"BEST" vegetarian version of Mapo Doufu
I know it is traditionally made with pork (or not so traditionally, depending on who you talk to) but I am ISO of the best, spiciest, and tastiest Mapo Doufu/Mapo Tofu without meat. I'm in Somerville but am willing to go explore, granted I'm not taken to far into the 'burbs. Thanks :)
My top two are Sichuan Garden and Fuloon. Fuloon I think uses a more silken tofu, which is a little difficult for me due to my lackluster chop stick skilz. To me both exhibit great depth of flavor as well as heat. I think it was SG's Mapo (or as on their menu "ma paul") Tofu that got me on my crazy Sichuan cuisine crusade in the first place.
My suggestion would be to take one of the places that makes it best with meat, call in advance and see if they're willing to try making it without meat, and see what they come up with. Best in the business in the immediate area would be Sichuan Garden in Brookline and Woburn on a good night, FuLoon in Malden Center, and Red Pepper in Framingham. Consolation prizes go to Sichuan Gourmet in Billerica and Framingham; Chilli Garden in Medford / Anise in Kendall Square; Zoe's in Somerville.
My criteria for what makes the mapo good is not simply the indiscriminate application of blazing heat (any fool with a bottle of chili sauce can do that), the trick is to get a good balance of spicy, sichuan peppercorn-numbing, and a mix of other flavors (black bean paste often figures into this somehow, and the real masters do stuff that I don't know about). Just to try to head off a few arguments about whether or not Sichuan Gourmet isn't the Greatest Sichuan Restaurant of All Time (IMO it is not).