Weekend Eats

Four Super Spicy Dishes to Try in the PHX

The Fire Chicken at Drunken Tiger is a slow burn.
The Fire Chicken at Drunken Tiger is a slow burn. Lauren Cusimano
It’s heating up in the Valley, with temperature finally tipping into the triple digits this week. And with that in mind, it’s time to bust out the old troupe we just have to believe in around this time of year: Spicy food cools you down.

As we’ve reported, “Research shows that the ‘gustatory facial sweating’ that one experiences after eating something particularly fiery actually activates a cooling effect.” We’ve covered some heated dishes lately, including chiltepines, aguachile, and hot chicken, so we can attest.

In conclusion, eat spicy foods. Maybe even challenge yourself. And if you’re taking this seriously, here’s where to do that, and what to order.

Fire Chicken

Drunken Tiger
1954 South Dobson Road, #5, Mesa

Mesa’s own Korean pub serves big beers and bulgogi fries, sure, but the Fire Chicken at Drunken Tiger is just that — fire. Little chunks of white meat are “cooked in an extremely spicy sauce” and then topped with sprinkles of melted mozzarella and green onion. Your first bite is eye-roll worthy, “this isn’t even hot,” but that confidence will falter about bite five. It’s a slow burn, and toward the end of the dish, if you make it, you’re definitely reaching for the bottle of Cass more and more.

click to enlarge El Peligroso, or as people have come to call it, "the peligroso challenge." - COURTESY OF MARISCOS PLAYA HERMOSA
El Peligroso, or as people have come to call it, "the peligroso challenge."
Courtesy of Mariscos Playa Hermosa

El Peligroso

Mariscos Playa Hermosa
1605 East Garfield Street

A new dish at Mariscos Playa Hermosa — which is a rarity in itself — is the El Peligroso. This is a raw seafood bowl filled with roughly eight to nine different chiles and spices. There is raw aguachile shrimp, as well as just-cooked shrimp, plus octopus, scallops, onion, cilantro, and lime juice. However, it’s now more commonly referred to as the peligroso challenge according to owner Emmanuell Maldonado. “It is so spicy no one has finished it yet,” he says.

Trying the XXXHot at Mrs. Chicken. - LAUREN CUSIMANO
Trying the XXXHot at Mrs. Chicken.
Lauren Cusimano

XXXHot Chicken

Mrs. Chicken
4011 North 32nd Street

This recently opened hot chicken joint has a tight menu, but there’s one thing you can’t ignore at Mrs. Chicken — the waiver-requiring XXXHot spice level. Initially, it doesn’t seem like such a tough character — the chicken’s goopy coating more flavorful than spicy. However, in no time, you’ll be taking sharp inhales, mopping your forehead, and feeling it in your stomach. But if you go for that sort of thing, and also want a food waiver related story to tell, we recommend it.

click to enlarge The Mega Diablo wings at Zesty Zzeeks Pizza & Wings might melt your face off. - LAUREN CUSIMANO
The Mega Diablo wings at Zesty Zzeeks Pizza & Wings might melt your face off.
Lauren Cusimano

Mega Diablo Wings

Zesty Zzeeks
Multiple Locations

Speaking freely, this was one of the only times a dish’s heat has disorientated yours truly. Zesty Zzeeks Pizza & Wings offers the ultimate test with their wing option tossed in Arizona Gunslinger’s Mega Diablo Extra Hot Pepper Sauce. Don’t be surprised if you start to sweat, then start to feel a little loopy, then feel shivering cold after a few of these babies, because the guy behind the counter at Zzeeks probably gave you fair warning that they were going to “melt your face off.”
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Lauren Cusimano is Phoenix New Times' food and drink editor. She is a journalist and food waste writer based in Tempe. Joys include eating wings, riding bikes, knowing everyone at the bar, talking too much about The Simpsons, and falling asleep while reading.
Contact: Lauren Cusimano