HOME > Chowhound > Phoenix >


It's PHX. Who brings the heat?

I was reading a story about India's ghost chilis, the hottest in the world, and it got me in the mood for a gut-wrenching, brow sweating, tear duct filling spicy meal. However when I hit the local Indian place, the food was tame.

What places (or even singular dishes) should be explored in PHX if one wants and S&M eating experience? Mexican, Indian, Chinese, etc?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Anything with the habanero salsa at Restaurante Huauchinango.

    Restaurante Huauchinango
    7620 E Mckellips Rd, Scottsdale, AZ

    1. if you really want hot, like in essentially all cities, you're gonna need to find carribbean food.
      Thai chilis, jalapenos, serranos, etx just aren't really hot. You can't make the food hotter than the chili itself even if you add a bunch. Hence, foods that feature these chilis just generally aren't that hot if you're into really hot.
      Really the only cuisine I've ever had that I have thought twice about going back (due to extreme heat) is carribbean. I order all of my stuff XXX hot, Thai hot, 10/10 hot, whatever the magic words are at the place in question, and I love it. But a couple of carribbean places have put me in my place over the years.
      Never had anything at an indian place that was really hot either, probably never found one using ghost chilis though....I'm sure if used correctly it will melt your face.
      Haven't been to any carribbean places in Phx yet; but if you search specifically maybe you'll find a serious one.

      1. You can order up a pretty hot meal at Thai E-San on Indian School in Phoenix .

        Thai E-San
        616 W Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85013

        1 Reply
        1. re: misohungrychewlow

          Just tried Thai E-San last night for dinner, after remembering reading ur post.. VERY good. I would say right up there with Thailana.

          I ordered thr thai toasts as an app and the spareribs special for dinner (Dry Ribs deep fried). Really amazing.

          My husband had the thai basil chix with the heat level at 3 we thought that was plenty spicy!! I am looking forward to going back soon for lunch and trying a curry dish. Too many good dishes to choose from.

          Thai E-San
          616 W Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85013

        2. What's your local Indian place? Majarajah Palace in Glendale has made me throw in the towel. They do a couple of combination plates for dinner -- with meat or vegetarian -- and you have the option of ordering them normal or spicy. I asked for spicy, once, and they warned me that it was really spicy. I said I was fine with that, and they brought it to me, and I could only get through about a third of it. It's a huge combo; I normally only get through a half, anyway. I boxed the rest to take home and spread the pain over a couple more meals. I am not a chile lightweight, having spent seven years in New Mexico. It was HOT, but so tasty, it was hard to stop eating, despite the pain.

          The thing is, I still remember that meal (meals) fondly. Hurts so good!

          2 Replies
          1. re: themis

            I don't have one. I love Indian food but I avoid it because I order way too much food and overeat ridiculously. I (almost) never take food home; I eat it. That's me. I used to like Pasand in south Tempe for a good Indian hit but it's been a long time ... I like The Dhaba but I can't speak to their heat quotient -- haven't explored it yet.

            1. re: themis

              Didn't name it because I went at lunch where they cater to mostly non-Indian, "every-day" folks, so I'm willing to absorb responsibility because almost any ethnic eatery in any part of the country will dumb down their fare for the larger, general audience.

              I suppose a good starting point would be ethnic places catering to ethnic eaters. That said, there are some Yankee dishes that can split sides... one such treat being really well crafted hot wings, or certain sauces in New Mexico.

            2. Well, first you must lay down the gauntlet, and tell the kitchen that they do not know "hot." Likely that they will bring the heat. Many menus will be "tamed down," for the regular diner. Challenge the kitchen, and see what they bring to the table.

              My step father-in-law though himself a great Cajun chef. He'd trot out a dish, and offer it with, "bet that this is too hot for you." At first, I would tell him, "not, that's not all that hot." He'd grab it away, only to return with a boosted up version. "Bet that's too hot for you." At some point, he'd be right. It did not take me long, before I realized the game. When seasoned correctly, I'd say, "yes, that is too hot for me," and enjoy things, before they DID become too hot for me.

              I noticed the comments on Caribbean cuisine. I have a few jars of Wormwood Jerk Seasonings and love that stuff, but in moderation. A little goes a long way.

              I love heat, but only so long as it works with the dish. If I only want heat, I can always drink boiling water, just for the pain. I want depth, in my seasonings, and pure heat is not that.


              1. Los Dos Molinos (NM-style Mexican) has a pretty well-earned reputation for Hatch chile-based sauces that will eat through the plate.

