Chinese food is the ultimate take-out food, its sweet, sour, tangy, and spicy sauces make marinating vegetables, meats, and seafood more perfect the longer it sits. Chinese immigrants have popularized traditional Chinese dishes by fusing them with American ingredients like cream cheese and wheat noodles to create an entirely different menu than what you might encounter in China.
While American Chinese food may not be authentically Chinese, it is certainly one of the most popular cuisines for dining out or ordering in. If you’ve been looking for a go-to Chinese joint, look no further than one of the 12 Chinese Food restaurant chains in the list below. You’re bound to find at least one of them in your area.
We have chosen the 12 best Chinese food restaurant chains that deliver all the classic dishes you love, each with its own special twist. Additionally, many of these restaurants offer a lively atmosphere to accompany their delicious meals.
P.F. Chang’s is Chinese food with an American twist that is highly popular in the U.S. and provides a lengthy menu of traditional Chinese ingredients and preparation methods mixed with classic Americanized Chinese take-out items. The great thing about P.F. Chang’s is that it has a great indoor dining atmosphere with dim lighting and a full bar.
It is more expensive than many of the other chains on our list because it is a more upscale, modern dining experience that offers families, work friends, and large parties a great venue to get together and enjoy good food and a hip atmosphere replete with great background music and modern décor.
The menu is so extensive that you could eat at P.F. Chang’s for a week straight and never order the same thing twice, allowing you to venture out of your comfort zone instead of sticking with the tried and true. No matter what you order, it’s bound to be good.
Originating in California in 1983, Panda Express has grown to more than 21,000 restaurants nationwide, grossing a whopping $3 billion in annual sales. Panda Express is thus the largest, most widespread, and well-known restaurant chain on our list. We’re sure you’ve eaten at one in your life, but if you haven’t, you’re missing out!
Their most popular dish is the Orange Chicken that encompasses a range of flavors; the sweetness and tanginess of the citrus, the savory chicken flavor, and spicy chiles with crunchy glazed skin is an unbeatable combination that explains why Panda Express sells over 100 million pounds of it a year.
Orange Chicken is Panda Express’s unique creation, and you won’t find it in China. While other restaurants try to imitate it, they simply don’t measure up. You will find all the classic American Chinese food, classic crowd-pleasers like Kung Pao chicken and egg rolls. Panda Express is delicious, affordable food, which accounts for how popular it has become.
Pei Wei was founded by P.F. Chang’s back in 2000 as Asian American fast-casual restaurant, offering a higher quality fast food in a nicer dine-in environment. Pei Wei eventually separated from the P.F. Chang’s franchise to form its own in 2017. They currently have 119 locations worldwide.
Their cuisine features all the usual suspects of Asian American fare spanning Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisines to include Pad Thai, Teriyaki Chicken, Coconut Curries, and even a Polynesian Poke bowl. The best thing about Pei Wei is its freshness and vegetable-heavy dishes.
Even if the main attraction is protein, it’s always filled with vegetables. They also have ample vegetarian options like Thai Dynamite Tofu and Teriyaki Tofu, not to mention various veggie stir-fries.
Named after the owner, a native South Korean man with Chinese parents, Mark Pi’s opened its doors in Chicago in 2008. The owner had already established a reputation for his noodle-making skills, having won the Guinness world record for fastest noodle maker.
We, therefore, recommend noodle dishes at Mark Pi’s, specifically the Lo Mein. Their menu offers all the crowd-pleasing Chinese American take-out dishes, but you can customize your dish with the protein of your choice; you can choose between chicken, beef, shrimp, tofu, and vegetables. They also have a permanent buffet at a fixed price, but we recommend ordering off the menu.
Bd’s Mongolian Grill
Bd’s Mongolian Grill was founded in Michigan in 1992, assuming a unique concept of Mongolian barbeque stir-fries that chefs prepare for patrons from an open kitchen so that patrons can watch the preparation process.
