sichuan has historically been known as the Land of Abundance, in reference to the fact that the fertile province produces a vast amount of the country's food. This 'abundance' is reflected in Sichuanese food, which is famous across China for its diversity of flavors and sophistication.
If there's one thing Sichuan people do well, it's food, and nowhere is this more evident than in the province's capital Chengdu, where "a dozen restaurants can be found on every street". Whether you're looking to try some traditional hotpot or a simple noodle lunch, or fancy a break from the local oily fare, there's something for everyone in Chengdu.
You may want to first read more on what Chengdu's typical foods are before you pick a restaurant...
Hotpot and Chuanchuan Restaurants
Lao Ma Tou
Chinese: 老码头火锅 'old wharf'
Address: 29 Yulin Middle Road, Wuhou District (武侯区玉林中路29号)
Average price: ¥80 per person (based on 4 sharing)
This celebrated restaurant is a popular choice for locals and visitors to Chengdu alike (Ching He Huang and Ken Hom visited it while filming a documentary for the BBC in 2012). First, choose your broth of choice: super spicy chili oil; non-spicy; or a combination of the two, with a smaller non-spicy pot in the middle. Lao Ma Tou offers a bewildering choice of meat and vegetables to cook in your hotpot, as well as plenty of ready-to-eat snacks. The restaurant's reputation speaks for itself: if visiting on a Friday or Saturday, be prepared to join the long line of patrons queuing for a table outside.
Huang Cheng Lao Ma
Chinese: 皇城老妈 'emperor city old mum
Address: 106 Qintai Road, Qingyang District (青羊区琴台路106号)
Average price: ¥130 per person (based on 4 sharing)
There are several branches of this renowned hotpot chain across Chengdu. It's a little pricier than other establishments, but the restaurants are elegantly decorated in a traditional Sichuan style and waitresses wear formal silk attire. After dinner, you can enjoy some Sichuan opera and watch the performers demonstrate 'face changing', a sub-genre of Sichuan opera involving the rapid changing of masks in time to dramatic music.
Shu Jiu Xiang Hotpot
Address: Unit 2, Block 11, Nijiaqiao Road, Wuhou District (武侯区倪家桥路11号附2号)
Average price: ¥70 per person (based on 4 sharing)
Another popular choice with locals, the restaurants in this chain offer consistently good quality and tasty food. As with many hotpot restaurants, you can choose very spicy, medium spice or low spice chili oil, or a combination of chili oil and clear broth, which comes in a yin-yang divided cauldron. Things to try include the marinated beef, meatballs with cilantro and shrimp dumplings.
Yulin Chuanchuan Xiang
Address: Unit 23, Block 26, Yulin Street, Wuhou District (武侯区玉林街26号附23号)
Average price: ¥60 per person
For many visitors to Chengdu, hotpot is top of the list of things to sample. But the local speciality is actually chuanchuan, which involves cooking skewers of meat and vegetables in a shared pot of chili oil. Yulin Chuanchuan Xiang is arguably the most famous place to try it - be prepared to queue if visiting on a weekend. First, choose your broth before visiting the fridges at the back of the restaurant to select from the wide range of skewered meat, vegetables and tofu. After you've finished cooking and eating, a waiter will tot up your skewers and present you with a bill.
Roasted rabbit, Zhuanzhuan Mo, Chengdu Zhuanzhuan Mo Restaurant
Address: Unit 7, Block 1, Keyuan Street, Wuhou District (武侯区科院街1号附7号)
Average price: ¥40 per person
This restaurant offers all the classic Sichuan dishes, from mapo tofu to liang fen, as well as some excellent house specials. The whole roasted rabbit is cooked to perfection; its crispy skin is seasoned with Sichuan peppercorns, while the tender flesh falls apart in your mouth. Other dishes to try include the spicy radish salad, duck with buckwheat served alongside steamed buns, and crispy strips of deep-fried potato.
The Lazy Pug
Address: Master Building 1F Unit 22, 48 Renmin South Road Section 4, Wuhou District (武侯区人民南路四段48号首座商业街1楼22号)
Average price: ¥70-150 per person
Although Chengdu has seen a rise in the number of Western restaurants opening here, the Lazy Pug remains a popular choice amongst expats. Portions are generous and there's a large range of authentic western food. Brunch is available on Sundays, and the themed Mexican night on a Thursday is well worth a visit.
Peter’s Tex Mex Grill
Addresses: 12 Tongzilin Road, Wuhou District (武侯区桐梓林东路12号) and 34 Jinxiu Road, Wuhou District (武侯区锦绣路34号)
Average price: ¥30+ per person
Billed as a Tex-Mex restaurant, this popular hangout offers an extensive range of affordable western dishes, as well as some local options. It has a number of restaurants across the city, mainly around Tongzilin and near Sichuan University, where the majority of expats are based. The quiet, country style makes Peter's a comfortable place to while away an afternoon.
Address: Xinzu Hotel 1F, 34 Renmin South Road Section 4, Wuhou District (武侯区人民南路四段34号心族宾馆)
Average price: ¥150 per person
Address: 1F Soho Building, 40-43 Kehua North Road, Wuhou District (武侯区科华北路60号SOHO费城1楼40-43号)
Average price: ¥60 per person
Traditional Xinjiang Rice 新疆传统手抓饭
Address: 1-22 Kaiyue New Town, 9 First Ring Road South Section 1, Wuhou District (武侯区一环路南一段9号红瓦寺凯悦新城1-22号)
Average price: ¥30 per person
Address: 51 Guiqian Road, Qingyang District (青羊区三桂前街51号)
Average price: ¥35
Yuexiang Village 粤香村
Address: 66 South Dengchenggen Street, Qingyang District (青羊区东城根南街66号)
Average price: ¥40
Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant 清水荷花食坊
Address: Unit 3, Block 5, Guojiaqiao North Street, Wuhou District (武侯区郭家桥北街5号附3号)
Average price: ¥30 per person
Address: 4F Bojin City Shopping Centre, 27 Qinglong Street, Qingyang District (青羊区青龙街27号铂金城购物广场4楼)
Average price: ¥55 per person
More Chengdu vegetarian restaurants
We Can Help You Plan Your Trip to Chengdu
If you want to eat at local restaurants and try real Sichuan food, please see our popular Chengdu tours below for inspiration. we will ensure you sample the best Sichuan food on offer at authentic local restaurants, and ensuring your individual dietary requirements and preferences are catered to.