Travel to just about any city in America and, odds are, there’ll be a Chinese restaurant nearby. Convenient, inexpensive, and full of flavor, Chinese food is one of the country’s great adopted cuisines. From Sichuan and Canton to Shandong and Beijing, we’re a fortunate nation to have so many provincial Chinese cuisines represented not just in the larger metropolises but throughout the lower 48 and beyond. Whether you’re sampling San Tung’s addictive chicken wings on the run in San Francisco or tucking into some insanely delicious hand-pulled noodles from New York’s Xi’An Famous Foods, the restaurants on our list are certainly worth writing home about.
For our first-ever ranking, The Daily Meal searched America for the best Chinese takeout, from strip mall nooks and holes-in-the-wall to bustling Chinatown institutions and bold new kids on the block. We consulted our own group of chefs and city experts, James Beard Award-winning and nominated chefs like Ken Oringer and Anita Lo, and both nationally and locally trusted sources online and in print in cities across the country. Some great places didn't make the list, but after qualifying the food based on authenticity to regional cuisine, speed and of course, flavor, the food from 15 places emerged as the clear winners — and, as it turns out, the very best is in Chicago.
If you live near the Windy City and haven’t been to Lao Sze Chuan, here’s a word of advice: Go. Now. You can consider yourself fortunate to be living in the home of a Chinese restaurant of this caliber, run by Tony Hu, dubbed the mayor of Chinatown and proprietor of a handful of restaurants throughout the city. The Chinatown original is the best, though, and folks are lining up every night to get in. The Szechuan fare served here is spicy and intensely flavorful, and it’s racked up accolades including three forks from the Chicago Tribune and a designated ‘bib gourmand’ in the Michelin Guide. Classics like ma po tofu, cumin lamb, dry chili chicken, and twice-cooked pork are flawless, and the house specialties — like Tony’s Three Chili Chicken: sweet, crispy, moist, and not too spicy — will keep you coming back (or ordering delivery) again and again.
Katy’s Dumpling House in Chitown also placed on our list at #13, but since Lao Sze Chuan took the top spot, they are not only the place to find the best Chinese takeout in Chicago, but also in the entire country.