2/06/2013 11:00:00 AM

6 Best Spots for Dumplings in DC Metro

City Lights of China
The Year of the Snake is almost upon us - celebrate Chinese New Year with a steaming-hot plate of dumplings. Read on to find out which spots are worth your time, and let us know your favorites in the comments.

Chinatown Express 
Food: 23
Decor: 8
Service: 15
Cost: $17
“C’mon, you didn’t come here for the decor” say those who stand “transfixed at the entrance ogling” the “guy making noodles and dumplings in the window” before descending into Chinatown’s “dirt-cheap” den for noodles “tasty and chewy” enough to ensure you “steer clear of the rest” of the standard eats; service is so “quick” here, “they practically throw the food at you.”

746 6th St NW; 202-638-0424

Tony Cheng's
Food: 22
Decor: 17
Service: 19
Cost: $27
A Chinatown “institution”, this Asian triple play offers diners three options: upstairs, a “complex” Chinese menu, plus “quality” daily dim sum (although carts roll only on the weekends), and downstairs, an “authentic”, “way-to-go” Mongolian BBQ buffet; service is professional in accord with the (some say “dated”) white-tablecloth look, though tabs are positively Formican.

619 H Street NW; 202-371-8669

City Lights of China 
Food: 19
Decor: 13
Service: 18
Cost: $26
“Large portions” of “cheap”, “classic” Chinese “standards” (“crispy beef” is the “standout”) have kept these “friendly” and “reliable” Dupont Circle and Bethesda joints going for years; given their “hole-in-the-wall” looks, happily they’re known for “fast delivery.”

1731 Connecticut Ave NW; 202-265-6688

Full Kee Restaurant 
Food: 23
Decor: 8
Service: 16
Cost: $20
The “dead ducks” in the window and “Formica-filled” interior ID this Chinese eatery as a “hard-core, real-deal” Chinatown spot where the “amazingly long menu” (much of it posted on the wall) ranges from Hong Kong’s “traditional soups” to “rare and interesting delicacies” that come at “rock-bottom” prices; the “ornery” service just “makes the experience more genuine”; P.S. the same-named Falls Church operation is separately owned.

509 H St NW; 202-371-2233

Eat First 
Food: 22
Decor: 8
Service: 20
Cost: $20
Check out “what Chinatown used to be” like at this subterranean “treasure” that “rewards” intrepid eaters with “incredible” Cantonese “specials marked on the mirrored walls”, plus “extremely well-prepared” standards on “the American menu”; should the “joint” look “tired”, focus on “hospitable and quick” service and “good food for the price.”

609 H St NW; 202-289-1703

The Source
Food: 27
Decor: 24
Service: 24
Cost: $68
“Brilliant East-meets-West fare” is the lead story (with a sidebar on “outstanding” bar bites) at this “hip” Wolfgang Puck destination adjacent to Penn Quarter’s Newseum, sporting a “sleek” multilevel setting; “friendly but not intrusive” servers are another reason why subscribers place it in the “expensive-but-worth-it” column.

575 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-637-6100


  1. Looking at this list and the one compiled for Boston, I am not convinced Zagat authors have a good grasp on Asian food. I lived in both cities and have grown up around dumplings all my life, so I have a decent understanding of dumpling quality. For DC, most people know that the Chinatown Asian food scene has been on the decline. The best places to go for Asian food are located in the suburbs - in Rockville, Falls Church, and Annandale. For dumplings especially, there are a number of decent Chinese and Taiwanese places in Rockville that do them well. New dumpling eaters: I would suggest exploring these areas first.

    1. Amen! I haven't had Chinese in DC proper for years. People invite me to Tony Cheng's but why would I go there when I can get so much better in the VA suburbs?

  2. Chinatown Express is my favorite place in the city for delicious vegetable dumplings!!!

  3. Yeah, I've always found DC sorely lacking in this area. I'm not even interested in 'authenticity' - just if it tastes good or not. So someone noted Chinatown Express for veggie dumplings - any other specific mentions for dumplings?