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Canal St., btw. Broadway and Essex St. (Chinatown)
New York, NY
POPULAR TIMESChinese New Year; weekends
RESERVE IN ADVANCENo
WAIT TIME WITHOUT RESERVATIONNone
HIGHLIGHTSChinese New Year; Hester Street Fair; restaurants; shops
SUBWAYCanal St.-Centre St. (J, Z); Canal St.-Broadway (N, Q, R); Canal St.-Lafayette St. (6); Canal St.-6th Ave. (A, E); Canal St.-Varick St. (1); Grand St. (B, D)
Though New York’s first permanent Chinese resident, Cantonese cigar seller Ah Ken, didn’t arrive until the 1860s, by 1900 there were already over 7,000 Chinese immigrants (though less than 200 of them were women!) living in this lively, crowded neighborhood in lower Manhattan–making it one of the oldest and largest Chinese communities outside of Asia. Today, the narrow streets branching off Canal Street are crammed with a colorful mix of restaurants, fish and produce markets, bric-a-brac shops, and people. It’s best not to expect refinement here because Chinatown’s charm lies in its messy snarls of back alleys, where the signs are often in Chinese characters and conversation is carried out in Cantonese or Toisanese.
GO HERE WITH
Chinese enthusiasts; gourmands; friends; family
WHY WE LIKE IT
Barbecued meats, hand-pulled noodles, dim sum, Peking duck…need we go on? Besides the drool-worthy eats, we have lots of fun with the offbeat shopping (we’re always up for haggling over cheap, kitsch “Chinese” treasures or exotic Asian fruits that we’ve never seen before). And of course, we love the color and craziness of the Chinese New Year festivities (which are in late January or early February).
WHAT WE WOULD CHANGE
It’s crowded, dirty, and smelly (especially during the summer). Some claim that just adds to Chinatown’s charms, but if that’s not your scene, you won’t be a happy camper.
GOOD TO KNOW
The jam-packed sidewalks on weekends are nightmarish, so try to come during the week if possible. The dim sum and fresh produce are big draws (some of the best produce–in both pricing and quality–can be found at the street vendors). As rents have gone up (this is Manhattan, after all), many Chinese residents have moved to Chinatowns in Flushing, Queens, and Sunset Park, Brooklyn; if you really dig Chinatown, you might want to check theses areas out too. (They’re much less touristy, and host Chinese communities from different areas of Asia, like Sichuan and Taiwan.) Many shops in Chinatown–especially those that specialize in knockoff handbags, watches, or fragrances–expect customers to bargain, so be prepared!
Chinatown (San Francisco); Nolita/Little Italy (New York)
All information within this website was checked for accuracy at the time of publication. But since the world moves quickly, things may have changed. Pardon us for any errors as we strive to give you the most up-to-the-minute details!