San Francisco's Mission Chinese Is Officially The Last One Standing

The high-profile and endlessly innovative Chinese restaurant Mission Chinese closed down its Bushwick location this past weekend. This comes only two years after the closure of the notorious Lower East Side location, leaving only the original San Francisco restaurant behind. Mission Chinese Food quickly took the spotlight when it first opened its doors in San Francisco's Mission District in 2010 after operating as a food cart for two years (via Eater). It was named as one of Bon Appétit's best new restaurants a year later for its incredibly spicy, Sichuan-inspired cuisine.

Condé Nast praised the original Mission Chinese Food for its lively atmosphere and flavorful "mashup" dishes like the kung pao pastrami or salt cod fried rice that were designed by founder and chef Danny Bowien. New locations were then opened in New York's Lower East Side and Bushwick neighborhoods in 2012 and 2019 respectively, per the New Yorker. Bowien quickly earned a reputation as one of New York's top rock star chefs, but that reputation would come with a price.

Bushwick location's closure was end of controversial era

According to Eater, during the time that the Lower East Side Mission Chinese was at its peak, Bowien and his operating partners like Chef Angela Dimayuga would often tout the kitchen's progressive ethics. They later found themselves under fire in 2018 when a group of former staff members sued Mission Chinese for racial discrimination and unpaid wages. Employees describe the environment as a "hotbed of racial discrimination," and even describe an incident where a black employee was scalded by a metal spoon that had been dipped in hot oil. Bon Appétit reports that this reputation would harm the creative restaurant's clout in following years until the lower east side's closure in 2020 which was credited to COVID-19 pandemic. Bowien would also list a lengthy apology acknowledging much of the abuses and his personal history on his Instagram.

Mission Chinese announced the closure of its final NYC location in Bushwick three weeks ago on its Instagram. A lengthier announcement on the restaurant's website didn't provide further details on why the restaurant was closing, but did acknowledge that the challenges of operating during the last two years. It also thanked team members for all they gave to the restaurant. "We could not be more proud and in awe of their commitment to making Mission Chinese Bushwick a fun and hospitable place to work and dine."