The Absolute Best Chinese Food In The US

Pop quiz: are there more Chinese food or McDonald's restaurants in the United States? If you guessed the latter, you'd be wrong — way wrong. There are over 45,000 Chinese food restaurants in the U.S. today, according to the Chinese American Restaurant Association (via BBC). McDonald's has just a fraction of that with roughly 13,200 stores (via ScrapeHero). In fact, if you combined all McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's U.S. locations together, it'd still be well short of the total number of Chinese restaurants in America.

While the abundance of Chinese restaurants is great news for anyone with taste buds and an appetite, it does make narrowing down the best of the bunch a tall order. But that's why we're here! From the big coastal cities of New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco to tucked-away hidden gems in Vermont, Arkansas, and Montana, here's where you will find the absolute best Chinese food in the United States.

Nom Wah Tea Parlor - New York City

Opened in 1920 as a tea parlor and bakery, Nom Wah Tea Parlor is the oldest restaurant in New York City's Chinatown (via The New Yorker). You'll get that sense when you walk into a dining room that appears decidedly dated. But the aesthetic is a design choice, and if it's good enough for the Met Gala, which hosted a pre-party there at Nom Wah in 2015, it should be good enough for the rest of us.

Once you sit down to eat at this legendary dim sum outpost, you will quickly see that the restaurant is thoroughly modern — and the food utterly delicious. Unlike many dim sum establishments, Nom Wah Tea Parlor does not roll carts of food around the dining room floor. Instead, guests order a la carte, the way Hong Kong restaurants operate today (via New York Magazine). Speaking of ordering, according to New York Magazine, Nom Wah Tea Parlor has some of the best dumplings and dim sum in the New York, no small feat in a city with a thriving Chinatown neighborhood. Another must-order dish is the original "OG" egg roll, prepared with an egg crepe wrapper and vegetable filling that includes a touch of Shaoxing wine (via Thrillist). The end result is a bright, crispy, delicious egg roll unlike any you'll get at your local takeout joint.

A Single Pebble - Burlington, Vermont

When you think of Chinese food, you likely do not think of Burlington, Vermont. But hidden away in the Green Mountain State is one of the absolute best Chinese restaurants in the country: A Single Pebble. Chef and owner Chiuho Sampson grew up in Taipei, left a career in photojournalism to enroll in culinary school, and eventually settled in Burlington, where she opened her critically acclaimed restaurant. By combining authentic Chinese ingredients imported from New York City's Chinatown (via Gayot) with locally grown and sourced products, Sampson recreates the traditional Chinese food of her childhood with a slight New England twist. 

The highlight of Sampson's menu is the mock eel, which is actually a plate of deep-fried shiitake mushrooms. Celebrity chef Alton Brown raved about the dish on Food Network's "Best Thing I Ever Ate," claiming it could keep him a vegetarian. Other standout offerings, according to Gayot, include the ginger eggplant, tangerine-peel chicken, crispy sesame beef, and mapo tofu (fresh bean curd, minced pork, and chili peppers served with a spicy Sichuan sauce). What's on the plate is just one part of the Single Pebble dining experience, however. To best create the familiar nature the restaurant was founded upon, all meals are served family-style and guests are asked to silence their cell phones.

Chengdu Taste - Los Angeles

If you're looking to set your taste buds aflame with flavor and spice, book a table at Chengdu Taste and thank us later. The Southern California hotspot (which also has a location in Las Vegas) specializes in Sichuan cuisine, which is known for its liberal use of a type of fiery peppercorn that turns the heat level up to 11 (via The Infatuation). But at Chengdu Taste, that heat is served side-by-side with an intense amount of flavor that will make any tongue singe well worth it.

According to many experts, the restaurant's pièce de résistance menu item is the toothpick lamb, a heaping pile of cumin-rubbed lamb bits, each speared with their own toothpick. Eater LA loves the plate so much they named it one of the essential meat dishes in all of Los Angeles, as well as the single best plate of food in the restaurant's San Gabriel Valley neighborhood.