                As a former Phoenician and recently minted New Mexican, I'll say that it's only ok for the style (a little bigger on heat than flavor, and not impressed with their tortillas), but you can certainly do a lot worse in town. I'd say the salsas and their adovada (carne or ribs) are probably the best things on the menu.

                Los Dos Molinos
                8646 S Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85042

                4 Replies
                1. re: finlero

                  The first time I went to Los Dos Molinos (on Central), I was starving, and devoured the chips and salsa. My tongue was ruined by the time the food came. I had a nice endorphin buzz from the pain, on the way home.

                  1. re: finlero

                    Make sure to ask what's hot at Los Dos Molinos if you go looking for hot stuff-- not everything on the menu is really hot.

                    1. re: finlero

                      Yep. Back in the day, I had some meals at Los Dos that brought painful levels of heat. About the only things I ordered then were the chile relleno and the cheese enchiladas (green), and there were a few times when I wondered how long it would take me to finish my meal with all of the panting breaks I was taking.

                      In those days, the chimi was the recommendation for those who felt like they couldn't handle the heat, but everything else was pretty much a crap shoot, subject to the vagaries of NM chiles.

                      1. re: finlero

                        First thing I thought of was Los Dos. Always a good time.

                        Most recently I got the Street Tacos at Z'Tejas in Chandler and asked for the Blair's After Death Sauce (no relation) they keep behind the bar. Did the trick. I'll often order the Pork Chile Verde and an extra serrano, then chop the peppers up and mix them in.

                      2. Swaddee Thai on Rural and Ray is pretty good, and their "Thai hot" level dishes arrive liberally sprinkled with tiny bird chiles (especially if you get them to go). Let them know you want it really hot, and they'll do it.

                        1. McCool's bar and grill on Rural & Ray has ghost chiles, and will add them to the "Burger of Fire" or other dishes if you ask. I've also seen dried ones at the AJ's on Ray near the I-10 if you want to cook with them yourself.

                          1. The Breadfruit Jamaican restaurant in downtown Phoenix serves slivered Scotch bonnet chiles in its "escovitch" sauce. A little goes a long way. Also, Malee's on Main has a Thai chile paste that, when consumed in quantity, makes me tear up. Shoot, now I want spicy food.

                            Malee's On Main
                            7131 E Main St, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                            The Breadfruit
                            108 E Pierce St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: epicurina

                              Malee's actually brought me the pain, once. So did the Chandler location of Swaddee. Both cases were probably my failure to understand their version of the spice-o-meter.

                              Swaddee Thai Cuisine
                              5055 W Ray Rd Ste 8, Chandler, AZ 85226

                            2. Los Dos Molinos, without a doubt. Try the Blue Corn Tamales to really turn up the heat, or order your dish with their red sauce! Unbelievable heat AND flavor; a rare combination. Aahh..such a good pain...

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: ajthefoodie

                                That has been my impression too. However, we have never made it in. Regardless of when we arrive, the seating is always hours away, and we move on - one day maybe?

                                OTOH, most can get all the heat that they want, if they challenge the kitchen with comments about not wanting some "Gringo" stuff, or "this is not even warm. What can you show me?" This works in other restaurants too - think Vietnamese, Indian, Thai and Mexican. Throw down the gauntlet and tell them that they do not know "heat." Hold on to your hat.

                                Good luck,


                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  In my experience, the wait times at the Mesa Alma School location were generally a half hour or less, as compared to 2+ hours at the South Phoenix location. To be sure, the latter offers a more attractive architectural setting than the former, but I never noticed the food being any better at one location or the other.

                                  1. re: hohokam

                                    I went to Los Dos Molinos at 1010 E Washington St, Phoenix, AZ, for a late lunch, today. I arrived at about 1:15, and I thought the place was pretty quiet, especially for a Friday. This may be the best location to avoid a wait?

                                    Los Dos Molinos
                                    1010 E Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85034

                                    1. re: johnseberg

                                      I could see that being the case, with perhaps the exception of nights when there are big sporting events or concerts downtown.

                                      1. re: johnseberg

                                        Yes, it's usually less of a wait there than at the location in south Phoenix.

                                2. Surprised no one has mentioned The Mission. Their phantasma salsa is usually served during their Sunday pig roast, but you can usually ask for it any time, if they have it. It is made with A LOT of ghost chilis. I always ask for it on the side when I'm eating the brisket torta.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. I had the "Firebird" chicken at Bryan's Black Mountain BBQ late last year. The chicken was pleasantly hot with a orange-habanero BBQ sauce. However, I thought I was biting into a piece of orange that turned out to be a piece of habanero pepper. Let's just say my entire insides immediately lit up like a Christmas tree and didn't return to normal for 24 hours. I may have permanently cauterized one of my tonsils.