America’s first Chinese restaurant is said to have been Canton, which opened in San Francisco in 1849. Today there are more than 40,000 such eating places nationwide. It’s hard to find a city or town anywhere in the country that doesn’t have at least one — and according to data released by Google, Chinese is the most popular “ethnic” cuisine in the U.S., edging out Mexican and well ahead of Italian.
These are tough times for Chinese restaurants, however. Even before the pandemic that some insist on calling the “Chinese virus” began affecting business in Chinatowns from coast to coast, the New York Times reported that veteran Chinese restaurateurs were retiring, with nobody to pass their businesses along to, so the number of such places around the country was decreasing.
That number will almost certainly shrink further as a result of business downturns and enforced, if theoretically temporary, restaurant closings in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. (Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus and America’s restaurants.)
Because we like Chinese food so much as a nation, and because we’re optimistic that the current situation will improve, 24/7 Tempo has assembled a list of the best Chinese restaurants in every state, based on Yelp reviews and ratings.
These include places specializing in dumplings and/or noodles; authentic regional Chinese restaurants serving dishes that might sometimes be unfamiliar to American diners; and good, old-fashioned Chinese-American establishments with menus full of familiar dishes, some of them actually invented in this country, like General Tso’s chicken and those inevitable end-of-meal fortune cookies. (Here are 20 “foreign” foods that are really American.)
Note that some of these restaurants may be temporarily closed or offering only takeout or delivery services.
To identify the best Chinese restaurant in every state, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the top-rated restaurants nationwide in the Chinese category on Yelp. To be considered, restaurants needed to be in or near a city with a population of at least 100,000 people. In states with few or no cities of this size, restaurants in smaller cities were also considered. This data was obtained on March 13, 2020. Chain restaurants, food trucks, and take-out places without seating were eliminated from the list, as were Chinese markets unless they had in-store restaurants.