But lamb is just the start. Unlike the Americanized Chinese food at your local takeout place, Chengdu Taste serves up some authentic Sichuan dishes like rabbit, frog legs, and mung bean jelly. If the heat and these meats have you a little apprehensive, fear not. Chengdu Taste's extensive menu is fit for all taste preferences.

Pekin Noodle Parlor - Butte, Montana

The oldest continuously operating Chinese restaurant in the United States has to be in New York City, San Francisco, or Los Angeles, right? Not quite. Believe it or not, that particular Chinese eatery is in a town you'd never expect, one located closer to Canada than any of those major American cities: Butte, Montana. Pekin Noodle Parlor opened in Butte over a century ago and hasn't slowed down since.

Butte might seem worlds away from the popular Chinatowns of the East and West Coasts, but serving as home to a historic Chinese restaurant shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. According to the National Park Service, Chinese immigrants began moving to the region in the late 1800s to work in mining. In 1911, businessman Hum Yow, a first-generation American, founded Pekin Noodle Parlor and it's been family-owned ever since. Today the restaurant is run Jerry Tam, whose father Danny purchased the establishment from his great uncle in the 1950s, according to Only In Your State.

Pekin Noodle Parlor isn't just a tourist attraction, it's a legitimate culinary destination — after all, you don't stay in business that long by serving bad food. The historic restaurant is best known for its wide array of chop suey offerings. Other fan-favorite menu dishes include sweet and sour shrimp, pork fried rice, and noodles, according to CBS. As if all this wasn't impressive enough, Pekin Noodle Parlor's hospitality has been recognized by the James Beard Foundation.

Pagoda - North Pole, Alaska

The first thing that jumps out at you about Pagoda restaurant isn't the food, it's the location — the Chinese restaurant is in North Pole. No, that's not the site of Santa's workshop at the top of the globe, but rather the tiny Alaskan town found on the outskirts of Fairbanks.

Pagoda is a downright trek to get to if you live in the continental United States, but the food is so good that Guy Fieri journeyed to Alaska not once but twice to feature the Chinese restaurant on his hit show "Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives." The spiky-haired chef was particularly fond of the Alaskan king crab legs with ginger, walnut shrimp, and black peppery Pagoda Steak. Those are just some of the highlights, as Pagoda's vast menu has dishes for everyone. There are familiar items like sesame chicken, beef and broccoli, and crab Rangoon. Then there are some restaurant specialties including Shanghai velvet shrimp, mussels in black bean sauce, and shrimp and chicken Peking style.

If after all this, you're still disappointed to not be visiting the "real" North Pole, you're in luck. The town of North Pole celebrates Christmas all year long. You'll find holiday decorations up throughout town and even a Santa Claus House attraction. Did we mention Pagoda is located on Santa Claus Lane?

Lao Sze Chuan - Chicago

Lao Sze Chuan opened in 1998 as a standalone restaurant in the Chinatown district of Chicago. It has since grown to include locations throughout Illinois, as well as Connecticut and Minnesota. Clearly, the restaurant is doing something right.

Lao Sze Chuan specializes in Sichuan cooking, a type of cuisine originating from China's Sichuan Province that is known for its high heat and spice levels (via Serious Eats). And Lao Sze Chuan offers an impressive sampling of the cuisine with a dizzyingly immense menu. Within it, you'll find plenty of spicy dishes, the perfect antidotes for braving the Chicago cold. In fact, Eater Chicago ranked Lao Sze Chuan's three chili chicken dish as one of the best in the city for doing just that.

As an authentic Chinese restaurant, Lao Sze Chuan offers a number of meats typically not found on American menus. Pig kidneys and ears, frogs, and pork intestines are all there, ready to be ordered. Whether you stick with the familiar or try something new, your meal at Lao Sze Chuan is bound to impress. The restaurant has been recognized by the likes of the Michelin Guide, Travel & Leisure, Zagat, Time Out Chicago, and the Chicago Tribune, just to name a few.

Three Fold - Little Rock, Arkansas

Southern cooking is known for its fried chicken, shrimp and grits, gumbo — the hits go on and on. We might soon need to add dumplings to that list because there's a fast-casual Chinese restaurant down in Little Rock, Arkansas getting people's attention.

