Friday, March 2, 2018

Best Chinese Food in Austin, 2018

My second Guide for the 2018 Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide is about something near and dear to my heart - Chinese food. Eating my mom's awesome Chinese food nearly every day while I was growing up means that I have very high standards when it comes to this category. Austin doesn't offer nearly the quantity or quality of Chinese restaurants as in other cities, but there are still many places here where you can find great Chinese cuisine.


Salt & Pepper Squid at Din Ho = "the usual"
If you live in or near Central Austin, Din Ho Chinese BBQ (8557 Research Blvd., Austin, TX 78758) is probably your go-to for Cantonese food. Over the twenty plus years I've been going there, the food and service has varied a bit in quality; even so, I've yet to be unhappy about a meal I've eaten here. Our standard order here always includes salt & pepper squid (called "fresh and dried squid in special salt" on their menu) and sauteed snow pea leaves; other favorites are their flavorful won ton soup, Peking duck (served with steamed buns rather than the traditional pancakes), orange beef, and Singapore style rice noodles.

If you need a spot to host a large banquet or wedding, the very spacious New Fortune Chinese Seafood Restaurant (10901 North Lamar Blvd., Ste A-1, Austin TX 78753) is the place you're seeking. An Asian organization to which I belong usually hosts their Lunar New Year banquet at New Fortune.

Great Cantonese food can also be found at First Chinese BBQ (10901 N. Lamar, Austin, TX 78753) and Ho Ho Chinese BBQ (13000 N. IH-35, Austin, TX 78753). If you find yourself out in Lakeway, I've also had some truly outstanding meals at Pao's Mandarin House (2300 Lohman's Spur, Austin TX 78734). Hot tip: Pao's has a secret menu with some of the more traditional dishes on it that I've found you have to ask for unless your party is predominantly Asian.


Sichuan Spicy Sizzling Lamb at Sichuan River
When you start talking Szechuanese food, most people are familiar with the popular Asia Cafe (8650 Spicewood Springs, Austin TX 78759), known for their spicy fish. Ditto A+A Sichuan (13376 Research Blvd., Austin TX 78750), a little ways further west of Asia Cafe. But few people seem to have heard of my favorite Szechuanese restaurant, Sichuan River (4534 Westgate Blvd, Austin TX 78745) down south, where the cumin lamb is part of my standard order. I'm also fond of the little-known Szechuan House (11005 Burnet Rd, Austin TX 78758) up north (ignore the terrible Americanized-looking food on their website - this is not representative!). The dry fried green beans, ma po tofu, and spicy fish fillet are all excellent at both Sichuan River and Szechuan House. Szechuan House also has a mushroom dish called "Stir Fried Three Kind (sic) of Mushroom" that I would order pretty much every day if I were a vegetarian. Brand new to the scene since December of 2017 is China Family Restaurant, (1914 Guadalupe, Suite B, Austin TX 78705). At first blush, their menu seems very Americanized, but the Chef Specialties menu lists a variety of Szechuanese favorites, which Yelpers are deeming "legit" and "authentic." Finally, a friend who lives north of town swears by Sichuan Garden (110 N. IH-35, Suite 240, Round Rock, TX) in Round Rock.


In the last couple of years, hipper, younger restauranteurs have brought more modern versions of Chinese food to Austin. One such hot spot, Wu Chow (500 W. 5th St., Austin TX 78701), from C.K. Chin of Swift's Attic, offers dishes from all eight styles of Chinese cuisine. You pay a premium for the beautiful surroundings and the downtown location, but there are certainly circumstances that justify the extra expense.

Pork rib appetizer at Old Thousand
Another upscale option is Old Thousand (1000 E. 11th Street, #150, Austin TX 78702), with the
slogan "Dope Chinese Food." Their menu offers a little something for everyone, and their flavors will please both traditionalists and those who seek something a little more contemporary. Full review here.

The old guard favorite in this category is Chinatown Restaurant (three locations: North, 3407 Greystone Dr., Austin TX 78731; Downtown, 107 W. 5th St., Austin TX 78701; and Westlake, 2712 Bee Caves Road, Ste 124, Austin TX 78746). The first Chinatown restaurant opened in 1983, which I suspect makes it one of the longest-running restaurants in a dynamic and very competitive Austin restaurant scene. Like the others in this category, Chinatown's food tilts away from the traditional in many respects, but perhaps owner Ronald Cheng's penchant for keeping things fresh is what has kept his regulars coming back all these years. 


Chinese handmade noodles are a beautiful thing. Here are my favorite spots in town to find them.


Rice Bowl Café (11220 N. Lamar, Austin TX 78753) serves up a GIGANTIC bowl of handmade noodles with beef and veggies for just $9.50; they also have my favorite scallion pancakes in town.


Chen's Noodle House (8650 Spicewood Springs Rd., Austin TX 78759) and Chen Z (6705 Hwy 290, Austin TX 78735) both offer a variety of wonderful handmade noodle dishes in delightfully divey surroundings.

Xian Noodles at Xian Sushi & Noodle

Xian Sushi & Noodle (Two locations: Mueller - 1801 E. 51st St., Bldg C 370, Austin TX 78723 and Northwest - 13201 RR 620 N. Ste U208, Austin TX 78717) is the only place in town where you can watch a chef hand pull your noodles before serving them. You can choose the thickness of your noodles; I think the texture of the thicker ones like the pappardelle adds a bit of oomph that makes the noodles taste more homemade.

Julie's Handmade Noodles, 
8557 Research Blvd., Ste. 110, Austin TX 78758 - this longtime fixture near UT campus, formerly housed in a food truck, transformed into a brick & mortar north of 183 this year. Expect generous portions made with love.


Dim Sum at Wu Chow
Unfortunately, the field for dim sum in Austin is pretty small. For traditional dim sum, my favorite is New Fortune Chinese Seafood Restaurant (10901 North Lamar Blvd., Ste A-1, Austin TX 78753). For a more upscale dim sum experience, check out Wu Chow (500 W. 5th St., Austin TX 78701). They don't have the traditional dim sum push carts, but that just means that everything arrives at your table freshly cooked. They have hands-down the best xiao long bao in town and are obviously using quality ingredients.

Other dim sum spots in town include Shanghai (6718 Middle Fiskville Rd., Austin TX 78752) and Chinatown Restaurant (dim sum only offered at two of their three locations: North, 3407 Greystone Dr., Austin TX 78731 and Westlake, 2712 Bee Caves Road, Ste 124, Austin TX 78746). Full blog post about Chinatown's dim sum can be found hereBao'd Up (1911 Aldrich Street, Austin TX 78723) which opened last year after this guide was written, offers a variety of both sweet and savory Chinese bao at their counter service spot in Mueller.

Did I leave out your favorite spot for Chinese food? Leave a message in the comments!


  1. Great list! I especially like checking out fresh handmade noodles. See you the next time I'm in town. :)

    1. I'm sure our noodles aren't as good as what you can get - must head your way soon!! xoxo

  2. Thanks to your very helpful guide, I ended up checking out Szechuan House. I took my family when they were in town visiting and it was one of the best Chinese meals we've ever had!!

    1. I'm so thrilled to hear you had a great experience at Szechuan House! I am overdue for a visit up there myself. Thanks for your comment - it made my day! :)


Post a Comment

More Foodie Is The New Forty

Proud to be a member of the AFBA!

Search Foodie Is The New Forty

Subscribe to Foodie is the New Forty by email!

Recent Posts

  © Free Blogger Templates Photoblog III by 2008

Back to TOP