Frigid temps are here and with winter in full swing, Chicagoans could sure use some ways to warm up. To help you sweat it out, we're highlighting some of the best spicy foods around town. Dishes ranging from stews and moles to fried chicken and even dessert will give you that euphoric high needed to make it through the next few months.Read More
12 Great Spicy Dishes to Warm Up the Chicago Winter
The Roost Carolina Kitchen
Few places in the city offer authentic Nashville hot chicken and perhaps none do it better than The Roost. Juicy pieces of bird are slathered with a fiery cayenne paste that has a hint of sweetness to it. The result is a sizzling-hot variation that’s not for the faint of heart and might forever change the way you eat fried chicken.
High Five Ramen
Pain and suffering are just two of the things the menu promises at Brendan Sodikoff's underground ramen joint. The bowl of noodles here set mouths ablaze with a mixture of numbing pepper and dried Japanese chilies in the broth. Sweat it out and you'll be rewarded with a euphoric high but if you can't handle that much heat, there's a half spice option available as well.
Jake Melnick's Corner Tap
Sure, hot wings are a dime a dozen but Jake Melnick's takes things to the max with its XXX wings. They're covered in a sauce made with habanero, ghost and scorpion peppers--three of the hottest in the world—for an extreme Scoville challenge that will test even the most dedicated eaters. Finish an entire order and you'll join an elite group on the restaurant's Wall of Flame.
The Angry Crab
One of last year’s best new openings offers plenty of options for seafood and spice fanatics. There’s no going wrong with any of the fresh selections but shrimp is always a good bet. Choose a seasoning and spice level, then go to town. Just make sure to bring some friends along so that you can order a variety of items and don’t forget the alcohol (because it’s BYOB).
Lao Sze Chuan Restaurant
Tony Hu’s Chinatown restaurant has helped expose many palates to Sichuan cooking. The popular style of Chinese cuisine is known for its spicy and bold flavors so those looking for a good burn will definitely be satisfied by the menu. On the signature three chili chicken dish, Hu loads peppercorns and chili peppers with chunks of wok-fried chicken. It’s affectionately known as “chicken crack" and just a taste could turn you into a fiend.
A Cajun-inspired menu is bound to pack lots of spices so it’s not a surprise to see a traditional, hearty gumbo on this list. Analogue’s take on the stew contains chicken and andouille sausage along with okra and a dollop of potato salad to balance it all out. It’s proof that sometimes, you don’t need to mess with a classic.
When you see the name “Hell Burger” on a menu, you know it’s going to be scorching hot. Habanero salsa, roasted jalapenos, house hot sauce and pepper jack cheese will light mouths on fire. And if you can’t finish it? Well you’re out of luck; no refunds.
Good Indian fare can be hard to find outside of Devon Avenue. That’s why Humboldt Park’s Rangoli is such a gem. Of course, the noteworthy curries are always exceptional but the gobi Manchurian is also a popular standout. The Indo-Chinese starter is a spicy dish of fried cauliflower florets sautéed with garlic, ginger, onions and soy sauce. It the perfect tone-setter for a meal that’ll likely leave you hot and sweating.
From curries to soups, it’s not difficult to find something that’ll bring the heat at Sticky Rice. This popular spot among Thai enthusiasts focuses on the cooking of the country’s northern region and offers specialties like larb. The dish features a stir-fried mix of ground pork and intestine with a blend of spices, and is packed with intense flavor and a burn that slowly builds as you eat.
Who says dessert can’t be a spicy affair? It might seem like an unusual combination but the Michelin-starred restaurant’s roasted chili churros is the best of both worlds. Crisp churros pack a punch thanks to sweet chili lime oil and are complemented by dulce cream and bittersweet chocolate sorbet.
Former Rick Bayless vet Anselmo Ramirez has quietly made his Albany Park restaurant one of the city’s best Mexican spots. His offerings hit a wide range of notes on the flavor spectrum and highlights include succulent grilled pork loin sitting in a bright green mole that carries just the perfect amount of heat.
Heat lovers received a great new addition last year with the opening of Kick, a spicy food-centric restaurant. The menu features bold, fiery dishes that span the globe and the concept can seem overwhelming to some, but the goal is to enhance flavors rather than obliterate taste buds.For instance, hanger steak is dry rubbed with a special spice blend and lifted by roasted poblanos and chimichurri sauce for an approachable kick.