Three Fold opened in 2015 as the brainchild of mother-daughter team Lisa Zhang and Rebecca Yan (via The Rock Soiree). The restaurant's beauty is how it has distilled a complex Chinese cuisine into a decidedly straightforward menu. "Turning a fine cuisine into a fast-casual menu item isn't easy," Yan told The Rock Soiree. "We want to provide quick service without jeopardizing the quality and carefulness in handling each dish." To keep this balance, all of the dishes, including the dumplings, are made from scratch using traditional methods. On the other hand, there aren't that many items to choose from — Three Fold's menu includes nine "bowl" options, almost all centered around dumplings, noodles, or steamed buns. "Our menu is based off of this traditional, daily food consumed by people in Northern China," Zhang said. "We've kept the traditional flavors but have invented a new work/service flow and threw in a few business secrets in the mix."

The secrets are working as Three Fold has been a hit. "To be honest, it's been a surprise for us that we've been welcomed so well," Zhang said. "As a foreign cuisine, I thought that it'd take a while for people to accept and become fans."

Yank Sing - San Francisco

In the 1940s, George and Alice Chan fled their native China for a new home in San Francisco. In 1958, the couple opened the 35-seat Yank Sing restaurant. A few years later, they expanded to a second location and the business has been family-run — and flourishing — ever since.

Yank Sing is famous for its dim sum, a traditional Chinese meal consisting of plates of dumplings and other small, snack dishes. The restaurant has a menu, but you won't need to look at it. Instead, waiters roll plate-filled carts around the room for you to grab what you please. It can almost get a little dizzying at dim sum restaurants, but if there's anything worth getting overwhelmed over, it's food. Yank Sing's offerings include a wide variety of dumplings, from seafood basil to chicken mushroom. Some other popular items, according to Condé Nast Traveler, include steamed BBQ pork buns, honey walnut prawns, and egg tart.

There are plenty of places to enjoy dim sum in San Francisco, which has the largest Chinatown outside of Asia (via Chinatown San Francisco). But, in awarding Yank Sing a Bid Gourmand for good quality and value cooking, the Michelin Guide notes it is "arguably the place in town for dim sum."

Trey Yuen - New Orleans

If you find yourself hungry in New Orleans but tired of gumbo and beignets (if that's possible) take a quick drive across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. Waiting for you on the other side will be some of the best Chinese food in Louisiana and beyond. Nestled among lush gardens and waterfalls is a building reminiscent of Chinese palaces. This is Trey Yuen.

The restaurant was opened in 1971 by the Wong brothers, all five of whom were born in Hong Kong (via Great Chefs). The brothers bounced around the continent upon moving to America, working at restaurants from Vancouver to Amarillo, but they always did so together. "[My mother] told us, 'If you do go into the restaurant business, you have to stick together," Tommy Wong told "The five of you individually can bend like fingers. Together you're as strong as a fist. Go make something of yourself and make us proud.'"

The frequent relocating allowed the Wongs to get used to acclimating. That skill is on full display at Trey Yuen, which has a menu that combines traditional Chinese dishes with some New Orleans flair. We're talking dishes like Szechuan spicy alligator and tong cho crawfish. You know what they say — when in Rome.

Duck House - Portland, Oregon

Almost immediately after opening its doors in 2016, Duck House was named the "Gamechanger of the Year" restaurant by Eater Portland for delivering what the city's culinary scene desperately needed: a reliably good Chinese food spot. Eater wasn't alone in its excitement. Duck House also quickly earned praise from the likes of The Oregonian and Portland Monthly. One thing you'll find in all these rave reviews is universal praise for Duck House's dumplings, with most outlets agreeing that these tasty bites are some of, if not, the best in the city. Fortunately for diners, Duck House has several varieties of dim sum and buns to choose from including wontons, fried buns, pot stickers, and xiao long bao (soup dumplings).

The dumplings may be Duck House's main draw, but they're not the only draw. The restaurant has an expansive menu covering everything from hot pot and squid with pickled chili, to more familiar Americanized Chinese plates such as General Tso's chicken and Mongolian beef.

