Chinese Food is one of our favorite cuisines. Growing up, Lizzie’s best friends were Chinese so she spent many a night playing mahjongg in her friend’s basement, making trips to Boston’s Chinatown for food tours, and taking the Fung Wa bus to New York City’s Canal Street. When she met Sam, she met her match — someone who also absolutely loves chinese food. So together they’ve done a lot of research to find the best Chinese food in Boston.
Boston’s Chinatown is quite central to the city, bordering nearby South Station. While it’s home to less than 5,000 residents, this area of town is always bustling. And there’s some really cool Asian markets here as well as interesting smells wafting through the narrow streets. Chinatown was created by filling in a tidal flat. In fact, the first Chinese Americans who came to Boston were in the late 1800’s, arriving from San Francisco. Today the most recognizable icon in Chinatown is the gate which has a foo lion on either side. It is located at the corner of Beach Street and Surface Road, steps from the busy 93 and 90 intersection.
However, nowadays Chinatown is not the only spot with interesting and delicious Chinese influenced cuisine. Read below to learn more about our favorite Chinese food in Boston and beyond in cities like Cambridge, MetroWest surburbs, and Quincy.
Boston and Chinatown Restaurants
We’ve been going to China Pearl since we were in elementary school, and the atmosphere feels frozen in time. They serve traditional Cantonese cuisine, and the time to visit is definitely for dim sum. So pour the sugar packets in your hot tea and flag your server down to sample their delights.
Address: 9 Tyler Street, Boston Chinatown
What to order: shrimp or lobster dumplings, shumai, chicken feet (if you dare!), turnip cake, warm custard buns
Hei La Moon
Another great option for traditional “dim sum” in Boston’s Chinatown is Hei La Moon, which opened after China Pearl and quickly established itself as a local favorite. This place gets very busy during the weekends, so try to snag a seat near an aisle so you can move.
Address: 88 Beach Street, Boston Chinatown
What to order: beef rice crepe, soup dumplings, tofu, red bean riceballs, egg tart, salted egg yolk lava bun
Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Cafe
Owner Gene Wu came to Boston from Xi’an, the capital of northwest China’s Shaanxi porvice to study chemistry. When he turned 40, he craved more than just a corporate career and thus began his journey into noodle-pulling! And we couldn’t be happier. This cash-only place is a must visit to anyone craving noodles in Boston.
Address: 86 Bedford Street, Boston Chinatown
What to order: a bowl of hand-pulled noodles in soup, lamb skewers
Best Little Restaurant (BLR) by Shojo
We used to work near Chinatown so we have been going to the Best Little Restaurant, a total hole in the wall, for many years. Interestingly, this restaurant has been redeveloped by newer members of the family who also run delicious modern Chinese restaurant Shojo nearby (check them out too!) The younger members of the family have put a twist on this family business that started in the ’80s, and it’s been a delight to taste the transformation
Address: 13A Hudson Street, Boston
What to order: we’re big fans of their honey-walnut shrimp and have been for years (it’s got chunks of pineapple and big juicy walnuts), soy garlic chicken, duck confit mooshu, trout, szechuan bolognese
Cafe Corner Bakery
Ever since we were kids waiting in line for the Chinatown-NYC bus, we would stop quickly at Cafe Corner to grab a pineapple bun and peek into the display case of treats.
Address: 62 Harrison Street, Boston Chinatown
What to order: pineapple bun, portuguese custard tart, red bean moon cake
Sam had his bachelor party here at Red Lantern, and they had a fantastic time. The atmosphere is top notch from the statues to the huge colored lanterns. It used to be a horse stable for the Boston police many years ago. The food may not feel as authentic as in Chinatown, but the service is friendly and the menu is comprehensive.
Address: 39 Stanhope Street, Back Bay Boston
What to order: strong drinks like a lychee martini, traditional Asian fare like duck fried rice, kung pao
Q Restaurant (Hot Pot)
Especially on a colder winter night, we just love the cook your own hot pot interactive experience. Sort of like at the Melting Pot, you’re given a plate of vegetables and thinly sliced meat to cook in a temperature controlled broth that’s bubbling in front of you. If you can’t decide on a broth, they let you pick two flavors in a “ying yang” assortment. The broth is super flavorful, and you can also add garlic, scallions, and paste to your liking. Shabu shabu away!
