Thousands will gather in San Francisco for the annual Chinese New Year Festival & Parade on February 23. While the parade is a spectacle itself, one of the most exciting aspects of Chinese New Year is the food to celebrate the festivities.

This year’s event will lead revelers on a trek from Market Street, travel up Post, back down Sutter before winding down at Kearney and Columbus. Keeping the parade route in mind, here are a few spots in and around the area to grab a Chinese feast.

R&G Lounge, 631 Kearney Street (between Commercial and Clay): All that really needs to be mentioned is the salt and pepper crab, which might be one of the most popular dishes at any Chinese restaurant in San Francisco.  It was even part of Anthony Bourdain’s trip to San Francisco for “No Reservations.”  The peking duck is also great. Service can be hit or miss and it is pricey; also expect a wait as it remains one of the most popular restaurants in and around Chinatown.

Hakkasan, 1 Kearney Street (at Market): San Francisco’s newest upscale Chinese restaurant, Hakkasan’s lavish interior screams decadence. Ordering one of the dim sum platters is a nice start and the stir-fry black pepper beef ribeye with merlot is a winner among entrees.  The restaurant is also offering a special Chinese New Year menu through February 23. With the immaculate decor and fine dining qualities, a dinner at Hakkasan is sure to be a unique dining experience.

Z & Y Restaurant, 655 Jackson Street (at Cooper Alley): A mix of traditional Chinese cuisine with spicy Szechuan specialties, Z & Y is a bit stealth with the more popular House of Nanking and Great Eastern so close. For those that like spicy dishes, the chicken with explosive chilli pepper and fish in flaming oil are can’t miss. For the less adventurous, the rice and noodle dishes offer a bit less heat.

Yee’s Restaurant, 1131 Grant Avenue (between Broadway and Pacific): Hidden amongst the mix of tourists and shops is Yee’s Restaurant. Typical of many Chinatown restaurants with roasted ducks hanging from the front window, Yee’s is part butcher shop and part down-home Cantonese restaurant. Plenty of noodle and rice dishes dominate the menu, with favorites such as goose or duck over rice. There is also a suckling pig banquet dinner option.

Yuet Lee, 1300 Stockton Street (at Broadway): A bit further up Broadway, Yuet Lee has been a staple of Chinatown for decades. One advantage – the late hours (open until 3:00am on Saturdays). The extensive Cantonese menu features rice and noodle dishes galore, along with plenty of rice soup options. The famed salt and pepper squid are just part of the 10 Famous Dishes listed on the front window.

Previous Coverage: Traditional Chinese dishes

The Chinese Lunar New Year is not only about the parade and celebration – it’s about the wonderful Chinese food in San Francisco. Gung Hay Fat Choy!!