At Bd’s, you choose the ingredients you want in your stir-fry from an area in which over 80 ingredients are on display. Skilled chefs will then prepare it theatrically, making your dining experience into a culinary spectacle. Not only do they have fresh, made-to-order stir-fries, but there’s also a soup and salad bar, offering a wide variety of fresh vegetables and delicious soups.
If that isn’t enough, they have a large appetizer and dessert menu. There are currently 25 Bd’s locations in the U.S.
Din Tai Fung
Din Tai Fung offers more authentic traditional Chinese food as it was founded in Taiwan in 1958 and has since opened around a dozen restaurants in the Western U.S. Asian dishes are always colorful and enticing, but Din Tai Fung goes above and beyond with their culinary presentation.
The taste of their dishes is as exquisite as their presentation. We recommend ordering various dishes to share family style as is traditionally intended. The dishes are beautiful and delicious, but they are small for American expectations. This is gourmet, authentic Chinese food at its best and is well worth its higher price.
Pick Up Styx
Pick Up Styx has grown to become a successful franchise of over 70 restaurants in the U.S. since its founding in California in 1989. Their menu has a wealth of vegetarian and vegan options and a main-course salad selection that has fresh, diverse, and filling ingredients for a change.
Also, in tune with the typical California lifestyle, they have an entire Asian Fit section with healthy, low-calorie dishes labeled with their specific calorie count and ingredients. If staying fit isn’t a priority when dining at Pick Up Styx, their cream-cheese stuffed fried wontons are some of the best in the market.
Named for its multi-talented woman founder, Leann Chin opened its doors in 1980. Founder Leann Chin is a Chinese immigrant who came to the Midwest with her family in the 1950s, using her family’s authentic Chinese recipes and culinary knowledge to popularize Chinese food first in her circle of friends and later as a successful midwestern restaurant chain.
Leeann Chin currently has over 50 locations mainly within the Midwest region of the U.S. The menu is small but includes all the most famous Chinese dishes you crave when you order take-out.
Chinese Gourmet Express
Chinese Gourmet Express lives up to its name as your scrumptious, high-quality food is ready within minutes after you order, and the portion sizes are very generous. A combo meal costing $7.50 comes with two different dishes of your choice and a heaping serving of rice or Chow Mein. Suffice it to say you get your money’s worth.
There are over 50 locations of Chinese Gourmet Express restaurants across the U.S.
A primarily southern Chinese food restaurant chain, Mama Fu’s incorporates some southern flair into their American Chinese food menu. They even offer a side of macaroni and cheese. While their food is a bit greasy, it’s still quite tasty, and they have healthy options. For example, they give you the option to sub rice for cauliflower rice which they call “riced cauliflower.”
They also manage to fuse southern-style cooking and flavors seamlessly with Chinese take-out fare. The best dish that exemplifies this fusion is the Jalapeno Brisket Fried Rice which they deem a “taste of Texas.” Considering all but one of their locations lies in Texas, we’re sure this signature item is bound to be a favorite.
HuHot Mongolian Grill
HuHot is another create-your-own rice and noodle stir-fry restaurant in which you pick all the ingredients you want. There are numerous choices and endless combinations, making HuHot Mongolian Grill a great lunch and dinner spot that you can have regularly.
They have 24 different sauces to choose from, along with twice as many vegetables. Proteins include various fish and seafood along with chicken, meatballs, beef, and pork sausage. There are currently around 70 locations in 18 states.
You probably don’t associate chain restaurants—or maybe even Chinese food for that matter—with fine dining, but Mr. Chow is as fancy as they come. It is also the priciest restaurant on our list, but the fine-dining atmosphere and quality of the meal is well worth the extra expenditure.
Mr. Chow started in 1968 in London and quickly spread to large cosmopolitan cities in the U.S., including New York, Miami, Beverly Hills, and Las Vegas. You could say Mr. Chow showed the U.S. how exquisite and sophisticated Chinese food could be.