Many spicy foods aren’t for the faint of heart, but luckily, it doesn’t all taste like biting into a ghost pepper. It ranges from tasting a slight tang to experiencing watery eyes after only a whiff. In Phoenix, there’s no shortage of spice. Here are five dishes for Valley heat freaks, from mellow to merciless.
Although Korean food can really pack a punch, the Hawaiian Chicken at Gen Korean BBQ House is nothing but sweet and savory. This juicy, marinated chicken dish served with pineapple slices is a safe option on a menu full of spicy items if you’re truly anti-spice.
2000 E. Rio Salado Pkwy., Tempe, genkoreanbbq.com
To get your feet wet in the spicy food world, try the Chile Relleno dish at Juan’s Authentic Mexican Food. Meaning “stuffed pepper” in Spanish, chile relleno is a poblano pepper stuffed with cheese. With this dish, you’ll also receive a beef or chicken taco, rice and beans, so you can alternate between the mild spice and none at all.
1516 E. Thomas Rd. Phoenix, juansauthenticmexicanfood.com
A vegan favorite for those who enjoy mid-spiciness, Punjabi Chole at The Dhaba combines peppery flavors with tang. The curried chickpeas are mixed with ginger, garlic, coriander, pepper and onion. Be forewarned: You may go through a few glasses of water to finish this dish. 1872 Apache Blvd., Tempe, the-dhaba.com
If you’re feeling daring but want something filling, Doro Wat from Cafe Lalibela will definitely satisfy your tastebuds. This traditional Ethiopian spicy chicken stew is made with chicken thighs in spicy berbere (a chili powder sauce containing garlic and red pepper) and kibbeh (spiced clarified butter). To offset the spice, this dish is typically served with hard-boiled eggs.
849 W. University Dr., Tempe, cafelalibela.com
Appropriately named “Fire Wok-ker,” this flaming hot dish at The Wild Thaiger is levels above your traditional Thai fried rice. Prepared with hot basil along with string beans, mushrooms, carrots, peppers and onions, you’ll be reaching for a gallon of milk the minute you take a bite.
2631 N. Central Ave., Phoenix wildthaiger.com