Ask knowledgeable food fanatics where to find the best Chinese food in Seattle, and the snarky answer is always: less than three hours to the north, in the Vancouver area. Admittedly, I am one of those snarky people. In contrast to Seattle's bland Chinese food, most of it Cantonese (including dismal dim sum), Vancouver offers a diverse and delicious range of food from a variety of regions in China.
Fortunately, the Seattle area does have a number of Sichuanese restaurants, with good overall quality and some stellar dishes. At these restaurants, you'll find more adventurous menu options, including the pickled and peppered preparations typical of the Sichuan region—especially some fiery ma la (numbing and spicy) dishes that come with bright red colors. Most of these places are on the Eastside, but when I'm in the mood for something spicy, I don't mind crossing Lake Washington.
I count eight Sichuanese-specific restaurants in the Seattle area. After extensive research, i.e. mouth-burning sessions, here's information about all of them, starting with my ranking of the top three. Check the slideshow for spicy hot photos.
About the author: Jay Friedman is a Seattle-based freelance food writer who happens to travel extensively as a sex educator. An avid fan of noodles (some call him "The Mein Man"), he sees sensuality in all foods, and blogs about it at his Gastrolust website. You can follow him on Twitter @jayfriedman.