With countless (doubtful) options, what are the best places for local food in Dali? Okay, so cup noodles from the local mum’n’pop shop are THE cheapest way to a full stomach, but it’s just not very fun after a day, is it?
Dali tempts with a wide array of local joints, and most are both cheap and tasty. We know it can be hard to “take the jump and go local” with the language barrier, though, and we know it keeps even willing travellers from going local. This is your help!
Here are our 5 favourite local places in Dali, items we can recommend and their locations.
(The places’ names are not the official names – we don’t know them and it probably won’t help you anyway when you have the map and the description)
Homemade Rice Noodles
We found this on our last night, and we wish we had found it on the first. This small joint makes their own rice noodles by hand, and you can follow the process from a big chunk of dough to steaming hot strings of noodles from your wooden table.
Order: They have a big-pictured menu on the wall, and you just point and choose. We can recommend the freshly made noodles with beef and garlic sprouts, and the beef with stir-fried potatoes. They serve superb noodle soups, too!
Find it: Between Yu’ul between main street and second. Look for the big noodle steaming pot at the entrance and the man “pulling noodles” just behind it.
Muslim Family Restaurant
They do not win points for ambience and attention (it’s quite uninspiring and a TV with soap operas are running at full volume), but they surely gain points for their Chinese stir-ups and the free accompanying soup serving. You can see the cooking process behind a glass wall.
Order: One wall is covered in photos, so you can point and choose. We can particularly recommend the rice with braised beef and onions.
Find it: just before the corner of Yu’ul and is 2-3 houses before the corner. This place takes up 2 openings of doors and has a dark green sign above with white text and some Muslim identifiable.
Steaming hot dumplings
Find the stacked steaming grey dumpling baskets and enter this hole in the wall shop. Don’t let the sparse interior trigger you, where it will most likely just be you and some locals – And piles of dumplings.
Order: Point at the baskets of dumplings or buns you want in the front of the shop. At the table, mix the vinegar with the chilli and eat until you’re full.
Find it: When you enter Ren Min Road from the North, it is the first place on your left-hand side. Look for the stacks of steaming dumplings at the entrance.
The student hunt
So if the former places were sparse on decoration, this probably takes the price for being the most chaotic. It’s a small place that holds mama’s cooking station, preparation table, ingredients and 3 tables for customers. Visitors easily spill over into the street, but it’s worth waiting for mama’s friend noodles! And then you can even see your dish being stirred up in front of you.
Order: The entrance doors hold more or less identifiable photos, but we just recommend you to go for the friend noodles. They are amongst the best we’ve had in China!
Find it: just before the corner of Foreigner Street, Look for the cooking station that takes half of the entrance space.
Are there any places we have missed? Anything you can recommend? Leave a comment below. Then dig into the delicious flavours of Dali!
(psst – if you want to learn more about food in Dali and Yunnan, go to Rice & Friends‘ course!)