Celebrating Hot & Spicy Food Day w/ Dishes in JC

Spicy food has become one of my favorite types of cuisine to enjoy as an adult. Whether it’s the numbing and tingling sensation of cayenne pepper, jalapeño pepper, or the more potent flavors found in kimchi, spicy peppers add a wealth of flavor to meat, soups, pasta and appetizers. For those that don’t know, spicy food also has added health benefits. Spicy food has been known to improve heart health, reduce inflammation, boost your metabolism, control your appetite, or boost the microbiome present in the gut. So during these cold winter months, grab a spicy dish to warm you up while the snow and cold persist outside! You’ll be glad you did! 


24-26 Erie Street, Jersey City, NJ 


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Tacoria is a Mexican inspired restaurant that is known for its bold, smoky, and mild sauces and flavors and an array of entrees from nachos to tacos, quesadillas, salads and burritos. The restaurant has a Chipotle like feel in the way the menu is broken down and in the simplistic layout of the dining room. The eating establishment is popular not just for their meat dishes but they also are a local Jersey City restaurant that carries vegan options as well. Their four sauces that can be added to any protein include: Spicy Habanero, Salsa verde, Smokey Rojas and chipotle aioli.To begin your meal, choose from tacos, nachos, quesadillas and more and then pick a protein. It’s here that you’ll find some spicy sauces that go perfectly well with the meat in the meal of your choosing. If you sample their Chorizo (spicy pork sausage) as a protein option in tacos or quesadillas, it’ll go paired with Salsa Verde, a spicy green Mexican sauce made with tomatillo and green chili peppers. If you want a chicken dish, try the Pollo Tinga, (shredded chicken in a sauce made with tomatoes) and spicy habanero sauce. Their guacamole and pico de gallo (made with chopped tomato, onion and Serrano peppers, salt, lime juice and cilantro) can also have a mild spice factor to them. Pair some of their vegan dishes with these two for a perfect combination and explosion of flavor! As an added bonus, all of their sauces are house made to ensure freshness!


810 Newark Avenue Jersey City NJ 

One of the greatest things about trying food from a country like India, is you’ll have a whole buffet of spicy dishes to choose from depending on the region you go to. If you’re looking for mild flavors that add a pizazz to your palate you’ll want to choose Rasoi, located in Journal Square. And that’s exactly what you’ll find here: an Indian restaurant with a lunch buffet to savor that boasts a great culinary experience! Like any restaurant you may want to sample the spice in the appetizers like in the bread snack, Masala Papad which is made with three types of spices: green chilies, red chili powder and chaat masala powder. For those that are vegetarian and would like to have a spicy vegetarian dish, you’ll want to dig into the Vegetable Kolhapuri or the Jeera Aloo. The Vegetable Kolhapuri is a curry that originates from Maharashtra, India in which the chef mixes vegetables in a thick spicy gravy. For a spicy protein dish, savor the Lamb Chili Masala, made with tomatoes and onions for a hearty dish. 


Little India 
30 Mall Dr W Jersey City, NJ (inside Newport Mall)

If you’re in town and want a quick bite to eat, want to savor Indian street food, but would also like to try some entrees as well then Little India is a great option for you to check out. While the food will not be extremely spicy (more mild in flavor), there’s plenty of different flavors to try like the sweet flora aroma of the masala spices found in biryani, a typical Indian dish. Indian food doesn’t have to be by default extremely spicy to be enjoyed by others, says one of the workers from Little India. The foods are charged with different spices and that’s what gives them their flavor. The spice level at Little India is customizable anyway so you can choose how much spice you’d like. For a quick bite, you’ll have the option of choosing from their mostly cold snacks called chaat, which is typically known to be Indian boiled vegetables or raw fruit with spices. Choose from the famous samosa, vada pav (a deep fried potato dumpling stuffed inside a bread bun), dahi puri (mini puri shells stuffed with boiled potato cubes, spicy red chili chutney and tamarind chutney), pav bhaji (thick vegetable curry in a soft bread roll) or chole bhature (fluffy deep fried indian bread served with chickpeas in a spicy masala sauce). Some of the soups also have a spicy taste to them including the Rasam (made with a tamarind juice base) and the Chicken Hot and Sour soup (made with a spicy combination of veggies, chicken and chinese sauces). For a hearty protein filled meal, you’ll want to try the Chicken Chetinnad, Chicken Vindaloo or Hyd Curry or Lamb Vindaloo, all made with spices that will please your palate! 


