While some might like it hot, some like it insane. There are daredevils out there who seek out dishes that are fearsomely spicy, with a heat that zaps like lightning and kicks like a bull. For those looking to go a few steps past insane in their culinary adventures, these dishes are for you. They're made with some of the hottest ingredients on the planet — by some of the most sadistic chefs in Dallas — and we bit the pepper-tipped bullet to track them down. Whether you occasionally get a little hotheaded or you’re a full-on heat freak, these are Dallas’ hottest dishes that are sure to make you sweat. We recommend a glass of milk and an ounce of bravery before digging in.
Reaper Ramen, $13
Oni Ramen, 2822 Elm St., Dallas, and 2801 W. Seventh St., Fort Worth
Fort Worth's Oni Ramen, which opened a new location in Deep Ellum last week, has a bowl and a challenge. Made with a "demon"-spiced miso broth, this ramen is difficult to finish in the best way possible. The ramen is made with tender pork belly, bamboo shoots, Parmesan buttered corn, bean sprouts, leek and, of course, a tender-centered egg. It's tasty, but what sets this ramen apart is the reaper sauce.
With a base of gojujang paste and spiced bean paste, aromatics such as garlic and ginger, Carolina reaper pepper, habanero pepper, Trinidad scorpion pepper and 7 Pot Brain Strain pepper, it’s got a laundry list of pain. While you can add the reaper sauce to whatever dish you’d like, it comes with the Reaper Ramen. The ramen is so hot, in fact, that chef Jesus Garcia offers a challenge: Eat his version of the Reaper, which clocks in about three times as hot, in less than 12 minutes without reaching for water. More than 100 people have tried, he says, and only about three have successfully completed it.
Transcendental sauce, free when added to a dish like pho, $9.95
DaLat Vietnamese, 2537 N. Fitzhugh Ave.
DaLat’s transcendental sauce couldn’t be a more apt word for the power it contains. Just one drop of the stuff is enough to send you into a different realm. Made from pure capsaicin, the chemical that makes hot food hot, it is applied to any dish of your choice (typically the flavorful pho) with a toothpick and a steady hand. Owner Khanh Nguyen didn’t like the route of having to add a heavy fistful of peppers to make his pho spicy enough for the insane spice-chasers; he felt it muddled the flavor of the broth. His solution was to use pure capsaicin, almost flavorless and packed with enough heat to burn bare skin. One drop makes a bowl weep with heat without changing the flavor. Nguyen puts it best: “It’s like having the best pho of your life while jumping out of an airplane.”
Sri Lankan Spicy Burger, $6.50
SpicyZest, 13920 Josey Lane, Farmers Branch
Different cultures around the world have different versions of what they deem spicy. Tabasco may be hot to one person and mild to another. There seems to be no limit to a Sri Lankan’s heat preference, and SpicyZest’s burger is testament to that. Made with its house burger patty, pickles, a tangy sauce, two flatbread-style buns and a heaping piling of sautéed veggies and peppers, it’s a creative take on the classic. Tangy banana pepper leads the way, with an eye-watering crushed chili and bird’s eye pepper rings finishing every bite. It’s definitely a good choice to order a Sri Lankan milk tea to help along the way.
Afterlife Sauce, free but best with their dumplings, $7.50 each
Monkey King Noodle Co., 2933 Main St., Dallas, and 1309 S. Broadway St., Carrollton
Monkey King Noodle keeps things simple. It doesn’t add vinegar to hot sauce. It doesn’t dump in a truckload of sugar, onion, garlic or anything else, for that matter. It only uses ground peppers and water in its hottest sauce, the Afterlife Sauce. The peppers used are grown by a hot-head organic friend, so it's somewhat off-menu. Made with ghost pepper, Carolina reapers, habaneros, scotch bonnets, brain strain, chocolate bhutlah, jalapeños and apocalypse scorpion, it’s ruthless. Bright orange, pungent, ripping with flavor and off-the-charts hot, this is the kind of sauce that will take you out on a date and not call the next day.
Jungle Curry, $13
Bangkok City, 4301 Bryan St.
The first few bites of Bangkok City’s jungle curry lure you into a false sense of security. It's only after you’re in too deep that the spice takes grip of you and doesn't let go. It also doesn’t help that the jungle curry is the only curry that doesn’t have the traditional coconut milk to help soothe the pain. While guests can order the jungle curry at a one- through five-star spice-ranking system (with five being the spiciest), you can, in theory, go as high as you want. Some customers go up to 22 stars of heat. Unlike the food at other hot places, Bangkok City's food isn’t inedibly spicy, even at five stars. The heat sits at the back of your throat, humming along for the entire meal. The jungle curry has delightfully pungent flavors with eggplant, bamboo shoots, basil and a wonderful red curry broth, but it's spicy enough to remind you that you’re not dead yet.
The Firehouse No. 3, $6 (slice), $13 (single), $26 (double)
Stonedeck Pizza Pub, 2613 Elm St.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you: Stonedeck’s Firehouse No. 3 pizza is the hottest slice in all of Deep Ellum. Made with fresh dough, chipotle sauce, spicy chorizo, jalapeños (in raw and pickled form) and a homemade habanero sauce, all covered in cheddar, it’s a brutal slice of pie. The heat comes on immediately after the first bite and doesn’t stop building until you’re ready to tap out. As with all pizzas at Stonedeck, it is deliciously rich and keeps you coming back for more, with the caveat that the Firehouse No. 3 is a serious love/hurt relationship. Advice for those who may not know what they’re getting themselves into: Order a single slice of the hot stuff before getting a whole pie.
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The Kick-Ass Schnitzel, $13.99 (half), $17.99 (full)
Fritzl's Euro Grill, 3390 Lakeview Parkway, Rowlett
Klaus Fritz, the owner and operator of Fritzl’s Euro Grill, is a one-man machine. He is the only worker at his restaurant in Rowlett, taking care of all the greeting, service, cooking and bartending on his own. He opens at 5 p.m. and closes at 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, then spends one day deep-cleaning and one day shopping, all to repeat it again the next week. Amid this flurry of work, Klaus seems to enjoy taking his frustrations out on customers through his deep-fried, fiery slathered Kick-Ass Schnitzel. Made with a pepper sauce that rockets itself all the way to the top of this list, it is golden, crispy, rich and catastrophically hot. Klaus’ personality is almost as zesty as this dish, and with everything made in house by the man himself. For someone looking to eat some of the best German/Austrian food this side of the Alps, all while punishing your digestive system, there is no substitute for Fritzl’s house of pain.
Chongqing Chicken, $9.95
Royal Sichuan, 400 N. Greenville Ave., Richardson
Elbowed in a prime spot in Richardson’s China Town, Royal Sichuan consistently delivers the vibrant heat associated with Sichuan cuisine. While not the hottest on this list, this dry-fried spicy chicken dish is a perfect starting point for those looking to get into the heat game. Made with Sichuan peppercorns and a fearsome amount of dried Chinese red peppers, Chonqing Chicken is crispy, succulent and deserving of the small red chili icon placed next to it on the menu.