I’ve noticed that there’s a sort of cult surrounding really super spicy foods. The initiated will seek them out, share tips, even bring their own hot sauce in case the place doesn’t stack up.
I’m not a member of this particular brand of crazy, but I did harden off a few taste buds living in New Mexico and eating the green chile there, so I’m not a total wimp, either. So here are my best recommendations for riding the capsaicin high in Boulder County:
Busaba Thai’s bright and modern atmosphere up on McCaslin in Louisville hides a spicy secret. Like most Thai places around here, they’ll ask you how spicy you want things, but what “medium” looks like seems to depend on the dish. Medium drunken noodles were pleasantly spicy for me, but an order of medium larb nearly took the skin off the roof of my mouth. And that’s a good thing for spice hunters.
Who has the best green chile is possibly a never-ending debate, but Efrain’s and Santiago’s both offer some of the hottest. Efrain’s is pretty hot all the time, but the chile varies by the season. At Santiago’s you can order it mild, medium or hot—and the hot is pretty respectably spicy. I personally prefer Efrain’s for the food, but maybe not the 45-minute wait on a busy night.
The hot wings and the Wing King Challenge at West End Tavern have recently been made famous by the show Man vs. Food, and are known for being pretty hot. Are they the hottest in town? That’s up for debate. But eating 50 of them in an hour (for the challenge) is sure to work up a sweat.
I definitely prefer a spicy barbeque sauce over sickly sweet, and The Rib House has a couple of respectably hot varieties. I usually order their XXX Hot sauce, the hottest on the menu, but the Fire sauce (not as hot as it sounds) is a nice blend of sweet and spicy. You can buy the sauce by the bottle at the restaurant, online and even at some local grocery stores.
Another great hot sauce can be found at a somewhat surprising location. At Tortuga’s in Longmont, order anything with Pete’s Hot Sauce and you’ll get a hit of this fabulous sweet and spicy condiment made with ground mustard, papaya, habanero, pineapple, honey and herbs. He sells the stuff by the bottle for when you get addicted: it’s that good.
Apparently, finding truly spicy Indian or Nepalese food in Boulder is a challenge. Our two best contenders are Kathmandu Restaurant in Nederland and Gurkha’s on The Hill. Be warned: this is sneaky spicy, with a heat that builds and builds. You may not feel it on the first bite, but you’ll definitely be feeling it by the bottom of the bowl.
Got a favorite that I missed? Let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be sure to post updates on the website.