Evergreen Indian Restaurant in Corvallis, Ore., serves up spicy foods.
CHILI PALACE RESTAURANT San Leandro, (also Milpitas), Calif. "I am from central China, where the food is famously hot," writes Qiong Fu of Moss Beach, Calif. (not pictured). "When I get homesick, my husband takes me to enjoy the most genuine Chinese countryside dishes I've found here. The spicy lamb and beef make us both cry. For me, it's emotion; for him, it's red peppers." (510) 895-1818, chilipalace.com.
CHO DANG TOFU HOUSE Sacramento. "The Korean food here is diverse and provocative," says Leah Tramontini of Davis, Calif. "Seasonings—pepper paste, garlic, ginger—elicit sighs, comments, even tears from diners at every meal." (916) 362-2190.
KOKILA'S KITCHEN Cupertino, Calif. "Indian vegetarian dishes with the perfect balance of spices," writes Arjun Mehta of Cupertino. "The spicy okra is my favorite." (408) 777-8198.
LAHORE KARAHI San Francisco. "Simply the best Pakistani food in the city," says Peggy Trimble of San Francisco. "Guddu Haider is the warmest restaurateur you'll ever meet, and his creations—tandoori fish, chicken tikka masala—are masterful." (415) 567-8603, lahorekarahisanfrancisco.com.
NORTH INDIA BAR & GRILL Clovis, Calif. "Great fresh Indian food with some fusion selections," says Bev Rohrer of Clovis. "Lovely ambience and a friendly owner." (559) 325-7788, northindiaclovis.com.
THREE THAI RESTAURANT Pleasant Hill, Calif. "Medium hot is plenty hot here," says Joe McFerran of Martinez, Calif. "We were amazed by the combination of well-balanced spices in dishes so flavorful we couldn’t stop eating. You may want to start with a mild dish." (925) 798-8424, 3thairestaurant.com.
ANONG'S THAI CUISINE Rawlins (also Laramie), Wyo. “The crab Rangoon is awesome here,” says Bebe Lyle of Salt Lake City. “But an even better bet is to see what regional specialties are on the board that day.” (307) 324-6262.
CAFE ZYDECO Helena (also Bozeman), Mont. "This place in Last Chance Gulch puts a fire in the belly on a cold night," says Phyllis DeMaur of Boise. "You can't go wrong with the seafood gumbo or chipotle pork po'boy." (406) 449-7032, cafezydeco.com.
MONTANA'S AND WYOMING'S RIB & CHOP HOUSE Billings, Livingston, and Miles City, Mont.; Cody and Sheridan, Wyo. "Look no further than the dynamite baby back ribs and fried green tomatoes with crabmeat," says Stan Poole of Boulder City, Nev. "At the Billings restaurant, you may have a few minutes' wait—the joint is usually jumping—but it's worth it." (406) 839-9200, ribandchophouse.com.
PEKING GARDENS WEST Great Falls, Mont. "I'm fond of the kung pao chicken and ginger beef, which comes at you slow and sneaky," says Tina Moss of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. (406) 727-3913.
TETON THAI Jackson, Wyo. "The first place I've eaten where the three-star (medium) hotness rating had my eyes watering," says Peggy Beene of Idaho Falls, Idaho. "I recommend the cellophane noodle stir-fry with egg and veggies called pad woon sen." (307) 733-0022, tetonthai.com.
HOT N JUICY CRAWFISH Las Vegas. "Surprisingly great," says Clarissa Engstrom of Las Vegas. "Reminds me of the ‘bug boils' back South." (702) 891-8889, myspace.com/hotnjuicy_crawfish.
ARAWAN THAI CUISINE Vancouver, Wash. (also Happy Valley, Ore.). "A family favorite that's always a real treat," says Jack Benedict of Beaverton, Ore. "We've never been disappointed with anything on the menu here." (360) 882-8118, arawanthai.com.
EVERGREEN INDIAN RESTAURANT Corvallis (also Eugene), Ore. "Tasty north and south Indian cuisine," writes Anne Hiler of Corvallis. "The sambar soup and chicken tandoori are especially delicious—but my husband's favorite is the goat curry." (541) 754-7944, evergreenindianrestaurant.com.
NOHO'S HAWAIIAN CAFE Portland (also Medford, Ore.). "This popular place on Clinton Street serves the best-ever spicy Korean panfried chicken," writes Susan Tharp of Clackamas, Ore. "The tangy sauce, with its garlicky flavor, keeps us coming back for more." (503) 233-5301, nohos.com.
OYSTER COVE GRILLE & BAR Charleston, Ore. "A favorite of South Coast residents and vacationers alike," says Tim Salisbury of North Bend, Ore. "You'll find such specials as jambalaya and other creole dishes, as well as plenty of oysters and fresh seafood." (541) 888-0703, oystercovegrillebar.com.
SORABOL FUSION ASIAN CUISINE Portland. "Try the kimchi stew at this awesome restaurant," says Mark Kalling of Portland. "It's a bowl of vegetables with sizzling sliced pork that has a wonderful spicy kick to it. You can also get an excellent teriyaki chicken bowl with vegetables." (503) 771-5842.
THAI LILY Portland. "Tucked into a little strip mall, this place has the best-tasting spicy foods I've ever tried," writes Judi Barr of Portland. "I love all the dishes—they'll make them as hot as you like—but my favorite is tom kha, a soup made with coconut milk, mushrooms, and lime juice." (503) 643-0555, thaililyrestaurant.com.
RED IGUANA Salt Lake City. "This Mexican restaurant is known for its several kinds of mole, but I love the chile verde," writes Erica Brown of Midvale, Utah. (801) 322-1489, rediguana.com.
Photography by Robbie McClaran
This article was first published in November 2009. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.