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Denver’s Hot and Spicy Dishes

Celebrate National Hot and Spicy Food Day with one of these fiery dishes

One bite into a hot pepper and you can feel the fiery seeds light up your mouth. It starts on your tongue—a faint burning sensation—and then stings backwards toward your throat, engulfing your mouth with heat. You may start to fan your mouth or reach for the nearest glass of water, but no matter what you do, at least a faint tickle of spice will remain. Once it subsides, you want to do it all over again.

National Hot and Spicy Food Day is an opportunity to celebrate fiery experiences like these. To help you in your quest for heat, we’ve rounded up some of the hottest dishes in Denver and Boulder. Warning: You’re going to need some milk.

1. Spicy Veggie Sandwich

The spicy giardiniera is what brings a punch to Organic Sandwich Company‘s {16th and Pearl Street, Boulder; 720.639.3986} creation. The housemade spicy sauce is a combination of bell peppers, cauliflower, carrots, jalapeños, and serrano peppers. Fresh avocado, caramelized onions, aged white cheddar, pea shoots, and tomato are all sheltered in a pretzel loaf to ease the heat. The brave are even rumored to eat the giardiniera by the spoon!

giardiniera

Organic Sandwich Company

2. Korean Bibimbap

The Corner Office {1401 Curtis Street, Denver; 303.825.6500} combines global comfort food with street food, creating a way to experience different cultures through your tastebuds, and the Bibimbap (pronounced bi-bim-bop) transports you to Korea. Lead Sous Chef Aaron Simpkiss makes this sizzling rice bowl in a hot stone bowl with marinated flank steak, gochujang, hoisin sauce, zucchini, and egg garnished with Korean pepper flakes. The steak marinade will give your tastebuds a sweet start, and the gochujang (a hot pepper paste made of red chiles) will finish you off with Asian-style heat.

  • Poison Ivy
Wash down the flames with this cocktail concoction made by The Corner Office’s Xander Grado. It’s a mixture of St. George chile-flavored vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup, and parsley bits, alongside Sauvignon Blanc and a quarter ounce of St. George Absinthe. It adds an extra kick, but the parsley leaves will cool your palate.
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The Corner Office

3. Gonzales Steak

The Fort {19192 CO-8, Morrison; 303.697.4471}, a Colorado icon, serves up the Gonzales Steak, which was inspired by The Fort’s wood carver, Elidio Gonzales, who sought an especially spicy dish from the restaurant. It features a 14-ounce Colorado Natural Beef NY Strip, stuffed with New Mexico hatch green chiles, and topped with a freshly grilled chile pod. Guests can have any steak prepared “Gonzales Style,” including all bison steaks, which The Fort is renowned for.

Jalapeños Stuffed with Peanut Butter

The Fort

4. El Jefe Wings

El Jefe means “The Boss” in Spanish and this sauce from Fire on the Mountain {3801 West 32nd Avenue, Denver; 303.480.9464} will definitely tell you what to do! It will hit you upside the head while side-swiping you with a barrage of various spices. Habaneros, jalapeños, Cajun spice, capsicum, and Frank’s Red Hot sauce are just a few ingredients in this sauce that also doubles as bear-repellent. In fact, the Food Network aired the famously spicy wings on the show “Outrageous Food.”

If you’re feeling plucky, Fire on the Mountain features the “El Jefe Challenge,” a competition in which competitors must eat 15 El Jefe wings in 3-1/2 minutes with one non-dairy beverage, one napkin, and no dipping sauces or vegetables. This competition is so wild that contestants must sign a waiver.

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Fire on the Mountain

5. Chef’s Pizza

This pizza was crafted by Second Home {150 Clayton Lane, Denver; 303.253.3000} Chef David Anderson, who describes it as a staple lunch meal for himself and the other chefs. This stimulating pizza is the perfect marriage of meat and spice. It’s made with pepperoni, pancetta, sausage, fiery chiles, jalapeños, and mozzarella. The chile seeds will light up your mouth with spice, but the heat won’t overwhelm you, making it a great dish for the novice heat-seeker.

6. Katsu-Curry Ramen

You can have this fiery ramen dish from TOKIO {2907 Huron Street, Denver; 720.639.2911} either spicy or extra spicy, with a choice of Berkshire pork or Boulder natural chicken breast. The flames originate from the spicy curry, a mixture of garam masala, curry powder, as well as red pepper and dozens of other spices. TOKIO’s Owner and Executive Chef, Miki Hashimoto, uses a Japanese pepper called ichimi to kick up the heat. To balance the spice, he turns to a bit of soy sauce, as well as some fruit for sweetness.

Tokio Katsu Curry Ramen

TOKIO

7. The Diablo Burger

This tear-inducing burger from The Lobby {2191 Arapahoe Street, Denver; 303.997.9911} is made of two freshly ground quarter-pound patties stuffed with spicy jalapeño cream cheese and seared on the grill. These piquant patties are topped with house-candied bacon and served with your choice of housemade Hot or Inferno sauces made with scorpion, ghost chile, and habanero peppers. You’ll be crying for a glass of water after bite number one.

diablo burger2

The Lobby

8. Spicy Calamari

A favorite among guests at Japango {1136 Pearl Street, Boulder; 303.938.0330}, this happy hour item has a kick, but maintains flavor balance with all of its various components. The calamari is sautéed in a homemade red pepper sauce, along with Sriracha and mushrooms.

  • Serrano Splash
Spice up your meal with this crowd favorite cocktail. House-infused Serrano pepper vodka is combined with elderflower liquor, muddled basil, and a housemade sour. You’ll feel the tingle of spice, but with the other ingredients by its side, it won’t overwhelm you.

9. Spicy Drunken Noodles

Though MAX’s Wine Dive {696 Sherman Street, Denver; 303.593.2554} is known more for its wine and crispy fried chicken, this sleeper spicy dish will knock out your palate. It’s served in a Chinese takeout box with baby bok choy, baby corn, sambal, lime, and Thai basil to cool your tastebuds. For added relief, this dish also comes with a side of rice chips. The playful presentation and unabashed flavors represent the fun and thoughtful atmosphere MAX’s aims for.

10. Octavio’s Word

Our last spicy hit in the Front Range comes in drink form, and also happens to be one of the most popular items on Blackbelly’s {1606 Conestoga #3, Boulder; 303.247.1000} menu. Octavio’s Word is a modern version of the traditional gin-based, Prohibition-era cocktail dubbed the Last Word. Named after Blackbelly Executive Sous Chef Octavio Canales, it’s made with Sombra mezcal, green chartreuse, cucumber, and a squeeze of fresh lime and gets its crazy kick from the fresh jalapeños. Blackbelly sources jalapeños fresh daily, so this drink can be particularly off-the-charts depending on the day’s batch of jalapeños. Heat roulette!

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Blackbelly

By Tia Bogeljic | Contributing Writer