clock menu more-arrow no yes
Phoenix Inn
Inside Phoenix Inn in LA’s Chinatown
Elizabeth Daniels

16 Essential Restaurants in Los Angeles’s Chinatown

Chinatown’s bounty includes Cantonese classics, tacos, Hainan chicken, and more

View as Map
Inside Phoenix Inn in LA’s Chinatown
| Elizabeth Daniels

COVID-19 was harsh for Los Angeles restaurants, but was especially cruel to Chinatown. LA’s Chinatown was the first area to experience a rapid slowdown in the early days of the pandemic, where diners avoided the neighborhood in droves, despite evidence that the infection wasn’t centered there.

But by the time this falsehood was debunked, the damage was already done. For a good part of 2020, Chinatown became a ghost town, with longtime tenants like New Dragon Seafood and Michelin starred Okiburu closing permanently.

Chinatown is feeling quite festive these days, with more pedestrians and indoor dining for legendary spots like Phoenix Inn and Won Kok, a new street food Indian restaurant, and a new food stand inside of Los Angeles State Historic Park. Here now are 16 essential spots to try in Los Angeles’s Chinatown.

Added: Amboy, Cargo Snack Shack, Kati Roll, Katsu Sando, Maxwell Chicken Rice, Pearl River Deli, Pho 87, Phoenix Inn, Zen Mei Bistro

Removed: Apotheke LA, Highland Park Brewery, Lasa (temporarily closed), Little Jewel of New Orleans, Majordomo, New Dragon Seafood House (closed), Okiburu House of Tsukemen (closed), Oriel

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Phở 87

Copy Link
1019 N Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(323) 227-0758

Phở 87’s unfussy Chinatown spot is truly one of Chinatown’s best. Try the #20 pho with charbroiled pork. In fact, all of their pho maintain a gorgeous broth. Bring cash.

2. Nick's Cafe

Copy Link
1300 N Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(323) 222-1450
Visit Website

Nick’s is a staple breakfast destination, not just for Chinatown but all of Los Angeles. The restaurant, lovingly nicknamed the Ham House on signage out front, dates to 1948, and continues today to spin out plates of biscuits, omelettes, waffles, apple pie a la mode, and yes, ham and eggs.

3. Cargo Snack Shack

Copy Link
1279 N Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 577-0193
Visit Website

Most state parks aren’t known for their food, but Cargo Snack Shack defies the stereotype with a pulled pork burger, fried chicken sandwiches, milkshakes with a boozy upgrade, and even cocktails.

4. Mexicali Taco & Co.

Copy Link
702 N Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 613-0416
Visit Website

This former street stand turned restaurant by owner Esdras Ochoa is still turning out incredible tortillas, carne asada, vampiros, and more done in the Mexicali style. No hype, just delicious food.

5. Zen Mei Bistro

Copy Link
800 Yale St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 626-7113

It’ll be a welcome sight when one of Chinatown’s oldest Cantonese restaurants reopens its dining room. Until then, take Zen Mei’s classic dishes to-go whether the fried tofu noodles, chow mein, or beef with broccoli.

6. Yang Chow Restaurant

Copy Link
819 N Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Since 1976, the Yang family maintains a 100-item menu in the heart of Chinatown. It can be overwhelming, but Yang Chow’s staff is helpful in maneuvering diners to the right dishes, including the classic slippery shrimp.

Slippery shrimp at Yang Chow
Yang Chow
Cathy Chaplin

7. Howlin' Ray's

Copy Link
727 N Broadway #128
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 935-8399
Visit Website

Los Angeles still marvels at Howlin’ Ray’s wild success. In before times, the lengthy line snakes through Far East Plaza, showing simply that chef/owner Johnny Ray Zone’s recipe commands loyalty. They’re sticking with delivery-only for now, which means you’ll have to enjoy Zone’s classic chicken elsewhere.

Howlin’ Rays
Howlin’ Ray’s
Cathy Chaplin

8. Pearl River Deli

Copy Link
727 N Broadway #130
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(626) 688-9507
Visit Website

This family-operated restaurant specializes in comfort food, from poached Hainan-style chicken that’s incredibly juicy, silky shrimp scramble, or savory pancakes made with rice flour batter, eggs, and coconut cream topped with ground pork and shrimp.

9. Kati Roll

Copy Link
701 W Cesar Estrada Chavez Ave #107A
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 372-5593
Visit Website

The Kapoor family maintain familiar roots in Los Angeles Akbar in Marina del Rey. But the owners decided to jump into street food at Kati Roll Company with bowls and roti-like kati rolls filled with chicken tikka, crispy fish, or cauliflower and chickpea.

