As Chinatown Night Markets return, neighborhood champion "Aunt" Lily Lo shares what's in her Bay.
Lily Lo, cofounder of the neighborhood revitalization coalition BeChinatown. (Courtesy of Lily Lo)

As Chinatown Night Markets return, neighborhood champion "Aunt" Lily Lo shares what's in her Bay.


Last November, when the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) came to town, many downtown businesses were forced to temporarily close their doors. But over in Chinatown, the party was just getting started.

Thousands showed up for Chinatown’s Night Market where, over two joyful evenings, they filled up on Chinese eats and danced in the streets.

On Friday March 8th, the Chinatown Night Market is back, just the first of many to come throughout the year. Lily Lo is the powerhouse behind them all. Affectionately known as Aunt Lily, she's the cofounder of BeChinatown, a coalition working to revitalize the historic Chinatown neighborhood.

With a $100,000 grant awarded by The Civic Joy Fund, Lo and BeChinatown will be hosting the night market every second Friday through November between the 700 and 900 blocks of Grant Avenue. Thirty vendors will be there for this week’s kick-off, providing the epic block party with a wide variety of pre-prepared foods, drinks, and entertainment. Each box or cup will be sold for $5 or $10 and, since most vendors will only be able to take cash, BeChinatown will provide food vouchers for visitors paying by credit card.

In preparation for the celebration to come, we caught up with the organizer, grandmother, and champion of Chinatown to ask what’s in her Bay, from Lo’s favorite go-to restaurant to the locally made item she can’t live without. Hint: Her favorite SF neighborhood is Chinatown, of course.

Chinatown's New Lun Ting Cafe (aka the Pork Chop House) is Lo's go to for classic Chinese-American dishes.(Courtesy of @fattiestatus)

Tell us your go-to neighborhood spot for food or drinks.

New Lun Ting Cafe, a.k.a. the Pork Chop House, in Chinatown (670 Jackson St.) for its classic Chinese-American dishes at reasonable prices.

And where do you eat when you feel like a splurge?

Harborview Restaurant & Bar(4 Embarcadero Center, Financial District). It is worth it for the view, the menu, and the service.

What restaurant or bar are you excited to check out?

Z&Y Peking Duck (606 Jackson St., Chinatown) for its authentic taste-of-Beijing traditional dishes.

Any favorite SF shops?

The Wok Shop in Chinatown (718 Grant Ave.) for its variety of kitchenware.

Lo can't live without Mow Lee Shing Kee & Co. traditional Chinese sausage.(Courtesy of @mowleeco)

Which locally made item can you not live without?

Chinese sausage that’s been made by the Chinatown small business Mow Lee Shing Kee & Co. (774 Commercial St.) for more than 100 years.

Where’s your favorite place to take out of town visitors in the Bay?

Alcatraz Island for its history.

What’s your favorite Northern California day trip?

Vacaville to shop for clothes and visit Fentons Creamery & Restaurant (1669 Monte Vista Ave.) with friends.

// The Chinatown Night Market is 5:30pm to 9pm, Friday March 8th between the 700 and 900 blocks of Grant Avenue. It returns every second Friday through November 2024.

Chinatown is Lo's favorite neighborhood for a day of shopping and visiting friends and relatives.(Courtesy of @kevindrelee)

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