Established in 1848, San Francisco's Chinatown is the largest and oldest neighborhood of its kind in the country. Drawing more visitors annually than the uber-popular Golden Gate Bridge, this really is a country within a city, twenty-four square blocks of Chinese American culture that has its own distinct hospitals, parks, social clubs, parades and, of course, restaurants.
The smell of Chinese food dominates most of Chinatown, whether it's the sweet waft of fresh egg tarts from Golden Gate Bakery or the savory soy stirfry sizzling from Chinatown Restaurant. To understand San Francisco's Chinatown is to eat in San Francisco's Chinatown, so trying some dimsum is a must.
Plan for a long stroll, too, keeping your eyes wide open and your ears tuned sharp as if you're a traveler in another country - because, for all intents and purposes, you are. If you want the full history and cultural context of Chinatown, then don't skip The Chinese Historical Society. If you're an adventurous traveler who believes every trip - even a trip within one's own country - should include something of the mysterious and exotic, then head to Chinatown.
And after trying the restaurants on our list below, you might be inspired to start saving up for that big trip to China.