49 Canal St., Chinatown
Dimes is one of those perfect spots where you can order everything on the menu and feel really good about it. Breakfast could be matcha buttermilk pancakes or huevo kathmandu (spicy chickpeas, spinach chutney, and date relish on a corn tortilla), for lunch a watercress, farro, blood orange, shiso vinaigrette salad or togarashi salmon and pickled carrots—all of the above are the type of food so bright in flavor and color it jumps right off the plate. The space itself is a cozy, cave-like nook with simple wooden tables, bright whitewashed walls, and a sloping ceiling—all flooded with light from the near floor-to-ceiling windows out front. This is a Cali-centric place, where every bite is healthy but not necessarily health-food (there's a Dimes market retailing their favorite purveyors next door), chefs and founders Alyssa Wagner and Sabrina DeSousa have gotten the balance—and the aesthetic—just right.
18 E Broadway, Chinatown
No NYC dim sum list would be complete without Golden Unicorn, the classic, 2-story Cantonese spot that draws tourists and New Yorkers alike with its ornate decorations and delicious dim sum offerings. Since everything (they’re best known for mainstays like shrimp and pork shumai and BBQ pork buns) gets piled high in baskets and rolled around the dining room on carts, try to snag a seat near the kitchen, ensuring you get the freshest possible food. Oh, and be sure to order the little piggy buns, filled with egg custard and endlessly instagrammable.
20 Elizabeth St., Chinatown
If you’re looking for a quintessential New York dim sum experience, Jing Fong is probably your best bet. With a sprawling dining room (it seats 800), communal tables, and blue and pink fluorescent lighting, this Cantonese palace is worth a trip for the fun (if slightly chaotic) atmosphere alone. Some reliable dishes include the soup dumplings, vegetable dumplings, and rice noodle rolls with shrimp. Go during the week, or be prepared to wait at least an hour on the weekends.
130 Division St., Chinatown
Despite the Chinese characters on the awning outside, stepping through the olive green French doors at Kiki's on tiny Division Street, near the border of Chinatown and LES, sort of feels like you're walking into a taverna in Greece. The vibe is part local, part hipster, all fun; and the food—from grilled octopus to Greek salad, tzatziki, and Melitzanosalata (eggplant mash)—is simply done and very good.
171 E. Broadway, Chinatown
Tucked away in the Eastern corner of Chinatown (be sure not to confuse E. Broadway with Broadway), this outpost of Mission Chinese is actually the second take on the concept and it’s much more dressed-up than the first (for one, there’s a proper kitchen in the basement rather than a tiny galley situation separated from diners by a thin sheet of plexiglass). The food is just as quirky and great: Steamed oat noodles, a perfect duck wrapped in lotus leaf, and anchovies, pickled in chili and served on flatbread are favorites.
13 Doyers St., Chinatown
This NYC institution has been around since 1920, and although it’s evolved and changed over time (it was originally a bakery and teahouse serving dim sum on the side), it’s still one of our favorite places in New York. The small dining room, decked out with booths and red-checkered tablecloths, is adorable, and their scallion pancakes, “OG” egg rolls, and anything made with rice noodles (like the har gow and any of the rice rolls) do not disappoint. Don’t confuse this with the new-ish NoLita location – although the food is solid, the more modern, fast-casual concept in no way rivals the funky charm of the original.
The Good Sort
5 Doyers St., Chinatown
The Good Sort may be a bit of a trek given its Chinatown location, but trust us when we say the pilgrimage downtown is worth it: Owners Eddy Buckingham and Jeff Lam (who are also the guys behind Chinese Tuxedo next door), have created a vegan menu of alternative milk lattes (almond, coconut, and oat), fresh juices, homemade congee, and coffee that is entirely categorized by color (say, a yellow turmeric congee, pink rose petal tea, or black charcoal-infused latte). Everything on the menu appears to be made for Instagram–but even if that's not your jam, it's hard not to love the health bent (case in point: the Rainbow Iced Latte, made with beetroot, turmeric, black pepper, coconut sugar, and blue algae, looks like an ombré painting).
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