The Best Restaurants in Chinatown, Boston

By Jacqueline Cain
The Best Restaurants in Chinatown, Boston
Credit: Brian Samuels Photography

Chinatown is as centrally located as it gets in Boston, yet the enclave has enough character—and authentic dining options—to make it feel a world away. Whether you're craving classic Chinese food or something a little different, you'll find it on Chinatown's nine bustling blocks. The neighborhood is worth exploring any time of day. There are more eateries than anyone can reasonably try in a lifetime, though we've eaten our way around, from dumplings and noodles to airy cakes and puffed-up waffles. Check out our expert picks for the best restaurants in Chinatown.

Peach Farm

Salt and pepper shrimp from Peach Farm one of the Best Late-Night Food in Boston
Credit: Brian Samuels Photography

Open until midnight every day, Peach Farm is a longtime Chinatown favorite of pretty much every chef in Boston. This seafood-focused spot on Tyler Street is beloved for late-night hours, but more so for fresh and delicious Chinese food. Deep-fried Spicy Salted Shrimp are stellar with or without a cold Tsingtao, and the Lobster with Ginger and Scallions is a top treatment of our local bounty. We also love the Roast Pork Lo Mein, Stir Fried seasonal vegetables, and House Fried Rice, which enhances the simple pleasure of the dish with Chinese sausage and scallops. Dining in at one of the pink-clothed tables must be experienced at some point by every Bostonian, but we also appreciate that Peach Farm offers nightly pickup and delivery.

Dumpling Cafe

Exterior of Dumpling Cafe

An impressively long menu of inexpensive, spice-packed, Taiwanese and Szechuan flavors (and a midnight closing time) has made Dumpling Cafe a go-to for budget-conscious diners and seasoned dumpling seekers alike. This place is best known for dumplings, of course, from the soup-filled specimens—called Mini Juicy Buns on the menu—to the simply named Taiwan Style Pan Fried Dumpling, a must-order of eight crispy tubes filled with the most fragrant minced pork. Roasted Duck Buns and an appetizer wrap of Roast Beef with Scallion Pancakes are other bite-sized delights. If you make your way to other sections of the menu, we love the savory Taiwan Style Noodles, which carry the distinct aroma and flavor of wok hei; and the head-on Salt and Pepper Shrimp. 

Hand-pulled noodles from Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe | Where to Find the Best Chinese Food in Boston
Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe

Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Cafe is technically just beyond the borders of Chinatown. Close enough, however—and exceptionally worth a visit for fans of authentic Chinese food. The namesake BBQ flatbread sandwiches are tasty (and inexpensive), but the move here is ordering the hand-pulled noodles you’ll see staff stretching out—and slapping down—behind the counter. The classic way to enjoy these chewy, doughy noodles is in Gene’s #4, which smothers them in mounds of garlic and an oily, fiery-red pepper sauce. Or, you can swing for #9, topped with cumin-spiced lamb. Gene’s also makes soul-warming noodle soups. Just plan accordingly: the Boston location closes by 6:30 p.m. and isn’t open on Sundays. (Suburban outposts in Woburn and Westford stay open a bit later.)

Taiwan Cafe

Taiwan Cafe | The Best Restaurants in Chinatown, Boston
Credit: Chris McIntosh

Here’s a pro tip: When Dumpling Cafe is inevitably on a wait, head over to Taiwan Cafe, slightly off the beaten path on Oxford Street and with a similarly huge and high-quality menu. Both spots are owned by chef Peter Wang (who’s also behind Allston’s excellent Dumpling Kingdom, among other Boston Chinese restaurant staples). The tiny Taiwan Cafe gets busy as well, but service is extremely fast and efficient; you’ll hardly wait at all. Along with Mini Juicy Buns and the Taiwan Style Pan Fried Dumpling, Pan Fried Pork Buns are some of our favorites here. Beyond dumplings, the deep-fried House Special Fried Pork Chop on Rice and spicy Home Style Braised Eggplant with Basil always satisfy—and arrive at the table piping hot.  

