Pass the water—these 10 hot spots are sure to make you break a sweat.
Fire on the Mountain Buffalo Wings Portland
“A dozen house-made sauces fire up the wings,” says Woody Pope. “El Jefe is for the heat seekers. Wash it all down with a craft beer.” portlandwings.com.
The Haute Enchilada Moss Landing, Calif.
“My new spicy food favorite has two mole sauces and deep-fried avocados,” Tish Eastman writes. “Don’t miss the roasted pasilla chile stuffed with plantain and onion.” hauteenchilada.com.
Helmand Palace San Francisco
“The Helmand, a favorite of mine for more than 20 years, serves delectable Afghan food,” says Denise Weyl. “Try the lawand—leg of lamb sautéed with garlic, hot peppers, and yogurt.” helmandpalacesf.com.
Kathmandu Kitchen Davis, Calif.
“Heavenly Indian and Nepalese food,” according to Julia Barnett. “I had the chicken curry, which danced on my taste buds. Saturday evening belly dancers are a bonus.” kathmandukitchendavis.com.
Komol Las Vegas
“The herbal salad blends an eclectic mix of Thai savor that will satisfy anyone looking for heat,” Cheryl Hobbs says. “The name sounds mild, but this vegetarian dish offers a wild surprise of flavors.” komolrestaurant.com.
Mission Chinese Food San Francisco
“Once you’ve had the fragrant and, yes, very spicy dishes here, you’ll dream of the taste of Szechwan pepper,” Regina Doyle tells us. “Who knew kung pao pastrami even existed?” missionchinesefood.com.
Sengthong’s Restaurant Dunsmuir, Calif.
“You want spicy?” writes Buz Hembling. “You want this place. The Laotian hot spice can be made with beef, chicken, prawns and scallops, shrimp and calamari, or tofu.” sengthongs.com.
The Sudra Portland
“This newcomer to the Portland food scene is a gem,” Denise Barrett says. “Its small menu of carefully composed Indian dishes shines in the pakora plate, a generous meal of pickled broccoli and cauliflower with Anasazi bean curry. Given all the flavors and textures, you’d never guess it was vegan.” thesudra.com.
Thai Bloom Beaverton, Ore.
“This fabulous Thai restaurant features an exquisite menu,” Wallace Do says. “The food isn’t overwhelmingly spicy, and you can ask for different spice levels. I have so many favorite dishes, but always fall back on the panang curry.” thaibloomrestaurant.com.
Photography by Shawn Linehan
This article was first published in September 2014. Some facts my have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.