Peking Gourmet Inn - Falls Church, Virginia

Like many Chinese food restaurants, Peking Gourmet Inn in Falls Church, Virginia has an extraordinarily large menu. But if you visit this delightful eatery, just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., you're going for one thing and one thing only: the Peking duck. In 1978, China native Eddie Tsui wanted to open a restaurant that specialized in northern Chinese cuisine, with a menu centered around Peking duck. More than 40 years later, people are still packing the tables at the Peking Gourmet Inn to get a taste of this delicacy.

And when you get your seat, you won't be disappointed. To start, the bird is roasted just enough to create a crispy, glazed skin while keeping the meat tender (via Washingtonian). Once the duck is cooked, the real show starts. According to Arlington Magazine, the dish is brought to you and carved tableside. The server removes the skin and cuts it into bite-size pieces, then carves thin slices of meat. The restaurant takes this custom so seriously that servers have to practice for months. "First they learn how to slice duck in the kitchen for two to three months," owner George Tsui told Arlington Magazine. "Once they have perfected the skill, they are ready to serve tableside."

The dish is served with homemade pancakes, hoisin sauce, and spring onions to make your own duck rolls. The dish — and the restaurant — have been a hit with actors, athletes, presidents, and other notable names including Food Network's Duff Goldman, who said the Peking duck was "the best thing I ever ate. Period."

R&G Lounge - San Francisco

It may be hard for Chinese restaurants to stand out in San Francisco, but certainly not impossible. R&G Lounge accomplishes this task largely thanks to one single item on its menu: salt and pepper crab. The signature dish has been praised by the likes of USA Today and Fodor's, to name just a few.

You're probably asking yourself, "What goes into this popular seafood plate?" According to Condé Nast Traveler, a live crab is plucked from a tank, fried in-shell, and seasoned with salt and pepper. The result is crab so delectable, Eater San Francisco includes it among the best in the city. If deep fried isn't your cup of tea, you can get crab prepared eight other ways at R&G Lounge. Speaking of options, you'll find plenty on the restaurant's menu should you hunger for more than just crab. The Infatuation, for example, recommends the Maine lobster with garlic and onions, shrimp with scrambled eggs, and fresh rock cod.

Pro tip: Call ahead and place an order for lo mei gai (the off-menu must be ordered in advance). The hassle of picking up the phone will be well worth it when the dish arrives at your table. Lo mei gai consists of a whole, deboned chicken that is fried and then stuffed with rice, vegetables, and Chinese sausage. It's a pretty iconic meal.

Sichuan Impression - Los Angeles

Sichuan Impression opened in Alhambra (minutes from downtown Los Angeles) in 2014 (via San Gabriel Valley Times). Just a few short years later, it was already anointed by Eater as one of California's essential restaurants. Sichuan Impression has vaulted itself to the top of the culinary heap by adhering to traditional Sichuan recipes and methods. The chefs have also shown the uncanny ability to balance the fiery heat Sichuan cuisine is known for with the bold flavors we look for in great Chinese food. Speaking of food, the restaurant's menu spans the spectrum from kung-pao chicken and sweet and sour shrimp, to smoked pig ears and fried spicy intestine.

If it's good enough for the Michelin Guide, it's good enough for us. The prestigious restaurant reviewer awarded Sichuan Impression a Bid Gourmand, stating the eatery is a "paradise for diners seeking a culinary adventure." This is assuredly an adventure worth taking.  

Xi'an Famous Foods - New York City

Xi'an Famous Foods first opened in 2005 as a tiny, hole-in-the-wall food stall tucked into a shopping mall basement in Flushing, Queens. It claims to be the first restaurant to bring the unique cuisine of Xi'an, the capital city of China's Shaanxi Province, to the United States. But Xi'an Famous Foods' hidden location prevented it from becoming a well-known entity. That all changed when, in 2007, the restaurant got a visit from Anthony Bourdain ( via Eater New York). Once the celebrity chef sang the restaurant's praises on his hit show "No Reservations," Xi'an Famous Foods' business boomed, pulling the eatery out of the basement and into the penthouse (so to speak).

