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SPICIEST food in New Orleans!

I am searching for the spiciest restaurants and dishes in New Orleans. Any kind of food qualifies: both traditional NOLA cuisine and more ethnic varieties. I love SPICY food! The hotter, the better. Can anyone suggest where I can find the BEST of the best? Thanks.

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  1. I think if you went into K-Paul's and asked Chef Paul Prudhomme to spice it up, he could accommodate you and sear your tastebuds at the same time.

    When I follow his recipes, I always use half the pepper.

    1. Lamb vindaloo at either Taj Mahal or Nirvana, two Indian restaurants owned by the same family. Get it "like the Indians eat it". You will be sweating, I assure you!

      1. I like Thai food a lot and a usually like spicy food. I ordered something hot at Sukho Thai on Magazine and they asked if I wanted it American hot or Thai hot. I said American hot and it was so spicy I couldn't even eat it. I imagine that the Thai hot would have made me bubble up.

        1 Reply
        1. re: shanefink

          Yea, made the mistake of ordering Thai hot at Basil Leaf. I ate a bowl of rice trying to alleviate the burn.

          Ta Tee,
          While the food was much hotter when Chef Paul was in the kitchen (which he hasn't been for a long time), it was never as hot as the recipes in his books. It seems the food has been reworked to better suit the masses. I preferred it when Kay and Paul were there.

          Basil Leaf
          1438 S Carrollton Ave, New Orleans, LA 70118

        2. Many people mistakenly believe that traditional cajun and creole food is spicy. While it may be spicy relative to the traditional American diet, it is not at all spicy relative to many ethnic cuisines available in New Orleans, like Vietnamese and Thai.

          That said, when I'm in the mood for traditional cajun and creole food AND higher levels of spice, I usually sit at the bar at Coop's, where I can douse my red beans and rice (with sausage) or my jambalaya with the habanero version of Tabasco sauce, which is readily available on the bar. That usually gets a pretty good sweat going (without fundamentally altering the taste of the food)!

          1. In very general terms, NOLA cuisine is very spicy, but pure "heat" is not what it's about. Instead, the spices are in layers of flavors. If you are looking for just the heat, then, as others have suggested, tell the server to nudge the chef to "kick it up a notch." There are plenty, who can accommodate, whether their regular dishes incorporate that heat, or not.

            Be careful what you ask for though. Some chef's will take this as a gauntlet, thrown down upon the table, and the result could be lethal.

            My late F-I-L was a chef in New Orleans, and prided himself on using more heat than others. He'd serve a dish, and say, "bet that this is too hot for you to eat." I learned the drill, and would wait until he'd gotten it just right, then answer, "yes, this is too hot to eat." He'd smile, and respond, "I told you so." Then, I knew that he'd stop, and I could enjoy the dish. I think that it was a "machismo thing," and he wanted to prove that he could produce a dish, that was too hot to eat.

            I've mentioned to a few servers, at both Mexican and Indian restaurants, that dish ____ could use a little more heat. Wow, can the kitchen ever turn up that heat, and I have inadvertently ruined a few, with but a simple request.



            1. You probably won't be getting to the North Shore, but K Gees in Mandeville makes up their own hot sausage to order when you order their hot sausage po-boy. The first time I asked for "normal" plus a bit. That was about at the top of my pain to enjoyment ratio. Since then it has been normal, or normal minus a bit.
              I return because it is a great po-boy, tho a little pricey as north shore po-boys go.

              3 Replies
              1. re: collardman

                I like the "pain to enjoyment" ratio idea. I am no wuss when it comes to heat but I will not sit there with the sweat pouring. I don;t have to be macho...(I got some boiled crawfish last week that a friend did--couldn't make it past about ten...another guy got hammered just swilling beer to choke them down). I'll get Vindaloo in the medium range but I cannot do the True Version.

                There used to be a judge who was friends with the McIlhennys at the time. they sent him the mash that was left over. He kept it in his chambers and would spread it on a cracker, eat till he sweated, take a shot of vodka and go out to dispense justice....

                1. re: hazelhurst

                  Reminds me of my horseradish episode. I love a full-bodied horseradish, and used to have friends in Denver, who grew and processed their own. Most versions in a jar leave a bit to be desired. I stopped in at my butcher/fish-monger, and in our conversation, I mentioned horseradish, and how I liked a "bit more" in mine. He went into the back, and came back with a 1/2 pt. of "industrial horseradish," and handed it to me with a caution - "go easy with this stuff." Boy! Was he correct. I ladled on some, just as I normally did, and about a half-hour later, I finally caught my breath.

                  I love spices, and love flavors, but shear, pure heat, is not my thing. At a point, it's like taking a cup, filling it from my Instant-hot (210F) and drinking it down. For a week after, I cannot taste a thing. I do not need to prove myself, and ruin my taste buds for a month.

