If it seems like there’s a Chinese restaurant on every street in America, that’s understandable. There are approximately 41,000 Chinese eateries in the United States, according to research by 24/7 Wall St.
In recognition of Chinese cuisine’s proud place in the American culinary tradition, 24/7 Wall St. has created a list of the most popular Chinese restaurants in each state.
The popularity of Chinese cuisine has reached every state and the District of Columbia. It is one of the oldest ethnic foods in the U.S., arriving in the mid-19th century during the Gold Rush in California, and the construction of the transcontinental railroads. With American cuisine in its infancy at that time, Chinese food, with its exotic flavors and fragrances, extended its popularity beyond Chinese immigrants. In time, the cuisine adapted spices and ingredients indigenous to the U.S. An example of this is the inclusion of broccoli, a vegetable not eaten in China, that is ubiquitous in Chinese cuisine.
Despite a racist backlash in the late 19th century that included restrictive immigration policies, Chinese food maintained its allure. A dish created by Chinese people in America called chop suey — a combination of meat, eggs, and vegetables — began to be served in Chinese restaurants around the turn of the 20th century. In a sense, chop suey is a microcosm of the American melting pot experience.
More authentic Chinese food began arriving into the United States in the 1960s and 1970s as immigration policies became less restrictive and the People’s Republic of China allowed greater freedom of travel.
Today, Chinese food is at or near the top of Americans’ favorite ethnic cuisines. We all know General Tso’s chicken and Peking Duck, sip seemingly limitless cups of Chinese tea, crack open fortune cookies, and hoard packets of duck sauce, Chinese mustard, and soy sauce.
For some Americans who are not Chinese, having dim sum — small portions of food served in steamer baskets — on Sundays is part of their weekly routine. And for many Jewish Americans, dining at a Chinese restaurant on Christmas is an annual ritual.
To identify the best Chinese restaurants in each state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the Chinese Restaurant Foundation’s annual Top 100 Awards and dozens of restaurants reviews, polls, and other internet sources. The 2014 Top 100 Chinese Restaurants represents the most recent available complete list. We reviewed average Yelp reviews for all restaurants considered. The best Chinese restaurant in a given state needed to be either among the Top 100 best Chinese restaurants or have the highest average Yelp rating of restaurants considered. All restaurants needed to have an average Yelp review of at least 3.0. The total number of Chinese restaurants in each state was obtained from ChineseMenu, a supplier and publication of online Chinese restaurant services produced by Chinese Restaurant News. These totals represent take-out restaurants only.