10. Katsu Sando

Copy Link
736 N Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 395-0710
Visit Website

Daniel Son’s Japanese convenience store-inspired sandwich shop Katsu Sando opened last summer. The milk bread is made in-house, which is a fantastic start for the fried pork cutlet, egg salad, or onigiri rice balls.

Katsu sando on a yellow background.
Katsu sando
[Official Photo]

11. Lao Tao Taiwanese Street Food

Copy Link
727 N Broadway #207
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 372-5318
Visit Website

Far East Plaza upstairs tenant Lao Tao specializes in Taiwanese street snacks, from crispy popcorn chicken to noodle bowls and beyond. For anyone looking to eat really flavorful, surprisingly inexpensive food, this is the place to do it.

Beef Ban Mien at Lao Tao
Lao Tao
Farley Elliott

12. Amboy

Copy Link
727 N Broadway #120
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 537-0053

Beef aficionados have a new burger spot to appreciate from Burger Show host Alvin Cailan. The tight menu features burgers of all stripes, from a double smash burger with gorgeous browned patties, to more substantial chef-like burgers. There’s also takeaway primal cuts of beef for anyone who needs more cow(bell) at home.

DH burger at Amboy Quality Meats and Delicious Burgers in Chinatown.
Amboy
Farley Elliott

13. Phoenix Inn Chinese Cuisine - Los Angeles

Copy Link
301 Ord St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 629-2812
Visit Website

Phoenix Inn opened in 1965 with a menu and interior that hasn’t changed much over time. The family-run business subscribes to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” rule, with a massive menu that includes shrimp rolls, black pepper basil fish, and deep fried pork chop.

Phoenix Inn, Chinatown
Phoenix Inn, Chinatown
Elizabeth Daniels

14. My Dung Sandwich Shop

Copy Link
314 Ord St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 617-7094

Amid all the changes in Chinatown over the past half-decade, there is still My Dung, the timeless banh mi shop tucked away on Ord. The walk-up restaurant trades in simple and delicious Vietnamese sandwiches, available daily from early in the morning to evening. There may be no better value in all of Chinatown, still.

15. Philippe The Original

Copy Link
1001 N Alameda St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 628-3781
Visit Website

There’s a reason Philippe’s uses “the O.G.” in its social media handles: the iconic restaurant is among LA’s oldest, and still draws in tons of adoring fans. People queue up (especially before Dodger games) in the no-frills space for that famous French dip, plus cheap beers and other goodies offered from early morning until night. Don’t forget about the AM doughnuts, either.

Philippe’s, a French dip restaurant, with red tables and a hand dipping a sandwich into jus.
Phillipe the Original
Wonho Frank Lee

16. Maxwell Chicken Rice

Copy Link
686 N Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(323) 868-5076
Visit Website

Hainan chicken is a staple in Singapore, even more so at the country’s famous street stands. While it still identifies as a pop-up, it keeps long hours to serve Singaporean fried chicken, or the poached then flash-fried Cornish hen.

Loading comments...

1. Phở 87

1019 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Phở 87’s unfussy Chinatown spot is truly one of Chinatown’s best. Try the #20 pho with charbroiled pork. In fact, all of their pho maintain a gorgeous broth. Bring cash.

1019 N Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90012

2. Nick's Cafe

1300 N Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Nick’s is a staple breakfast destination, not just for Chinatown but all of Los Angeles. The restaurant, lovingly nicknamed the Ham House on signage out front, dates to 1948, and continues today to spin out plates of biscuits, omelettes, waffles, apple pie a la mode, and yes, ham and eggs.

1300 N Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

3. Cargo Snack Shack

1279 N Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Most state parks aren’t known for their food, but Cargo Snack Shack defies the stereotype with a pulled pork burger, fried chicken sandwiches, milkshakes with a boozy upgrade, and even cocktails.

1279 N Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

4. Mexicali Taco & Co.

702 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

This former street stand turned restaurant by owner Esdras Ochoa is still turning out incredible tortillas, carne asada, vampiros, and more done in the Mexicali style. No hype, just delicious food.

702 N Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

5. Zen Mei Bistro

800 Yale St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

It’ll be a welcome sight when one of Chinatown’s oldest Cantonese restaurants reopens its dining room. Until then, take Zen Mei’s classic dishes to-go whether the fried tofu noodles, chow mein, or beef with broccoli.

