A must see. San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest Chinese community outside of Asia and it feels like the real thing! The neighborhood differentiates itself with the rest of the city with its temples, pagoda roofs, wok shops, and dragon dancing parades. If you’re interested in taking a tour, the guys at Wild Walking SF Tours are awesome! And tours are only $15, but I highly recommend tipping.

Chinatown Highlights

  • Portsmouth Square: Considered the heart of Chinatown, Portsmouth Square has long been an important center of activity for San Francisco, even before the area was Chinatown. Don’t miss intense mah jong playing (and betting), daily taichi practice, and a view into long-time residents’ everyday life.
  • Wander down Ross Alley—rumored to be San Francisco’s oldest alley—and discover Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, where you can sample fresh fortune cookies right off the grill.
  • Order a boba milk tea at one of the many milk tea shops for China’s favorite alternative to coffee!
  • Li Po Cocktail Lounge: Doesn’t seem like you’re in SF once you step inside this place. Order the Chinese Mai Tai—sip slowly and beware. After you get sauced up on Chinese Mai Tai, head North on Grant Avenue to Bow Bow Cocktail Lounge for karaoke.

Food in Chinatown

  • Z & Y Restaurant (655 Jackson St): Spicy Sichuan food. Make sure you get the Tan Tan noodle ($7), and the “explosive chicken” ($11). President Obama ate next door at Great Eastern, which is a good option for dim sum, but slightly more expensive.
  • House of Nanking (919 Kearny St): “Foreigner-friendly” Chinese food. Oh and bubble tea is a delicious snack!