These are our favorite Chinese restaurants around DC right now, all open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day—whether you’re celebrating the great Jewish tradition of eating Chinese food on December 25, or just craving Peking duck after opening presents.
4316 Markham St., Annandale, 703-813-8181; 1319 Rockville Pike, Rockville, 301-251-7878
There are no carts at these dim sum houses, but we’ll trade the ease of a point-and-order system for fresh dishes that emerge hot from the kitchen. Tick off items on paper—they’ll come quickly, so order in batches. We love feasting on spicy wontons, dan-dan noodles, beef rolls, and egg-stuffed pastries. It’s hard to go wrong, unless you arrive cashless. (Credit cards aren’t taken.)
Bob’s Shanghai 66
305 N. Washington St., Rockville; 301-251-6652
This cash-only restaurant is known for soup dumplings so flavorful they don’t need the accompanying dipping vinegar. The checklist menu of 100-plus Cantonese, Szechuan, and Taiwanese small plates can be intimidating to navigate, but you’ll feel like a pro ordering the fragrant cumin lamb and the spicy fried tofu.
8395 Leesburg Pike, Vienna; 703-893-4488
Focus on the menu under the glass tabletop and the handwritten signs on the wall—that’s where you’ll find Peking duck, crunchy “kingdom” pork chops, and Hong Kong shrimp blitzed with green pepper. We like to kick things off with a round of pork dumplings wrapped in house-made dough.
Da Hong Pao
1409 14th St., NW; 202-846-7229
Craving dim sum in DC proper? Head to this bright spot on the main 14th Street drag, which offers dim sum daily from 10 AM to 3 PM. The carts get rolling on weekends and holidays, where you can point to plates laden with dumplings, noodles, crispy-skinned duck, fried rice, and more.
3518 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-686-3941
Noodles are likely what will get you hooked on Uyghur cuisine, a crossroads of Middle Eastern and Chinese flavors from China’s Muslim minority. Chewy hand-pulled laghman noodles with stir-fried beef and vegetables are the signature attraction at this Cleveland Park dining room, while wider ribbons star in the “big plate chicken,” smothered in a spiced gravy with potatoes and peppers.
1313 Dolley Madison Blvd., McLean; 703-646-8968
The perfect antidote to a wintery day: one of the bubbling cauldrons at this soup and noodle house. Order a signature hot pot such as thin-sliced lamb and clams or spicy beef, all of which arrive on a fiery burner with house dipping sauces. We’re also partial to the searing ma po tofu. Pay attention to whiteboard specials—and don’t leave without an order of homemade pork dumplings.
2227 University Blvd. W., Wheaton; 301-933-8388
It’s tempting to stick to the list of proven hits—say, the justly famous shrimp-dumpling soup—but this Hong Kong–style eatery is the sort of place where you can order with abandon. Pan-fried whole cod, spooned with ginger-scallion soy sauce, is a worthy detour. So, too, a platter of glossy roast duck, pork, and soy-sauce chicken.
2646 University Blvd. W., Wheaton; 301-929-8818
Families crowd this dim sum hall on weekends for the joys of shu mai and other Cantonese specialties ferried around on carts. It’s easy to fill up on shrimp rice-noodle rolls and translucent-skinned chive dumplings, but you’ll also want to hail a bowl of tender braised beef tripe or sweetened custard-like tofu.
1331 Lamberton Dr., Silver Spring; 301-649-5466
December 25 is like this Kosher-Chinese restaurant’s Super Bowl—they’re currently taking advance takeout and delivery orders for “the big event” on Christmas Eve and Day. The classics are all here: egg rolls, lo mein, kung pao, moo shu, and more.
6799 Wilson Blvd., Falls Church; 571-405-6947
At this Eden Center outlet of the Chinese hot-pot chain, you first pick a broth (we go half-and-half with chili-laced spicy and mild “original”). Then you accessorize it with raw ingredients you cook yourself in the bubbling liquid. Take a cue from the place’s name and focus on the ovine offerings, including shaved lamb shoulder and lamb wontons, then load up on veggies, glass noodles, and tofu.
Mark’s Duck House
6184-a Arlington Blvd, Falls Church; 703-532-2125
This storefront remains a standard-bearer of Hong Kong–style Chinese cooking—from the crackling-skinned Peking duck and marvelous lacquered roast pig to a dizzying array of soups, seafood dishes, stir-fries. Don’t miss shrimp-and-pork wonton with brown vinegar and red chili sauces in addition to the meats, plus beautifully stir-fried greens and steaming noodle soups.
Panda Gourmet and Xi’an Gourmet
2700 New York Ave., NE; 202-534-1620; 316 N Washington St., Rockville; 240-660-2985
Some of DC’s best Chinese food is in a . . . Days Inn? In fact, the oddball locale has become part of the charm for Szechuan heat-seekers. Fish filet with silky tofu hides under a cover of chilies and numbing peppercorns, while bright chili oil punctuates dumplings and dan-dan noodles. Newer Rockville sibling Xi’an Gourmet serves up similar mouth-numbing dishes in a standalone restaurant
Peking Gourmet Inn
6029 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church; 703-671-8088
Restaurants, keep your trendy roast chicken—we love feasting on duck at this 40 year-old institution, which has lured a spectrum of celebrity guests from the Bushes to K-Pop phenom, Psy. The details make this bird stand out: house-made hoisin and fresh pancakes, scallions grown on the Tsui family farm in Purcellville, and servers who expertly hew the moist meat and crackling skin. Round out a festive meal with a scorpion bowl and stellar plates like shrimp with local garlic shoots.
Peter Chang and Mama Chang
Locations in Arlington, Rockville, Fredericksburg, and Fairfax
At his eponymous chain of Szechuan restaurants, Hubei-born chef Peter Chang specializes in airy scallion bubble pancakes, numbing stone-pot dishes, and dry-fried eggplant showered in chilies. His newest venture, Mama Chang, is a family-run affair that pays tribute to the female chefs in his family with homestyle dishes and wonderful seasonal specials. Q by Peter Chang, his finer-dining Bethesda restaurant, is fully booked for Christmas.
1121 Nelson St., Rockville; 301-279-0806
Ultra-light soup dumplings are the draw at this bustling cafe. On weekends, the place serves up a pan-fried version, less liquidy but no less delicious. Round out the meal with a salad of mustard greens and edamame, plus salt-baked ribs with noodle soup.
922 Blagden Alley, NW; 202-733-1152
The Blagden Alley hotspot is open from noon to 8 PM on Christmas Day, serving a special Cantonese prix-fixe menu for $45 a person. The spread includes chili wontons, dan dan noodles, barbecued meats, and more. Also look for a la carte specials like roasted duck. Reservations are recommended (the bar is available for walk-ins).
2972 Gallows Rd., Falls Church; 703-560-6868
Hot pot might be in this restaurant’s name, but it’s no longer the main attraction since the former owners of Tempt Asian in Alexandria took over. The best finds are concentrated under the “chef specialties” section of the menu—in particular, the handmade noodles, whether cumin-scented strands stir-fried with lamb and peppers or the wide, chili-oil-soaked ribbons in the “city large plate chicken.”
Urban Hot Pot
1800 Rockville Pk., Rockville; 240-669-6710
This Chinese hot pot spot sets itself apart from the competition in a few ways: It’s all-you-can eat for two hours (many others are à la carte)—$18.99 for weekday lunch, $25.99 for dinner and weekend lunch. Instead of a communal pot, everyone gets his or her own broth and can pick from various flavors. Plus there’s a conveyor belt proffering ingredients like bok choy, cabbage, mushrooms, and more.