If you’re searching for Philly’s hottest dishes, look no further. No, this piece isn’t about Bradley Cooper, Kat Dennings or Will Smith. This is the best of the best when talking spicy, fiery, burn-your-mouth, hot-peppery fare. You’ve been warned!
264 S 16th St
Philadelphia, PA 19146
This popular Rittenhouse Square Belgian pub is dim and intimate, and when it gets busy, you may not be able to carry on a conversation with your dining partner. But that makes it all the better for tucking into its famous hot wings and infinite selection of beers! The Spanish Flies chicken wings are whole wings, and they come fiery (the menu calls them “incendiary”), smoky, sweet and definitely NOT buffalo-style. They are served with Monk’s award-winning authentic Belgian Pommes Frites (fries) and the renowned bourbon mayonnaise dipping sauce ($8.50). You will need to sate your thirst, so it’s a good thing that Monk’s has a “Beer Bible” with over 200 bottled beers (mostly Belgian) such as Allagash Black and Lindemans Framboise, and over 20 on tap (like Tripel Karmeliet and Delirium Tremens).
Sichuan Dry Pot
108 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
If you ask a Philadelphian where to find the hottest food in the city, nine times out of ten you will be directed to Han Dynasty in Old City. Even when it’s busy (which is most times), owner/chef Han Chiang may pop over to your table with a funny story, food suggestion…or some “Soup Nazi”-style abuse. Try not to get too upset. The menu helpfully provides the spice level of each dish (on a scale of 1-10). Heat lovers suggest ordering anything Dry Pot Style. You can get fish ($17.95), pork ($15.95), beef ($17.95), lamb ($17.95), rabbit ($17.95), chicken ($15.95) or shrimp ($18.95) cooked in a spicy hot pot sauce with black mushrooms, bamboo shoots, snow peas, bell peppers and Sichuan peppercorns, served in a sizzling mini wok.
Scorching Steak Sandwich
Jake’s Sandwich Board
122 S 12th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Jake’s Sandwich Board is where Philly folks go when they’re bored with cheesesteaks, because nothing on this menu is same-old, same-old. You can get a Pig Sandwich, which is Jake’s own slow-roasted pulled pork, or a Charlie Brown, a bacon and cheddar cheesesteak with optional chunky peanut butter. Catering to the poor gluten-free eaters, all of the sandwiches can be ordered (without bread) on a salad, on a stack of fries or naked (in a bowl). Heat seekers love the Fire Steak, made with its homemade fire sauce, fried onions, mushrooms and provolone, and topped with a deep-fried long hot pepper and optional Ghost Pepper sauce for $8. Ghost peppers, also known as Bhut Jolokia or Naga Jolokia, are hybrid peppers grown in India that are over 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce. Lucky for you, Jake’s also serves micro-brewed sodas (try the cherry or birch beer) and heavenly milkshakes to help put out the fire.
806 S 6th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Golosa is a sweet little chocolate bar and dessert lounge in Bella Vista. Chef/owner Fabio Scarpelli, who hails from Florence, serves up decadent chocolate with style–and sexiness. Gorgeous sweets by master chocolatiers are displayed, gem-like, in glass cases; try the kick of the Habanero Chili Pepper Truffle or the Bittersweet Aztec Chile Tile, made with cinnamon, chile and toasted pumpkin seeds. There are many varieties of hot and cold drinking chocolate, which is not the same thing as chocolate milk. In fact, most have little, if any, dairy at all–we’re talking pure cacao here. The Peperoncino is melted 56% chocolate with red chili pepper; Pepe Misto is a lively blend of melted 56% chocolate with ground pink, black, green and white peppercorns; and Salata Speziata is melted 70% chocolate with vanilla, spices, salt and “a touch of heat.” There are also cold chocolate shakes, made with dense chocolate and various spices and peppers. If you bring your own booze (like rum or bourbon), Scarpelli will mix up a divine concoction for you. These are no McFlurries, folks, these shakes are for grown ups. Oh, and this is a cash-only establishment.
Related: Top Chocolate Shops in Philadelphia
2005 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Hip and intimate, with good music and attentive but not invasive servers, the Rum Bar is a great date spot. If your date happens to be a fan of spiciness, all the better. Rum Bar’s Chili Coriander Mojito muddles chili-infused rum with fresh cilantro and lime for a kicky libation ($13). Enjoy the drink with a starter like the Cuban Style Calamari, served with fried jalapeños and arugula and topped with a spicy raspberry coulis and balsamic reduction ($10), or Cubano Egg Rolls (packed full with meat, Swiss cheese, pickles and a mustard aioli dipping sauce) for $9. Rum Bar’s happy hours (5 p.m. – 7 p.m. every day) are some of the best deals in town: 1/2 price drafts, $3 well drinks and $1 off wines, and on Mondays, you can get your mojito for half-price. Now that’s hot!
Trish Deitemyer is a freelance writer living in Philly. She covers Food & Drink and has been writing since 1986. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.