America’s first Chinese restaurants opened in San Francisco in the mid-1800s to cater to Chinese gold miners seeking the flavors of home. Today, the Bay Area remains an epicenter for some of the finest Chinese food this side of the Pacific. But how do you decide which of the thousands of Chinese restaurants to try next?
Take a look at our list of the best Chinese restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area, with selections that span a variety of regional cuisine and locations. It includes trusted favorites and worthy newcomers and gives you endless reasons to break out the chopsticks and savor the full spectrum of vibrant, exquisite, soul-satisfying Chinese food.
Lily Ji, the owner of this casual dim sum darling in the Castro, was raised in Guangzhou. But she was born in Sichuan, so along with epic crispy-chewy pot stickers, chow mein, and vibrant dim sum, she makes seductive Chongqing fried chicken buried in dried hot peppers and hot-and-sour fern root noodles.
Gluten-free Chinese food is rare, but at this spot, which has served Chestnut Street since 1998, you'll find it in abundance. The restaurant makes everything by hand with fresh ingredients and offers GF versions of classic dishes from various provinces (Sichuan green beans, Mongolian beef). Bonus: Its good-for-the-planet effort means your hot-pepper-dotted kung pao chicken is delivered in a recyclable container.
After captivating the food world in 2010 with kung pao pastrami and other untraditional takes on Chinese cuisine, the Mission District’s modern mainstay continues to surprise. Ready to try tongue-tingling mapo tofu or fried rice enlivened with salty mackerel confit and egg? You’re in the right place.
Two words: Peking duck. Stuff it into fluffy sesame pockets with a zingy kumquat glaze to begin your dining journey at Chinatown’s answer to the Italian food emporium Eataly. Round out the meal with crispy-bottomed sheng jian bao, chow mein loaded with seasonal vegetables and proteins from land and sea, and wines from the vast selection.
R&G Lounge has been serving up some of the best Cantonese food in the city since 1985. It’s still a popular gathering spot for off-duty chefs, graduation parties, and pretty much anyone seeking an excuse to don a bib and sloppily dig into the famed battered and fried salt-and-pepper Dungeness crab. Tender stir-fried R&G Special Beef also has a longstanding fan club.
Expect the unexpected from chef-owner Pete Mrabe’s trendy North Beach restaurant featuring Chinese comfort foods with Korean, Vietnamese, and Mexican influences. Think classic pot stickers, spicy wontons in a Thai vinaigrette, and fried chicken with a creamy sambal dip.
No need to decide between northern or southern Chinese food; this contemporary Lower Haight favorite has both and then some. Kick off your meal with fiery pork-and-hot-pepper-stuffed mala XLB (aka xiao long bao), then add an order of lusciously saucy orange, General Tso, or sesame chicken and a hot and sour soup for an epic feast that’ll have your tastebuds dancing.
If you like it hot, look no further than this ever-busy Michelin Bib Gourmand-recognized restaurant in Chinatown. Chef-owner Li Jun Han is known for Sichuan favorites, like Chicken With Explosive Chili Pepper — a mound of dried chiles revealing superb, tongue-numbing golden nuggets. Level up your order with spicy black-bean-accented string beans.
Skip the wait at FiDi’s Michelin Bib Gourmand-ranked dim-sum banquet hall by ordering in. Imagine delicately flavored snow pea shoot dumplings, breaded fried crab claws, doughnut-shaped spinach dumplings, and fully loaded BBQ pork fried rice, all in the comfort of your home. Focus on the dim sum options; they’ve made this place legendary for six decades.
Ready your phone for an Instagrammable feast, courtesy of this sleek Richmond District dim sum and hot pot destination. The traditional dumplings and contemporary counterparts, like scallop shumai, are artfully crafted by the revered Koi Palace team. Elegant additions include congee with crab or free-range chicken and wok dinners (try the decadent truffle lobster).
The Food Network’s docuseries “House of Fang” is making the lines even longer at Chinatown’s stylish 35-year-old institution. The Fang family’s contemporary, seasonally influenced spins on Chinese comfort foods include their famed fried sesame chicken, with glazed sweet potato and a tangy honey sauce, and the House Noodle, flecked with black sesame.
