In search of Sacramento’s spiciest foods

SN&R shares its hottest culinary moments

One person’s spicy is another person’s mild. Some people—like my dad, for example—can’t handle a hint of black pepper. Then, there are people, such as my grandmother, who grew up eating food from Sichuan, China—bright-red dishes so full of pepper and chili oil, that eating them makes your eyes and nose drip. And although spice levels in different peppers are scientifically quantifiable, the concept of “spicy” is still purely subjective. That said, the following are some of Sacramento’s tastiest—and hottest—options.

Poor girl eats hot

The Roasted Duck Red Curry at Boon Boon Cafe features roasted duck, tomatoes, onion, red bell peppers, pineapple and basil—all cooked in a spicy red curry sauce. “They’re more than happy to keep piling on those Thai chilies as hot as you can handle,” says Kimberly A. Morales, who writes the Sacramento-based Poor Girl Eats Well blog. 3022 Stockton Boulevard, (916) 456-4647,

Extreme intestinal pain

A $5 cup of escamocha—a salty and spicy fruit dessert—from Raspados de Frutas Naturales El Manatial seems tame enough on the tongue. But its chili-powder mix is deceiving, and—if you’re not used to the dish—can cause extreme intestinal pain. 1620 W. Capitol Avenue in West Sacramento, (916) 376-0906.

Clear out the sinuses

There’s a bowl of ramen at Edokko II so spicy, it’s called Challenge Ramen. Think of it as a sinus cleanse. Enough said. 358 Florin Road, (916) 395-0632.

Heed the sign

Ask for your choice of seafood at Firehouse Crawfish to be cooked in the restaurant’s 5 Alarm spicy sauce, and take note of the sign on the wall: “Warning: 5 Alarm is extremely hot! So hot it will cause a flashing light!” 6519 Savings Plaza, Suite 205; (916) 429-9034.

Too hot to handle?

The Hacienda Hottie breakfast sandwich at Dad’s Sandwich & Deli features eggs, bacon, pepper and jack cheese and jalapenos that are, sometimes, hotter than normal. 1310 S Street, (916) 448-3237,

Not your grandma’s fruit salad

L&L Video’s video makes Hmong-style papaya salad, with lime, diced tomato, fish sauce, crab and copious bird’s-eye chili. 6420 Stockton Boulevard, (916) 424-2263.

Good to the last mug

Joel York, bar manager at Centro Cocina Mexicana, soaks habañero and pineapple in a jug of tequila for a tasty drink that’s not for the faint of heart. The more tequila is left in the jug, the less spicy. To feel the full effects, order the last cup. 2730 J Street, (916) 442-2552,

Ghost ride the burger

Ghost peppers (or naga bhut jolokia) are the second-hottest peppers in the world, and currently featured in two burgers at Red Robin Gourmet Burgers. Order a burger Fiery Ghost style (with ghost-pepper sauce and fried jalapeños) or Cry Baby style (with ghost-pepper ketchup and Sriracha-sauce-flavored onions). Various locations,

Hot-sauce committee

T&R Taste of Texas Barbecue’s food isn’t particularly spicy. But the Oak Park restaurant offers dozens of hot-sauce options— including Tapatio Hot Sauce, Tabasco and Sriracha sauce, and even a spicy house-made concoction. 3621 Broadway, (916) 739-1669.

Think pink

The Golden Dragon Chinese Restaurant in Rocklin serves some of the most authentic Sichuanese cuisine in the area, and its “pink menu” caters to those accustomed to eating the particularly spicy flavors of Sichuanese food. 4800 Granite Drive in Rocklin, (916) 632-9542,