Chef Chen Yuan
Chef Chen Yuan Credit: Darrow Montgomery

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The state of Chinese food in the District may be at its lowest ebb since the Fillmore administration. These days, the neighborhood (generously) known as Chinatown looks like a bizarro-world Shanghai as imagined by some city planner on the take from corporate America. Ask anyone where to find the best Chinese food in D.C., and they’ll shrug their shoulders and typically point you west to Seven Corners or north to Rockville. Great Wall-Szechuan House is just about the only saving grace for Chinese cuisine within the city limits. Great Wall promises a long list of standard Chinese-American plates, but I suggest you avoid those in favor of chef Chen Yuan’s outstanding ma-la dishes, including the tingling, fire-breathing ma-po tofu and the lush, salty rush of the double-cooked pork in black-bean sauce. Simply put, no place in the District does authentic Szechwan cooking better than Great Wall.