Boston's Chinatown was built on a landfill, though this is no longer apparent; what now identifies this area is the truly mixed uses of land. Residential properties co-exist with family owned and operated businesses and local institutions.
Chinatown is nominally bordered by Essex Street (and the Downtown) to the north, Stuart/Kneeland Street to the south, Tremont Street (and the Theatre District) to the west, and Interstate 93 to the east. Due to its central location, it is well served by public transportation, and can easily be accessed by car as well.
There are several subway ("T") stations located in or near Chinatown.
- Red Line: South Station is located near the northeast corner of Chinatown, and is convenient to the Chinatown Gate on Beach Street. From the Downtown Crossing stop, the northwest corner of Chinatown is about a 5 minute walk down Washington Street.
- Orange Line: The Chinatown stop is located at the northwest corner of Chinatown, and New England Medical Center is near its southwest corner.
- Green Line: From the Boylston stop, the northwest corner of Chinatown is a brief walk down Boylston Street.
South Station also serves as a hub for most Amtrak trains entering Boston and commuter rail trains coming from the south or west of the city.
The Silver Line bus rapid transit service connects with several of the T stops listed above.
- Routes SL1, SL2, and SL4 stop at South Station.
- Routes SL4 and SL5 stop at Chinatown and Tufts Medical Center stations.
- Route SL5 stops at Downtown Crossing and Boylston stations.
From the Massachusetts Turnpike eastbound, take Exit 24A. From Interstate 93, take Exit 23 (if going southbound) or Exit 20 (if going northbound). Driving in Chinatown is not recommended, as the streets are narrow and on-street parking is almost all by permit only, but there are parking garages around the South Station and Downtown Crossing areas that can be used. Also, the parking garage under the Boston Common is no more than a 10-15 walk from Chinatown.
- The Chinatown Gate at the corner of Beach Street and Surface Road (T: South Station) is the most visible symbol of Chinatown for the tourists. The urban plaza on the east side of the gate was built as part of the Big Dig highway project, which demolished and displaced residents from tenement houses along Hudson Street.
- The Edward Wong Square at the intersection of Beach Street and Harrison Street was the hub of Chinatown for its residents.
- Four community murals and old ads still adorning the sides of brick buildings.
- Chinatown Walking Tour, 38 Oak Street, ☎ +1 617-482-2380 ext 206. 1.5. Members of the Chinatown Walking Tour Collective (CWTC) – Asian Community Development Corporation, the Chinese Historical Society of New England, and the Chinese Youth Initiative of the Chinese Progressive Association – provide thematic guided tours of the neighborhood. Visitors will be introduced to local markets, restaurants, and points of interest. Personal stories from community members make these tours unique experiences. $15.
- A-VOYCE (Asian Voices of Organized Youth for Community Empowerment) members engaged in the CWTC receive specialized training in tour creation, guide interpretation, and community storytelling. Those involved in this initiative research the history of Chinatown and develop thematic guided walking tours of Chinatown. The youth-led tours highlight the cultural vibrancy of the neighborhood, and inform the audience of the rich immigrant and ethnic heritage of the community.
- Lantern Festival is celebrated during the Chinese New Year, which is first day of the first month on the Chinese calendar, and lasts until the 15th day. Throughout the celebration, there are more street and food vendors than usual, fireworks and firecrackers. There are also several performances including the Lion dance and or parade, students of the local schools, and musical performances. This event takes place in the main streets of Chinatown.
- August Moon Festival, also called the Autumn Festival, takes place during 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese calendar. It’s the largest festival of the year. Performances, music, arts and crafts will sometimes be available. Every year varies. Also takes place in the main streets of Chinatown.
For authentic Chinese cuisine, you can't do better than Chinatown (although you may wish to stay away if you prefer the Americanized dishes served at most Chinese restaurants in the U.S.). Chinatown is also known for having a number of restaurants that stay open late on weekends (3 or 4AM). Many of these restaurants have been cutting back their late night hours, so call ahead to confirm closing times. Another potential pitfall for late-night dining is the 2:00 rush from closing bars that may swiftly fill nearly all open restaurants.
- New Saigon Sandwich, 696 Washington St., ☎ +1 617 542-6296. Daily 8AM-7PM. Dirt cheap bánh mì, i.e. Vietnamese submarine sandwiches on baguettes ($2.50-2.99), and boxed lunches for $3. No tables, but you can walk over to the Boston Common and eat your lunch there.
- King Fung Garden, Kneeland St., ☎ +1 617 357-5262. Daily 11AM-10PM. A small place that looks run-down from the outside, but is widely regarded as serving some of the best food around. Very few tables, so take-out may be best.
- Ocean Wealth, 8 Tyler St., ☎ +1 617 423-1338. This cramped eatery on the 2nd and 3rd floors of a building in Chinatown is one of Boston's best kept secrets, serving extremely tasty Chinese food at dirt-cheap prices. Their special is the "Lobster Special", where you get 2 lobsters for $10 if you buy $30 of entrees (3 entrees minimum). However, you'll pay more if you don't know how to read and speak Chinese, as the English menu is more expensive (they'll deny there's a difference, but it's $1 on average, $9.99 Chinese menu entree, $10.99 English menu entree).
