What’s The Best Chinese Food in the City?

by Prince Of Petworth — August 18, 2008 at 11:00 am 61 Comments


A friend of mine called me up asking for my recommendations and the only place I could think of was the noodle place on 6th Street in China Town. So help us out! What’s the best Chinese (and Chinese takeout) in the City?

Here were the recommendations for best Latino/Mexican, hidden restaurants, Italian, Sushi, Indian, falafel, Ethiopian, and Middle Eastern.

  • Anonymous

    City Lights in dupont has some good veg options. the kung pao tofu is good and Mr Katz crispy tofu too. Im more of a Pan Asian Fusion kind of a guy though really. Chinese Food gives me the bloats.

  • GeorgiaAve

    The best Chinese food in the DC area is not in DC…you need to head for the Maryland suburbs. A & J in Rockville is excellent, but I don’t make it out there very often. For the most part Chinese food in the city is abysmal. The only place I ever go to is Mr. Chen’s in Woodley Park.

  • K North of U

    I’ve heard that Great Wall near 14th and Q is quite authentic if you ask for items that are not listed on the menu.

  • Odentex

    Better question: where does everyone order from in Petworth for delivery? We haven’t found a good one yet, just a few also-rans.

  • Anonymous

    go to chinatown express in china town if you want authentic. I didnt say it was good. athentic though.

  • GeorgiaAve

    oh, we’ve done the where do you get delivery survey many times. The answer is that practically no one delivers to Petworth except the hideous places like Dannie’s and the like. Moroni is the only place I ever order delivery from.

    I heard on this blog a while back that Mr. Chen’s would deliver to Petworth, but I called and asked and they said no. Hopefully some of the new places in CH will deliver eventually. I asked Pete’s Apizza about it. The owner lives in Petworth and said at the moment he just couldn’t handle a delivery service, but maybe one day…

  • dcmacgirl

    Don’t know if it’s the “best”, but I actually really like Peking Garden on 18th in Adams Morgan. They do deliver to CH, but don’t know about Petworth.

  • DCDireWolf

    I like Mr. Chen’s in Woodley Park, and they have delivered to me in CH before. You have to ask really nicely though.

  • SG

    Yeah, you can find some great Chinese in MD and VA suburbs like Annandale, Fairfax, Rockville, Wheaton, Falls Church, etc … the “ethnic areas” if you will.

    DC proper has a few. I like City Lights in Dupont. It’s quite good. Mr. Chen’s in Woodley Park is ok too. Also the Mayflower in Bethesda is great, so I’m sure the one in Tenleytown is good as well.

  • ACameron

    Great Wall on 14th down near Logan Circle is indeed very good, and due to popularity they’ve added the “secret” items to the regular menu, they’re listed under ma la or ma po dishes and are insanely spicey.

  • Anonymous

    Chinatown Express @ 746 6th St. NW. Get the fresh noodles to go, it comes with awesome sauces and stuff to put on the noodles, cheap as all hell too.

  • reuben

    I agree with City Lights. I usually pick it up on the way home from work (I live on the Red Line)

  • Alan

    Mei Wah at 21st, New Hampshire and M. The food is better than City Lights (former favorite) and the service far superior.

    Vegetarians and vegans rejoice.

  • MtP

    City Lights is OK. Mr Chens is better than average, the best place used to be Yuengching Palace, but that closed last year…pough.
    Mayflower is gross, just like every other hooded out carryout in this city. Note to self, if they have submarines, pizza and chinese food, don’t bother.

  • North Sea in Adams Morgan has good carry out – lots of great mock meat stuph for us vegetarians.
    Thanks for the tip on Great Wall, ACameron – hopefully they’ve got a vegetarian version of Ma Po Tofu (it often has the other white meat in it).

  • heatherf

    I don’t know that I call it good and probably not at all authentic, but I like the sketchy place called George’s on Georgia and Farragut NW. It’s cheap, they don’t use MSG and I’ve never had anything icky there before. They deliver which is a plus, but if you spend over $20 and pick up they give you 2 free sodas.

