Starting to Sweat
Dive into one or all of these dishes—arranged in order of increasing spiciness—for a night that goes from mild to hot, hot, hot.
Afraid to feel the heat but still want to feel daring? The Firebird from MaMa Jean’s Market & Deli (multiple locations in Springfield, MO) has pepper jack cheese, roasted tomato spread, Peppadews and sriracha, which give this panini wings.
Feel the Tingle
The Wheelhouse’s (1845 E. Sunshine St., Springfield; 417-430-0400) falafel is formed from whole garbanzo beans, but when it’s slathered in the spicy housemade kimchi and jammed in a taco shell, the heat starts to rise, maybe prompting an exasperated exhale or two.
Start to Sweat
As the name suggests, aguachiles is essentially chile water, so you know this dish will have a kick. At Tortilleria Perches (1601 W. Sunshine St., Springfield, MO; 417-864-8195), the weekend special, served with shrimp, is made of serrano peppers, lime, cilantro and cucumbers.
Where’s the Water?
We’re getting into the serious fire zone now. The chile colorado at Cesar’s Old Mexico (2627 E. Sunshine St., Springfield, MO; 417-881-8252) consists of beef tips slowly simmered in a sauce of guajillo chiles to soak up all that spice.
Are You Crying?
For some mind-melting heat, look no further than the som tam at Everyday Thai (2926 S. Campbell Ave., Springfield; 417-770-0147). This traditional Thai green papaya salad is dressed in a sweet-hot-sour-salty dressing made of fiery chiles and fish sauce.
The lamb vindaloo curry at Taj Mahal Indian Restaurant (1250 E. Republic Rd., Springfield; 417-719-4573) is so tender and delicious you’ll want to finish the whole dish—but so hot you’re not sure if you can make it past a few bites. Good luck!