Some like it hot. And in Miami, we're bringin' the heat for real. When we're not quoting Marilyn Monroe movie titles and Will Smith lyrics, we're stuffing our faces with a rainbow of hot peppers thrown into every cuisine imaginable.
Plus, our beloved basketball team is named the Heat, so every restaurant tries to make the best Heat burger or sushi roll. Here are ten must-try dishes for when you have a lot of water and beer on hand. So spice up your life!
10. Lanbi Pike Nan Ji Sitwon at Tap Tap
We will ease you into this list, with a dish that looks deceivingly tame. A salad never conjures up images of mouths on fire, but the conch ceviche version ($10) at this Haitian hot spot packs a punch. The boldly diced peppers will come through in every bite and you will be grasping for each leaf of lettuce to provide a refreshing cut in the heat. If you want to be tougher ask for more scotch bonnet pepper and lime sauce.
9. White Hot Heat Roll at Suviche
The heat may no longer be on a roll (what, too soon?), but you can still get them in a sushi roll. SuViche blends sushi and ceviche into one hot Miami concept. Although, if spicy tuna and wasabi already get your eyes watering, you may not want to read on. This white hot heat roll ($12.50) has spicy tuna, tempura flakes, and cream cheese. It's topped with extra tuna, SuViche sauce, and sriracha. Sure, Philly brought cream cheese to the Philadelphia rolls long ago, but Miami brings so much heat we use that cream cheese like a glass of milk to kill the heat.
8. Bowl with homemade sriracha at Sriracha House
Does sriracha refer to A. a region, B. a brand or C. a kind of hot sauce? It's D, all of the above. And this newcomer to the Miami heat game makes their own version of this chili garlic sauce. It may not be as hot as the bottle with the famed hot cock and green tip you have come to love, but it's a worthy competitor. Get your bowl (starts at $5.50) of vegetables, brown or white rice, or rice, egg, udon and whole wheat noodles with their signature Sriracha House spicy hot chili sauce and then squirt a bit of the classic bottle for extra spiciness.
7. Fever at Haven Gastro-Lounge
Chef Todd Erickson knows hot -- here's a recipe and photo proof -- he makes all of the hot sauces at neighboring Huahua's, so it should come as no surprise that the drinks at Haven match the level of spice. The Fever ($15, $7 during Happy Hour) cocktail has remained since the beginning and for good reason. The mixture of Grey Goose pear vodka, lychee, lime, and jalapeño "shaken, not stirred" and topped with some prosecco leads to a sip where the heat gradually creeps up on you, like the booze itself, warming your insides.
6. Taco Loco with Stupid Sauce at T-Mex Tacos
At T-Mex there is a range in heat from hot to serious to stupid. When you want to crazy and stupid get the loco taco ($4.25) which takes a regular crispy taco of your choice and wraps it in a soft tortilla with refried beans. Think of it as a straight jacket or padded wall. The sauce is shaved habanero peppers so beware -- we want you to be smart when going stupid.
5. Ceviche Anconero at CVI.CHE 105
Once again something cool and refreshing doesn't seem too hot, but looks and temperature are deceiving. The spiciest dish at this popular downtown ceviche house is the Ceviche Anconero ($13.95). It uses fresh corvina fish, lime, garlic, Peruvian aji limo chili peppers, cilantro, rocoto pepper and red onion. Don't believe us, here's the recipe to try the heat at home.
4. Gong Bao Rabbit at Blackbrick
There are many dishes at Blackbrick that make the heat cut (although, a chili-laden stir-fried tripe dish is off the menu, thanks Miami). You have the tongue numbing ma pao tufu and plenty of other wok fried heat but we like the gong bao rabbit. Silly rabbits are for kids, spicy rabbit is for adults. This dish ($17) with roasted fresh chili peanuts, red and green peppers, onion, jalapeño slices, and Sichuan pepper thrown in takes this mild delicious meat to a whole other level.
3. Pad Kee Mow at Ricky's Thai Bistro
This flat, wide rice noodle dish is sometimes referred to as drunken noodles ($12) and like Beyonce we are "Drunk in love" with this dish. They are delicately topped with basil, bell pepper, green beans, carrots, broccoli, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, cilantro, and scallions. However, if you ask for it hot, expect it to be peppered with copious amounts of thai chiles and red pepper flakes. Those fresh noodles that they get delivered weekly are no longer so soft and innocent. Of course, you can ask for any of the curries to be made hot, but we prefer the bad (or good) news heat to come from an unexpected messenger.
2. Heat Burger at Lokal Burgers & Beer
Heat on the inside, heat on the buns. If you want to feel "white hot" inside your Heat jersey, head to Lokal Burgers for its Miami Heat burger ($12). Between the Lokal-stamped buns is spicy mayo, jack cheese, hot grilled onion, sliced jalapeños, lettuce, tomato, and sriracha sauce. If you don't feel the burn, you're doing it wrong.
1. Lamb Vindaloo at Bombay Darbar Indian Cuisine
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If vindaloo is on the menu, you can almost guarantee it is one of the hottest dishes available. At Bombay Darbar, the lamb version of this dish ($16.95) meets the requirement. If you want to breathe like a dragon and have your threshold boil over like a volcano with molten lava, order this dish. Since vindaloo has the meat marinated in vinegar, the heat has some tang and the spice is hit with some sweet-sour.
We hope this list leaves you feeling all hot and bothered, but please never tell us how our selections leave you. We are permanently scarred from hearing the term: firerrhea.
Follow Carina on Twitter @CarinaOst