When a pot sticker includes mozzarella and corn, you know you’re not in Chinatown anymore. And that’s the point of this Bernal Heights newcomer. Chef and co-owner Sandy Zheng breaks boundaries with dishes that straddle tradition and innovation. Get the best of both worlds with bulgogi-stuffed dumplings and traditional hand-pulled dan dan noodles.
The six varieties of soup dumplings are the main event of this Hayes Valley restaurant. Try the famous numbing pork xiao long bao and ornately folded green vegetable dumplings, and don’t skip the crisped green onion pancakes and ginger-and-green-onion noodles.
Yes, the dumplings are fantastic at this family-owned Inner Richmond restaurant — check the vegetable steamed ones or XLB — but insiders know the wok dishes are fire. Enjoy the gluten-free kung pao chicken and soy-shellacked Shanghai chubby noodles in addition to dumpling heaven.
Heed the name of this Bernal Height to-go shop, and go straight for the lacquered, crackly-skinned whole or half roast duck. The folks behind Chinatown’s legendary Cantonese barbecue shop, Hing Lung, run this joint, so you’re in good hands with any barbecue dish. Order the honey-glazed barbecue pork with bao buns, hoisin sauce, and scallions while you’re at it.
The plump xiao long bao dumplings at this banquet-hall-like Richmond District dim sum house are as legendary as the juicy shumai, lightly browned pan-fried chive dumplings, and silken prawn-filled noodle rolls. Add dark-soy-sauce-tossed beef chow fun for an abundant spread.
With a window showcasing staff making wrappers, it’s no secret that this modest Sunset District spot offers ultrafresh dumplings. But nothing proves just how good those dumplings are than eating them. We love the Pork & Three Delicacies and tender fish and shiitake mushrooms. For a perfect meal, wash them down with the fully loaded beef noodle soup.
The Richmond District dining room may be low-key, but the Sichuan cuisine coming out of the Michelin Bib Gourmand-anointed kitchen is anything but. Flavor bomb your taste buds with cumin-crusted lamb. Turn up the heat with spicy fish bathing in a chili-enoki-mushroom-dotted broth. Refresh the palate with garlic-kissed sauteed pea sprouts. It’s ALL good.
This lesser-known gem has been introducing Outer Sunset diners to modern takes on Muslim Chinese cuisine for decades. Start your education with the iconic (and spicy) cumin-kissed lamb stir-fry, one of six types of mu shu, and offal (braised beef tongue! Stir-fried tripe!).
Even in its newer Chinatown digs, dining at this 100-plus-year-old American-influenced Cantonese institution is a SF food lover’s rite of passage. Get the beloved thick-skinned pork noodle rolls and tomato-y chow mein, but loyalists know you must also order the richly flavored jook and sweet Hong Kong–style milk tea.
Ghirardelli Square’s inventive, colorful Cantonese dumplings and seafood dishes are almost too pretty to eat. But the gourmet upgrades to dim-sum classics by the team behind Koi Palace and Dragon Beaux ensure the butter-infused lobster har gow, lotus-leaf-bundled abalone sticky rice, and Worcestershire-glazed Wagyu beef potstickers will be quickly devoured.
Here you’ll cry fowl in a good way because this Excelsior District locale is the spot to order whole or half roast duck; cold, free-range, soy sauce or salt-brined chicken; and shellacked sweet and sour chicken. Add a couple of wok-fried vegetable sides and you’ve got an instant banquet.
Brandon Jew’s casual cousin to his Michelin-starred Mister Jiu’s continues his quest to reinvent Chinese American cuisine with elevated Panda Express–style fare at approachable prices (no dish over $17!). That means grass-fed beef broccoli; fried rice fancied with kale, wild-caught shrimp, and Niman Ranch pork; and sweet-and-sour chicken emboldened with pineapple and hawthorne-honey sauce.
If you’ve yet to try Shaanxi, or Xi’an, cooking, this Outer Sunset’s restaurant is your chance. Some say you haven’t lived until you’ve tried its ropey, hand-pulled, mouth-numbing cumin lamb biang biang noodles. Ditto the Shaanxi-style “burger” — a sandwich-like specialty featuring pork, beef, lamb, or veggies on toasted flatbread.
