A Guide For Making The Most Of The Chinatown Night Market

So here we are–the last Night Market of the year. It’ll kick off tonight at 7pm, centered around 10th and Race Streets in Chinatown with around 60 food and drink vendors and, if past Night Markets are any indication of tonight’s madness, somewhere between 20,000 and a bajillion people all descending on the neighborhood looking for snacks, drinks and a good time.

The question thus becomes, how do you make the most out of your Night Market experience? Good thing you asked. As veteran Night Market goers (and just sneaky bastards by nature), we’ve developed some tried and tested strategies for winning any Night Market. And it all begins with…

Showing Up Early: We can’t stress this enough. This is not one of those times when you want to arrive fashionably late. Or even exactly on time. No, you want to be the guy standing there, jumping up and down in place, just waiting for your chance to sprint in and be first in line. If you have to, get out of work and go DIRECTLY TO CHINATOWN. Find a nice place in the neighborhood to hole up for a little bit (we suggest Ting Wong, or maybe Hop Sing Laundromat for a little pre-game happy hour), and then be ready when the crowds start forming.

Eat Dessert First: Here, you’re taking advantage of crowd dynamics and psychology, doing the counter-intuitive thing and heading for the sweet stuff right off the bat while everyone else is fighting for their place in line at the bao truck. Experience has shown us that, even though this trick might seem a bit obvious, it still works. The lines for dessert are shortest at the beginning of the night.

Pick Your Battles: No one can eat everything, so know going in what it is you want to try the most and make a plan for getting to those trucks/carts/stands early. Nothing will make you more bitter than looking back and realizing you never got the chance to try that one thing you were really dying for. Need some help with planning? There’s a map and a list of every single thing being offered at the Night Market tonight right here.

Go With The Flow: Despite the massive crowds, every Night Market has a kind of ebb and flow which is as inexplicable as it is persistent. There will come moments when, for no good reason, the line at some weird vegan bbq stand will be enormous while, right next door, the dudes making gigantic pork sandwiches or dumplings stuffed with unicorn meat and magic are just standing around serving a crowd of three. And that’s when you have to make the hard choice: do you abandon your place in line and jump on the target of opportunity? Or do you stick it out and hope that the line for magic unicorn dumplings is still short when you get there? The answer: Bring friends, so that one of you can hold down your place in line while the others go get many orders of unicorn.

Bring Friends: More bodies means more coverage.

Split Up: More coverage means more lines being navigated at once. More lines means more food and booze. More food and booze means a better Night Market experience for all of you.

Re-Form Voltron: Once everyone has scored their various plates and snacks, have a place to meet up and share the wealth.

Accept That You’re Going To Spend A Lot Of Time Waiting In Lines: This is Night Market. No matter how clever you are, there’s no way around the lines. If you understand that going in and are moderating your expectations, you’re just going to have a lot more fun.

Ten Things To Try At Tonight’s Chinatown Night Market

Pie Stand
Because their appearance on the streets is highly irregular under normal circumstances, even though they won this year’s Vendy Awards as best food truck.

Bao Boy
Because General Tso’s chicken bao, that’s why.

Mom Mom’s Polish Food Cart
Because it’s run by two veterans of the Vetri family and makes some of the best handmade pierogis around.

Frecon Cidery
Because their cider is awesome, and WAY better than any of that crappy pumpkin beer you were thinking of drinking.

Seoulful Philly
Because we’ve never tasted a bad Korean cheesesteak.

Because he’s doing vadouvan chicken wings for one night only.

Tot Cart
Because everyone needs more cheese-sauce-slathered tater tots in their life.

Whirly Pig
Because the name is great, but also because they’re slinging fat pork sandwiches all night.

Plenty Cafe
Because their Tasso ham, apple, gruyere and fig jam sandwich sounds so good I want to eat it right now.

Sugar Philly
Because it doesn’t take long to hand someone a macaron, so if you need something sweet and you need it fast, this is going to be one of the quickest-moving lines of the night.

Chinatown Night Market [Official]