When it comes to food preferences, chile-heads are among the most daring, consistently seeking the most tongue-tingling, sweat-inducing spicy dishes they can find. If you count yourself among that group, you might have already exhausted all the hot dishes at your favorite spots among the best BBQ restaurants in America, the best Chinese restaurants in America and the best Mexican restaurants in America—but grab that glass of whole milk, because we’re here to help you expand your repertoire. From searing Nashville hot chicken to fiery Sri Lankan curry, these are the spiciest foods in America.
Spiciest foods in America
Nepalese food might not be the first cuisine to come to mind when thinking of the Deep South, but this Atlanta gem serves top-notch momo dumplings, juicy stir-fried lamb and soulful thukpa soup noodles. Its chicken choila, grilled marinated bird scattered with ginger, onions, garlic and cilantro, thrums with chile heat. Wash it down with a cold Taj Mahal beer.
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Atula D.
This Southeast Asian spot is a Dallas favorite, its flavors bright with lime, cilantro and tangy fish sauce. Heat-seekers will appreciate the restaurant’s enthusiastic usage of chiles: all dishes are available at “Sabaidee”-level spicy—which, in case it isn’t clear, is spicy indeed. Basil drunken noodles, already hot to begin with, take on an atomic burn when ordered at this level.
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Richel R.
Until now, attempts to bring Nashville-style hot chicken to Chicago have been hampered by unfortunate missteps, from texturally weird breading to wimpy spicing. Enter the Budlong, a snug Lakeview spot frying up hot chicken that hits all the right notes. That is to say, the chicken is briny, the breading is shatteringly crisp and the cayenne paste that coats it gets you sweating and stains your fingers just the right shade of atomic red. Four heat levels—“naked,” classic, medium and extra hot—are available; the X-Hot packs a slow, lingering burn that’s best cooled with a cup of the restaurant’s super-creamy banana pudding.
This roving food truck is a San Fran favorite, satisfying taste buds with fusion comfort food like tacos, fries and nachos lavished with Filipino-style roasted meats. All dishes are available mild or spicy, and the latter more than live up to the promise: tucked inside a burrito alongside adobo garlic rice, pinto beans, pico de gallo and cilantro cream sauce, shredded pork is as fiery as it is tender.
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Señor Sisig