Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood is a bustling locale full of delicious food and chinoiserie. It offers a variety of flavors including regional classics and contemporary spins. From the traditional Cantonese dim sum and eye-watering Szechuan dishes of Old Chinatown to the Middle Eastern-influenced Xi’an dishes of New Chinatown, you can experience China’s cultural history without traveling far at all! To celebrate the Chinese New Year’s imminent arrival on January 25th, here’s our list of the best restaurants in Chicago’s Chinatown.
Bobby’s Bike Hike: Chinatown Food & Culture Walking Tour
The best way to explore Chinatown’s cuisine is on our Bobby’s Bike Hike: Chinatown Food & Culture Walking Tour. We’ll take you to the top-rated restaurants in Chinatown, contextualizing the food so you can fully appreciate its story and flavor. Forget long restaurant waits; we make sure everything is served hot and fresh within minutes of arrival. To celebrate the Year of the Rat, this tour is 10% off the entire month of January with code “CHINATOWN20”
Cantonese Dim Sum at Triple Crown Chicago
Dim sum is the perfect food for the person who likes everything but can’t settle on anything. The small-portioned, à la carte style makes ordering a fun and communal experience. Dim sum is China’s version of tapas, except with these, you’re meant to share! One of our favorite Chicago dim sum restaurants is Triple Crown because of its pillowy steamed dumplings.
Szechuan Food at Lao Sze Chuan
You may be familiar with Szechuan seasoning, but it’s more than just a flavor. Szechuan is a huge region in China (81 million people!) known for delicious food that makes your mouth water due to yumminess and hot, hot spiciness. Time Out magazine voted Lao Sze Chuan as one of the top ten Chinese restaurants in the United States, so if you’re looking for a kick, try their spicy chili chicken or mapo tofu.
Baked Goods at Chi Quon Bakery
In the United States, we tend to associate bakeries with fancy breads and adorable sweets. While Chinatown bakeries like Chi Quon Bakery do satisfy your sweet tooth with moon cakes and other assorted pastries, their true specialty is the realm of the savory: barbecue pork buns, red bean bao, egg tarts, shrimp dumplings, and more. To truly appreciate all that Chi Quon Bakery has to offer, treat it like dim sum. Grab a multitude of treats, cut them into halves or fourths, and share with your friends!
Xi’An Food at Xi’An Cuisine
The northern route of the Silk Road began at Xi’an, an ancient capital of China. As such, Xi’an came in contact with many different civilizations, and the resulting cultural diffusion created some amazing hybrids of flavor. Xi’an food is rare in the United States, but you can try some at the aptly named Xi’an Cuisine in new Chinatown, where menu offerings like lamb cumin sandwiches combine Chinese and Middle Eastern culinary traditions.
We hope these Chinatown restaurant recommendations were helpful. There are many fun things to do, and it’s an easy neighborhood to reach! Take the CTA Red Line ‘L’ to the Cermak-Chinatown stop, and you’ll be at its epicenter. Enjoy your celebrations, we wish you a fantastic Year of the Rat. The zodiac cycles every 12 years, which means some famous “rats” include JFK, Shakespeare, Katy Perry, and Eminem. Not bad company!