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Chengdu Impression: Incredibly Spicy Cheap Eats in Lincoln Park

The new Sichuan restaurant on Halsted has dumplings, pork belly, mapo tofu, and enough pepper to leave your mouth numb.

Dan dan noodles at Chengdu Impression
Dan dan noodles at Chengdu Impression   Photo: Anna Knott

You know you’ve found a real Sichuan restaurant when the menu uses up to three peppers to designate spice levels and casually describes dishes as having a “numbing sensation.” But Lincoln Park’s Chengdu Impression offers many rich flavors of the Chinese province beyond its famous pepper.

To keep things wallet friendly, start with an order of xiao long bao dumplings, drizzle them with vinegar, and gulp each down (in one bite, as instructed) for a savory mouthful of pork, veggies, and broth (eight for $7.50).

Traditional dan dan noodles with ground pork in a chili-infused broth ooze fiery comfort ($6.95). A thick sauce, heady with fresh ginger and garlic, covers a mountain of mapo tofu and savory crumbled beef ($13.50, with rice). And big, chewy slabs of twice-cooked pork belly counter soft melted leeks ($11.95, with rice).

The slow burn of Sichuan chilies, permeating most dishes, leaves a lasting . . . impression.

2545 N. Halsted St., 773-477-6256

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