  • BS

    Best in the city??? Hand’s down = Full Kee in Chinatown.
    Best for delivery? We’re big fans of Peking Express on U St. around 14th. Really great Black Bean suace and Eggplant with Garlic sauce. They deliver all the way up to N. Columbia Heights, so I would imagine Petworth wouldnt be off their map either.

  • New2CH

    Why on god’s green earth can we not get ONE decent Chinese place in DC? It is truly mind-boggling. Agreed that Chinatown Express is the best (and although not generally good, Tony Cheng’s dim sum lunch is actually quite tasty) but none are remotely as good as five places I could list in Boston or probably 100 in NYC. Simply bizarre — Chinese and moderate, good Italian are the two enormous holes in the D.C. food scene …

  • Anonymous

    Oh, and Oriental East off of East West Highway has good dim sum.

  • taylor

    Mr. Chen’s Organic Chinese is the best! But I’m only talking about Americanized “Chinese Food” and not actual Chinese cuisine. I have no idea where to get the latter, but I don’t mind because I love Mr. Chen’s. Get the Peking Duck Rolls.

  • Mei Wah is the best.

    And of course Yums if you are really, really drunk.

  • Lau

    I’ve always ordered from Mr. Chen’s just because, irrationally, “organic” goes hand-in-hand with “relatively clean” in my mind. Again, I recognize this is probably unjustified. But I have to say, I’ve had a couple of really bad experiences with them. Back when I used to eat fish, there were two times I ordered a shrimp dish and the shrimp were cooked to the point of being paste-like. And once I ordered vegi dumplings and they brought me pork, which I then had to throw out.

  • Anonymous

    I live in woodley park. I agree that Mr Chens is good but a few quick notes of warning. Dont eat there. The ambiance sucks and the delivery guys are usually massaging their feet a booth over. they also yell a lot. Get it take out or delivery. Also dont get the mooshu cause instead of asian pancakes they give you (drum roll please) TORTILLAS. Not even kidding. the first time i thought they must have ran out but the second time was a month later. that being said they are one of the few places that has crispy shitake mushroom appetizer. and their spring rolls are pretty good too.

  • saf

    I like MeiWah just above Washington Circle.

  • Fellow Petworthian

    Odentex- For delivery in Petworth try Simon’s up at Georgia & Kennedy. Not too bad for ‘hood chinese. Also, Lucky Ginger is okay too, that is farther up Georgia, just north of Walter Reed. I believe they will deliver to Petworth.

    My favorite chinese restaurant has been torn down, it was Lei Garden in Chinatown. Now where it once was is just a hole in the ground. I just tried Full Kee, had the shrimp dumpling soup hong kong style, pretty good. Service is spotty, make sure you aren’t in a rush!

  • saf

    Oh, and for dim sum – Hollywood East on the Boulevard, on University in Wheaton just west of Georgia Ave.

  • ShermanCircle

    I would echo BS’ shout out to the Full Kee. Very good chinatown grub. City Lights is pretty good, and I also have enjoyed the Oriental East in Silver Spring.

  • DCDireWolf

    My office gets MeiWah every payday, and I’m not very impressed.

  • Chris of Colorado Corner

    City Lights on Connecticut north of R Street NW in Dupont Circle.

  • Anonymous

    Mei Wah is the best locally, but that isn’t saying much.

  • cristobal

    whats the chinese place in that strip mall with 711, the liquor store, and dominos, off of hawaii across from the catholic soccer field?…. whatever its called, thats the place we order from. go ahead, hate on it, but my roomates and i shower in that sh*t 🙂

  • ACameron

    Binkles – ma po tofu sans chicken is defintely available, a friend orders it often!

  • Kalia

    Cristobal, its called Hunan Delight and its on Hawaii Ave.

  • cristobal

    thanks kalia… are you familiar with the deliciousness that is hunan delight on hawaii ave?

