Unsurprisingly, eating out in Chinatown feels different now than it ever has before. For starters, there are no tourists on Canal Street stopping to investigate every live crab they see. But, more importantly, there’s something fundamentally exciting about biting into a steaming hot dumpling, summiting a humongous cobb salad, or eating cold summer rolls in the middle of narrow streets you’ve probably walked down a million times. Here are 20 spots in Chinatown that are open for outdoor seating right now.
For more outdoor dining options around the city, check out our running list here.
Imagine this: a shady table, the sun shining on just your elbow, and a steam basket of excellent soup dumplings. That’s the experience of eating at Deluxe Green Bo’s covered sidewalk seating area. In addition to the crab and soup dumplings, we love the hot and spicy wontons that come with cold peanut sauce, sesame seeds, and a chili oil pool that we’d like to become members of. Just make sure you have cash - Deluxe Green Bo doesn’t accept cards.
If you’re looking for somewhere with lots of space, Taiwan Pork Chop House’s outdoor setup is a great option, since Doyers Street is blocked off to cars. While the titular pork pork chops here are enjoyable (especially for $2.50 each), our favorite dishes at this spot are the fried rice cakes with shredded pork and the tender wontons drenched in chili oil.
Wo Hop has been around since 1938, but this is the first time in its history that they’re serving crispy fried dumplings, orange chicken, and big plates of chow fun under three colorful tents on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to stare at ’80s headshots of former broadway stars on the restaurant walls, but the humidity might make you look like an ’80s star in your own right.
Ping’s has some nice sidewalk tables as well as a few covered tents set up in the parking spots in front of the restaurant. It’s cash-only, but know there’s an ATM in the bodega at the end of the block. You can get dim sum all day here, and there’s also a full menu of Hong Kong-style dishes like garlic eggplant, and a massive, fried soft shell crab. Whatever you do, order the fried shrimp balls - they are crispy with light batter, and we’d like to stuff our pillows with the shrimp in the middle.
Tonii’s Fresh Rice Noodle
We like Tonii’s for several reasons, the least important of which is that the walls are covered in adorable cartoon rice roll caricature. The most important reason is that they serve a short menu of things like curry fish balls, soups, and rice noodles, all for $4.50. Get the beef, shrimp, and roast pork rice noodles, and sit under one of their white tents in the middle of the blocked-off section of Bayard Street.
This is the only meal at a diner you should actively plan in advance for. That’s because Golden Diner takes things you may have had 100 times before (like cobb salad and club sandwiches) and makes them exciting and new again. Their sidewalk and patio seating are open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 10pm - and you can always call 917-472-7800 for pick up or delivery.
Like Taiwan Pork Chop House, Nom Wah has the benefit of Doyers Street, which means the whole street feels like an outdoor dining room with yellow umbrellas and foliage. They also have some nice shady seats for people who are waiting for pick-up, in case you want to take your har gow to-go.
At Dim Sum Go Go, order the dim sum sampler. It comes with 10 different types of steamed dumplings, including both meat and vegetarian options. In general, the variety at this spot is strong, with dumpling options like duck and crab in addition to the more usual suspects. They’re open every day from 11am to 7:30pm, and have a big red tent set up in front for outdoor dining.
While the name might lead you to believe otherwise, Thai Son is a Vietnamese restaurant right near the courthouse on Baxter. They have a covered tent with a handful of tables available for outdoor dining every day. Skip the pho and prioritize the barbecue pork, some summer rolls, and banh xeo (massive egg crepes).
456 is serving their Shanghainese food (including some very plump xiao long bao) at two outdoor tables in front of their spot on Mott Street. In case the tables are taken, you could always get your food to go and walk a block and a half to Columbus Park.
Right next to Thai Son is Nha Trang One - a Vietnamese restaurant that makes the best pho in the neighborhood. We especially like the chicken pho, and if you want to supplement it with something else, go for the grilled pork rolls.
Jing Fong’s dining room normally fits 800 people, so eating outdoors in their covered tent will obviously feel a little different than the indoor experience here. They’re still serving chewy sesame balls and bacon-wrapped shrimp that will successfully interrupt your dreams, as well as takeout if you’d rather eat your dim sum at home. Just call 212-964-5256 to place your order ahead of time or stop by and do it at their window.
Noodle Village is serving their excellent food under a tent in front of their restaurant on Mott Street. This place serves Chinatown’s best wonton soup, which you should order without noodles (despite the name of the restaurant). It sounds confusing, but just trust us on this one.
This Malaysian spot on the border of the Lower East Side is one of our absolute favorite places to eat breakfast in the area. They recently built a covered, wooden structure in the parking spot in front of their East Broadway restaurant where you can seat yourself after ordering from their takeout window. Get the oyster omelette and order of the Nasi Lemak (the national dish of Malaysia, which involves coconut rice, fried anchovies, cucumbers, and hard-boiled eggs).
Happy Veggie Restaurant
You can stop by this vegetarian and vegan spot for outdoor dining every day (except Wednesday) from 10am to 9pm. They serve a variety of broadly Asian dishes like Nasi Lemak, vegan spam musubi with avocado, momo buns, and homemade spinach dumplings. If you’d rather eat at home, call 646-838-5118 to place your takeout order.
Pasteur Grill and Noodles
Pasteur is a Vietnamese restaurant on Baxter Street that’s right next to Nha Trang One and Thai Son (two other Vietnamese restaurants we love, and also happen to be on this guide.) Pasteur’s parking lane has a covered outdoor area with about four tables, a beautiful wooden banquette, and houseplants galore.
Buddha Bodai is a kosher and vegetarian dim sum restaurant. It doesn’t get insanely busy, and most dishes here cost less than $15 - so it’s a very useful place to know about, especially because it’s BYOB. There’s a long menu of things like dumplings, spring rolls, and various noodle dishes, as well as some pretty solid vegetarian versions of chicken, duck, and lamb.
Yeah Shanghai Deluxe
This Shanghainese restaurant has about a tour bus’ worth of space blocked off in front of their spot on Mott Street, which makes it one of the larger outdoor dining set ups we’ve seen around the area. The menu here is massive, with everything from dim sum to Peking-style meats.
Bodhi Kosher Vegetarian
Another vegan option for dim sum is Bodhi on Mulberry Street. The menu here is full of things you can share with someone, like big plates of vegetarian cumin lamb, fried taro, and combination platters for $9.
Kong Sihk Tong 港食堂
This Hong Kong-style spot built its own wooden outdoor space complete with string lights, tropical plants, and an awning so you won’t have to eat your condensed milk toast or tomato and beef soup with macaroni while you swelter in the sun. Kong Shik Tong is open for outdoor dining starting at 8am every day. Also important: it’s right next door to Chinatown Ice Cream Factory.
Looking for more ways to support businesses in Chinatown? Welcome To Chinatown is raising $200,000 for businesses in the area who have closed or been financially devastated by the crisis. If they meet their goal, the money will be divided up into 40 grants of $5,000 each, which could help with overhead costs like rent, insurance, and utilities as they recover from COVID-19 losses and try to reopen. You can read more about Welcome To Chinatown’s Longevity Project and donate here.