Szechuan Mirchi Indo Chinese Cuisine 
850 Newark Avenue, Jersey City NJ 


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Szechuan Mirchi Indo Chinese cuisine is a restaurant where you can find diverse flavors from different countries because it is an Asian fusion type of restaurant. The place has an extensive vegetarian menu with seafood dishes as well. So if you’re looking for yummy spicy vegetarian dishes, then this is a place to try that kind of food! Similar to Szechuan cooking or Thai food, you can find contrasting flavors like the sour of tamarind and citrus fruits and the sweetness of coconut milk in some dishes. If you like potatoes, try the Chili Potato with Scallion in a Singapore sauce. For a unique dish, try the Chili Paneer Entree (made with the paneer, cheese, garlic, and onion in a spicy soy sauce). The Gobi Manchurian Entree has similar ingredients in it (spicy ginger garlic soy sauce) and is made with crisp cauliflower tossed in a sweet sour and spicy sauce. If you like okra, then the Singapore Okra entree is right for you, made with spicy and tangy flavored okra. For a balanced dish, you’ll want to take a bite out of the Vegetable Balls in Hot Garlic Sauce, made with kofta balls (carrots, cauliflower, peas and potatoes) and marinated in spices. 


One Dee Siam Authentic Thai 
137 Newark Avenue, Jersey City NJ 


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One of the most convenient things about Asian food is that in some countries, any dish can be made spicy, as is the case with Thai cuisine. One Dee Siam is a traditional Thai restaurant which offers soups, entrees which include duck and salmon dishes, salads and pasta dishes for everyone’s individual taste. Their menu has a spice guide that ranges from non spicy to very hot. Some of their dishes are known more as beginner dishes such as the popular Pad Thai (a mild dish made with thin rice noodle, egg, bean sprout, bean curd, scallion and ground peanuts). Some of their other mild noodle dishes include Pad Siew (stir fried noodles) Kee Mao (also known as drunken noodle), Pad Woon Sen or Rad Na. Their different colored curries (red to green) are medium in heat and can be made with your choice of meat (pork, beef, shrimp, or squid) or vegetarian style. More impressively, their cuisine is made by combining such contrasting flavors as bell peppers, coconut milk, curry paste and Thai basil leaves. If you’re looking for something perfect for this time of year, you’d want to sample their soups (chicken, shrimp or tofu), like the Tom Yum which is a mild soup made with chicken broth, lemon grass, lime leaves, chili, lime juice, mushroom and cilantro. If you’re curious, you may want to try their spicy Papaya salad.       


Chef Tan 
558 Washington Blvd. Jersey City, NJ 


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If you’re looking for a more mild culinary experience, then you’ll want to head down to Chef Tan, a restaurant known for its different Chinese cooking styles: both Sichuan and Hunan styles. Sichuan cooking has been around for more than 1000 years, having originated in 220 BC, and primarily consists of braising, steaming, stir frying and baking methods. The most common peppers used in Sichuan cooking is the Sichuan peppercorn, which has a citrusy taste and is accompanied by a numbing and tingling sensation similar to that of cayenne pepper. With Hunan, you have chili peppers and sour ingredients being used for a unique taste. You will also get plenty of garlic, star anise and yes more peppercorns in the dish. To begin your spicy meal, pick an appetizer that has two peppers next to them. This includes one or more of the following: Dandan noodles (will also produce a numbing tingling sensation), Chongqing noodles, Wontons in Chili Oil (the flavor will be spicy, savory and sweet), or Scallion Pancakes. From there, choose a dish that is made with your preference of protein: fish, pork, shrimp, or for the brave ones, try frog! Some of the entrees to be sampled include: Sauteed Beef with Pickled Pepper, Spicy Cauliflower with Pork in Hunan Style, Fried Fillet Fish with Lychee Sauce, Spicy Crispy Short Ribs, Spicy and Sour Ribeye Pot in Pumpkin Spice. Whatever you opt for, there’s plenty to choose from at Chef Tan! 


Bricklane Curry House 
136 Newark Avenue Jersey City, NJ 


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Bricklane Curry House offers Indian curry from all parts of India but with a British touch. They specialize in curry and their spice level goes from mild to medium to hot. Both their appetizers and entrees have a British element to them making them unique compared to other local Indian restaurants. If you’re looking for mild curry, you may want to sample their Tikki Masala or their Moilee curry, a mild coconut based curry. For a medium spice, you may want to try their Saag (a curry made with spinach cooked with onions) or their Nilgiri (South Indian style mint curry with cilantro and coconut). They also have mild dishes like the Imlike Champe (a lamb dish made with tamarind) or their Awadhi Malai (another mild lamb dish that is made with cream cheese and is bursting with flavor). If you’re looking for spice that is more on the extremely spicy side, then you may want to check out Bricklane Curry House. The curry house is known for their spiciest dish, Phaal Curry, which features one of the spiciest peppers on earth- the Carolina Reaper. The dish is so spicy that it has become a spicy dish challenge since 2002. In addition to this, the chef has to wear a gas mask in order to even prepare the curry.  You have to sign a waiver in order to partake in the reddish brown bold and as some would describe it, “painfully” spicy curry dish and only about five percent of customers finish the entire dish. If you do finish it in thirty minutes though, the dish is on the house, for having survived and endured such a feat. You’d definitely have bragging rights. At the end of the experience, you get a certificate and are added to the Phaal Hall of Fame. 


So whether you’re looking to go out with friends to taste something spicy for the first time or you’re a spice connoisseur who is looking for their next daring adventure, there’s flavors for every palate and every spice level in Jersey City. So go out and explore today! 

Lina Estrada
Author: Lina Estrada