Dali overview

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Dali has a glut of restaurants—so many have opened in the last few years that they all now suffer the pains of competition. And however good the local cuisine may be, many backpackers gravitate toward the town's Western-style cafés. A number of these charming—and sometimes cheesy—places line streets like Huguo Lu (Hùguó Lù, 护国路), also known as "Foreigner's Street". Huguo Lu establishments serve Western, Yunnan, Bai and Chinese dishes. Travelers recommend the vegetarian food at Buddha's Abode, the burritos and burgers at Café de Jack and the banana pancakes at the Old Wooden House, as well as the Sunshine Café, Salvador's Coffee House and Claire's Café.

Food is not the only draw to Huguo Lu, and many visitors just soak up the colorful atmosphere with a cup of tea or a beer. The Bai people pride themselves on several unique and tasty dishes. Try the local cuisine at the Bailixiang Restaurant, Jingjing Snack House or any number of other Bai establishments around town. Be sure to try a few of the following specialties: Dali Earthenware Pot Fish (Dàlǐ shāguō yú, 大理沙锅鱼) a popular and hearty Bai dish made with magnolia petals, mushrooms, and slices of ham, pork and chicken. The Dali version stars salted Er Hai lake carp, often complemented by bean curd, carrot slices and cabbage. The verdant pastures surrounding Dali produce rich and wonderful milk. Try Dengchuan Milk Fan (Dèngchuān Rǔshàn, 邓川乳扇), a popular congealed yogurt-milk mix that can be fried or used to accent other dishes. For good non-Bai Chinese food at reasonable prices, try the Apricot Flower Restaurant.

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