The Best Dumplings In ChicagoOur list of the best dumplings in the city.
One universal truth everyone seems to agree upon is that dumplings are delicious. From xiao long bao, to strawberry pierogies, to raviolo filled with oozing egg yolk—it appears that almost every culture has discovered the following formula: Dough + Filling = Happiness. So in an effort to uphold scientific truth (and because we wanted an excuse to eat a bunch of dumplings) we made this list of the best dumplings in Chicago.
The menu at Qing Xiang Yuan is like something out of a grade school math textbook: With 40 options that can either be fried, boiled, or steamed, how many different dumplings does QXY have? And using our second-grade math skills, we’ve calculated that this Chinatown spot has 120 options, putting it in first place for most dumpling varieties in Chicago. But more important than just having a bunch to choose from is that they’re all fantastic. Some of our favorites are the beef and onion, lamb and coriander, and tomato and egg, all of which are wrapped in a thin, soft wrapper, and loaded with broth. While these aren’t technically xiao long bao, they have the same satisfying juiciness—like a savory Gusher.
Momo World sounds like a food-based theme park, but instead of rollercoasters and someone sweating in a dumpling costume, this counter-service spot in University Village serves the best momos in Chicago. From simple steamed or fried, to jhol momos bathed in a spiced tomato sauce, to smoky tandoori momos with a crispy pan-fried wrapper, it’s impossible to make a bad choice. There are varieties with fillings like pork, chicken, vegetable, and fish, which all have a satisfying chewy or crunchy texture depending on how the momos are prepared. The inside is a bit small, but feel free to show up with friends and curate your own momo tasting.
Small, frequently packed, and with loud music blasting through the speakers, this BYOB Chinese spot in Ukrainian Village feels like a party at your friend’s studio apartment. We love the pork and chive or the mushroom that’s rich with umami. They come floating in a fragrant spicy and sour soup that’s absorbed by the tender wrapper, and are garnished with sesame seeds and plenty of cilantro for freshness. Going for lunch is the best way to ensure that you are actually able to get your hands on some, since they only make a set number a day. You don’t want to show up when the dumpling party is over.
If you got a dollar for every Kyrgyz restaurant in Chicago, well, you’d only have two dollars since last we checked there were only two. But we like to believe in quality over quantity, and this Lincoln Square sit-down spot with a small yurt-like interior has dumplings that make us want to start a fanclub. We like the hacky-sack-sized manty or fried vareniki filled with mashed potatoes, both of which are great for sharing with a group. They also have a fantastic beef pelmeni appetizer topped with garlicky sour cream which you could share, but you’ll want to keep for yourself.
Inside this sit-down Chinese restaurant in Hyde Park you’ll find a ceiling full of red paper lanterns, lots of group seating, and a long menu. But we’re here to help you simplify your life: get the dumplings. There are only four types, but they’re all delicious. Both the shui mai and shrimp dumplings are plump and juicy, and have perfectly seasoned pieces of shellfish packed into a pleasantly chewy wrapper. But if you’re looking for non-seafood options, the crispy pork potstickers or the umami-rich vegetable dumplings are both great choices, too
S.K.Y.’s relaxing atmosphere and fantastic Asian-inspired dishes make it one of our favorite spots in Pilsen. But whether we’re here for a date night, birthday, or casual dinner, we always make sure the Maine lobster dumplings are on the table. Each plump dumpling is bursting at the seams with lobster meat like an over-packer's duffel bag, but the delicate wrapper manages to keep everything contained. It’s finished off with a fragrant pool of jade butter that’s somehow both rich and light—a phenomenon we’re referring to as the “S.K.Y. Paradox.”
Two things are crucial to a dumpling success in life—the quality of its wrapper and its filling. But there’s another part of the equation that can help it transcend from being a dumpling to the dumpling: sauce. And the mantu from Albany Park Afghan spot, Helmand, fully understands this. They have a delicate wrapper and a peppery beef filling, but it’s the sauces that make them a mandatory addition to every order. They’re covered in a perfectly complementary combination of spicy tomato and cool mint yogurt sauce, and you’ll want to make good use of the table bread to wipe up whatever’s left even after the dumplings are long gone.
Community Tavern in Portage Park has an Asian-inspired menu with a handful of different dumplings, but our two favorites are the short rib and the mushroom butter. The steamed short rib dumplings are full of buttery meat, have a soft chew, and are covered in a sweet and spicy XO sauce. For a vegetarian option, the mushroom has a crispy bottom, and a rich, umami filling that receives added freshness from Thai basil and a pleasant bitterness from rapini.
Monteverde is a fantastic West Loop Italian restaurant with some of the best pasta in the city. And their raviolo—one large, pasta pocket with a gooey egg yolk center—is no exception. But aside from the pasta itself, what’s exciting (and also frustrating) is that it goes through phases like a preteen who just discovered Manic Panic. The seasons dictate what it will be served with, so you could find truffles one time and then come back to find it topped with pomegranate seeds. Either way, this pasta chameleon is always a must-order.
