20 Must-Try Chinese Restaurants in Boston
Here's where to find fiery Sichuan noodles, flavorful Hunanese eats, and American-style takeout favorites.
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Boston’s Chinese food landscape has evolved tremendously since Chinatown was established about five generations ago. The coronavirus pandemic and its fueling of anti-Asian prejudices, though, though, has proven to be particularly devastating for many of these beloved independent businesses—and decades of delicious history. So whether you’re craving sweet and saucy Chinese-American takeout, fresh hand-pulled noodles, fiery Sichuan cuisine, or even juicy soup dumplings, consider visiting or ordering from a mom-and-pop spot in your neighborhood. From Allston to Brookline to Cambridge and beyond, here’s where to find the best Chinese food in the area right now.
This homestyle, humble little spot offers noodles and more comfort food from owner Bess Lee and family. That includes a short but strong list of dumpling options, both pan-fried and steamed, wrapped in a delicate, just-thick-enough rice dough made in-house every day. Bess’s also boasts signature steamed chicken dumplings swimming in spicy Sichuan sauce, delightful dan dan noodles, side orders of scallion pancakes, and more.
224 Cypress St., Brookline, 617-879-0993, besscafe.com.
Blossom Bar and the Baldwin Bars at Sichuan Garden
For very good reasons, second-generation owner Ran Duan earns a lot of attention for these creative cocktail bars housed within the Sichuan Garden restaurants his parents founded in Brookline and Woburn, respectively. Now, you can bring his mixology home via Duan’s Craft Blossom Mixers, some of the finest bottled cocktail ingredients around. The Sichuan dining menus are also available, so you can pair drinks like the velvety-purple Halo Halo with fiery dan dan noodles, or the coffee and passion fruit-spiked Gloria with Chongqing dry hot chicken. All this, without needing to wait for a coveted barstool at one of Duan’s bars.
Its presently slimmed-down hours might reflect the thinned-out downtown office crowds, but those hankering for a taste of this Chinatown landmark—one of the neighborhood’s longest-running restaurants—will find that the brightly flavored dim sum hasn’t dimmed a bit. In fact, whether you head to the Boston or Quincy location, you’ll now find China Pearl’s little plates offered in larger-quantity “survival packs” filled with pork and shrimp shui mai, BBQ pork buns, chicken feet or spareribs with black bean sauce, and more.
9 Tyler St., Boston, 617-426-4338; 237 Quincy Ave., Quincy, 617-773-9838, chinatowndelivers.com.
This Chinatown late-night favorite is where you’ll find fun fusion fare like Sriracha-honey chicken, kimcheesy waffle fries, noodle soups, and even over-loaded Hong Kong-style French toast. Bubble tea, smoothies, beer, sake, soju, and signature cocktail kits are also available to go—boozy boba, anyone?
86 Harrison Ave., Boston, 617-482-0682, doublechinbos.com.
There are three locations of Dumpling Daughter ready to take your order, including owner Nadia Liu Spellman’s youngest, a barely year-old addition to Brookline’s Coolidge Corner. As with her original location in Weston and its elder Cambridge sibling, the menu is inspired by the homestyle fare her mother, chef Sally Ling, made for her girls at home: Pan-seared and steamed dumplings, spring rolls, scallion pancake rolls, noodles, soups, and more. She also sells her dumplings frozen, for enjoying around the dinner table with your own daughters—or anybody else, for that matter—at home.
1309 Beacon St., Brookline, 617-383-5282; 73 Ames St., Cambridge, 617-577-8886 ; 37 Center St., Weston, 781-216-8989, dumplingdaughter.com.
Five Spices House
A multi-year Best of Boston winner in Chinatown and a newer, second location in Cambridge are both great options for Scoville-scaling Sichuan dishes, like thin-skinned wontons drenched in neon-orange chili oil, a signature whole-roasted fish, and spicy dry pot (a wok-charred stir-fry) with a choice of veggies and proteins.
58 Beach St., Boston, 617-574-8888; 546 Mass Ave., Cambridge, 617-714-3339, 5spiceshouse.com.
Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Cafe
Although this downtown treasure (with suburban siblings) is named as a nod to its admittedly tasty flatbread sandwiches, the real star is Gene Wu’s noodles—thick, chewy, and hand-tossed in the style of his native Xian—that might be tossed with cumin-scented lamb, a garlicky cilantro, spicy chili oil, and more.
86 Bedford St., Boston, 617-482-1888; 466 Main St., Woburn, 781-938-6888; 175 Littleton Rd., Westford, 978-692-3406, genescafe.com.
Gourmet Dumpling House
If the typical line outside this Chinatown spot has deterred you in the past, know that it’s currently open every day for takeout and delivery. Shanghai-style smoked fish and spicy pork ears are a must-order, while “mini juicy” soup dumplings won’t disappoint, either. Other takeout options include spicy salt-and-pepper fried calamari, a Taiwan-style oyster omelet, and hot and spicy ox tongue and tripe.
52 Beach St., Boston, 617-338-6223, gourmetdumplinghouse.com.
Wife-and-husband duo Ying and Kai Chen continue to bring their “home taste” of the central Chinese province of Henan to the Boston suburbs in the time of social distancing. That means thick, peppery, stir-fried wheat noodles; squiggly Chongqing “small noodles” topped with minced meat, peanuts, and bright orange chili oil; and hamburgers (or flatbread sandwiches) filled with aromatic stewed lamb—enjoyed in the comfort of home.
1312 Mass Ave., Arlington, 781-646-8080/781-646-8081; 58 Mt Auburn St., Watertown, 617-923-0227/617-923-6227, hometastema.com.
