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A white bowl on a glossy wooden table is filled to the brim with a meaty rendition of mapo tofu, topped with scallions.
Mapo tofu at Zoe’s Chinese in Somerville.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Where to Eat Mapo Tofu in Greater Boston

Savory and spicy, this dish is a must at the area’s great Sichuan restaurants

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Mapo tofu at Zoe’s Chinese in Somerville.
| Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Mapo tofu comes from the Sichuan province of China, and a star ingredient is Sichuan peppers, used to create the málà — or numbing, tingling — flavor. Mapo tofu packs a punch as a savory, spicy, and numbing dish, often cooked with a ground meat and served with white rice on the side. Other key ingredients include silken tofu, which is a softer tofu, as well as fermented black beans and chile bean paste.

With so many excellent Chinese restaurants in Boston, find the best mapo tofu by seeking out restaurants that specialize in Sichuan cuisine, and look for one of many possible spellings on the menu — mapo tofu, mápó dòufu, ma-po tofu, mo po tofu, and more.

Here are eight great Boston-area restaurants that serve must-try mapo tofu.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Zoe’s Gourmet Chinese Cuisine

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The mapo tofu at Zoe’s in Somerville is classic, with ground pork and, of course, spice. The menu offers plenty more to complete the meal, including dedicated selections of both Sichuan and Hunan dishes. For more Sichuan goodness, try the Sichuan steamed spicy dumplings. (In general, Zoe’s is a good pick for dumplings of various kinds.)

A white bowl on a glossy wooden table is filled to the brim with a meaty rendition of mapo tofu, topped with scallions.
Mapo tofu at Zoe’s Chinese in Somerville.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

If you’ve ever walked by Mu Lan’s Cambridge location to see the little parking lot packed and the tables full, it’s a testament to the delicious dishes that await at the Taiwanese restaurant, which also has a location in Waltham. Mapo tofu is listed as “ma-bo bean curd” on the menu, and diners even have a choice of spiciness level. Try it with Mu Lan’s stir-fried pea pods with minced garlic.

A circle of white rice sits among cubes of tofu in a thin reddish sauce with black beans, all on a pale blue plate.
Mapo tofu from Mu Lan in Cambridge.
Karen Wilber/Eater

Mae Asian Eatery

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Mae Asian Eatery — which serves a menu touching on Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese cuisines — offers a Thai-inspired spin on mapo tofu. Mild in spiciness and vegan, the dish includes steamed tofu stir-fried with a variety of vegetables and sesame oil in a chile bean sauce.

Mala Restaurant

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Mapo tofu is just one of the many reasons that Mala Restaurant is one of the best places to eat Chinese food in Boston. It’s also a great place to try mala spicy pot, sometimes known as mala dry pot; it’s similar to hot pot, but without the broth, instead stir-fried (often with spicy oil and Sichuan peppercorns).

Five Spices House

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As a Sichuan restaurant, Five Spices House offers mapo tofu along with many other traditional Sichuan dishes, including spicy stir-fried beef tripe and Sichuan braised pork belly. Find locations in Chinatown and Cambridge.

Double Chin

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Double Chin’s take on mapo tofu offers two options — one vegan, one with pork. Try this soft and saucy dish alongside the ultra-crunchy ramen-crusted fried chicken, and save room for dessert: This fun Chinatown spot — open late — is known for over-the-top treats, like its ice cream- and candy-stuffed cube toast.

BOS' Sichuan Taste

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BOS’ Sichuan Taste, open since late 2021, is serving up many traditional Sichuan dishes, including Sichuan dan dan noodles, Sichuan special tea smoked duck, and, of course: Sichuan spicy mapo tofu.

Blossom Bar at Sichuan Garden

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Blossom Bar’s mapo tofu comes with ground pork and is a staple dish on an undeniably delightful menu. Accompany it with a big bowl of rice, an order of the restaurant’s addicting string beans, and a cocktail or mocktail to cool down the spiciness. Duan’s Whip, perhaps?

Zoe’s Gourmet Chinese Cuisine

A white bowl on a glossy wooden table is filled to the brim with a meaty rendition of mapo tofu, topped with scallions.
Mapo tofu at Zoe’s Chinese in Somerville.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

The mapo tofu at Zoe’s in Somerville is classic, with ground pork and, of course, spice. The menu offers plenty more to complete the meal, including dedicated selections of both Sichuan and Hunan dishes. For more Sichuan goodness, try the Sichuan steamed spicy dumplings. (In general, Zoe’s is a good pick for dumplings of various kinds.)

A white bowl on a glossy wooden table is filled to the brim with a meaty rendition of mapo tofu, topped with scallions.
Mapo tofu at Zoe’s Chinese in Somerville.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Mu Lan

A circle of white rice sits among cubes of tofu in a thin reddish sauce with black beans, all on a pale blue plate.
Mapo tofu from Mu Lan in Cambridge.
Karen Wilber/Eater

If you’ve ever walked by Mu Lan’s Cambridge location to see the little parking lot packed and the tables full, it’s a testament to the delicious dishes that await at the Taiwanese restaurant, which also has a location in Waltham. Mapo tofu is listed as “ma-bo bean curd” on the menu, and diners even have a choice of spiciness level. Try it with Mu Lan’s stir-fried pea pods with minced garlic.

A circle of white rice sits among cubes of tofu in a thin reddish sauce with black beans, all on a pale blue plate.
Mapo tofu from Mu Lan in Cambridge.
Karen Wilber/Eater

Mae Asian Eatery

Mae Asian Eatery — which serves a menu touching on Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese cuisines — offers a Thai-inspired spin on mapo tofu. Mild in spiciness and vegan, the dish includes steamed tofu stir-fried with a variety of vegetables and sesame oil in a chile bean sauce.

Mala Restaurant

Mapo tofu is just one of the many reasons that Mala Restaurant is one of the best places to eat Chinese food in Boston. It’s also a great place to try mala spicy pot, sometimes known as mala dry pot; it’s similar to hot pot, but without the broth, instead stir-fried (often with spicy oil and Sichuan peppercorns).

Five Spices House

As a Sichuan restaurant, Five Spices House offers mapo tofu along with many other traditional Sichuan dishes, including spicy stir-fried beef tripe and Sichuan braised pork belly. Find locations in Chinatown and Cambridge.

Double Chin

Double Chin’s take on mapo tofu offers two options — one vegan, one with pork. Try this soft and saucy dish alongside the ultra-crunchy ramen-crusted fried chicken, and save room for dessert: This fun Chinatown spot — open late — is known for over-the-top treats, like its ice cream- and candy-stuffed cube toast.

BOS' Sichuan Taste

BOS’ Sichuan Taste, open since late 2021, is serving up many traditional Sichuan dishes, including Sichuan dan dan noodles, Sichuan special tea smoked duck, and, of course: Sichuan spicy mapo tofu.

Blossom Bar at Sichuan Garden

Blossom Bar’s mapo tofu comes with ground pork and is a staple dish on an undeniably delightful menu. Accompany it with a big bowl of rice, an order of the restaurant’s addicting string beans, and a cocktail or mocktail to cool down the spiciness. Duan’s Whip, perhaps?

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