U.C. students, Eater, and Michelin agree — downtown Berkeley’s Bib Gourmand-awarded Northern Chinese restaurant is awesome. The whole Peking duck with all the fixings; seafood fried rice loaded with scallops, calamari, and shrimp; and curated wine selections are instant dinner party starters, while $14.95 lunch specials keep locals flush with mildly spicy kung pao during the day.
Rice noodle roll lovers, rejoice: The famed Chinese chain’s downtown outpost offers an abundance of the slippery Cantonese dim-sum specialty, cheung fun, with various fillings and trademark dousings of light, slightly sweet soy sauce. Classic dumplings, noodle soups, and congee bowls round out the rice-based bonanza. A second Pleasanton location delivers similar excellent quality.
This mainstay is your entry to savoring the soup and noodle cravings of co-owner Wenyan Petersen’s diverse China upbringing. Slurp your way through the cuisines of Sichuan, Hunan, Yangzhou, and beyond with luscious chili-peanut-sauce-glossed dan dan noodles, sinus-clearing hot and sour soup, and savory shrimp-and-ham stir-fry — all made to order with fresh ingredients and sensitivity to dietary restrictions.
When you’re in the mood for Hunan cuisine, this affordable, understated downtown Berkeley haunt is here for you. Its extensive menu means there are plenty of worthy specialties, including stir-fried Chinese cauliflower dotted with bite-size bits of pork, brown-sauce-glossed stir-fried tripe, and brothy, red-pepper-rich braised pork belly with spongy fried tofu puffs.
Pretty much everyone has restaurateur Charles Hung’s 31-year-old Oakland-Chinatown Mandarin restaurant on their best-of list. The main attraction? Fat, chewy, hand-pulled noodles coated in sesame paste; nubby made-to-order pork and vegetable dumplings; crispy Shandong chicken bites coated in sweet brown sauce; and seductive bowls of hot and sour soup.
Upon opening in 2017, Grand Lake’s innovative dumpling house sprang to the top of many must-try lists for its thin-skinned cilantro-chicken shumai and wrinkly boiled pork, shrimp, and chive Ying Yang dumplings. But to stick with slippery-slurpy starters means missing garlicky egg noodles and irresistible build-your-own pork belly and lotus bun sliders.
Wok this way for vegetarian takes on familiar Chinese dishes in Oakland’s East Peralta. You’ll find textbook spring rolls, fried rice, and pot stickers, but save room. Its famous battered, fried, and generously sauced vegan orange “chicken” and General Tso’s mushrooms deserve a place at your table.
This Oakland Chinatown mini-chain is a tribute to mífěn, aka Guilin rice noodles, which is a popular street food of Guangxi province’s Guilin prefecture. Pick between thinly sliced beef brisket, barbecued pork, tangy pickled cabbage, or a meat combo, all paired with noodles, peanuts, scallions, and hard-boiled egg.
Cold noodles, soupy noodles, sauced-and-meat-topped noodles — any way you slurp ’em, it’s impossible not to weep with gratitude for the thick, bouncy dao xiao mian, Shanxi-style knife-shaved noodles, from chef-owner Jimmy Huang’s Old Oakland noodle house. Wherever your appetite leads you, include one or two of the Sichuan specialties and a bottle of housemade chile sauce.
If you’re craving dim sum, warming congee, clay-pot dishes, or all three, this Oakland Chinatown spot is for you. Along with pea sprout dumplings and pillowy barbecue pork buns, you’ll find less common treasures, like creamy fried durian puffs, plus 10 wonton soup options and clay pots highlighting main ingredients such as lamb, chicken, or frog.
Marvel at the seafood-y yet shrimp-free prawns with creamy honey-walnut sauce and flavorful (but porkless) pork fried rice at downtown Oakland’s plant-forward modern Chinese food haven. Or get your starchy fill of the pumpkin, taro, and tofu in a rich yellow curry sauce. Whatever you do, start with the crowd-pleasing deep-fried bean curd roll.
