Have you ever noticed that the best spicy dishes are never labeled as such? They warn you of what's to come, but they never mention fire, suicide, or anything related to volcanology. That's just how they are supposed to taste. You may tear up and start to sweat, but pleasure should always win out over pain.
Why are we talking about spicy food? Well, we have nothing against the comforting flavors present at the Thanksgiving table—it is one of the best meals of the year—but we can't be the only ones who got home from the extended holiday weekend looking for some seriously spicy food to wake up our tastes buds. And as the temperatures continue to plunge, we crave that heat that only chiles can provide even more. Now seemed like the perfect time to pick out some of our favorite spicy dishes in Chicago.
Note that we didn't set out to find the absolute spiciest dishes out there. We are not crazy. Competitions are all well and good, but we love spice when it winds its way into a dish, actually improving the flavor of each component. We avoided dishes that used spice to punish our tongue, since those mostly just muted the taste of everything else.
Here are the dishes that get our noses running in the best possible way. Obviously, we missed a few places, so let us know if your favorite spicy dish didn't make the cut.
- Som Tum Poo at Andy's Thai Kitchen
- Salsas at El Pueblito
- Torta Ahogada at Taqueria Traspasada
- Sabri Nihari at Sabri Nihari
- Nam Sod at Thai Aree
- Mapo Tofu at Double Li
- Tan Tan Men Ramen at Slurping Turtle
- House Special Grilled Fish in Spicy Pan at Lao Ma La
- Will's Special at J.P. Graziano's
All products linked here have been independently selected by our editors. We may earn a commission on purchases, as described in our affiliate policy.