Insider tip: Denver’s best Chinese food can be found outside the city proper. From Aurora, Centennial, Lakewood, and beyond, we’ve gathered enough options for your American-Chinese go-tos, Cantonese and Taiwanese favorites, plus more regional specialties for whatever you’re craving.
Eternal hot spots like Hop Alley and ChoLon have earned the hype and are worth an order, but be sure to try the newcomers, including Meta Asian Kitchen, Dating Yumy, Dragonfly Noodle, and so many more.
Hop Alley has a cult following that makes it notoriously difficult to get into — which means it’s the perfect place to order in from (so the only thing you have to worry about getting into is your pajamas). Chef Tommy Lee’s modern Chinese original recipes are at their finest here, like mouth-tingling laziji, schmaltz-grilled gai lan, and a legendary chilled tofu dressed in sesame bang bang sauce with smashed cucumbers that is to die for.
Denver native Tommy Lee’s beloved ramen shop is affectionately named for the relative who first got the chef into cooking, so we’re pretty grateful for you too, Uncle! Dig into bowls of spicy chicken ramen, duck ramen in a shoyu broth, and spicy miso mazemen with pork. The Thai veggie khao soi in a vegan yellow curry sauce is so delish that it’s a must-order for meat eaters and abstainers alike.
Ace Eat Serve
True, when you order in from Ace Eat Serve you miss out on the patio seating and rounds of table tennis; however, you still get the playful dishes, like Tiger Wings with sweet-and-salty sauce, Bang Bang Bao buns with shrimp cake, and scallop-and-shrimp XO rice pillows. (And you can set up your own table tennis at home!) The desserts are also a highlight: Try the housemade fortune cookies and lychee panna cotta.
Edwin Zoe’s second addition to the Denver Chinese food scene (after Zoe Ma Ma) leaves no doubt as to why Zoe nabbed a 2022 James Beard semifinalist nom for best restaurateur. The house-made ramen is the first thing to try. If you’re in the mood for pork broth, take your pick from Black Tonkotsu, with cherrywood smoked pork belly, or Char Siu Rib, featuring housemade glazed pork ribs. Soybean-broth lovers will be made instantly happy with the Miso Happy, with yakitori chicken (or the vegan-friendly Miso Veggie), and the Butter Lobster. The noodles, sauces, and broths here are all next-level.
Zoe Ma Ma
The original Union Station street food counter from Edwin Zoe and his mom, Anna, is always a crowd pleaser. Try the noodle dishes first: Za Jiang Mian features egg noodles topped in ground pork, plus a savory bean sauce and fresh vegetables, and the Dan Dan Mian has minced pork and Sichuan peppercorn sauce. Follow up with cozy comfort dishes like the braised pork Lu Ro Fan and creamy chicken curry.
Known for its dim sum service, this long-standing destination just off Federal Boulevard also features a wide menu ready for delivery, including the siu mai Cantonese dumplings. Pair them with salt-and-pepper fried smelt and the chef’s special squid with dried shrimp and leeks for a proper Empress starter pack.
This chef-driven restaurant made French onion soup dumplings a local Denver tradition. Try these bite-sized fusion pillows alongside an order of hoisin-sriracha tofu bao buns, plus wagyu beef skewers with Hong Kong steak sauce. Or go for an entire xiao-long-bao-based meal, adding the Crystal Edamame Dumplings and General Cho’s Dumplings with chicken to your cart too.
Meet & Eat Bistro
Hampden-area diners — especially vegetarians — should place Meet & Eat near the top of their to-try lists. Cauliflower dry pot (like hot pot, but brothless), hot and sour shredded potato, and fried sweet potato are all on offer. But fear not, meat lovers, you won’t be left out in the cold: The sliced beef and ox tongue drizzled in chile oil, and the pan-fried pork dumplings are both essential.
Mayfair’s Little Dragon is beloved for its Singapore-style vermicelli noodles, Hong Kong-style pan-fried egg noodles, and Cantonese rice noodle chow fun. The Dragon is also a good spot to order from for large groups: Party trays of noodle dishes, dumplings, wontons, and more are all available for delivery, meaning your guests will love you.
West Denver and Lakewood diners can expect a mix of dim sum and dinner options from this family-owned joint. Start off with dim sum-style Cantonese shrimp shumai — steamed or fried — and continue with stir-fried moo shu with your choice of protein, including tofu. For dessert, you’ve got to go for mango, in either sticky rice or mousse form.