                  We do a lot of Indian cuisine in London, and I always try to communicate the exact level of heat, that I want. No sense in being brought to my knees, and sweating all over my guests.

                  Give me flavor and enough heat to blend with it. Guess that I'm just a "girly-man."


                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    I'm in London right now, and went out for Indian last night with the express goal of finding a vindaloo that would make me sweat. It's not a macho thing for me -- I am here by myself and am not showing off to anyone -- I just really like super spicy food. I ended up at Spice Bazaar, a somewhat touristy place in Soho, not because they are known for their great food, but because I know from past experience that their vindaloo makes me sweat. It didn't disappoint, and I loved every bite of it!

                    In 25 years of eating in New Orleans, I've never been served any food that comes close in terms of spice level. That's not a criticism; it's just a different cuisine than, say, certain Indian or Vietnamese cuisines that are intended to really turn up the heat. The spiciest foods I've eaten in NOLA have been crawfish (when done to my liking!) and, as I've previously noted, other non-spicy dishes that I've doctored, typically with Tabasco's habanero sauce (which is not usually carried by restaurants -- and in fact can be hard to find outside of Louisiana -- but Coop's keeps it on the bar).

              2. Some of the spiciest food I have had is at China Rose. On their authentic menu they have a few dishes with szechuan peppercorns. If I remember right they are called "Wild and Spicy".

                China Rose
                3501 N Arnoult Rd, Metairie, LA 70002

                1. Great suggestions, everyone! Thanks for the help. I know New Orleans is more "flavor" than "spice" these days but I am looking for those restaurants still serving those old school super-spicy recipes that my Poppa's family would be proud of (raised in bayou country). It seems none of the TOP restaurants in New Orleans want to go for the burn anymore now that they've catered to the masses (and the tourists). Anyone know a hole-in-the-wall place serving some spicy boiled crawfish that would make the old school crowd happy? Or any other tongue-tingling dishes?

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Spicy C

                    Pardon the observation but I do not recall---in over fifty years of New Orleans/Louisiana eating---the "TOP" restaurnts toning things down...the stuff was never, in my experience, hot, hot, hot. Maybe I wasn't at the right places.

                    1. re: hazelhurst

                      No need to apologize. I'm not saying they started one way and then "toned it down." I just mean what would serve as hot/spicy at home in the bayou is clearly a level above what they will serve you in a restaurant. I'm just searching for a place that serves that old school heat!

                      1. re: Spicy C

                        Certainly you are right that "home" stuff is usually hotter---at least in my experience---but I guess I was alluding to the idea that "bayou" is different from New Orleans. Now there used to be a place on HWY 14 between New Iberia and Avery Island (dunno the name) that boiled their seafood with leftover barrel mash from Tabasco. Now THAT stuff was HOT. BUt stuff at Antoine's and the other Warhorses was never, in my memory, glass-melting hot.

                        1. re: hazelhurst

                          I may need help w/ the adjective, but it seems that might've been the Guiding Star - or are we talkin' 2 different joints, 'cause I remember GS being on the divided road
                          (US90) right near the 14/90 intersection. Pepper mash'd help you locate any and all minor cuts or nicks you hadn't realized were there.

                        2. re: Spicy C

                          rural LA and new orleans creole are two different cuisines. as noted creole has never been known for heat.

                    2. Salt n' Pepper Cafe in the FQ, Indian/Pakistani food. You will be chugging water and soaked in sweat trying to finish one of their spicy dishes. The items that are spicy are well marked on the menu, and they are not kidding! Definitely the spiciest thing I have ever had in NOLA w/o having to special order or add hot sauce to. When you are here try to find some Crystal Extra Hot to take home, awesome stuff that can hold its own on the grill/smoker, better than Tabasco, LA Hot Sauce, or regular Crystal.

                      1. Boswell's Jamaican Grill on Tulane Ave.

                        Sara's in the Riverbend

                        724 Dublin St, New Orleans, LA 70118

                        Boswell's Jamaican Grill
                        3521 Tulane Ave, New Orleans, LA 70119

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: edible complex

                          I think Sara's is now defunct. I'm pretty sure I noticed there was something else where Sara's used to be.

                          1. re: N.O.Food

                            Sara's is alive and kicking, as of last weekend anyway.

                            1. re: uptownlibrarian

                              Oops. Guess I thought I saw something I didn't. Sorry for the misinfo and thanks for the correction.

                        2. Been to most of the places listed in this thread, and eaten spicy food around the world.... the one, and only, time a dish has ever defeated me was the Vindaloo at Tandoori Chicken Singh on Cleary Ave in Metairie, a very small, mom and pop-ish type place in a dinky little strip mall.

                          I've never had a problem with Vindaloo before, but I was coughing and sweating halfway through my first bite; halfway through the second, I had to send it back to be de-spicified. Short of pouring yourself a shot of a "dave's insanity" type hot sauce, you won't get any spicier than that...but it was still pleasant.