Some Like It Hot: The Spiciest Foods in New York City

Attempting to actually ingest the spiciest dishes in New York City is like drinking a bottle of Everclear, the famously potent 190-proof grain alcohol. And expect not to have a raging hangover in the morning. New York City has over 20,000 restaurants and some of these eateries harbor dishes that are face-meltingly hot. And so if you’re up for all that, here are the spiciest foods in New York City that will melt-your-insides, in a food way, of course.   

spicy food sprinkled with chopped leaves
These crazy-spicy dishes come from every part of the world and can all be found in the heart of New York. Photo credit: Momo King

Hot Pot Beef Noodle Soup at Hao Noodle 

Hao Noodle, or the mouthful that it’s officially called Hao Noodle and Tea by Madam Zhu’s Kitchen, is located in the West Village and is set in a spacious, high-ceilinged dining room. The menu offers various dumplings, rice dishes, and noodle soups. 

But it’s the hot pot beef noodle soup that one should be aware of. The bowl is filled with tender deboned beef ribs, cabbage, and thin flat noodles. Sounds innocent enough, right? But it’s the atomic málà beef bone broth that gives the diner a swift kick on the palate. The soup is excellent and if you like sweating right into your bowl, you’ll love this one. Just ask for extra napkins to keep wiping your brow while slurping up the soup. 

Related Reading: Check out our picks for the best dumplings in NYC!

spicy noodle beef soup in New York
Madam Zhu, the woman behind this spicy beef noodle soup, has been serving it in her restaurant in China since 2008. Photo credit: PxHere

Phaal at Brick Lane Curry House

Brick Lane Curry House is in the East Village around the corner from East Sixth Street, historic home to a long row of Indian restaurants where New Yorkers would joke that they all use the identical underground kitchens. 

You can’t make that claim at Brick Lane Curry House, however. That’s because they have phaal on the menu, a curry-and-chili-laden beast that is so dangerously spicy, they actually make you state a verbal disclaimer that you’re not going to sue the restaurant because of physical or emotional damage from the dish. If you finish it all, they reward you with a free beer or a yogurt-based lassi. If you’re human, you’ll need it.  It seems little reward for the fact that you just slid an edible Satan down your throat and you may well be possessed. 

If you finish it, they also take your photo and put it in the restaurant’s (p)haal of fame—put that on your resume and make your parents proud. If you’ve ever wondered what regret tastes like, try the phaal at Brick Lane Curry House. 

Chicken/pork/beef Curry at Sigiri

Pretty much everything is dragon’s-fire-hot at Sigiri, a Sri Lankan restaurant in the East Village. The black pork curry, for example, is legendary for taking down a few dining daredevils. But it’s the curry listed under the menu in the category “Deviled Specialties” that may be the spiciest thing on the menu (and the hottest dish in New York City). Choose your meat, either pork, chicken, or beef, and then get prepared for a self-inflicted burn injury in your mouth. They’ll ask for your desired spice level, but still, it’s the non-trivial amount of capsicum chili peppers in this edible napalm dish that will fulfill your spicy desires. 

spicy curry in tin plate
Sigiri also has plenty of spicy vegan-friendly and gluten-free options. Photo credit: Prabal Pratap Singh

Slow-cooked Pork Ribs at Noods ‘n’ Chill

It’s a perplexing name but Noods ‘n’ Chill is a serious spice-head’s HQ for excellent Thai food in Williamsburg. Like most Thai spots, they’ll ask for your desired level of spiciness, from mild to “Thai spicy” and everything in between. The rub is that even saying “medium” here will singe your taste buds. This is one of those places where almost everything that comes out of the kitchen is fiery hot. Especially if you’re nuts and request “spicy” or “Thai spicy”. But the slow-cooked pork ribs in a noodle soup is sure to clear out a burgeoning cold or make your stomach swollen for the rest of the day. 

Kookmul Topokki at Yupdduk

Yupdduk is a great Korean restaurant that only specializes in the street snack topokki.  It used to have an outpost in Koreatown in Manhattan but it closed. So now risk-taking epicureans have to venture to the Murray Hill section of Flushing, Queens where there’s a huge Koreantown and an outpost of Yupdduk. 

The kookmul topokki is made of rice cakes, cabbage, and fish cakes. It’s also slathered in a garlicky melt-your-innards red chili sauce that might make you feel like you’ve met your match. If the spicest foods in New York is what your heard desires, Kookmul Topokki at Yupdduk is a must.

topokki korean street food
Yupdduk serves their delicious (and hot) Korean street food 7 days a week.

Kua Kling at Ugly Baby

Located in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, Ugly Baby is named for the Thai belief that malignant spirits will avoid harming unattractive infants. Or perhaps it’s because the northern Thai fare here is so spicy, it will alter your DNA and you may end up producing a very ugly baby. Whatever the case, they don’t always ask diners their preferred heat level here. They just unforgivingly drop “Thai spicy”-level dishes on your table and walk away. Leaving some diners unaware they’re about to have a life-changing eating experience—and maybe not a particularly pleasant one. You eat it, sweat, blow your nose, fan your mouth, pound glasses of ice water, hope for the best, and maybe later that night, question your life choices. 

Kua kling is one of those dishes. It’s a beef curry that’s stir-fried long enough that it is dry when finished and is laced with ample amounts of burn-victim-level chilis. The restaurant should have a BYOM—bring your own milk—policy for trying to put out the fire in your mouth. 

Fried Chicken at Peaches Hothouse

Peaches Hothouse, located in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood, specializes in Nashville-style hot fried chicken. And if you order it “extra spicy,” one winged devil is going to appear on a plate in front of you. And you’re going to enjoy the crunchy texture of the skin and the moist, juicy meat. But when the message from your tongue is delivered to your brain, you might feel like there’s suddenly molten lava spewing from all of your orifices. This is hot chicken, Southern style, and is loaded with infamous ghost peppers. Enjoy! 

fried chicken with chili
You can find Peaches Hothouse in four locations across NYC. Photo credit: Ke Vin

Braised Beef at Birds of a Feather

On the menu at Birds of a Feather, a Chinese restaurant in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, there are a handful of items with the red flag indicator of three chili peppers. One of those is the braised beef, a fiery hot stew that may have beef in it, as the name suggests, but the atomic chilis and peppercorns will spread across your taste buds the way that lava marches down the side of a volcano.