In the 1930s, district projects forced the original Chinatown to disband, thus pushing immigrants to various parts of the city, most to the suburbs. A new Chinatown quickly emerged at H and 7th Streets, but even this neighborhood flirted with extinction in the early 1980s. A 47-foot gate—designed to mirror the opulent Qing dynasty—was then created as a last-ditch effort to attract more visitors. But while the gate still majestically stands, the neighborhood is not the cultural epicenter one might assume. Chain restaurants—Hard Rock Café, McCormick & Schmick’s, and even Hooter’s spelled in Chinese characters—line the streets. There are, of course, a few authentic places such as Meiwha or Charlie Chang’s, but they’re mere exceptions to the one important rule: if you want Chinese food in DC, you’d best head to the suburbs.
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