- Peach Farm, 4 Tyler St., ☎ +1 617 482-1116. Daily 11AM-3AM. A below-street-level restaurant serving some of Chinatown's most creative seafood dishes, with speedy service and at budget prices. Not much decor to look at (neither peach nor farm), but filled most of the time with locals in large groups. Spicy dry-fried salted squid and/or scallops, stir-fried pea-pod stems, braised chicken hot pot, clams with black-bean sauce are some of the favorites. Main courses range from $5 (rice plates) to $34 (Peking Duck) with most items less than $13; fresh (live) seafood at market prices.
- Taiwan Cafe, 34 Oxford St., ☎ +1 617-426-8181. Another restaurant with well priced authentic comestibles. The "mini-steamed pork buns" are a notable specialty, and are similar to those at the Gourmet Dumpling House which was founded by ex-employees of the former.
- Eldo Cake House, 36 Harrison Ave., ☎ +1 617 350-7977. An assortment of Chinese styled cakes. Chinese styled cakes often incorporate fruit and aren’t too sweet. Also, this shop offers some specialty drinks, i.e., milk teas. There’s a small eat-in area.
- Ho Yuen Bakery, 54 Beach St., ☎ +1 617 426-8320. Another cheap, but delicious bakery stocked with pastries, buns, and tarts.
- China Pearl, 9 Tyler St., ☎ +1 617 426-4338. Daily 8:30AM-11PM. Great food, great value, has many loyal patrons. Particularly well known for its dim sum: some regard this as the best place for dim sum in Chinatown. If you come during peak time (Sundays from 11AM-1PM), expect at least a half hour wait.
- Chau Chow City, 81 Essex St., ☎ +1 617 338-8158. Daily 8AM-4AM. Seafood on the first two floors, dim sum on the third floor.
- Empire Garden, 690 Washington St., ☎ +1 617 482-8898. Daily 8:30AM-10PM. Also known as Emperor Garden. Located in a former theater, so the dining room is vast. Serves dim sum on the weekends: due to the large dining room, waits here can be shorter than at other places.
- Hei La Moon, 88 Beach St., ☎ +1 617 338-8813. Daily 8:30AM-11PM. Just outside of Chinatown proper...but only just. Hei La Moon is relatively new on the Chinatown restaurant scene, but it has already established itself as a worthy competitor, particularly in the area of dim sum.
- Grand Chau Chow, 45 Beach St., ☎ +1 617 292-5166. Daily 10AM-3AM. Fresh seafood prepared in the Cantonese style.
- East Ocean City, 25 Beach St, ☎ +1 617 542-2504. Su-Th 11AM-3AM, Fri-Sat 11AM-4AM. Authentic. Chefs will make a custom dish from something you select from the live tank.
- Jumbo Seafood, 7 Hudson St., ☎ +1 617 542-2823. Su-W 11AM-1AM, Th-Sa 11AM-2AM. Freshest seafood.
- Apollo Grille, 84 Harrison Ave, ☎ +1 617 423-3888. Mo-Fr 11:30AM-2:30PM, 5PM-4AM; Sa-Su 5PM-4AM. Located in Chinatown, stop by for some Korean and/or Japanese cuisine. The sushi selection is vast, and they're all great. Comfortable environment, open late, friendly service, and relatively inexpensive.
- Imperial Seafood, 70 Beach St., ☎ +1 617 426-8439. Daily 8:30AM-4AM. A mix of fresh seafood and Chinese-American dishes. Serves dim sum on the weekends.
- My Thai Vegan Cafe, 3 Beach St., 2nd floor, ☎ +1 617 451-2395. Mo-Th,Su 11AM-9:30PM; Fr-Sa 11AM-10:30PM. A dream come true for vegetarians, as the entire menu is vegetarian here. Features fake meat dishes (e.g. "chicken", "pork") as well as arguably more authentic vegetarian creations.
Chinatown is a neighborhood of residential buildings and small businesses. The hotels listed here are directly adjacent to Chinatown.
- Hostelling International Boston, 19 Stuart St (T: Chinatown or Boylston), ☎ +1 617 536-9455, toll-free: +1 888 464-4872, fax: +1 617 424-6558, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Dorms $30-55, privates $120-150. $3 nightly fee for non-members.
- DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Boston-Downtown, 821 Washington St (T: New England Medical Center), ☎ +1 617-956-7900. Located in the heart of the Theatre District next to the orange line subway stop. Complimentary access to the adjacent Wang YMCA of Chinatown fitness center.
- Ritz-Carlton Boston Common, 10 Avery St (T: Boylston), ☎ +1 617 574-7100. Built a few years ago, this is one of the most luxurious hotels in Boston, with all the modern amenities you would expect from such a place.
- W Boston, 100 Stuart St, ☎ +1-617-261-8700. Located in Boston's theatre district, the W Boston has 235 modern guest rooms all with the signature W bed. The hotel also features the restaurant Market, from celebrity-chef Jean-Georges and the W lounge in the lobby.
Chinatown was formerly home to the "combat zone," a term created from all the World War II soldiers visiting the area. The "combat zone," is now a thing of the past and new development, like the luxury Archstone apartment building has been built.
Chinatown is perfectly safe, but like any major city neighborhood, you want to practice safety.
|Routes through Chinatown|
|Malden ← Downtown ←||N S||→ Back Bay → Jamaica Plain|