The 8 Best Chinatowns in the US & Where the Locals Go
Are you looking for a more authentic way to celebrate Lunar New Year, or just want to discover the best local restaurant for dim sum? Check out the best Chinatowns in the US below. These places are great to visit anytime of the year, so make sure to add them to your to-do list next time you visit.
1. Los Angeles, California (Downtown & the 626)
The biggest Chinatown in Southern California is found just north of Downtown LA, where you will find exciting events and festivities. Enjoy SoCal’s great weather as you stroll through the neighborhood taking in the Chinese architecture. This is an area that is constantly developing and growing for both the old historical filming spots and younger residents. It’s a pocket of Los Angeles with uniquely colorful buildings and alleys. The Far East Plaza has opened up some of the most exciting restaurants and streetwear boutiques in the LA metroplex. The Chinatown central plaza is where you’ll be able to capture great photos and sites.
Once you explore the biggest Chinatown, we recommend traveling a little further east to “the 626”, the area code for the Pasadena region. Here you will find Alhambra, Monterey Park, and Arcadia, where you’ll find some of the most well established Chinese food in the area (where the real Angelenos are found).
Home to the largest population of Chinese community outside of Asia, San Francisco’s Chinatown was historically the port of entry for Chinese to immigrate from the 1940s-1950s. If this is your first time in the Bay Area, you have to take the time to explore this Chinatown in the heart of the city. There are plenty of beautiful murals covered in the alley and lanterns hovering all the main streets. You will want to pop into the family-owned pastry shops and lively dim sum restaurants to grab a bite to eat while on the go or to enjoy at Portsmouth square park.
Once you’ve already hit the major tourist attractions in San Francisco, you will want to visit just north of Golden Gate Park to the neighborhood, Inner Richmond. It’s quite a diverse neighborhood, but due to the concentration of dim sum restaurants on Clement Street, it’s been named the new Chinatown. This under-the-radar, diverse residential neighborhood is popular with locals enjoying the South-East Asian and European eateries and bars.
One of the most famous Chinatowns in the East Coast, Manhattan’s Chinatown is home to unique alleys with the mix of old and new businesses, establishing themselves in this busy neighborhood. There are countless hidden gems to be discovered, so allow plenty of time to explore and try all that Chinatown has to offer. We suggest starting on Canal Street as it stretches the region and is home to many vendors and stores. As you explore, you will find mix of quieter areas like Doyers Street home to one of the oldest running Chinese restaurants in New York, Nom Wah Tea Parlor.
After visiting the Manhattan Chinatown, it’s perhaps time for you to explore the outer boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn. Flushing is a great place to start, with it’s as prime location east of the LaGuardia Airport. Now one of the fastest growing Chinatowns, it’s intersection on Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue has been named the 3rd busiest intersection, only behind Time Square and Herald Square. There are many great Asian restaurant and small bites you won’t want to miss. This area is definitely worth the trek if you want the most authentic Taiwanese and Chinese dishes and snacks, with beautiful parks and botanical gardens adjacent to the area.
Boston’s Chinatown is known to be the only surviving historic Chinese neighborhood in New England. It Is also known for a great nightlife with multiple bars and lounges. It’s home to a large Vietnamese community as well, remaining the center of Asian American culture and life in the New England area. A unique advantage of this East Coast region, you will find many great Chinese seafood spots centered around the New England lobsters.
Everything is bigger in Texas, and Houston’s Chinatown is no exception. The huge city is home to two Chinatowns (Old and New). You can find the Old Chinatown in the area east of Downtown, while the New Chinatown is located in the suburban Southwest region of the city. Check out the Hong Kong City Mall where you will find an array of local shops, small businesses, and of course delicious signature dishes.
The capital of Hawaii is home to one of the oldest Chinatowns in the hemisphere. Take a stroll through this area to discover beautiful of landmarks like the Iolani Palace and Hawaii Theater Center. This part of Honolulu is considered to be a hub for arts and culture, with plenty of indie art galleries.
Honolulu’s Chinatown also has beautiful Buddhist temples like the Buddhist Kuan Yin Temple. There are numerous dim sum, noodle, and pastry shops that you won’t want to miss during the day, while seeing the unique produce and dry goods found only in Chinatown. Visit here to find some of the best cheap eats on the island.
Originally a Chinese dominant neighborhood, the Chinatown-International District (CID) has grown to be a hub of Seattle’s Asian-American communities. Check out this large section of Seattle and enjoy historical and cultural museums, as well as, beautiful parks perfect for a wonderful nature walk. You won’t want to miss the Uwajimaya market, a supermarket with great Asian snacks and other goodies.
Take a stroll to Philly’s Chinatown to discover the beautiful Friendship Gate, which leads to numerous local restaurants and bars. This East Coast city knows how to celebrate many Chinese traditions, whether it’s Chinese Lunar New Year festivities filled with lion dancers and fireworks, or their Lantern Festivals on Franklin Square.
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