They may only last a few short weeks, but winters in Texas can be pretty freakin harsh. And on those particularly frosty days, nothing beats a hot meal with a whole lotta spice to start a fire in your belly. So for all the chili chasers and pepper partakers, here are five seriously spicy dishes around Austin to keep you warm this winter.
Located in the trendy South First district, Sway serves up modern Thai-fusion fare with a Texas twist. This cool curry café blends traditional Thai flavors and spices with fresh ingredients and recipes to create a sumptuous smorgasbord of fusion dishes ranging from vegan to gluten free. Sway has several spicy options for the particular pepper bellies like spicy Tom Yum, Pad Ki with hungalay curry and Kai Yaang with chili nahm jim. But the best option on a freezing cold day has to be their famously hot Jungle Curry with Texas Waygu beef, red chili, peppercorn and coconut cream. It’s the perfect cold-weather combination of creamy, hearty and zesty.
Photo courtesy of Yelp.com
Pollo con Mole Rojo at El Chile Café y Cantina
Born from the flavors of Bolivia, Oaxaca and hometown Texas, El Chile Café y Cantina is a marvelous mix of Latin American and modern American flavors. Their colorful menu is a mouth-watering mélange of unique tastes, original recipes and some supremely spicy dishes. For the brave-hearted, you can try their famous Oaxacan red mole, which won first place in the Austin Chronicle’s Hot Sauce Contest and can be found in several of their platters like the succulent pork enchiladas. If you’re kind of a wuss when it comes to peppers, you can always warm up with a hot bowl of their popular Alma’s Tortilla Soup, which has just enough of a kick to satisfy your craving. But if you’re looking for a heat that will last you all day, try their specialty platter: Pollo con Mole Rojo, with seared chicken breast smothered in their award-winning Oaxacan red mole.
Photo Couresty of Yelp.com
Spicy Chicken at Koriente
An all-natural Asian fusion concept created by one seriously health-conscious matron, Koriente is a home-made homage to Korean cuisine that is completely satisfying yet totally guilt free! Order just about anything on the menu and it’s guaranteed to be packed with full flavors, nourishing nutrients and exotic spices from around the world. Koriente prides itself on creating low-cal, no-MSG, all natural snacks that satisfy your palate without adding to your waist-line. This diet-friendly café caters to all preferences, whether it be gluten free, vegan or vegetarian. Some of their spicier dishes include the Koriente Curry, which is a vegetarian, slightly milder version of traditional curry and Mixmix Bibimbap (try saying that five times fast) with red chili paste. But the hottest dish on the menu has to be the Spicy Chicken marinated with a blend of savory spices. Served with steamed rice and veggies, this meal will get you through those icy winter days.
Sopa de Tres Chiles at Manuel’s
A Mexican food staple in south Austin for over thirty years, Manuel’s is famous for their traditional Tex Mex fare served with Austin pride. This popular restaurant and cantina was one of the first of its kind to introduce regional Mexican cuisine to downtown Austin, and they have been cooking with passion and exceeding our expectations ever since. Tex Mex joints may be a dime a dozen in Austin, but Manuel’s has the edge on local ingredients, gourmet flavors and authentic tradition that goes way back. And since Austinites are among the world’s pickiest eaters (face it, we’re kind of food snobs) they also accommodate specialty diets like gluten free, dairy free and vegetarian. Menu offerings range from botanas and brunches to dinners and desserts, with spicy entrees like their award-winning Manuel’s Famous Mole, which is expertly spiced and slow-cooked for a whopping 5 hours! But for a hot bowl of spiced perfection that will warm you from head to toe, try their Sopa de Tres Chiles with spicy chicken and chile caldo. It’ll make you want to curl up by a fire and take a nice winter nap.
Pad Ped at Mai Thai
Located in the heart of downtown Austin, Mai Thai brings all the best tastes, traditions and culture of Thailand to Texas with their authentic Thai cuisine made with pride. This original Asian fusion concept serves a wide array of traditional Thai dishes ranging from seafood and stir-fry to curries and pad thai. The tiny chili peppers on the menu indicate the level of fieriness of each dish, so it’s easy to ‘pick your poison’. Play it safe with a totally benign bowl of Wonton Soup with stuffed ground shrimp and chicken, or kick it up a notch with a spicy bowl of Kao Soi noodles, which has a flavorful blend of coconut milk, curry sauce and chili oil. But if you’re looking for that eye-watering, taste-bud singeing mouth-burn that walks the fine line between delectable and unbearable, try their Pad Ped stir fry dish with young black peppers, chili and special curry sauce. (Warning: this dish is for the seriously seasoned pepper bellies!)