Located inside of the posh Peninsula Hotel on the Magnificent Mile, it’s not surprising that Shanghai Terrace is luxurious. Chopsticks rest on ornate, golden holders shaped like boats, and the excellent service begins with warm “ST'' monogrammed towels. These touches are great, but it’s the elevated Chinese food that completes the experience—specifically the lobster, chicken, and truffle dumplings. And at $21 for four, these definitely fall under the category of “Just Got A Promotion” dumplings. The meat and seafood filling is rich and savory, with just enough umami from the truffle, all held securely together by a thick-yet-delicate wrapper.
Like successfully riding a three-person tandem bike, good xiao long bao must have all of its components—broth, filling, and wrapper—working in harmony. And the best place to go to for harmonious soup dumplings (tandem bike optional) 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.
Four Seasons is a small, quiet Chinese restaurant in Bridgeport. Unlike them, we’re not going to be quiet about their dumplings. We’re screaming from the top of every rooftop we can find (well, the ones that are actually worth checking out) for everyone to try them. Whether fried or steamed, the texture of the wrapper is excellent. The thicker dough gives each bite a pleasant chewiness, but without feeling so sticky it’s like battling a piece of taffy. And the wrapper is nice and sturdy—never breaking even when doused in soy sauce and vinegar.
Like any member of the Girl and The Goat family, this upscale Chinese restaurant is always busy. But while this Fulton Market spot’s “Goat” heritage is responsible for some of the crowd, it’s also because of the tasty food, particularly their dumplings. Their plump xiao long bao are loaded with rich broth and juicy pieces of goat and duck meat. And while these soup dumplings are great, even better are their jiaozi. These have a light chewy top paired with a satisfyingly crispy bottom and are filled with a robust mix of short rib and buttery bone marrow.
Dolo’s dim sum classics are great, but it’s their unique dumplings that keep us coming back to this upscale Chinatown spot. The first must-order is the fried shrimp and leek dumplings that look like tiny versions of the flying saucers that the government doesn’t want you to know exists. They have a light and crispy wrapper, and are filled with salty pieces of seafood. We also like the big pieces of shrimp in our other favorite, the shrimp and corn dumplings. These have a tender wrapper with just a touch of crispiness, with the corn and carrot filling throwing some sweetness into the mix.
“Volcano broth” might sound like it would cause profuse sweating and an outburst similar to what happens on an episode of Hot Ones. But the delicious volcano broth with Cheng Du wontons at both of Da Mao Jia’s Lincoln Park and Bridgeport locations is actually quite mild. The tart soup comes with plenty of floating, meaty pork wontons and has just enough tingly Sichuan spice. While we’re here, we also like to order their Zhong dumplings. These are flatter with a medium chew, and come with a sweet and nutty chili soy sauce that nicely contrasts with the sour volcano broth.
Jin Ju’s sleek interior has the ideal mood lighting perfect for assessing your potential connection with “Gary Hinge”, but it also works for a relaxed Korean meal with friends. Regardless of who you're here with, make sure to start off with some mandoo. These dumplings have a thin-but-sturdy wrapper, and they come in two varieties that can be ordered fried or steamed. The beef has perfectly seasoned meat, tofu, and vegetables, while their vegetarian option filled with kimchi is pleasantly tart with a hint of spice. Even if you leave unsure about your date, at least you’ll leave with a newfound love for their mandoo.
With the combination of its wooden interior, string lights, and leafy garland decorations, this cozy Polish spot in Jefferson Park makes us feel like we’re eating in a cabin around the holidays. And while this place is great in the winter for a warm cup of borscht, it’s also the perfect place for year-round pierogi. These dumplings have a thick wrapper and come in varieties like cheese and potato or beef and pork, as well as fruity ones like strawberry or plum. But the best part is mixing and matching like a Trader Joe’s “Build Your Own Six-Pack”, to create a sampler of sweet, savory, boiled, and fried pierogies. Speaking of six-packs, this place is BYOB, so make sure to do that too.
Chengdu Impression has locations in both Wicker Park and Lincoln Park, and both have our favorite Sichuan wontons. These dumplings have a soft, delicate wrapper and a moist, pork filling. Served with a mix of vinegar and chili oil, each bite has a great combination of savory, sour, and spicy. Topping it all off are green onions and a dollop of fresh minced garlic that will warrant a mint or three if you have to do some close-talking afterwards—but that’s a problem for future you.
The bready dumplings at this Korean food stall outside of JoongBoo supermarket in Avondale might be more closely related to buns—but Wang Mandoo literally translates to “King Dumpling”, and we’re not going to argue with royalty. There are only three varieties: two savory filled with chunky pieces of pork or pork with kimchi, and a sweet option made with a black rice wrapper and smooth red bean filling. They’re massive, with one alone sufficing as a light meal. So if you’ve come to shop at JoongBoo on an empty stomach, an order will prevent you from impulsively purchasing 20 packets of Shin Ramen.
When you think of Manny’s Delicatessen, the first thing you probably think of are thick Reubens that require you to unhinge your jaw to take a bite. But if you take off your sandwich goggles, you’ll notice that this massive, retro-styled cafeteria in the South Loop has kreplach on the menu. And while these scraggly balls might not look like much, don’t let their humble appearance fool you. They have a well-seasoned, chopped beef filling wrapped in a thick layer of soft dough that absorbs the life-giving chicken broth. A bowl of this is so soothing, if you were eating this while taking a polygraph test, you could lie about anything and still pass.