  • Anonymous

    We’re big fans of North Sea. They deliver to Petworth, are supernice, the food’s great and the prices are really reasonable.

  • Nichole

    I’ve long been a fan of Eat First in Chinatown. Although the menu is almost too large to be anything other than hit or miss (particularly combined with the number of specials posted on the walls in Chinese), I’ve always enjoyed my food there (even tofu things, which is rare for this dedicated consumer of animal flesh). It’s super cheap and has always been really fast, even in the middle of a lunch rush.

  • New2CH

    A dissenting view from a few comments above: Full Key is not horrible (which distinguishes it from most of Chinatown) but nor is it good; never really understood the hype. I tried Mr. Chen’s twice and I thought it was very, very poor quality … not a good experience. I need to hit the places in Rockville that are supposed to be better — but better yet, why doesn’t one of them open a DC branch? They would make a KILLING if they delivered, wouldn’t even matter where they located in DC (so they could find a place with cheap rents …).

  • Chris in Eckington

    My vote for best overall goes to East First in Chinatown. The interior is not much to look at, but dishes such as tofu stuffed with shrimp in black bean sauce are awesome!
    A lot of local chefs like Full Kee in Chinatown because it’s open late (4am on weekends I think) and has good noodle soup and shrimp dumplings. They dont’ take credit cards, however.

  • loganmo

    I typically enjoy Mr. Chen’s. For those thinking that organic = clean, I would advise you to stick to delivery and not get carry out. The options there are typical for American Chinese food, but a lot less greasy and a bit more tasty.

  • reuben

    I also think Simon’s is a cut or two above what so many of you are fond of calling “Ghetto Chinese.”

  • j

    Though hard to get to Yuan Fu in Rockville is my favorite. Only vegatarian too!

  • Rachel

    If you are a big sesame chicken fan then there is a place across the street from the Ballston Metro. Its out there, but its goooood.

  • GforGood

    PoP, an off topic admin suggestion: perhaps these restaurant discussions could be accompanied by a poll (with a few candidates and the possibility of suggesting your own AND for others to vote on your candidate too)? Also, it would be great if the comments would be posted in a reverse order, i.e. the new ones at the top.

  • Odentex

    I’ll have to try out Simon’s. Thanks fellas. We’ve ordered from George’s before and it wasn’t the worst ever, but I’m looking for something better.

  • Great Wall Sezuan House at 14th and Q! Their cold sesame noodle appetizer is amazing, as is everything I’ve tried. You will often see large Chinese families sitting here eating a meal together, which I always take a sign of goodness.

  • Fellow Petworthian

    Odentex- 202-882-FOOD for Simon’s

  • Neener

    My girlfriend and I got food poisoning at A+Js in Rockville so bad that we sent an email to Montgomery County to inspect them. I went to go see a doctor during day 2 of it.

    The Yengching Palace was historic for the Nixon connection, but I got bland food from there twice and never went back for a third time.

    My favorite is Hollywood East in Wheaton, Yuan Fu in Rockville, City Lights third and Mei Wah is also decent. I find all the Penn Quarter restaurants like Full Kee to be good but unmemorable. I mean, I used to sort of like Mr. Ks way back when.

    But I don’t think there are really any “good” Chinese restaurants in DC, not really really good places. City Lights comes closest to 100% dependable to me.

  • DC20010

    I’m a huge fan of O’Tasty on Columbia Road. Great General’s chicken and a big delivery area.

  • Eric

    Great Wall is fantastic and authentic Szechuan. There are about 9 menu items at the end of the times. I recommend the Ma Po Tofu, the Ma La Wanton, the double cooked pork and the boiled beef. Great Wall is probably not as good as places like Joe’s Noodle House in Rockville…or at least not as extensive. But the authentic items are very, very good.

