There are so many situations in which Chengdu people generally don't queue, line up, or paidui, so you know if you actually see it happening, they must mean business. I can think of three places where Chengdu people paidui daily for something that is so basi de hen that to do otherwise would be to incite violence.
Han Baozi (韩包子) This chain of restaurants serves up typical Sichuan dishes with steamed dumplings as the star. You can also buy the dumplings at the little window by the entrance, which is what scores of people do every day. A nice change from your average dumpling, Han Baozi serves large, fluffy buns filled with tender minced pork lightly flavored with ginger and other spices. They are addictive and filling enough to make a meal on their own. There are numerous locations around the city, but I've seen people queuing daily at the Jianshe Lu location.
Guoguang Dasha, 2 Jianshe Lu (next to the Ito Yokado) 建设路2号国光大厦1楼(伊藤洋华堂旁) Tel. 84317776
Gongting Gaodian Pu (宫廷糕点铺)
Another local chain that from a distance seems to be nothing out of the ordinary. Upon closer inspection, you will find a variety of good traditional baked snacks: peanut brittle, sesame brittle, and the crunchy dough twists (麻花糖/máhuā tang) are among my favorites. They also have a selection of brightly colored fluffy cream cakes, but what people wait for are the muffins (脆皮蛋糕/cuìpí dàngāo). You can find these everywhere, but these guys must have a secret recipe because theirs are fluffier on the inside, crispier on the outside, the perfect balance of sweetness, and heaven to bite into when they're still hot from the oven. Hence the queuing. Each of their locations has a framed photo out front depicting a long queue from what looks to be the '90s: a testament to their long-running popularity and consistency. The muffins are also lovely with café au lait for breakfast. People paidui here every day at the Zongfu Lu and Jianshe Lu locations.
47 Jianshe Lu (near Yihuan Lu) 建设路47号(近一环路) Tel. 84338399
Wang Ma Shousi Kaotu (王妈手撕烤兔)
This little stall in the Yulin Vegetable market is another place where you're going to have to wait, but it is well worth it. Their whole rabbits are slow-roasted to tender perfection with a crispy skin on the outside. Scented with liberal amounts of cumin, sesame seeds, and peanuts, and a sane amount of huajiao, the meat is as wonderful to simply gnaw on as it is added to a dish, like a salad or stir-fry. It's a whole new level of finger-licking goodness. The five-flavor (五香) and spicy-numbing (麻辣) are recommended. One whole rabbit will set you back 50 yuan.
26 Yulin Jie No. 26-27 玉林街26号附26-27号 Tel. 85554035
This article by DF was first published in CHENGDOO citylife Magazine, issue 57 ("line 2").