Restaurants have many different palates to appeal to. In the Washington, D.C. area there are a number of chefs seeking out diners willing to walk on the more spicy side of life. Here are five such restaurants.
Peter Chang
2503-E North Harrison St.
Arlington, VA 22207
(703) 538-6688

Former personal chef to the Chinese ambassador Peter Chang is known for his bold and spicy Szechuan cuisine. Among his many signature dishes are the Duck In Stone Pot, made with savory slices of duck stewed with mixed vegetables, tofu skin and leeks in Ma La (“hot & numbing”) sauce, and the Beef in Sichuan Chili, made with sliced, pre-marinated beef sautéed with diced onions and Szechuan chili sauce and finished with cilantro and sesame. In addition to his Arlington location, chef Chang has restaurants throughout Virginia and suburban Maryland.

Little Serow
1511 17th St., N.W.
Washington, DC 20036

Hidden away in the basement of a nondescript building on 17th Street in Washington, D.C.’s Dupont Circle neighborhood is where you will find Little Serow. While the restaurant’s location and decor are understated, its cuisine is anything but that. Chef and owner Johnny Monis specializes in northern and northeastern Thai dishes, which traditionally have far more “kick” than that dishes found in most Thai restaurants. Little Serow’s menu changes frequently but diners will always find various chilies among the listed ingredients.

Fuego Cocina Y Tequileria
2800 Clarendon Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201
(571) 970-2180

Fuego Cocina y Tequileria’s name translates to “”fire kitchen and tequila bar,” which is a pretty clean hint that you will find some spicy items on the menu — and you do. There are items such as grilled skirt steak with jalapeños, shrimp with chipotle salsa, and an infamous ghost pepper salsa that accompanies any order of tacos. Many of the peppers used at the Fuego Concina come directly from the restaurant’s on-site garden.

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633 D St., N.W.
Washington, DC 20004

Rasika is one of the most award-winning restaurants in the Washington, D.C. area. Its modern take on traditional Indian cuisine is a favorite among Washingtonians. Some of its most popular dishes are Chicken Green Masala spiced with Thai green chilies. Duck Vindaloo in a spicy vindaloo sauce made with Peri-Peri masala, and Andhra Chicken Curry spiced with Kashmiri chilies. In addition to the downtown restaurant, Rasika has an additional location in Washington, D.C.’s West End neighborhood.

444 7th St., N.W.
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 783-7007

Japanese cuisine does not immediately come to mind when thinking of spicy food; however, the menu at SEI (pronounced “say”) includes a number of spice forward dishes. Spicy tuna, salmon and yellowtail sushi rolls fit the bill as does the shrimp burger with sriracha aioli and the red pepper scallops. Wasabi also makes an appearance in a number of dishes including the wasabi guacamole and the shrimp tacos with wasabi sour cream. And while no wasabi is actually used in its making, SEI’s Liquid Wasabi cocktail packs a punch with its habañero and ginger infused simple syrup mixed with sake, vodka and lime juice.

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Based in Washington, D.C., Troy Petenbrink is a freelance writer, blogger and social media influencer. A member of the North American Travel Journalists Association and the International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association, he has written for Fodor’s, Travel Channel, and Miami Herald, among other outlets.