Even before the shutdown, fear, racist scapegoating, and anti-Asian sentiment were hurting Chinatowns across the country. And now that the city has reopened, it’s more important than ever to support this neighborhood.
Thanks to this summer’s new permit rules, more places (especially in Chinatown Square) have been able to open sidewalk patios. So if you’re looking for a great outdoor meal in Chicago and want to show some love to Chinatown’s independently-owned restaurants, here’s where you should go.
If you’ve walked through Chinatown Square, you’ve definitely noticed the ducks hanging in the window at BBQ King House. This place indeed specializes in barbecue duck, though all the juicy roasted meats here are fantastic. While the duck is a must-order, you can’t go wrong with pork or chicken, either. And while this place is a fantastic carry out operation, we’re pretty sure that their BBQ tastes better at one of the tables right outside their window.
Daebak Korean Street Food & Chatime
This is the more casual option on the ground floor of Daebak, the Korean BBQ spot. And unlike its sister restaurant, Daebak Street food has a nice-sized patio located at the end of the Square. Along with a selection of bubble teas, you can also get Korean dishes like seafood pancakes, bibimbap, and a kimchi and pork stew that comes with banchan.
You probably know MingHin. Your uncle who visited Chicago once, 16 years ago, probably knows Minghin. And it’s a great place to know about - it’s large, has several locations, and is open 365 days a year. It also happens to have the most consistently good dim sum in Chicago. And thankfully they also have one of the best outdoor setups in Chinatown. The patio is about six miles long, and you’ll find tables of all different sizes (including large round ones) with nice tablecloths. You can get standard entrees like lo mein and rice dishes, but we recommend focusing on the dim sum, especially the pork buns and dumplings.
Yes, Joy Yee’s has food (their shabu shabu is very tasty), but it’s perfectly valid to just come here for boba. During the summer (Covid or not), there’s always a crowd standing in front of the takeout window in Chinatown Square. But if you’re tired of wandering around and just want to sit down, head inside and ask for a table on their large patio. Get the sweet rose with vanilla ice cream and strawberry jelly.
Kung Fu Tea
This bubble tea chain is another great option, with a short drink menu compared to Joy Yee Noodle. But we like sitting outside at Kung Fu Tea because the patio is on the second level of Chinatown Square, so you get a nice view of the neighborhood. Get the matcha milk cap or the red bean slush.
Saint's Alp Teahouse & GOURMET
Compared to a lot of the restaurants in the Square, Saint’s Alp is relatively new - it’s only about five years old. And this cafe has a long and wide-ranging menu. You’ll find hot pot, fried udon, walnut shrimp, and our favorite dish here: minced pork with eggplant in a sweet and spicy yu shang sauce. And thanks to some nice little plants and a wooden fence, the small outdoor patio feels as serene as its interior.
Lee Wing Wah
If you want consistently good food and a long menu with lots of options, you can’t go wrong with Lee Wing. But it’s their seafood that stands out, like the seafood and rice in lotus leaf, clams in black bean sauce, and the salt and pepper squid. And - you guessed it - they have a cute area where you can eat outside.
This is one of the only spots not in Chinatown Square that has outdoor seating available - it’s on the south end of Wentworth. Evergreen focuses primarily on Cantonese food, and their stand-out dishes are the salt and pepper shrimp, any of the steamed fish, and the Peking duck.