Chicago boasts an astounding variety of Chinese restaurants, but the kind you are most likely to come across depends on where you live. In the north central part of the city, you’ll mostly find a unique version of Chinese American cooking, in which cooks flavor egg rolls with peanut butter. Go north to the Asia on Argyle historic district of Uptown, where classic Cantonese restaurants beckon with dim sum and Peking duck. And around the city’s various university villages are plenty of cute, modern Taiwanese cafes serving beef soup, popcorn chicken, and bubble tea. But if you head to the South Side, the restaurants in and around Chinatown offer every regional style of Chinese cuisine, with a special emphasis on Sichuan. There are outliers in every delivery area, though. As you’ll see below, we’ve got you covered, whether you’re looking for dan dan noodles or lo mein.
This Lincoln Park restaurant serves handmade dim sum all day every day, and it’s a godsend for the many of us who live between Chinatown and Uptown. Steamed barbecue pork buns and chive dumplings are headliners, but the full menu holds many surprises, such as ginger-and-scallion chicken and exemplary Yang Chow fried rice, filled with shrimp and barbecue pork.
One of Chicago’s favorite Sichuan restaurants has expanded its footprint to locations throughout the metro area (and nationwide), so just about everyone has access to its smashed cucumber salad, dry chile chicken, and xiao long bao, or soup dumplings. Don’t miss the spicy hot pot on the “secret menu.”
Opened as a paean to old-timey Chinese American restaurants with attached tiki bars, this retro spot fills an important niche: The food is familiar but elevated in notable ways. If you’re hungry for vegan or gluten-free options, look no further — and don’t sleep on the kung pao tofu. If you need something to help absorb the spice, the dan dan noodles are redonkulous. The egg rolls and crab rangoon are what you remember, just better.
This Sichuan spot opened in 2017 in Chinatown Square to good reviews and better word of mouth, helping to revitalize the mall. Leave the signature hot pots and grilled items for a visit and order in the incredible Chengdu dumplings, the cumin short ribs, and the Chongqing-style whole fish. And you’re gonna have to trust us and add the pig oil green onion cold noodles — even if you already have the always-popular dan dan noodles in your cart. They’re inhalable.
This favorite Chinese mini-chain specializes in hot, fluffy steamed buns filled with a variety of ingredients that range from the expected (barbecue pork, teriyaki chicken) to the novel (cheeseburger bao, anyone?) to the sweet (coconut custard). You can order them in any combination with a rice bowl or noodle salad. The Thai herb bone broth is just what we need to get through the winter.
Here’s one of the greats among the new breed of Sichuan restaurants populating Bridgeport. Think spicy wontons, Chongqing noodles with braised beef, and toasted bing breads split and stuffed with pork belly, cilantro, and serrano peppers. Choose a few items from the small-plate section of the menu, titled “Szechwan tapas,” and get a fruit tea for dessert.
Stephanie Izard’s West Loop empire of “goat” restaurants includes this brash, elegant entry where duck fried rice is the star of the show and all of the dishes show off the chef's personality and perspective. We love the appetizers, which include jiaozi — pot stickers filled with beef short rib and bone marrow — and the duck and goat spring rolls. The various combo options permit you to try a little of everything.
This restaurant specializes in the kind of Chinese food popular in India, which is appealingly sweet and spicy. Specialties of the genre include fried vegetable fritters in a hot-and-sour Manchurian sauce, chile-garlic thin noodles, burned garlic fried rice, and deep-fried baby corn in a ginger-garlic sauce. Paneer is offered as a vegetarian substitute in many preparations.
Now with three locations in the metro area, this restaurant offers a canny mix of big snacks and full dishes, much (but not all) of it on the spicier side of the spectrum. Try the flatbreads filled with cumin lamb, the colorful and ultra-snarfable biang biang noodles, and the crispy roast duck. Dinner combos are the way to go.
This centrally located spot is our top choice when we’re hangry. The prices are low, the portions generous, and the delivery comes so fast that the cartons are often steamy and nearly too hot to handle when we open them. Think of it as your go-to for lo mein, orange chicken, and egg foo yong.
At this Chicago classic, the egg rolls have a bit of peanut butter mixed into the filling, the mixed vegetables feature coins of crisp water chestnut, and the cashew chicken brings the kind of comfort that generations of takeout orderers have long craved. Don’t forget to pay your respects to General Tso — He rules here.
