What it says on the tin. I'm coming in from July 4th to July 9th and I want to eat well. Any opinions?
Corollary to the above: I've heard that Yu's Family Kitchen is the best restaurant in China, and as a world class assho— I mean foodie — I want to eat a meal there. Problem is, for one or two people, it's ridiculously expensive. Anyone up for a good meal want to get together and lower the cost?
Yeah I went to that Yu's Family Restaurant place. Certainly inventive but I prefer the more robust fare to be found in small backstreet places. Call me a philistine but I find the expensive stuff here far too finicky. "Da rong he" on Zijing Bei lu in the south is pretty good for a more upmarket experience and it has lovely big picture menu if you can't speak Chinese. There is also a chongqing hotpot place on that road nearer the 2nd ring road that is pretty good. Day to day, just walk around outside the centre and from 11am-2pm and 6pm-9pm and eat at the most crowded place.
Tiantian for budget (fresh, good, fast, authentic)
Sichuan Food Museum if you want to learn about Sichuanese food while eating (only prob is to get there)
Haven't gone to that Yu's Family Kitchen place, I might go one day, maybe I will some day (but only if invited or to impress). But so far I don't see the need to go there, just because it got hyped by some English woman and all the media outlets are so lame to copy the hype, because they don't know Sichuanese food in Chengdu. It might be not bad, but I don't think good enough to justify the overcharge.
Do a half-day trip to Luodai if you want to get stuffed with all kinds of Chinese snacks for cheap.
If you have money left over check out the City's most expensive places
Last advice: ignore hotpot (it's not food).
The Zijin Da Rong He is a popular wedding destination. Dining during a wedding means getting 2nd tier food and service while listening to blaring speeches over the sound system so loud you can't converse with your dining companions. Skip across the street to Hong Xing, which is a much better experience imo. Try: the iron plate eggplant, the tiny finger and thumb buns, their fen zheng rou, and their snacks.
It's also much easier to give recs if you give some details about your tastes, Chinese ability, and culinary adventurousness besides being a world class whatever.
I would say hot pot ranks among the best food experiences, but there are challenging aspects.
Re: Pepper's questions...
My Chinese ability: conversationally competent and fluent in reading menus (seriously, I'm better at reading menus than a guy who's lived here for 3 years and speaks Chinese way better than me)
Taste: I can, indeed, "chi la jiao", but having lived in Kunming, where restaurants pile that on in substitution for other seasonings, I'm not going to be seeking that out. So basically, any savory or really well-textured foods will have my undivided attention. I hear good things about chengdu snack food in that regard.
Adventurousness: As long as it's not endangered, I'll try it once.
Yeah, definitely try hotpot. Even if you end up not liking it (I for one love it but many don't) it's got to be tried at least once, preferably with a large group of people and plenty of beer.
I would though agree with @invisible about Sichuan snacks, and Luodai's probably the best easy location to head for.
I'd never actually heard of Tiantian before but having read the review am going to try it sometime now. Some of the good neighbourhood restaurants really have the very best food.
Hong Xing is definitely good and I think I actually prefer the food to that at Da Rong He, but their restaurant is also a popular location for weddings so you might meet the same problem.
What else? BBQ is better here than Kunming IMO. My favourite place by a long way is in Xiaojia He, but there's bound to be somewhere nearby wherever you stay. There's quite a few BBQ fish restaurants around which tend to be good. At the upmarket end 'Delicious Fish' is the most famous / popular chain but be prepared to queue for a table. The same street as my BBQ place also has Huang Cheng Ba, a really good slightly run down looking halal beef restaurant that people drive across town and queue up outside to eat at: http://www.dianping.com/shop/527943