Since the 1980s, Joyce Chen alum Mary Chung has welcomed droves of MIT students and Central Square types for dishes like spicy dun dun noodles with chicken, Sichuan beef salad, and the regularly available special, egg roll-like hand pies filled with crispy radishes or savory chives. Don’t miss the suan la chow show, which are pork wontons served with bean sprouts in a spicy, soy-based hot and sour sauce.
464 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-864-1991.
Chef Irene Li, a multi-time James Beard Rising Star award nominee, has been helping to redefine Boston’s dining scene since she and her siblings first launched this Chinese-American cuisine operation as a food truck 10 years ago. Today, Mei Mei (which means “little sister”) has made a pandemic-era pivot to a takeout- and delivery-only restaurant with a delightful menu of ready-to-reheat prepared dumplings, seasonal curries, and more—plus pantry-ready sauces and meal kits with everything you need to make, say, one of the best sandwiches in Boston. Plus, when she’s not teaching Mei Mei’s virtual dumpling cooking classes, Li makes an impact as a local leader around social justice issues in restaurants and food systems: Among other things, Li is program manager of the Restaurant Resiliency Initiative at Commonwealth Kitchen, which is helping hard-hit BIPOC-owned restaurants in the Boston area as they recover from the public-health and economic havoc of COVID-19.
506 Park Dr., Boston, 857-250-4959, meimeiboston.com.
Myers + Chang
During a year when we all wished our collective luck might change, chef-founder (and bonafide superstar) Joanne Chang’s house-made fortune cookies tasted even more delicious. Now there’s light on the horizon—and the chance to pull up a seat again at Boston’s beloved Asian gastropub, where Chinese cuisine is integral to the fusion fare. Dishes like tea-smoked spareribs, signature pork and chive dumplings, and a fluffy coconut layer cake are all on the menu. Still more comfortable with takeout? You can order to-go beer, wine, and sake selections, plus provisions like brown sugar-pepper rub, to make your own ribs at home.
1145 Washington St., Boston, 617-542-5200, myersandchang.com.
Figuratively diving right into the restaurant’s fish tank to select your own lobster is a quintessential dining experience in Boston, but all of Peach Farm’s Hong Kong-style Cantonese seafood could be ranked among the absolute best, from the garlicky scallops on the half-shell to whole-steamed black fish with ginger and soy.
4 Tyler St., Boston, 617-482-3332, peachfarmboston.com.
As in northern China, where wheat is a staple crop, dumplings and noodles abound on the menu at this northern Cambridge favorite. Other must-order menu items range from crunchy stir-fried vegetables, to crispy fried flounder, to spicy lamb hot pot—and anything from the “Northern Style” section, naturally.
2382 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-492-7540, qingdaogarden.net.
This unassuming Allston spot is where to go for simple, well-made traditional dishes like porky soup dumplings, rice wine and ginger-scented seafood, and tender lion’s head meatballs. A savory staple of Shanghainese cuisine, the savory meatballs are served here as a meaty “casserole” with steamed bok choy.
204 Harvard Ave., Allston, 617-566-7344, shanghaigateboston.com.
Silk Road Uyghur Cuisine
Even if you’re not in the neighborhood, it’s worth the trip to Inman Square to find this rare area restaurant specializing in the cuisine of northwest China’s oppressed Uyghur minority. Follow the scent of dishes like lamb- and onion-filled naan, marinated lamb kebabs, and pumpkin manto to experience the regional cuisine’s unifying of Turkic and Chinese influence.
645 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617-945-1909, silkroadcambridge.com.
Sumiao Hunan Kitchen
Hunanese cuisine is spicy, but not in the same, mouth-numbing way that categorizes Sichuan flavors more commonly found around Boston. Taste the play of fermentation, heat, vinegar, and smoke through colorful dishes like fried cauliflower and pork belly with duo jiao (a chopped-chili sauce), “beef on fire” with Fresno pepper, cilantro, and banana pepper.
270 Third St., Cambridge, 617-945-0907, sumiaohunan.com.
Chef Peter Wang has grown a “mini juicy buns” empire thanks to his Dumpling Café, located elsewhere in Chinatown; Dumpling Kingdom in Allston; and Dumpling Palace in the Back Bay. But soft buns filled with molten, porky soup are also available from this street-food focused spot, which Wang first opened in Chinatown in 1998. What’s more, you can also find plenty of other crave-able Taiwanese and Chinese dishes, such as crispy pan-fried dumplings, a flaky scallion pancake rolled up with roast beef, succulent fried pork chops, garlicky sautéed watercress, and more.
34 Oxford St., Boston, 617-426-8181, taiwancafeboston.com.
Winsor Dim Sum Café
Although carts don’t rove the dining room at this Chinatown dim sum favorite, you’re normally able to check off your small-plate selections on a slip of paper, hand it to a server, and be rewarded with a feast of shumai, spare ribs in black bean sauce, wok-charred chow fun noodles, Sichuan-style beef stomach, and more. We’re still waiting for the dining room to reopen, but in the meanwhile you can simply check off your “yes, please!” plates via third-party apps for delivery—or better yet, place a call and pick up some takeout yourself.
10 Tyler St., Boston, 617-338-1688, winsordimsumcafe.com.
Zoe’s Chinese Restaurant
Head to Somerville for flavorful Peking ravioli, mouth-numbing ma po tofu, and dry-fried beef or chicken with hot peppers. There’s a sizable selection of authentic Sichuan and Hunanese dishes on the menu, alongside decent versions of takeout classics like orange chicken and lo mein packed with crisp and fresh vegetables.
296 Beacon St., Somerville, 617-864-6265, zoeschinese.com.