800 Yale St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

6. Yang Chow Restaurant

819 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Slippery shrimp at Yang Chow
Yang Chow
Cathy Chaplin

Since 1976, the Yang family maintains a 100-item menu in the heart of Chinatown. It can be overwhelming, but Yang Chow’s staff is helpful in maneuvering diners to the right dishes, including the classic slippery shrimp.

819 N Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90012

7. Howlin' Ray's

727 N Broadway #128, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Howlin’ Rays
Howlin’ Ray’s
Cathy Chaplin

Los Angeles still marvels at Howlin’ Ray’s wild success. In before times, the lengthy line snakes through Far East Plaza, showing simply that chef/owner Johnny Ray Zone’s recipe commands loyalty. They’re sticking with delivery-only for now, which means you’ll have to enjoy Zone’s classic chicken elsewhere.

727 N Broadway #128
Los Angeles, CA 90012

8. Pearl River Deli

727 N Broadway #130, Los Angeles, CA 90012

This family-operated restaurant specializes in comfort food, from poached Hainan-style chicken that’s incredibly juicy, silky shrimp scramble, or savory pancakes made with rice flour batter, eggs, and coconut cream topped with ground pork and shrimp.

727 N Broadway #130
Los Angeles, CA 90012

9. Kati Roll

701 W Cesar Estrada Chavez Ave #107A, Los Angeles, CA 90012

The Kapoor family maintain familiar roots in Los Angeles Akbar in Marina del Rey. But the owners decided to jump into street food at Kati Roll Company with bowls and roti-like kati rolls filled with chicken tikka, crispy fish, or cauliflower and chickpea.

701 W Cesar Estrada Chavez Ave #107A
Los Angeles, CA 90012

10. Katsu Sando

736 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Katsu sando on a yellow background.
Katsu sando
[Official Photo]

Daniel Son’s Japanese convenience store-inspired sandwich shop Katsu Sando opened last summer. The milk bread is made in-house, which is a fantastic start for the fried pork cutlet, egg salad, or onigiri rice balls.

736 N Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90012

11. Lao Tao Taiwanese Street Food

727 N Broadway #207, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Beef Ban Mien at Lao Tao
Lao Tao
Farley Elliott

Far East Plaza upstairs tenant Lao Tao specializes in Taiwanese street snacks, from crispy popcorn chicken to noodle bowls and beyond. For anyone looking to eat really flavorful, surprisingly inexpensive food, this is the place to do it.

727 N Broadway #207
Los Angeles, CA 90012

12. Amboy

727 N Broadway #120, Los Angeles, CA 90012
DH burger at Amboy Quality Meats and Delicious Burgers in Chinatown.
Amboy
Farley Elliott

Beef aficionados have a new burger spot to appreciate from Burger Show host Alvin Cailan. The tight menu features burgers of all stripes, from a double smash burger with gorgeous browned patties, to more substantial chef-like burgers. There’s also takeaway primal cuts of beef for anyone who needs more cow(bell) at home.

727 N Broadway #120
Los Angeles, CA 90012

13. Phoenix Inn Chinese Cuisine - Los Angeles

301 Ord St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phoenix Inn, Chinatown
Phoenix Inn, Chinatown
Elizabeth Daniels

Phoenix Inn opened in 1965 with a menu and interior that hasn’t changed much over time. The family-run business subscribes to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” rule, with a massive menu that includes shrimp rolls, black pepper basil fish, and deep fried pork chop.

301 Ord St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

14. My Dung Sandwich Shop

314 Ord St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Amid all the changes in Chinatown over the past half-decade, there is still My Dung, the timeless banh mi shop tucked away on Ord. The walk-up restaurant trades in simple and delicious Vietnamese sandwiches, available daily from early in the morning to evening. There may be no better value in all of Chinatown, still.

314 Ord St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

15. Philippe The Original

1001 N Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Philippe’s, a French dip restaurant, with red tables and a hand dipping a sandwich into jus.
Phillipe the Original
Wonho Frank Lee

There’s a reason Philippe’s uses “the O.G.” in its social media handles: the iconic restaurant is among LA’s oldest, and still draws in tons of adoring fans. People queue up (especially before Dodger games) in the no-frills space for that famous French dip, plus cheap beers and other goodies offered from early morning until night. Don’t forget about the AM doughnuts, either.

1001 N Alameda St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Related Maps

16. Maxwell Chicken Rice

686 N Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Hainan chicken is a staple in Singapore, even more so at the country’s famous street stands. While it still identifies as a pop-up, it keeps long hours to serve Singaporean fried chicken, or the poached then flash-fried Cornish hen.

686 N Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Related Maps