How much spice a person can take while dining is very personal. Some fans like a red hot 10 all the way no matter what they eat. Luckily in Orange County, there are plenty of cuisines represented to satisfy spicy palettes. From Cajun, Creole and Mexican dishes to Vietnamese and Indian entrees, Orange County is fortunate to have its fair share of restaurants with chefs who like to turn up the heat by cooking with cayenne, paprika, curry, cumin, chili pepper, garlic, coriander seeds and Garam Marsala. This top five list gives you an excellent sampling of the best spicy restaurants in the county.
12941 Main St.
Garden Grove, CA 92840
The Wharf menu focuses on seafood and delivers on heat as dishes are Cajun-Vietnamese fusion. The unique cuisine satisfies foodies with a spicy palette. The Wharf’s signature wild crab Cajun seafood boil, which naturally comes with a sweeter seafood base, gets strained and repurposed for the hot pot soup base. This Hot Pot is not for the mild-tongued. The restaurant keeps the heat coming with its sizzling clams, which start raw and are then cooked upon a hot cast iron plate with green onion oil, fried garlic and shallots and hot chili. Edamame gets a spicy makeover at The Wharf — be sure to start your order with the Cajun edamame, which are tossed in a housemade Cajun seasoning to add some kick.
2555 E. Chapman Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92831
Dog Haus is SoCal’s celebrated hot dog, handcrafted sausage and burger eatery. When you have spicy on the mind, the best orders at Dog Haus are SOOO CALI, an all-beef skinless dog (veggie is available) served with spicy basil aioli, crispy onions and avocado, Another Night in Bangkok, which is a spicy Thai currywurst covered in Thai peanut sauce, the Haus slaw and crushed peanuts on a grilled Hawaiian roll and The Fonz, a spicy Italian hand crafted sausage with pastrami and melted mozzarella. If you can get to Dog Haus before the end of August, consider the Naughty Dog, a spicy Polish kielbasa with zippy beer-braised onions and horseradish mayo. Known for its tasty spicy dogs, Dog Haus also offers options for the more mild mannered palette.
Urbana Mexican Gastronomy & Bar
440 S. Anaheim Blvd.
Anaheim, CA 92805
Urbana is all about transporting the authentic tastes of Mexico to a unique dining experience at Anaheim Packing District. The core of the Urbana menu is Mexican street food created with fresh seafood. Traditionally Mexican heat consists of oregano, cumin, jalapeno and chili powder. Urbana dips into these and many more when preparing its spicy dishes. So, what’s going to knock your socks off at Urbana? The Chef’s Oysters (butter shrimp, garlic, spiced sauce and cilantro), the spicy aioli ahi tuna ceviche with radish and green onion, camaron borracho (shrimp soaked in a housemade spiced chili butter sauce), and a number of craft cocktails including El Diablo (tequila, ginger, lime and cassis) and the Jorge Negrete (one of the most famous Mexican singers and actors from the 1930s to early 1950s) made with mezcal, cynar, and gran classico.
Ritter’s Steam Kettle Cooking
180 5th St.
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
At Ritter’s Steam Kettle Cooking, spicy-hearted folks will get all of the deep spices and seasonings in a Creole meal. To start, the restaurant’s Cajun calamari or Cajun fries are each prepared with Chef Ritter’s house made seasoning, and a perfect share at the table. Ritter’s is known for cooking entrees tableside in jacketed steam kettles, a popular method of Southern cooking. Kettle steamed dishes are cooked evenly and the best part is that patrons can determine the level of spiciness they prefer – just choose on a one to 10 scale and Ritter’s will do everything else to make it just right. Customers rave about Ritter’s homemade etouffee; some say it’s “heartburn served in a bowl.” And for sharing, Ritter’s ‘famous” pan roast is flared with special spices, green peppers, onions, and served in a tomato cream sauce, seafood, chicken or andouille sausage and jasmine rice.
Rasoi Curry Point Restaurant
678 El Camino Real
Tustin, CA 92780
Rasoi Curry Point cooks to order traditional Indian cuisine from the Northern and Southern parts of the country. There are some amazing Indian dishes packed full of flavor and aroma, which Rasoi Curry Point presents beautifully. From curries to chilies, the Rasoi kitchen uses all of these natural spices and more to heat favorite dishes. The restaurant’s menu points out spicy dishes using a small red chili pepper so it is easy for patrons to select appropriately. You’ll find fiery chicken or lamb vindaloo, an incredibly spicy Andhra chicken, vegetable manchuria dumplings cooked in a red chili sauce, and all of the Sino-Indian dishes are red hot in preparation. These dishes go well with homemade light naan, which will often sedate the tongue.
Related: ADYA Brings Indian Street Food To OC