Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica In Costa Rica, habaneros grow abundantly all year long and add a fiery element to the country’s cuisine. The habanero’s intense heat is legendary; it ranks sky high on the Scoville scale, but it is the subtle citrus flavors and floral aroma that make this chili pepper a key ingredients in hot sauces, salsas and spicy dishes.
Jitlada's Thai Plaa Pear — Photo courtesy of TheDeliciousLife Chef Tui Sungkamee serves up the spiciest dishes in Los Angeles's Thai Town district. Jitlada offers familiar favorites as well as rare southern Thai specialties bursting with bold flavors and serious spice. Thrill your taste buds with the deliciously complex Crying Tiger beef dish, featured on Food Network's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Hot and Spicy Edition." An added bonus? These phenomenal fiery flavors come at amazingly affordable prices.
Chile, a local wine and a roaring fire make the perfect New Mexico meal. — Photo courtesy of Steve Larese In New Mexico, chile keeps winter's chill at bay. Green chile stew is a chile/vegetable broth with chunks of pork, potato and plenty of green chile. Posole is a thicker stew, using a red chile base, hominy and pork or ground beef. Chile dishes can be found year-round, but during the holidays many New Mexicans order their meal "Christmas," meaning with half green and half red chile. There are plenty of places to get good New Mexican meals, but if you find yourself strolling Albuquerque's Old Town, stop into La Placita Dining Room on the Plaza to warm up inside and out with a steaming bowl of green chile stew and some hot chocolate.
Pawley's Island SC for spicy pimento cheese — Photo courtesy of palmetto cheese Even traditional southern favorites can have a spicy twist. Case in point: Palmetto Cheese, a surprisingly heat-packed pimento cheese from Pawley's Island, South Carolina. Restaurants across this state offer pimento cheese on everything from crackers to burgers, but there's rarely a refrigerator that doesn't have this Carolina staple in it. Palmetto Cheese lets you get your heat on: look for it in grocery stores and markets when you visit.