We've incinerated our tongues on LA's spiciest dishes at the city's spots for the best tacos, best ramen and best Thai. Test your Scoville chops with Thai town's dynamite challenge or sink your teeth into a fire-bomb taco with our burn-your-butthole guide to the city's top spicy destinations that's guaranteed to melt your face off (and, yeah, pay the next day).
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At first glance, the nam kao tod ($9) or crispy rice salad at West Hollywood’s Night + Market doesn’t look too fatal—tangy sour pork, raw ginger and cilantro are tossed harmlessly alongside deep fried balls of rice. But one bite and your mouth is set ablaze from the colossal dose of fresh bird’s eye chilies speckled throughout and the dried chili powder entrenched in the dressing. Chef Kris Yenbamroong unabashedly lays the spice smack down, as every mouthful of this intricately hot Thai classic reveals a new layer of heat reminiscent of Dante’s Inferno.
Burn-your-butthole meter: 5 out of 5
Although Jonathan Gold managed to scarf down four of Guisados’ phenomenally hot chiles torreados ($2.50) in one go, we don’t recommend stepping up to the challenge. Packed with insanely spicy serrano peppers, slivers of onions and roasted habaneros, the dish is traditionally a side at taco trucks, but Guisados makes a meal out of these flame-inducing chilies. Wrapped in a thick, freshly made corn tortilla, this taco is surface-of-the-sun hot and leaves your mouth (and other body parts) smoldering with a warm, lingering heat quenched only by their creamy horchata ($2-$3).
Burn-your-butthole meter: 4 out of 5Read more
Japanese cuisine is known for its nuanced and subtle flavors, but noodle enthusiasts can challenge their taste buds with this Little Tokyo haunt’s bowl of ramen that packs a sinister chile punch. Many have attempted and few have conquered Orochon Ramen's Special #2 ($7.45-$7.95) to join the photo wall of champions. One spoonful of the molten-hot broth explodes from the hefty dose of devilish chilies, while the burn trickles down your throat, demolishing any hope for survival—or clean underwear. But for all of the dish’s spice, the ramen is still delightfully balanced: Chewy noodles, succulent cha-su pork and a miso-garlic base round out the heat, while the perfectly boiled egg bestows a momentary spice hiatus with its creamy yolk.
Burn-your-butthole meter: 3 out of 5Read more
Known to be the spiciest culinary region of China, Hunan cuisine is on a spice chart of its own and any of the 170+ items at San Gabriel’s Hunan Chilli King is not to be taken lightly. But the appropriately named house special Spicy Over Spicy ($9.99) exceeds the Scoville scale for a capsaicin-laced mouthful. The Sichuan pepper topped dish—stir-fried with crunchy green beans and radish—is a dry, enduring heat, unrelenting to any drink known to man. The only diversion is the bizarre ma la or numbing sensation created by the pile of Sichuan peppers that builds with each bite.
Burn-your-butthole meter: 5 out of 5Read more
There's no Thai iced tea that will temper the excruciating inferno of this tear-jerking dish, Jitlada’s infamous dynamite spicy challenge. Choose your method of torture, as Chef Tui serves up the plate swimming in a molten curry or mint leaf sauce with a multitude of protein options from tofu to frog legs (both $16.50). True to its title as spiciest dish in Los Angeles, the challenge leaves you teary-eyed, light-headed and in for a night of insatiable heartburn. If you can lick your plate, the bill is waived and you’ve conquered the city’s number one spice challenge. Our two-cents: Stock up on T.P.
Burn-your-butthole meter: 5 out of 5Read more
Finger licken’ good keeps the regulars coming back for more of Ye Rustic Inn’s juicy chicken wings, but the heat rises with their sinfully hot rendition of the bar-food staple. With a choice between a half-dozen to a dozen-and-a-half of their Suicide Wings ($6-$14), the lava red, vinegar-based sauce is a creeper and it’s not until you’re two wings deep that the ensuing heat bomb ignites in your gut. The effect is ruthless—we briefly considered drinking the side of blue cheese dressing—and unabated by any of the brews on tap. In fact, some patrons up the ante with a shot of fiery hooch after every wing. Now that’s what we call a heartburn hotel.
Burn-your-butthole-meter: 1 out of 5Read more
Next time you’re hankering for a sinus clean-out, head to K-town for soon doo boo aka spicy tofu ($8.99) at local favorite, Beverly Soon Tofu House. This traditional stew pours out of the kitchen in a bubbling cast-iron pot and its fire red broth is a mere implication of the blazing summit that’s to come. Traditional banchan (side dishes) include the obligatory (and addictive) spicy cabbage kimchi to further induce sweat-soaked heat. Crack an egg into the bubbling cauldron of spicy goodness of silky tofu and your choice of protein, as the invigorating dish mellows as it cools—a spicehound's comfort food.
Burn-your-butthole-meter: 2 out of 5Read more