So, what exactly had Bourdain so excited? He waxed poetic about the restaurant's lamb burger, a flat-bread like sandwich of lamb seasoned with cumin, chili seeds, peppers, onions, scallions, and garlic. Another signature dish is the cold-skin noodles, long ribbons of wheat flour noodles served with bean sprouts, cucumbers, cilantro, and house-made gluten. Eater New York, meanwhile, claims Xi'an Famous Foods' spicy cumin lamb noodles is one of New York City's most iconic dishes.

Fantastic plates like these have turned Xi'an Famous Foods into a household name in New York City. The restaurant currently boasts nine locations across three boroughs and has plans to expand even further.

Din Tai Fung - Various locations

The legend of Din Tai Fung begins nearly a century ago, when a young Chinese man by the name of Bing-Yi Yang fled to Taiwan, where he opened a shop selling cooking oil and homemade steamed pork soup dumplings, known as xiao long bao. The dumplings became so popular, Yang ditched the oil business and opened a full-fledged restaurant. From those humble beginnings, Din Tai Fung has become nothing short of a culinary empire, with locations spanning the globe, including more than a dozen right here in the United States.

Din Tai Fung has been able to expand to such lengths because its xiao long bao really are that good. Artisanal crafted, these bite-sized, broth-filled dumplings pack an unmatched punch of flavor. Forbes anointed them the best dumplings in the world. Famed restaurant critic Jonathan Gold once referred to them as "small miracles," while declaring Din Tai Fung one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles (via Los Angeles Times). But none other than Anthony Bourdain may have put it best when he referred to the restaurant's xiao long bao as "pillows of happiness" (via CNN).

There are plenty of other items on Din Tai Fung's menu, including noodles and assorted cold appetizers. But with three different filling options — pork, pork and truffles, and pork and crab — we suggest you save your appetite for the world's best xiao long bao.

Sichuan Folk - Plano, Texas

Texas is known as a hotbed for food from across the globe, particularly a cuisine with a south-of-the-border flair. But the Lone Star State is also home to some of the best Chinese food in the United States, including Plano's Sichuan Folk

The Dallas area is big on steaks, brisket, and burgers — pretty much anything you can cook at the tailgate before the football game. But Sichuan Folk has broken through and become a popular destination for hungry locals. Not long after it opened, the praise came pouring in. The restaurant got rave reviews from the Dallas Morning News, D Magazine, and the Dallas Observer, which, in 2022 named Sichuan Folk as one of the top restaurants in the region.

So, what should you get? The Dallas Observer recommends starting off with the spicy wontons before diving into any of the spicy fish options. D Magazine, on the other hand, suggests the Szechuan spicy noodles as an appetizer before enjoying a hot pot with the table. So many options, so few ways to go wrong.

Chef Ma's Chinese Gourmet - St. Louis

The most difficult choice when dining at Chef Ma's Chinese Gourmet restaurant may not be deciding what to order, but what menu to order from. The St. Louis eatery offers both authentic Chinese and American-Chinese menus. The latter contains familiar dishes like sesame chicken, crab Rangoon, and beef and broccoli; the former presents authentic plates such as white cabbage pork belly stew, pork and squid stir fry, and golden yolk pumpkin shrimp.

The menus are a perfect representation of the life and career of the restaurant's late founder, chef Ying Jing Ma. The acclaimed chef got his start cooking in Hong Kong before working in Hawaii, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, before settling in St. Louis (via Riverfront Times). Although he passed away in 2021, the restaurant bearing his name hasn't missed a step, according to St. Louis Magazine. The outlet calls Chef Ma's Chinese Gourmet a bright spot in the city's dining scene, particularly praising the restaurant's Hainan chicken rice, salt and pepper pork chops, and the aforementioned golden yolk pumpkin shrimp, which Laude News reports was one of chef Ma's favorite dishes.

Haidilao Hot Pot - Various locations

If you haven't experienced the wonder that is hot pot, you need to fix that immediately. For the uninformed, hot pot is a social dining experience popular in Asia in which guests cook various meats, seafood, and vegetables in a shared pot of simmering, seasoned broth. There's no better place to try hot pot for the first or thousandth time than Haidilao. The international chain started in China in 1994 and now boasts a whopping 1,600 stores around the world, including many right here in the United States from coast to coast.

