These days, when you can order seemingly any and every kind of food under the sun from your smartphone, it may be hard to remember our favorite tastes of yesteryear. But not too long ago, Chinese was America’s favorite “ethnic food,” a gateway drug—no pun intended—to the ever more exotic flavors of Vietnamese, Korean and beyond.
But even if Chinese restaurants are no longer the top draw, they’re well worth a second look. Combining the appealing crunch of fresh, healthful veggies and proteins with an addictively savory, soy-based palette, classic Chinese cuisine is tailor-made for today’s emphasis on freshness, healthfulness and knockout flavor.
Fortunately, we’re blessed with a great selection of Chinese food in Ballard. Here are a few of our current faves. And of course, be sure to stock up before you dine!
American Mary’s Favorite Chinese Food in Ballard
Din Tai Fung
2621 NE 46th St
Seattle, WA 98105
We love General Tso’s chicken as much as the next guy or gal, but a visit to this hip, sprawling Taiwanese food palace may cause you to seriously reconsider your concept of “Chinese food.” From appetizers like vinegar-kissed seaweed and soy-glazed pork encased in sticky rice, to impossibly flavorful stir-fries built around chewy Shanghai-style rice cakes and hand-pulled noodles, the major challenge will be: Where do I begin? Whatever you do, save space for the soup dumplings: Flavorful packets filled, seemingly impossibly, with steaming hot soup. It’s a—shall we say—deliciously trippy experience.
1827 15th Ave W #A10
Seattle, WA 98119
Sorry, but do you think there’s any chance we wouldn’t include a joint called “Magic Dragon” on our list of Chinese food in Ballard? Fortunately, reliable standbys like toothsome Mongolian beef and indomitable Kung Pao chicken are both solid and affordable at this unpretentious strip-mall eatery. This may not be the place to explore the subtleties of classic Chinese cuisine, but it’s fresh, flavorful, and always satisfying.
Chinese Food in Ballard: Teasome
6412 Phinney Ave N
Seattle, WA 98103
Billing itself as an “Asian Fusion” restaurant, this adorable little eatery and tea shop leans hard into the Chinese food that informs nearly all the classic cuisines of Asia. Five-spice beef comes dotted with a “secret chili oil” you’ll want to get to know better, and tender little dumplings filled with minced pork are a must. Don’t forget the “tea” part of the deal. If it’s largely been kicked to the curb by coffee (thanks, Howard Schultz) you may find your love affair with the “other” stimulating leafy green blooming again after all these years….
Ballard Mandarin Chinese Restaurant
5500 8th Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107
If you grew up in an era when family dinner at a Chinese restaurant was still kind of a big deal, you’ll love this delightfully old-school restaurant. Revisit old friends like tangy sweet-and-sour pork, vinegar-fired hot and sour soup, and mu shu vegetables wrapped in an impossibly thin pancake. Hesitating over the cashew chicken? Go on. Treat yo’ self!