There are plenty of noodles and dumplings at owners Larry and Tammy Lu’s Sichuan restaurant, but the not-so-secret attraction is the numbing hot pot known as malatang. Choose your desired noodle type and level of spiciness, then add lamb, fish, or beef if you wish, and dig in.
Like the perpetual line of people waiting to get into this 30-plus-year-old Hong Kong-style West Alameda waterfront restaurant, you’re here for the dim sum that Eater deems the East Bay gold standard. Build your own banquet of classics — burnished turnip cake, black bean spare ribs — and don’t skip the saucy chicken feet.
The San Jose Mercury News calls this El Cerrito staple and its sister Berkeley restaurant “noodle nirvana” with good reason. Here, the regional Chinese noodle dishes are so diverse and delicious; famed local chef Martin Yan is a fan. Try the toothsome, beef, vegetable, and rice noodle (Jiangxi Stir Fry on the menu) or the brothy, ginger-scented Xinjiang lamb with noodles.
This stylish Solano Avenue spot is on fire, not only because of its seemingly perpetual Michelin Bib Gourmand ranking or use of local, sustainable ingredients, but also because its revered Sichuan specialties bring serious heat. Test your tolerance with chef John Yao’s fall-off-the-bone-tender five-spice pork shoulder, or soothe the palate with Hunan, Mandarin, or Cantonese dishes.
The 100-ish exciting regional dishes — featuring ingredients from head to hoof — indicate spice levels, and they’re your roadmap to ordering in. Ease in with mild sliced pork ribs seasoned with cumin, scallions, and peanuts or medium-spiced mapo tofu. Then ramp up with boiled fish in chili-oil-slicked broth. Don’t miss the savory-sweet glutinous rice balls.
Break out the Lazy Susan for your meal, courtesy of the sister restaurant to the Michelin-rated San Francisco Dumpling Home. Feast on beautiful handmade dumplings, noodles, and stir-fried veggies, and be sure to get the nubby, hearty shrimp, pork, and chive dumplings.
Along with textbook soup dumplings made on the spot, this low-key Shanghainese restaurant is where you can find burnished pan-fried pork buns with the perfect proportion of juicy, jammy filling and pillowy exterior. For a winning plan, load up on classic dumplings and an order of chili-sauced boiled fish.
Chef Yang Jian is an expert in Sichuan cooking, and one bite of his tender, water-boiled fish with spicy chili sauce proves it. His Sichuan-style (aka spicier) and regular (aka more tame) kung pao chicken both shine at this Solano Avenue staple. It was deemed one of Berkeley’s most destination-worthy restaurants by Eater in 2022 for a reason.
Vegan and vegetarian versions of Cantonese favorites make this plant-forward restaurant a haven for meatless munching. Order the spicy General Tso's chicken, chewy vegetarian potstickers, and a generous helping of the fried salt and pepper pumpkin appetizer.
In search of dumplings in Dublin? This Fallon Gateway Center strip mall stop promises an abundance of juicy, hand-folded soup dumplings similar to those at its sister Castro Valley restaurant. For the perfect spread, add slippery chicken dumplings, flaky beef rolls, and golden, sweet-tooth-satisfying fried buns with condensed milk.
Chef-owner Andy Tsang cooked at this date-night destination for nearly three decades before taking over and opening two sister Uncle Yu's restaurants. Today he caters to contemporary tastes with crunchy egg rolls and creamy honey walnut prawns alongside less traditional leafy salads and gluten-free and healthy selections.
The jiggly, thin-skinned Shanghainese delicacies, known as xiao long bao, at this family-owned spot inspire road trips. Get them along with sizable beef shumai, Hot Pocket–like, crispy-bottomed chive and scallop dumplings, and custard-filled “piggy buns” that look as cute as they sound.
The whole fried catfish wading in a fiery sauce and crowned with fresh and dried chiles, fried peanuts, and cooling herbs is reason enough to order from this Hunan haven. But there’s more to love, like the cult favorite glossy braised pig feet and the slightly crunchy cabbage mingled with thinly sliced pork.
House of Nanking by Brandon Tran
Yank Sing by Allie Tong