What makes Haidilao stand apart from other hot pot outlets is its variety. The restaurant offers up to eight different soup bases to choose from, including pepper-flavored, super spicy, and Thai sour and hot soup. Add to that the restaurant's onslaught of dish options: meats like spicy marinated beef, steak, and lamb (as well as pig brain, duck intestine, and blood tofu); and seafood plates of crab sticks and black-tiger shrimp. Don't forget about the sauces, the last step of your food's journey. Haidilao has flavorful sauces for every taste, from sesame to spicy to garlic.

All this has made the chain so popular that it's not uncommon to experience lines up to several hours long, according to Los Angeles magazine. The good news is that Haidilao comes prepared for such situations. It offers waiting guests free snacks and refreshments, and even magazines and board games to help pass the time.

Facing East - Seattle

Nobody knows an area better than the people who live there, so it was no small accomplishment when readers of 425 Magazine voted Facing East the best Chinese restaurant in all of Seattle's Eastside. The locals aren't alone, either. Eater Seattle ranks Facing East among the area's best restaurants of any cuisine.

What has everyone buzzing about the Bellevue, Washington hotspot is the restaurant's mastery of Taiwanese cooking. As Facing East points out, Taiwan's complicated political history created a blending of cultures on the island, which makes its way onto the restaurant's menu. As such, you'll find it imbued with both traditional Chinese and some Japanese influences. Focusing specifically on classic street food, Facing East's list of dishes is extensive. Eater speaks highly of the Hakka-style chow fun and prawns with honey mustard mayonnaise, while Seattle Met recommends the beef noodle soup. Both outlets, however, praise the restaurant's Taiwanese pork burger — marinated pork with cilantro, peanuts, and hot-and-sweet sauces sandwiched between a bun.

Little Village Noodle House - Honolulu

Little Village Noodle House has been a mainstay in Honolulu for more than two decades. During that time, it has established itself as the best spot for Chinese food in the city. In fact, it won Honolulu Magazine's prestigious Hale 'Aina Award for best Chinese restaurant every year from 2007 to 2018 ( via KHON).

The restaurant specializes in a modern version of Chinese cuisine, using more spices and less heavy sauces. Not only does this make the food healthier, it also brings the bold flavors to the forefront. Some of the restaurant's most notable dishes, according to Dining Out, include beef broccoli, dried string beans, mu-shu roll, and ma po tofu. "These are key items that have helped us carry on the tradition since we opened in 2001, and they all capture the flavor of what we're about," restaurant owner and operator David Chang told the outlet.

Whatever you do, make sure to bring to bring company with you. The Honolulu hotspot's food is designed to be enjoyed together, something that has made Little Village Noodle House so popular for such a long time. "The restaurant was never meant to be formal, and we focus on being a family gathering place," Chang said. "Our customers can bring their kids and pass on the tradition of dining here to the next generation for them to enjoy."

Gene's Chinese Flatbread Café - Boston

The "flatbread" in the name of this popular Boston eatery refers to its pork and lamb flatbread sandwiches. As good as these tasty bites may be, if you're going to Gene's, you're going for the cold-pulled noodles. According to Food Network, these signature noodles are hand pulled by chef and owner Gene Wu to replicate the ones made in Xi'an, China. The garlic-infused wheat noodles are so flavorful, they're perfect on their own — simply topped with some cayenne peppers, scallion, and cilantro.

Still not sold? Well, then know that Eater Boston listed these cold-pulled noodles alongside classic New England food like lobster rolls, fried clams, and Boston cream pie, as one of Boston's most iconic dishes. It's one of the reasons the publication also included Gene's among the city's essential restaurants as well as the best affordable meals. Not to be outdone, the Chinese food hot spot offers other delectable eats, such as spicy cumin lamb skewers, Xi'an cold noodles, hot sour dumpling soup, and the aforementioned, eponymous sandwiches. All this goodness was too much to contain in one store, as Gene's Chinese Flatbread Café has expanded to three locations throughout the Boston area.