Flu season's start this year coincided with the onset of spring allergies, which means a larger-than-usual number of eaters suffering from stuffy heads, congested noses and clogged ear canals are flocking to local restaurants for system-clearing red chile riffs. Here, the Weekly's picks for the restaurants most likely to serve up a satisfying (at least by Seattle's notoriously mild standards) amount of spice. Finalists are in no particular order, but click on through to reach our winner.
10. Spice Room
This Columbia City mainstay proves fancy and spicy aren't incompatible: Fans of the upscale restaurant praise the tom yum soup and green peppercorn catfish.
Spice seekers know a Sichuanese restaurant is typically a good bet, and Seven Stars - even in the post-Cheng Biao Yang era - upholds the genre's reputation. Even tame vegetables such as potatoes and cucumber are doused in chili oil.
The quality of smoked meat is of secondary importance to many Pecos Pit patrons, who come solely for the pepper-driven sauce that makes the popular SoDo joint's sandwiches so gloriously sloppy.
Chile is the eponymous spice at this Bellevue restaurant, where hotheads find gratification in thinly-sliced gizzards whomped with chiles and a chili-strong dry-pot lamb that makes mortals sweat.
6. Tup Tim Thai
Every Thai restaurant offers its customers a star scale for heat customization, but acolytes of this neighborhood favorite say it actually honors requests. Don't ask for three stars unless you're also ordering a cooling Thai coffee.
This Laotian restaurant isn't shy about spice, which is a critical component of many of the restaurant's most successful dishes, including nam khao, a classic crispy rice salad.
Debates about a wing's crispness and balanced seasonings fade in the face of Wingdome's seven-alarm sauce, which is so spicy that competitors in the chain's "7 Deadly Wing" challenge are required to sign a waiver acknowledging the near-certainty of "explosive bodily functions and overall unpleasantness."
For spice hounds disappointed by the heat level of the housemade curries at this recent arrival to South Lake Union, there's also housemade pepper sauce that's guaranteed to elevate any dish.
The organizing principle of this homespun International District restaurant is apparent from the menu, which features Hot Spicy Beef, Hot Spicy Prawns, Hot Spicy Chinese Pastry and Hot Spicy Pork Miscellany.
The Eastside's leading Sichuanese restaurant, Spicy Talk Bistro draws Seattle diners with dishes that are as pleasing to the palate as the sinuses. The dan dan hand-shaved noodles and wild chili lamb are standouts.
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