Toronto's main destination for the best Chinese eats in town

Toronto's mecca for awesome, cheap food, karaoke, weird shops filled with knickknacks and housewares, and some of the better acupuncture and massage clinics in town is Toronto's Chinatown – the one located downtown. In reality, the GTA is said to have seven Chinatowns now, but this downtown one, sometimes called Old Chinatown, is one of the biggest in North America and is certainly one of the biggest Chinese communities in the city. Where Spadina and Dundas intersect was once a Jewish community, but in the '60s, the Chinese community grew and the Jewish one pushed northward and over to Bathurst Street. Now the area has a remarkable representation of Vietnamese and Thai expats, although the majority of residents and business owners here hail from mainland China. For renters, monthly rates are cheap but the accommodations often don't stack up to the quality found in the neighbourhoods next door, like Grange Park and the Fashion District.

Who Lives Here

Former residents of mainland China and their descendants, with some Vietnamese and other Southeast Asian expats. Most residents own small businesses in the area.

Perfect for…

New and new-ish immigrants from China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and elsewhere in East Asia looking for kinship to aid their transition to life in Canada.

Not-so-perfect for…

Urbanites who thrive in a steel-and-glass environment and prefer their dinners to be pricey and upscale. Well-off families who want expansive luxury homes will also find themselves out of luck in Chinatown.

Life and Style

Residents of Chinatown – and the surrounding communities that have significant Chinese populations like Grange Park and Alexandra Park – tend to spend most of their time in Chinatown. With great malls, awesome food and unique nightlife, the lifestyle in Chinatown caters to those who fit in well with the crowd here. There's a kinship that exists here that is quite unlike other areas of the city.

Housing Market

Rents in Chinatown are lower than the downtown average, as are purchase prices for houses here. In some areas, unlike nearby Grange Park, the houses and apartments can be a bit run-down.

Avg. rent by housing type and size

Studio/Bachelor: $850
1-bedroom: $1,100
2-bedroom: $1,400
3-bedroom: $1,900
Avg. rent compared to other Toronto neighbourhoods
chinatown is 28% lower than TO average

Typical housing type

Low-rise apartments over shops and small restaurants


Depending who you ask, the best restaurant in Toronto's Chinatown could be King's Noodle House, Mother's Dumplings, Lee Garden, Swatow or Rol San, or one of a couple dozen other insanely delicious eateries in the area. Then, there's El Mo, short for El Mocambo. Certainly without a Chinese name, El Mo is one of the oldest and most notorious live music halls in the city, having been in business here on Spadina before Chinatown was Chinatown, and was famously the site of a surprise concert by the Rolling Stones in '77.