Next to electricity and CTRL + Z, the invention of xiao long bao (a.k.a. soup dumplings) is one of the most important advancements in all of human history. Savory broth and well-seasoned meat filling swaddled in a sturdy-yet-delicate wrapper—this iconic Shanghainese staple packages it all into one juicy bite. And while Chicago may not have as many XLB spots as cities on the east and west coasts, we still have a handful of great places that we can rely on for delicious broth-filled dumplings. Here’s where to find our favorite xiao long bao in the city.
Like a high-performing three-on-three basketball team, every element of a well-crafted xiao long bao—broth, filling, and wrapper—needs to be perfectly synchronized. And the best place to go for quality soup dumplings in Chicago is Hing Kee in Chinatown. They come in three juicy varieties: pork, crab and pork, and chicken. Each one has a delicate, chewy wrapper, and is brimming with warm, flavorful broth that perfectly complements the meat. Make sure to also add some black vinegar and chili oil before slurping them up for an added burst of tartness and spice.
photo credit: Christina Slaton
Duck Duck Goat
This upscale Chinese restaurant is always packed, a common trait of any restaurant that’s a part of the “Girl and The Goat” family. But beyond just being popular, this Fulton Market spot also has good food, particularly their xiao long bao. Instead of the traditional pork filling, the soup dumplings are loaded with a mix of duck and goat meat. The combination is rich, juicy, and with just the right amount of gamey funk.
This casual spot in Bridgeport should change its name to Xiao Long Bao House because the XLBs are the best dumplings here. Each one always comes with a balanced meaty filling and a generous amount of rich broth. Occasionally, the wrapper does tend to break and the broth can be a bit too fatty, but, on a good day, Potsticker House's soup dumplings are fantastic. With its low ceilings, dining here can feel a bit like a basement party—but honestly, the dumplings make it way more exciting than the other basement parties we’ve gone to.
Just to be clear, the Northern dumplings at this casual Chinese spot in Bridgeport aren’t technically xiao long bao. They have a much thicker, chewier wrapper, come with a sweeter soup and filling, and look like if you’re typical XLB’s favorite activity was getting "jacked” at the gym. But biting into these soup dumplings produces the same broth-filled euphoria, so excluding them felt wrong. Each order comes with eight plump dumplings, and there’s lots of group seating here so sharing a few orders with friends is always a great idea. Just make sure to let them cool off or else your tongue doesn’t stand a chance against the delicious, but scalding, broth.