The sights and smells of Chinatown can be both intoxicating and overwhelming for the uninitiated. That’s why the following map will help guide diners through the neighborhood by highlighting the top places to satisfy those Chinese food cravings. Whether it’s dim sum, soup dumplings, or fiery Sichuan dishes, there are a variety of different styles and flavors at these 20 spots. New additions to the list include north regional street fare at Xi’an Cuisine, and noodle shops Daguan Noodle and Slurp Slurp Noodles.Read More
Where to Eat and Drink in Chinatown
Discover a trove of Asian delicacies on the South Side
Tucked away in the basement of the Richland Center is a food court lined with various vendors. One of those, Snack Planet, cooks up an eclectic selection of stir-fried and cold dishes that’ll excite adventurous eaters. Spicy rabbit, fried pig kidney, fried intestines, and other offal-y bites are some of the rewards for discovering this hidden gem.
Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings
What started out as a Chinatown food court stall has blossomed into one of Chicago’s best dumpling spots. The specialty here is made-to-order soup dumplings filled with lamb, pork, beef, chicken, seafood, and more. They’re served without broth but each one holds a burst of soup-y goodness inside. Don’t forget to add a few of the well-seasoned barbecue skewers, either.
This second-story restaurant inside Chinatown Square is renowned for dim sum thanks to first-rate versions of chicken feet, siu mai, creamy egg yolk buns, and more. The banquet-sized dining room is decked out with chandeliers and able to accommodate large parties so bring companions in order to sample as many bites as possible. Additionally, there’s also an extensive menu of Cantonese classics, such as braised sea cucumber and abalone.
Crowds form both inside and outside of Joy Yee, where bubble tea is the main attraction. The restaurant serves budget-friendly, sizeable portions of noodles, soups, rice dishes, and more, but Asian beverages are the most popular item. Guests can order their drinks at the walk-up window and customize them with ingredients like lychee, papaya, taro, avocado, and chewy tapioca pearls.
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Hing Kee is not short on options — the expansive menu covers Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese dishes. Skip the spicy tuna rolls and stick with the hand-pulled noodle soups and house-made xiaolongbao, addictive soup dumplings that erupt with flavorful broth. Diners can even watch as they’re being made from the dining room or outside.
BBQ King House
Eaters can feast like a king but dine on a dime at this Asian barbecue spot. The family-style dinners provide ample food, and value to boot. The Peking duck spread, priced at $33.88, serves three to four people and comes with crispy duck baos, duck bone soup, shredded duck, and fried shrimp. Diners who’d rather order a la carte can try favorites like roasted pork and soy sauce chicken.
Chinatown is home to plenty of late-night dining establishments and Chi Cafe is among the busiest. The cheap, all-encompassing menu has everything from congee and noodle soups to beef, pork, chicken, and seafood entrees. On weekends, the restaurant is open almost 24 hours so that General Tso’s chicken and sizzling beef tenderloin will be there to comfort guests no matter how late they stay out.
Few places in town offer the traditional experience found at this Chinatown stalwart. Instead of ordering dim sum off a menu on the weekends, servers push food carts around the dining room for guests to choose items from. It’s a unique way of eating and the continual flow of sweet and savory bites helps ensure that everyone leaves satiated. The restaurant also hosts large parties with family-style feasts that include all the Chinese essentials.
Arguably the most well-known restaurant in Chinatown, MingHin is a consistent and reliable source for dim sum and other well-executed dishes. Start the day off by enjoying shrimp dumplings, spare ribs, barbecue pork buns, and Macau-style crispy pork belly served with a bowl of dipping sugar. Dim sum is available late at night, as well, while the rest of the menu offers delicacies like pan-fried foie gras and braised bird’s nest soup.
Lao Sze Chuan
Spicy food fanatics come to this Sichuan spot to set their taste buds ablaze. Nearly every dish is loaded with chilies and peppercorns, and favorites include mapo tofu and the signature dry chili chicken. For an all-you-can-eat experience, order the fiery hot pot to cook the proteins and veggies tableside.
Dependable home-style cooking is this unassuming restaurant’s forte and the menu yields interesting options that go beyond the norm. French-style steak and jumbo steamed oysters are expected hits, but delve deeper to find beef tongue in XO sauce, jelly fish, and fried pigeon, too. Those in need of late-night sustenance should order the hearty rice casseroles that are packed with chicken, quail, frog, and more.
Diners often find true happiness while scarfing down chow mein and fried rice in the middle of the night. This no-frills spot is open 24/7 and serves an array of Cantonese dishes and dim sum. It’s quick, inexpensive, and dependable like any good neighborhood standby should be.
Sandwiches are an underrepresented part of Chinese cuisine but it gets top billing at this Xi’an restaurant. The kitchen makes flatbreads from scratch daily and stuffs them with savory riches like cumin lamb and marinated pork. Other dishes similarly showcase the street fare of China’s northern region, such as potato slices in sour and spicy sauce, lamb soup, and biangbiang noodles.
Dolo arrived with a splash in 2015 when it was named one of the country’s best new restaurants by Esquire. The contemporary spot emphasizes fresh seafood prepared with inventive spins. Get messy with a Cajun-style boil or chow on made-to-order egg tarts, chicken feet, crepes, and other dim sum bites. As an added bonus, the restaurant has its own parking lot.
Original Triple Crown
Not to be confused with the Triple Crown on Wentworth Avenue, this late-night favorite located above a grocery store is the place to go for a fix of Cantonese fare and solid seafood. Try the “hundred flavored” beef, chicken, or shrimp for a flavor kick.
From lo mein to chow fun, there are a variety of different noodle styles in Chinese cooking. This Michelin Bib Gourmand recipient focuses on rice noodle soups, bringing the broth and ingredients to the table and cooking it all together in a stone pot. Protein choices include oxtail, beef shank, and spicy pig intestines. It’s rounded out with sides like pork buns and pumpkin pancakes.
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Chiu Quon Bakery
Grab a pastry or bun from the oldest bakery in the neighborhood for a cheap and filling snack. Popular items include pork buns, sesame balls with bean paste, and egg tarts. There’s also a limited dim sum menu.
Slurp Slurp Noodles
Noodles can be found on almost any menu in the neighborhood but very few produce them in house. Like all the finest things in life, the offerings here are made by hand. Patrons have the choice of hand-pulled or shaved noodles, enjoyed in either a soup broth or stir-fry. The end results are chewy, textural bites that put Slurp Slurp ahead of the competition.
Go 4 Food
The aptly-named Cantonese restaurant is a great place to go for ... food. The menu is littered with American-Chinese staples and creative dishes like taco baos, chili fusion Dungeness crab, and “Millionaire-style” fried rice. Alcohol is BYOB.
There are plenty of treasures, such as shrimp wonton noodle soup, on the menu at this bare-bones spot. The most popular dish among those in the know, though, is simply dubbed the “554.” It features a plate of steamed rice topped with char siu pork and two fried eggs. Folks can order the “554” any time but it’s particularly appetizing as a late night meal because the kitchen is open until 2 a.m.