Address: 660 Washington Street
What to order: any of their cook-your-own hot pots, bubble tea
Myers and Chang
On our Harvard Square Chocolate Tour, we visit Joanne Chang’s other claim to fame — Flour! Together with her husband, Chang opened this neighborhood hotspot to focus on her native Taiwanese cuisine and other Southeast Asian specialties. This spot is a bit on the asian-fusion side, and a delight for both adventurous and non-adventurous eaters.
Address: 1145 Washington Street, South End, Boston
What to order: hakka eggplant, sweet and sour brussel sprouts, pork belly buns, tea smoked pork spare ribs
Mei Mei Kitchen
We are so excited to stop at Mei Mei Kitchen on our Fenway Neighborhood Food Tour! Once a food truck, Mei Mei is the brainchild of three siblings who grew up in nearby Brookline and wanted to bring modernized Chinese food to their neighborhood. Mei Mei actually means sister in Chinese, and is now run by Irene, the littlest sister who has been nominated for James Beard awards. Recently she started using open book management, which has created a special atmosphere for a really dedicated team whose love of what they do comes through in the food.
Address: 506 Park Drive, Boston (near St. Mary’s Green Line T)
What to order: double awesome scallion pancake sandwich, magical kale salad, dumplings, sweet corn fritters
Hong Kong 888 Cafe
Talk about hole in the wall, if you ask any resident of Roslindale, they’ll tell you their favorite Chinese take-out spot is Hong Kong 888. It’s definitely a no-frills place with an assertive staff and no public bathrooms, but their following is intense. 888 is an auspicious number in Chinese and is also the place’s address.
Address: 888 South Street, Roslindale, Boston
What to order: traditional “American” chinese that’s not greasy including vegetable rice, crab rangoon, General Tso’s chicken, lo mein
Changsho Restaurant or Zoe’s Chinese
I’ve heard of people travelling from Maine to eat the delicious food at Changsho, and I can attest that it’s a solid favorite in our take-out rotation. Although they have a daily lunch buffet, you can also expect yummy cuisine for pick-up or dine-in dinner and big portions. Afterwards stroll over to Berryline or Honeycomb Creamery for a sweet treat dessert.
Address: 1712 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA
What to order: lo mein, sizzling black bean or pumpkin chicken, beef and broccoli, soup dumplings, chicken fingers
Another great Chinese take-out spot is right on Broadway in Somerville, MA near the Cambridge line. It’s another stand-by for Chinese take-out in our household, and the food is consistently fresh, plentiful, and flavorful. They do also offer some authentic Sichuan cooking for the more spice-friendly adventurous eater!
Address: 296 Beacon Street, Somerville, MA
What to order: eggplant basil with brown rice, Sichuan spicy specialties, mapo tofu, crab rangoon
We love visiting Dumpling Daughter on our popular Kendall Square Cambridge Food and Innovation Tour on Saturdays. Started by the daughter of Sally Ling who opened one of the first Chinese restaurants in Boston, this spot also has a suburban outpost in Weston. The family recipes are converted into a fast casual spot near MIT, and you can take them to go and eat on the nearby Kendall Square rooftop garden.
Address: 73 Ames Street, Cambridge, MA
What to order: homemade dumplings, wonton soup, buns, crab rangoon
Bao Nation is a small bao stand inside of a convenience store in popular Mass. Ave. in Central Square. They include traditional Chinese Bao but also fusion bao like Masala Potato bao that mixes up with Indian fusion. We love visiting Bao Nation on our Central Square Cambridge Food and Mural Arts Tours on Saturdays.
Address: 571 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA
What to order: delicious bao – eggplant, potato are our favorites
Chili Garden, Medford
With a friendly atmosphere and traditional Szechuan cuisine, it’s worth a trip out to Medford to experience Chili Garden. The servings are large, and the restaurant is a neighborhood favorite.
Address: 41 Riverside Avenue, Medford, MA
What to order: kung pao chicken, chili noodles, diced chicken with house made pickles, fish soup with mustard greens
Chili Square, Quincy
Quincy is known for its asian food, and we really love Chili Square right in the downtown area. A bone fide hole in the wall Chinese restaurant in Boston, it’s definitely worth stopping in, and the authentic chinese noodles are a delight. Just remember it’s cash only!
Address: 666 Hancock Street, Quincy, MA
What to order: mala soup bowls, spicy cumin lamb noodle, bao
On every Boston Food Tour and Chocolate Tour, we serve a variety of unique foods and treats to tickle your taste buds and indulge your senses and sweet tooths. Really, there is something for everyone on our unique experiences. So check our Tour Calendar and join us this week.