The Irritable Bao might be a funny name, but their food is seriously yummy. A tiny storefront in the heart of downtown Auburn, the Irritable Bao is known for long lines that snake all the way to Toomer’s Corner, incredibly delicious authentic Chinese bao, and one of the funniest personalities you’ll ever meet.

The casual dining hot spot has a menu that changes daily. You can find it on Instagram or Facebook, and only on Instagram and Facebook, and the lines form promptly. But don’t let that turn you away from experiencing the best bao in the South because “The longer the line is, the faster your service is,” says owner, Whitley Dykes. 

Prior to opening the storefront, the Irritable Bao was a food truck under another punny name – Dumps Like a Truck. Word started to spread, and their popularity skyrocketed, sometimes completely selling them out as fast as 20 minutes a day. After outgrowing the food truck and subsequently their first location in Auburn, the Irritable Bao opened downtown in June 2020.

The atmosphere of the small space is upbeat, friendly, and energetic. The walls are lined with photographs of grinning customers and the children in Asia who benefit from the restaurant’s proceeds. There are brightly colored, hand-painted bamboo steamer tops on display depicting movies, pop culture, and famous works of art. The old Dumps like a Truck sign hangs on an exposed brick wall.



When you step inside (or hop in line), you are sure to meet Whitley as he makes it his goal to connect and build relationships with customers each day. He’s hard to miss. Whitley is always laughing, introducing himself to new diners, talking about the menu and which local restaurant or chef they’ve collaborated with that week; his energy is infectious.

“I try to be here every day because I'm very relational, and I want to connect with people. I want everybody to feel like they’re valued, and they're loved,” says Whitley. “I want to be a love letter from God in the world around me, and me being here is a good opportunity to encounter people from all different backgrounds who might not see the world the way that I do.”

Whitley and his talented wife, Kunyu Li, own and operate this very special business. Their vision came to fruition after Whitley spent his post-college years in northeast China where the couple met through mission work. The Dykes have since felt their calling to use food as a connecting point for all people: Kunyu makes the food by hand and Whitley tends to customers.

Whitley added that much of their sucess can be attributed to their team. He says his wife and team are what allow him to be the fullest version of himself. 

"They are like family," says Whitley. "Our team has really stepped up and allowed us to get to a place where we can grow this thing." 



The heartbeat behind the bao is Empowering Young Warriors Asia in the Philippines and Cambodia, a non-profit organization for children who are living in extreme poverty. The Dykes donate 10% of their profits toward feeding children not just in a physical sense but also spiritually. The Irritable Bao donates an additional 10% locally to initiatives for single moms and other groups. 

“The Auburn community and the people here mean everything to us,” says Whitley. “They're the ones who support not only our business, but support our marriage, our kids…you know it takes community.”

But it’s not just Whitley’s charm and enthusiasm that draw in visitors from all over. People might come for the bao, but they come back for the buns. Or the shrimp bowl. Or the Brussels sprouts. With a new menu each day, it’s hard to say what the most popular menu items are. You’ll just have to try it for yourself.