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Some foods are so universal in their construction that they transcend geographical regions and evolve over time into dishes recognized around the world. By its simplest definition, dumplings are made of cooked dough, usually wrapped around some kind of filling. It’s a broad type of dish that crosses over several different types of cuisine.
There are the dumplings you find in Asian cuisine that can be steamed or fried. And when you consider the other names dumplings can go by–empanadas, pierogis, wontons, and gyoza, to name a few–you’ll find that it truly runs the gamut of nationalities and cultures.
Then, there are the chicken and dumplings you find in classic Southern cooking. These dumplings are a bit different than the above definition, as these do not have a filling but are made from biscuit dough and are either flattened or rolled into a ball. To a large swath of diners, however, this is the quintessential definition of a dumpling. With so many different definitions and iterations of the dumpling, there is a wide array of restaurant chains that serve their own special version that customers cannot get enough of.
Whether it is pan-fried, deep-fried, steamed, baked, served in a soup, with filling or without, there is a restaurant chain out there that serves some version of a dumpling to suit your taste. Here are some of the restaurant chains that serve up delicious dumplings, no matter how you choose to define them.
Nationwide restaurant chain P.F. Chang’s is a favorite among customers looking to dine on Asian-inspired cuisine but are in the mood for a step above regular takeout. To start off your meal, P.F. Chang’s offers Handmade Dumplings on its appetizer menu. Guests can order them pan-steamed or fried, and it comes with a light chili sauce drizzle. The dumplings sometimes take on a seasonal twist, like the Butternut Squash Dumplings that appeared on the menu several years ago.
California is a hotbed for dim sum. You can find countless restaurants devoted to this style of Asian cuisine across the state. Capital Noodle Bar, for example, is a small chain of restaurants serving tasty dim sum dishes. A couple of its specialties include steamed vegetable dumplings and juicy pork dumplings. You can find locations around Orange County. One fan on Reddit cited Capital Noodle Bar as one of the best-kept secrets when it comes to Asian cuisine in the county, calling it “super good.”
Taiwanese restaurant chain Din Tai Fung has locations mostly up and down the West Coast, though a few locations have opened up in New York as well. The chain has a menu filled with Taiwanese specialties like long bao, shao mai, and steamed buns. Customers looking for tasty dumplings can also find those here. In fact, a whole portion of the menu at Din Tai Fung is solely dedicated to steamed dumplings. Fillings include everything from chicken to cod to vegan options as well. It even has chocolate versions of its buns and long bao for dessert.
While On The Border is best known for Mexican-inspired specialties, it does serve savory Spanish and Latin-influenced empanadas off its appetizer menu. They come filled with a cheese and seasoned ground beef mixture and are served with a side of On the Border’s Signature Queso for dipping. Despite being on the appetizer menu, customers may find that the empanadas here are filling enough to count as an entire meal.
If you have never experienced a teppanyaki restaurant, you are in for a treat. Benihana is a chain of restaurants dedicated to this method of Japanese cooking whereby your food is cooked right in front of you over a large iron griddle, known as a teppan. It’s a fun and entertaining way to dine. Prior to your main course, you can order a serving of pan fried gyoza dumplings to kick things off, with the option of pork or spicy chicken as the filling.
For an entirely different kind of dumpling dish, there’s Cracker Barrel. The down-home restaurant chain is known far and wide for a variety of Southern comfort food dishes, including its Chicken N’ Dumplins. The dumplings are slowly simmered before being served. They can be the star of your dish or as a side accompaniment with any other entrée. And, like most food at Cracker Barrel, they’re made fresh, as one employee on Reddit attests.
Copycat recipes are everywhere online as fans attempt to recreate the dumplings at home. A good place to start would likely be Cracker Barrel’s own Biscuit & Dumpling Mix, which you can buy in-store or on its website.
Restaurant chain Pei Wei Asian Kitchen has a menu of shareable items to enjoy with your friends or, frankly, to eat all by yourself. Its chicken dumplings are steamed and filled with chicken, cabbage, shallots, ginger, and green onions. The dumplings can be ordered as-is, or you can also enjoy them in a hearty bowl of Thai wonton soup, which comes with steamed chicken dumplings along with basil and scallions in a savory chicken lemongrass broth.
Eastern European cuisine has not necessarily hit the mainstream when it comes to large restaurant chains, but across America, you’ll find small family-owned businesses, some of which are beginning to expand regionally. The Pierogie Place is one such company. Since first opening in May 2020 in southern New Jersey, it has grown to four locations in the area.
The Pierogie Place serves both savory and sweet pierogies with a variety of fillings ranging from potato and jalapeño cheddar to strawberry. One Tripadvisor reviewer called it a “gem,” writing: “Being of Slovak descent, we are picky about our pierogies. We tried 3 different varieties, and all were excellent. Tasted very homemade with just the right amount of butter. This place will definitely become a regular stop. We even went back for more to take home.”
Fans of Asian cuisine that live on the West Coast have no shortage of great restaurant options, including both small mom-and-pops shops and larger chains. For quick and convenient takeout, many turn to Pick Up Stix to satisfy their cravings for delicious dumplings. At Pick Up Stix, customers can order chicken dumplings, which also include cabbage, shallots, ginger, and green onions. Those dumplings are also a component of the wonton soup, made with shrimp, chicken breast, carrots, broccoli, and mushrooms.
For a quintessential Southern take on dumplings, there are few restaurant chains as reliable as McAlister’s Deli. With over 550 locations across the United States, you likely aren’t too far from a heartwarming bowl of chicken and dumplings: “large, southern dumplings with white meat chicken simmered in a savory roasted chicken broth,” according to its website. While McAlister’s Deli is more widely known for its sandwiches, the chain has roots in Mississippi, so you can count on this Southern-style dish being done right.