Food & Drink

The Search for Denver's Spiciest Dishes

Published On 02/22/2016 Published On 02/22/2016
spicy Asian dish with sesame seeds, noodles and broccoli at YumYumSpice
YumYumSpice | Ruth Tobias/Thrillist
Los Parceros | Ruth Tobias/Thrillist
Caribbean Bakery | Ruth Tobias/Thrillist
China Jade | Ruth Tobias/Thrillist
Axum | Ruth Tobias/Thrillist
Seoul Korean | Ruth Tobias/Thrillist
Yong Gung | Ruth Tobias/Thrillist
Paradise Biryani | Ruth Tobias/Thrillist
US THAI | Ruth Tobias/Thrillist
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1. Los Parceros Restaurante 5922 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80220

Knick knacks and trinkets adorn the bright yellow walls of this traditional Colombian hole in the wall on East Colfax. A pint sized spot made up of only four booths, Los Parceros Restaurante offers authentic fare in a friendly atmosphere. If you want to escape the dreary Denver winter and step into the sunshine of Bogota for a meal, this is the place.

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2. El Valle 2925 W 38th Ave, Denver, CO 80211

El Valle's a Mexican eatery in Sunnyside that serves up fresh, traditional fare on the cheap. Check out their lunch specials: a combo meal with your choice of any two items (choose from tacos, burritos, chimichangas, nachos, fajitas, and more) will only run you $7 a pop, and you get free tortilla chips included. How's that for a happy meal?

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3. Torres Mexican Food 1595 S Federal Blvd, Denver, CO 80219

This quaint Mexican joint operates out of a ranch style home in Denver's Southwest neighborhood. Torres offers 'meat 'n potatoes' Mexican grub: you know, basically tacos, carnitas, mole, taquitos....all the basic dishes you know and love. Denver proud, this spot puts green chiles on most dishes.

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4. Jamaican Grill 708 W. 8th Ave, Denver, CO 80204

This colorful little cafe-slash-Bob Marley shrine has some of Denver's best fried chicken. The friendly owners call their concoction "Jamaican barbie fried chicken," presumably alluding to the island’s style of barbecue rather than the Urban Dictionary definition of "Jamaican barbie," and certainly the copious topping will remind you of barbecue sauce: sweetish and slightly spicy. As for the breading beneath, it doesn’t get soggy because it’s thin as lacquer, glossy and crackling over tender meat that slips off the bone with satisfying ease.

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5. Caribbean Bakery 2934 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80206

Get your jerk chicken fix at this low-key neighborhood spot off East Colfax. Serving up plantains, rice & beans, and roti all day long, Caribbean Bakery and Catering's a solid spot when you want a diversion from your typical lunch fare.

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6. China Jade 12101 E Iliff Ave, Aurora, CO 80014

This strip mall spot's no frills exterior belies its truly tasty and authentic Sichuan food offerings. Do yourself a favor and order off the authentic Sichuan menu and leave your expectations for Americanized Chinese grub at the door; here, dishes are hot, spicy, and flavorful, not bland or boring.

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7. New Peach Garden 1111 Washington Ave, Golden, CO 80401

This authentic, family-style spot in Golden serves up tasty Chinese fare on the cheap. Always fresh and flavorful, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the level of spice and savoryness in these dishes. We love the Chinese hamburgers (Rou Jia Mo), which are basically delicious seasoned ground beef patties between two scallion pancakes: yum.

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8. Yum Yum Spice 2039 S University Blvd, Denver, CO 80210

Don't let the strip mall digs fool you: Yum Yum Spice's the real deal. Authentic Sichuan fare like hot pot, drunken noodles, and skewers rule the menu here, and like this venue's name suggests, everything is not only yummy, but also quite spicy.

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9. AfrikMall 10180 E Colfax Ave, Aurora, CO

AfrikMall is an African community retreat, educational center, and cultural hub in Aurora. The spot hosts regular events and workshops and is the home of local shops and cafes benefitting the African community in Denver.

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10. African Grill & Bar 18601 Green Valley Ranch Blvd #100, Denver, CO 80249

This traditional African restaurant offers up delicious native food from Ghana. Be sure to try the fried chicken; cooked in soybean oil, it boasts a light, almost flaky exterior to contrast the luscious dark meat within -- the fact that it comes on the same plate with such fantastic stuff as black-eyed pea loaf and vegetable-fried rice makes you look good just for being smart enough to order it. Especially if you ask for a side of the smoky, cough-inducingly spicy condiment called shito, too.

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11. Axum 5501 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80220

Axum's an Ethiopian spot in Park Hill that serves up authentic fare in a homey, friendly setting. Offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner, come here for spicy vegetarian dishes like kategna, injera, fata, and foul.

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12. Dae Gee 827 Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO 80206

This Korean BBQ joint rocks just as hard as its Westminster sibling (harder, in fact, because it’s got a full bar). Marinated meat’s only half the story anyway — the rest is a sizzling, bubbling, thrilling saga starring textbook zucchini pancakes, bibimbap, sinus-clearing stews, and the best dubu kimchi in town, bar none.

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13. Funny Plus 2779 S Parker Rd, Aurora, CO 80014

Funny Plus means serious business poultry-wise. Stick with the plain chicken, so you can add chili sauce as you go. Oh, and order the "rice cake simmered in chili sauce," too.

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14. Seoul Korean BBQ & Sushi 2080 S Havana St, Aurora, CO 80014

Seoul Korean BBQ and Sushi's a totally tasty spot with locations in Aurora and Northglenn. This outpost in Aurora features their famous banchan service, where BBQ diners receive complimentary small plates before the meal that illustrate the Korean dining experience. After banchan, pick any meat of your choosing and grill away!

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15. Yong Gung Dragon Place 2040 S Havana St, Aurora, CO 80014

Yong Gung's a small, darkly lit Korean place in Aurora that serves plates upon plates of authentic Seoul fare. A solid choice for dinner, stop by and order one of their combo meals: you get pan fried noodles, spicy soup, and deep fried pork, pork cutlet, or a selection of appetizers for less than $20.

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16. Paradise Biryani Pointe Denver 9678 E Arapahoe Rd, Englewood, CO 80112

Paradise Biryani Pointe's a great Indian spot in Englewood offering plenty of affordable lunch and dinner specials. For lunch, you can get an appetizer, naan, biryani, curry, and a dessert for a cool $10. The super extensive menu features a wide variety of apps, vegetarian friendly entrees, rice dishes, meats and seafood.

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17. India Tavern 5062 S Syracuse St, Denver, CO 80237

This low-key, relaxed resto in Denver serves savory and authentic Indian fare. Affordable and fresh, stop by for India Tavern's lunch buffet and go all you can eat on a wide selection of entrees and appetizers for only $8.95. Dinner service is more formal; the warm and friendly service here will make you feel right at home.

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18. US Thai Cafe 5228 W 25th Ave, Edgewater, CO 80214

This chill Thai spot in Edgewater features all the basic dishes you know and love (tom ka, pad thai, panang curry, and more) and serves 'em up authentic Thai style, which is to say, hot and spicy. These bright and colorful dishes won't disappoint Thai food aficionados. Locals say that eating here is like taking a mini trip to Thailand.