Meta Asian Kitchen
Husband-and-wife duo Ken Wan and Doris Yuen started this sweet Chinese food stall at Avanti in Denver’s Highland, and they’ve recently expanded downtown. Try the vegan spring rolls filled with glass noodles and veggies, spicy Sichuan chicken wings, and mouth-numbing vegan chewy noodles with bok choy. For a fun play on an American snack, do not miss the chile-oil-tossed mozzarella sticks with Thai basil ranch.
We’ll make this easy for you: You’ll want the rice noodle rolls with XO sauce, French steak, and spicy bean curd pork from this South Federal Boulevard shop. Start the meal with fried scallion pancakes, and finish it with a Hong Kong-style sweet milk tea.
Yum Yum Spice
No disrespect to the other restaurants that boast hot pot, but this University of Denver area staple is known for its brothless dry pot — even better for delivery than the wet stuff. Your options are a regular pot, for sharing, or large pot, for even more sharing. Choose from proteins including pork ribs and honey tripe, then customize with add-ons like bamboo shoots, lotus root slices, and fish balls.
This is your new go-to for pork in multiple preparations. Order the comforting pork soup dumplings, pan-fried pork buns, chile-oil-doused pork wontons, and twice-cooked pork with house rice or lo mein on the side. If you don’t have a particularly porcine predilection, stray toward the crispy duck or salt-and-pepper prawns instead.
Mapo tofu, dan dan noodles, and braised pig’s feet are among the specialties on the comprehensive traditional Chinese food menu at this Centennial mainstay. To find them you’ll have to scroll past the more Americanized dishes (no shade — those are yummy too!), and once you do, the options are seemingly endless, from spicy beef tendon to pork intestine flavored with ginger and onion.
A street-food spin-off of its swanky neighboring sister restaurant, ChoLon, YumCha offers plenty of smaller plates to share at home. Firecracker Chicken Bao Buns (with the option to sub in tofu), Pom Pom Shrimp, and wagyu beef chow fun are most popular for a reason. And while Chinese dishes are central to the menu, you’ll also notice influences from Vietnam and Thailand.
Another South Denver favorite, this kitchen is our pick for fish: It doesn't do a lot of it, but it does it so well — coated in chile oil, ginger wine sauce, or a sweet-and-sour concoction with pine nuts (all can be found under Chef’s Specialties). For 10 more bucks, you can make a meal out of it by adding a single egg roll, two cheese wontons, and either egg drop or wonton soup.
Mason’s Dumpling Shop
The family behind Mason’s has been proudly “rolling since 2001,” when they opened Luscious Dumpling in Los Angeles. Mason’s is now an Aurora staple for Chinese dumplings in boiled, steamed, and pan-fried varieties. The original single-bite soup dumplings are a must, as are the crispy pan-fried pork dumplings. Once you have those in your cart, move on to a wood ear mushroom salad or smoked tofu, and dumplings stuffed with blue crab and pork shoulder or veggies.
Pure eggcellence! You’ll want to order the assorted egg foo young omelets and wok-fried shrimp dishes from this Uptown bistro. The walnut shrimp, lightly battered and tossed in honey, is also a fan favorite. A round of wontons in fiery chile sauce can serve as a mid-meal palate cleanser (or a kickoff).
Colorado’s only outpost of this Taiwanese hot pot chain delivers from Aurora, making it convenient for southeast Denverites. Here you can customize heaping individual soup portions, starting with one of Tasty Pot’s popular bowls — such as seafood and lobster, lamb, or beef — then adjusting spice level (from none to flaming) and swapping proteins, veggies, and rice or noodles.
Diners in Denver’s northern suburbs flock to Thornton’s Heaven Dragon for all of the American-Chinese classics — crab cheese wontons, sesame chicken, lo mein — but the house pan-fried noodles and any of the crispy duck preparations are worth an order. (Try the Beijing-style Peking duck for a perfect bite that combines juicy meat, savory pancake, and plum sauce.)
Southeast Denverites, especially couples and families, will appreciate the no-thinking-required Family Dinner packages, available for two, three, four, or five people. Options include an assortment of entrees and sides in addition to an assortment of egg rolls, cheese wontons, fried chicken wings, skewered beef, fantail shrimp, and barbecued ribs. There are also entire menu sections dedicated to Thai and Vietnamese cuisine.
Courtesy of Ace Eat Serve
Courtesy of Meta Asian Kitchen
Courtesy of Tasty Pot