Shojo in Boston
Credit: Brian Samuels Photography

Looking for a late-night, alcoholic drink in Chinatown used to mean asking for “cold tea” in a hushed whisper. Since Shojo entered the scene in 2012, now you can ask for a beer, a Mai Tai, or a Japanese whiskey highball as loudly as you want. In fact, you probably should speak up, just make sure you can be heard over the old school hip-hop soundtrack. Shojo is representative of the new guard in this historic ‘hood, where the son of a longtime local restaurateur launched a growing group of pan-Asian hot spots. The food at Shojo is every bit as irreverent and funky as the atmosphere (which also features a storytelling graffiti wall and a TV showing schlocky kung fu movies on loop). Asian American mash-ups like succulent Pig Bao drizzled with smoky barbecue sauce and kimchi; C-Town Chicken N Waffles on puffy Hong Kong-style waffles with Chinese five-spice butter; and an excellent burger and fries make perfect sense in this vibrant dining district.


Ruckus | The Best Restaurants in Chinatown, Boston
Credit: Danh Nguyen

This Chinatown noodle house was born from the popular bowls of ramen Shojo formerly offered as a lunchtime special. Ruckus eventually took over an adjacent space on Tyler Street and now brings the ruckus every day, with equally loud food—and hip-hop soundtrack—as its big sister. Springy noodles are made fresh in-house daily to fill up bowls of long-simmered Miso chicken and pork broth. Choose Spicy or regular Tori Miso Ramen, topped with grilled thick-cut pork belly, a soy-marinated egg, ginger-scallion oil, greens, butter, and togarashi. There are also seasonal specials, like Red Coconut Pumpkin Curry; a couple of side dishes, such as Papa Moy’s Handmade Peking Ravioli; and add-on Swag (toppings) including Ruckus Spicy Paste, a super-umami, house-made chili condiment. Ruckus is open daily for quick-service lunch and dinner.

Pho Pasteur

Pho Pasteur in Boston
Credit: Brian Samuels Photography

Though it’s been a landmark in Boston’s Chinatown for more than 30 years, nobody should come to Pho Pasteur expecting Chinese food: This is a longtime favorite for Vietnamese cuisine. When it comes to pho, the soul-warming soup, Pho Pasteur’s extra-large bowl of zesty Beef Noodle Soup is our go-to, served steaming with a veritable salad of aromatics. There are other times when something cooler hits the spot, such as the oversized Bun Thit Heo Nuong, or vermicelli noodles topped with sweet, thin-sliced pork, lettuce and herbs, peanuts, and a tangy fish sauce. The sizable menu has dishes all under $20, many even under $15, and quality is never skimped, so it’s a de facto date spot for all the college students in Downtown Boston. For folks south of the city, Pho Pasteur also has a location in Quincy. 

Tora Japanese Restaurant

Tora Japanese Restaurant
Credit: Brian Samuels Photography

In Chinatown and craving Japanese food? Check out Tora Japanese Restaurant, which specializes in kaisen don, or rice bowls with sashimi. This subterranean spot on Tyler Street expertly slices fresh seafood for brimming bowls like Kuromon Don, loaded with yellowtail, salmon, tuna, mackerel, and red snapper; and Sake Aisuru Don, a salmon lover’s dream with sashimi, salmon belly, and minced salmon. Tora also offers picture-perfect maki rolls, nigiri, hot appetizers and entrees, and some of the best poke in Boston. Try the Tuna and Salmon Spicy Shoyu Poke, with big chunks of fish with a colorful array of toppings including plump edamame and crunchy wonton crisps. If you’re dining in, don’t overlook the small but mighty selection of sake, which includes several single-serve selections like the kawaii Lucky Dog Sake Juicebox.

Eric Twardzik contributed reporting

May’s Cake House

May’s Cake House in Boston
Credit: Chris McIntosh

Chinatown is chock full of mom-and-pop bakeries specializing in sweet and savory treats like egg tarts, filled buns, and airy cakes. Pass by the busier bakeries near the food court on Beach Street—OK, sure, why not pop into them all and drop less than $5 on a few hot dog buns and mooncakes—and make your way to May’s Cake House for our favorite. A hole-in-the-wall, cash-only basement location on Harrison Avenue, this spot off the main drag has plush char xiu bao and pineapple buns available for pocket change, kept warm behind the counter (you’ll have to ask for them). The bakery cases are mainly reserved for party-ready cakes that taste even better than they look, with an impossibly light crumb, just-sweet-enough whipped cream topping, and fresh fruit decorations. That’s not even all: May’s also Chinatown’s best-kept secret when it comes to dim sum. Arrive early in the day (it’s open 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.) for a chance to try the cheung fun (steamed rice noodle) filled with beef or shrimp.

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