  • Tatts

    unfortunately, the Verizon Center destroyed what was once a thriving and very authentic Chinatown, and most of the little mom & pop eateries disappeared with soaring property values. but you can still find good stuff if you know what you are doing. in Chinatown, Big Wong and Eat First do a pretty damned good job of schezuan/hunan style food that is reasonably priced. also in the city, Great Wall is not bad.

    but in the greater DC area, Bob’s Noodle House and and Bob’s 88 Shabu in Rockville easily outclass any other place for authentic Taiwanese style cooking. you know you’ve hit the right spot when you look across the dining room and 90% of the customers are chinese.

    A & J in Rockville is good if you prefer northern chinese food, but it’s a bit more bland than the southern chinese and Tiawanese fare. to the writer that commented they got food poisoning there, food poisoning can occur from a number of different sources, not all related to a problem with the restaurant’s cleanliness. and unless you had a stool sample tested and the DNA of your bug matched with something at the restaurant, you should not necessarily ascribe it to A&J–it could be from anything you ate in the prior 48 hours, depending on what pathogen made you sick. (or it could be from something else unclean you touched in that same time frame).

  • alaaro

    I’m a big City Lights fan, and they deliver to CH, which is shocking.

    Full Kee is very good too. I also like New Big Wong, both for the name, and for the fact that it is crazy cheap and open late.

  • Katie

    It’s funny that you ask. I can tell you my LEAST favorite Chinese place, in the form of a disturbing story.

    After leaving Bar Pilar, I made the terrible decision to go to Yum’s (14th and T) last Friday night. I hadn’t eaten dinner and in a moment of weakness (insanity) decided to inflict some Kung Pao chicken on myself. I went into Yum’s and got in line behind a couple hipsters and a homeless-looking dude. The homeless-looking dude had placed three large, bloody styrofoam Safeway containers of some kind of raw meat on the counter. The old Chinese lady behind the counter was saying “Ten dolla! I give you ten dolla!” and the homeless dude said that was fine. The hipsters and I exchanged wide-eyed glances as it dawned on us that this dude was *selling* meat to the restaurant, meat that he had somehow obtained from Safeway… probably in an unsavory manner… anyway needless to say, I left Yum’s, never to return.

  • Aha we’ve got a MayFlower here in town too…Just wonder why so many restaurant called MayFlower? Btw I found cook some Chinese food is not as complecated as I thought, I found a lot of tips at Chinese Food

  • Danny Noonan

    Yenching Palace was the best. But they closed, they were one of the first American Chinese food restaurants in America. The Cuban Missle Crisis was also solved at Yenching. I loved that place.

  • Otis Pl

    Katie- Wow, just Wow.

    What a story.

  • Sheepy

    Everyone recommending City Lights is crazy. Their sauces all taste like bad jar-varieties of what I’d hope would be home-made in a restaurant! So far, Eat First on 6th and H is the best Chinese I’ve had in the city. I’m hoping this thread will help me find something as good as my beloved Seven Seas in College Park, MD, though.

  • 900quincy

    In Petworth, I think Sing Long is better than the others. I’ll have to give Simon’s a try too.

  • Park Road Chick

    I’ve had decent to good food at Sichuan Pavilion on K Street, over by Nirvana – http://sichuanpavilion.googlepages.com/

    Once I ordered spicy beef noodle soup and the waiter insisted, despite my protests, that he would have the kitchen make it milder for me. It was a good call. Damn spicy!

    Which can be a good thing:


  • Park Road Chick

    Peking Garden, in Adams Morgan (on that strip by L’Enfant, toward Florida Ave) is also pretty inoffensive: http://washingtondc.menupages.com/restaurantdetails.asp?areaid=0&restaurantid=23179&neighborhoodid=174&cuisineid=0&delivery=Y

    I’ve had decent delivery from there in CH.

  • Anonymous

    You have to go to the burbs to get good chinese food. A & Js in Rockville and Annandale is hands down the best.

  • Dupont Worker

    I have to put in New Dynasty in Dupont. They use the best quality of meat and it really comes through in the final taste. Try the beef & broccoli and you will notice a real difference.


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