This gently upscale Logan Square restaurant has devised recipes its fans can’t get enough of. Its spicy peanut chicken takes kung pao one step further with a bit of peanut butter folded into the sauce, and the Sidewalk Noodles arrive in a savory sauce with plump garlic shrimp. The lunchtime bento box, with protein, greens, and a treat, offers a nice reward for those working from home.
At this Taiwanese cafe, you’ll find street food, perfect little bento boxes, and some of the city’s best boba teas vying for your attention. You can never go wrong with one of those bentos featuring, say, crispy popcorn chicken, a soy sauce egg, grilled tofu, and bok choy. The chicken sandwich, with cubes of fried tofu, is loads of fun, but you can’t check out without a brown sugar boba latte.
The team behind the Wicker Park and Lincoln Park branches of the Chinatown restaurant Dongpo Impression has brought some of the city’s best Sichuan food to parts of the city starving for it. Everyone loves the dan dan noodles and the dry chile shrimp. Cumin beef or lamb comes in a kicky toss of jalapeños and onion. If you really want a taste of Sichuan, try the Heart-Breaking Rice Jelly, a treat of rice jelly strips in a spicy sauce; as the story goes, its heat might bring you to tears.
This Chinatown classic has made the smart decision to clone itself in various locations throughout the city and suburbs. Now everyone can experience its fine Cantonese cooking. The vast menu encompasses dim sum (try the honey short ribs), barbecue (duck, chicken, and pork) and even live seafood, like Dungeness crab.
A favorite street food of northern China, jianbing consists of an eggy crêpe stuffed with crisp raw veggies and whatever fillings float your boat, such as shrimp, minced pork, surimi, or hot dogs. Think of a big, filling, and gloriously messy burrito.
This old Chinatown favorite has everything you’d expect on a time-tested Cantonese menu, but there’s one dish we need to bring to your attention: barbecue pork belly. Cut into cubes, this wonder features tender meat, crunchy skin and a bit of slick fat uniting the two. You can get some veggies and fried rice and call it a day, but if you’ve got a crowd, the Mongolian beef is a good bet.
Hot pot can be a tough choice for delivery, but this Lincoln Park spot — a branch of Bridgeport’s A Place by Damao — has cracked the code. Chengdu hot pot is a single-serving creation that offers a selection of meat, mushrooms, glass noodles, and more, all ready to travel. The Chengdu sausage fried rice is a wonder, and the spicy crinkle-cut fries are a necessary add-on to any order.
Sometimes you don’t want a lot of choices, and for those times, 3 Sauces does the trick. Here, the house specialty is Hainanese chicken rice, tender slices of chicken that have been poached with aromatics and are served with a large portion of rice cooked in the flavorful broth. With cucumbers, soup, and sauces, it’s a complete meal. If you want to switch it up, there’s a version with panko-breaded chicken and a couple of fun croissant sandwiches for kicks.
This perennial Lakeview favorite serves easygoing dishes influenced by different Asian cuisines, and it watches out for vegetarians. Seitan, tofu and soy gluten can sub in most of the dishes on the menu, which includes chop suey and pad thai.
People wait an hour or more to get into Chinatown’s QXY dumpling house, but this offshoot in the Loop offers the same quality in an abbreviated menu. It’s a fine spot to order from when you have a big, hungry crew because you can order platters of the dumplings, including pork and cabbage, lamb and coriander, and chicken and mushroom. There are even truffle dumplings with beef, if you’re feeling fancy.
This grand old Uptown dim sum parlor has one of those menus as long as a book. Just know you won’t go wrong ordering shumai, barbecue pork buns, and red bean buns. Throw in some salt-and-pepper calamari and Chinese broccoli in oyster sauce, and you’re off to a strong start.
This tiny strip-mall restaurant does a mighty job with delivery for diners in and around Lincoln Square. Plump pot stickers, kung pao chicken, and sweet and sour shrimp set the tone. This is the dependable Chinese American food we all grew up with.
Elevated renditions of old favorites are the calling cards at this restaurant, which now counts three outlets. Take a hint from the name and go right to the noodle section of the menu, where Hong Kong beef chow fun, lobster noodle soup, and a great house chow mein await. A dozen handmade dumplings bob about in the warming wonton soup.
Here’s one of the boisterous restaurants that has turned Bridgeport into an extension of Chinatown. Don’t sleep on the boiled cabbage-and-pork dumplings and the spicy orange chicken. Of special note is yu xiang eggplant in a tangy bean sauce.
Wow Bao courtesy of Wow Bao
QXY Dumplings by Tim McCoy