

Formerly known as Fat Rice, owners Abraham Conlon and Adrienne Lo (formerly the duo behind Chicago supper club X-Marx) are cooking the food of Macau, a former Portuguese colony along the South China Sea. As such, the menu at Noodlebird is heavy with influences of both Portuguese (bacalhau, salt cod) and Chinese (pot stickers, Szechuan peppercorns), not to mention any other forays toward which Conlon, the chef, is guided. If this convergence sounds like "fusion," what’s remarkable is it certainly doesn’t taste like it: The food—especially the paella-like wonder that is the signature "fat rice" and the comforting crock of tofu, pork belly—is vibrant, personal and natural.

Dim Sum Garden | Philadelphia, PA
Photograph: Courtesy Dim Sum Garden

8. Dim Sum Garden | Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia’s home to a number of superb contenders, but it’s hard to top one with a backstory like this Chinatown magnet has: the owners can trace their ancestry back to one of the chefs who invented the universal objects of foodie worship that are xiao long bao—and they’ve got the recipe to prove it. What’s more, says Sally Da, her mother-partner Shizhou has been cooking "the entire line of Shanghai-style dim sum" for over 30 years. So it’s not just those intricate, elastic little dough pouches, bursting with soup at the touch of a tooth, that earned Dim Sum Garden intense loyalty. It's also dumplings and cakes of all kinds—flat, fat, steamed, fried, savory, sweet—that play substantial roles and myriad variations on the snappy house noodles.

Lao Sze Chuan | Chicago, IL
Photograph: Courtesy Martha Williams

9. Lao Sze Chuan | Chicago, IL

Tony Hu uses plenty of Szechuan pepper, dried chilies, garlic and ginger to create flavors that are incredibly addictive. Our favorites at Lao Sze Chuan are Chengdu dumplings, crispy Chinese eggplant with ground pork, twice-cooked pork, mapo tofu, Szechuan prawns and "chef’s special" dry chili chicken. There are venues throughout the city and suburbs (and with recent interstate expansion to Connecticut, Texas, Maryland, and Ohio)—and trust us, whichever you pick, you won’t be disappointed.

Peking Gourmet Inn | Falls Church, VA
Photograph: Courtesy Peking Gourmet Inn

10. Peking Gourmet Inn | Falls Church, VA

If Peking Gourmet Inn looks like your grandfather’s Chinese restaurant—painted lanterns, red vinyl booths, jacketed waiters and all—that’s because it could have been: after all, it’s been around since the late 1970s, when Deborah Lee and Bobby Tsui’s own Shandong-born grandfather opened it with only eight tables. It's significantly expanded over the decades, but Peking duck remains at the center of it all, ceremoniously dismantled tableside for a feast of dark, rich meat and crackling, glistening golden skin accompanied by unusually delicate pancakes, housemade hoisin sauce, and green onions grown on the family farm—which also supplies the beloved garlic sprouts. Beyond that, look to the lamb dishes and the lightly batter-fried but heavily garlicky jeo-yen shrimp.

Figure Eight | New York, NY
Photograph: Courtesy Figure Eight

11. Figure Eight | New York, NY

The most recently opened newcomer on our list, Figure Eight is noteworthy for its inventiveness and creativity. Owner Emmeline Zhao, who also runs the Silver Apricot restaurant next door, opened the space last year and has infused her Southern upbringing with pan-Chinese cuisine. Expect delightedly refreshing, clever and delicious dishes such as turnip tots (served with with lap cheong mayo and shrimp ketchup) and hot fried sake (paired with chili crisp, pickles, buttermilk ranch dressing and sesame biscuits). Whatever you do, don't skip the impressive (and well-priced) seafood tower with lobster, crab, jumbo shrimp and much more ($49 per person.) 

Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Café | Boston, MA
Photograph: Courtesy Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe

12. Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Café | Boston, MA

Gene Wu calls the food of Shaanxi province "very simple, not fancy at all. It’s all based on freshness." Of course, nothing requires consummate skill and an unwavering work ethic quite like simple dishes dependent on fresh ingredients. And Wu’s actions speak louder than his words as he shuttles between the pair of modest shops he, his wife, and his cousin run in Boston’s Downtown Crossing and the northern suburbs to make the buns for textbook, sloppy joe-like rou jia mo; the dough for the wide, springy, clingy noodles they’ll pull to order the way the third-generation restaurateur’s family did back home; and, well, not much else. Unlike most of its peers, Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Café serves just a few dishes. Perhaps the best-loved is the noodles with lamb (in soup or not), redolent of garlic, cumin and herbs, but the spicy chilled versions with wheat gluten or tea eggs enjoy near-equal acclaim. (Granted, there will always be a place in our hearts for Cantonese seafood institution Peach Farm, just a few blocks away.)

Cooking Girl | Houston, TX
Photograph: Courtesy Cooking Girl

13. Cooking Girl | Houston, TX

For Houston’s hotheads, spicy Sichuan cuisine all comes down to two restaurants: Mala Sichuan Bistro and this sizzling upstart. Yunan Yang and her sister Lily Luo derive their equally thoughtful and heartfelt brand of cooking from their mother—who "came from a very big family" in Chongqing, where she learned "a lot of secret recipes from the family cook"—as well as from Yang’s own background in cancer research, which reveals itself in her emphasis on wholesome ingredients, from organic meats and veggies to digestive aids like the dried plum powder she sprinkles on fried sweet potatoes and, of course, imported numbing peppercorns. The effects run from pure exhilaration, as with the fried beef cubes and hot-sauce boiled fish brimming with chilies, to soothing relief in the form of meltingly tender, sweet-salty "soft bacon" or scrambled, fried tomatoes and eggs, accompanied by a fresh green-bean smoothie.

Gu’s Dumplings | Atlanta, GA
Photograph: Courtesy Gu's Dumplings/Yvonne Gu Khan

14. Gu’s Dumplings | Atlanta, GA

Yiquan Gu has always kept his eye on the prize. Whether wordlessly washing dishes for six months to convince a master chef in his native Chengdu that he was serious about his culinary education or closing his wildly popular namesake bistro in favor of a counter stall in Inman Park’s Krog Street Market, where he could focus on a streamlined repertoire rather than overhead distractions, his dedication to the art of Sichuan cuisine has been singular. And the proof is in the pudding—or rather the pork-stuffed, boiled jewels that give Gu’s Dumplings its name, tossed with tangy sauce from an ancient, secret recipe. It’s also in the mouth-tingling dry-fried eggplant and the savory-sweet, sesame-tinged cold noodles. Heck, it’s even in the po’ boy he makes with the chicken nuggets he stir-fries with broccoli and cilantro just for kicks. And what's risk without reward? Years after closing the initial bistro, Yiquan Gu's daughter and son-in-law opened Gu's Kitchen in 2019 just a short hop from the original spot. 

Sichuanese Cuisine Restaurant | Seattle, WA
Photograph: Courtesy Sichuanese Cuisine Restaurant

15. Sichuanese Cuisine Restaurant | Seattle, WA

Launched in Seattle as a pioneering mom-and-pop hot-pot hut over 20 years ago, Sichuanese Cuisine now includes two locations managed by Hsiao Sung Kao and Yuen Ping Cheng’s cadre of relatives. Though they vary slightly, the menus are huge, so it’s up to you to focus on the regional specialties that give Sichuanese Cuisine Restaurant its blunt name: aside from the ma la huo guo, you’re here for water-boiled beef or fish, Chongqing-style chicken, dry-fried string beans and stir-fried pork kidney (or, to use the transliterated name, "fire-exploded kidney flowers"), all of which may leave you a bit beaten and bruised—but blissfully so.

16. Big Dan Shanxi Taste | Las Vegas, NV

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You’ll have to venture off the Strip to find Big Dan Shanxi Taste, tucked inside a supermarket in the city's Southwest corner. But the trek is well worth it for Xi’an-style foods, from cumin-scented beef to a Chinese pork hamburger to lamb haggis soup. The family-run operation includes husband-and-wife duo Peter Xing, who oversees the kitchen, and Hongrui Chen; before moving to Vegas, the couple lived in Xi’an with their children. Recently, the family was honored with a surprise nod from the James Beard Foundation.

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