Top 10 Restaurants in Chinatown

"You're going to do a top 10 Chinatown list, aren't you?" a reader implored last week on Twitter. Of course -- Chinatown is my favorite neighborhood for dining and exploration in the entire city. For every old favorite you visit, you're guaranteed to find at least two new restaurants to fall in love with. You may not be able to get around by foot here -- unlike some other cities' Chinatown districts -- but that's because Houston's Chinatown is one of the largest in the country, covering six square miles.

The problem when covering a neighborhood this vast -- not just geographically vast, but also culturally vast -- is choosing only 10 restaurants out of the hundreds that dot the strip malls up and down Bellaire Boulevard. I could easily do a top 50 list in Chinatown, and I am emphatically not kidding.

Do you select the restaurants that are empirically "the best" (if there even is such a thing)? The ones which are best for newcomers to the area to dip their toes into? A wide spread of cuisines that are representative of the breadth of ethnicities -- not just Chinese -- which have made the area their home?

Because I could do one list for each of those three categories, and more (top 10 pho in Chinatown; top 10 dumplings in Chinatown; top 10 noodles in Chinatown; top 10 dim sum in Chinatown; top 10 Korean or crawfish or bakeries or Sichuan...), I decided to focus instead on simply my 10 favorite places in Chinatown. These are the restaurants I visit most often, the ones I implore others to try and the ones I dream about when it's been too long between visits.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Katharine Shilcutt