East Central Iowa · Gallivant Milestones and Moments · Iowa Food

Iowa City on the Spicy Side-8 Restaurants Serving Up an Inferno

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That is Iowa City, IA, my friends. And it’s home to a handful of culinary control burns. And luckily for the palates that can handle these gastro-adventures, IC keeps pumping out the heat all year long! (Photo from ICADG)

Iowa City, IA: Johnson County

Just how much do you love spicy food? Do you seek out selections that produce that easy slow burn or delights that have you reaching for the Brawny roll to wipe your forehead, lips, and tears? Well, The Iowa Gallivant discovered some places that can accomplish these two sensations and everything else in between. Many heat seekers have felt the disappointment, through the years, when being misled by the icon indicating something spicy and then having to request a bottle of hot sauce. The following establishments have mastered the art of the chili and look forward to cooking for Iowa City locals and visitors alike. Let’s get after it, shall we…..(Click on the pictures for descriptions and addresses)

The Ring Burner

Forbidden Planet: Pizzeria & Video Arcade is nestled in the heart of Iowa City’s Ped Mall. We came for spicy and stayed for the retro arcade games and pinball. While playing classics such as Smash TV and Galaga, we motored through Forbidden Planet’s Ring Burner pizza. Chorizo, andouille, jalapeno, and banana peppers. All this with rich ghost pepper jack cheese!

Bistec a la Mexicana

What carnivore doesn’t crave a steak dinner from time to time? La Regia Taqueria has that covered with a side of rice, refried beans, fresh tortillas, and a whole lot of “Holy guacamole, I’m going to need another guava flavored soda.” This is the Bistec a la Mexicana. Order number “C 12” that may or may not be named after the explosive compound that may or may not be in the thick red chili sauce smothered on juicy steak.

Spicy Sauteed Pork Kidney

The Szechuan House may have the MOST selections of spicy choices in Iowa City. The hardest part was choosing one. We went exotic and selected the Sauteed Pork Kidney. Plenty of perfectly cooked chilies, green onion, bell peppers, Chinese mushrooms, and tender kidney of pork. Take a trip on the organ trail and have a spicy kidney….or two.

The Bloody Mary

At this point you could use a drink. The Hilltop Tavern can accomplish that request. One of Iowa City’s oldest establishments has mastered their Bloody Mary technique. If you prefer a sharp horseradish bite to this classic beverage, then get to the Hilltop. A common partner with their Bloody Mary’s is the “beer back.” A refreshing sip of draft beer between gulps of your Bloody Mary is always a good idea.

Hudson Wings

One of Iowa City’s newest restaurant’s already has the reputation as one of the best places to get great chicken wings. Hudson’s Southside Tap slow cooks their wings with sriracha and soy sauce and then fries them up. Fresh jalapenos on the side. A tall one pairs nicely with it.

The “Green Stuff”

There’s two things in this world I’m willing to spread across my toothbrush. Toothpaste and “The Green Stuff” from Oasis: the Falafel Joint. The Hulk colored condiment goes well with EVERYTHING at Oasis. A mixture of jalapenos, cilantro, and spices that consistently wakes up anything you put it on. I love meat as much as anyone, but the veterinarian nuggets known as falafel is the number one reason why we head to Oasis. As long as “The Green Stuff” is flowing.

Eggs in Hell

Rise and shine! It’s time to get a taste of hell. At El Banditos, you can order 3 eggs in Hell. A breakfast smothered in a their rich Diablo sauce, chorizo, rice, black beans, and flour tortillas. Want to torture your breakfast taco? Just ask for El Banditos homemade hot sauces…..tough guy. (Note:Breakfast served on Saturdays and Sundays)

Rib Tips w/ Hot Rib Sauce 

A gradual kick you see coming the whole time and you still let it happen. Mosley’s Barbecue & Provisions  has the slow smoked masterpieces that can be ordered with a range of BBQ sauces. Including their Hot Rib Sauce that fires up your lips. We recommend their house made pickles that produce a welcomed bite as well.

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I’m actually having a great time. Just needed a little breather.

Team Goodvin answered 8 Iowa City alarms and lived to blog about it. The range of heat we experienced went from a comfortable ease to a quick jolt. The great part is, there was flavor in all these selections and the heat didn’t shroud the taste of the ingredients. That’s a big no-no in my book and none of these featured restaurants broke that culinary sin. Spicy food, good. Hot food, bad. Great work, Iowa City! Keep the curried, peppered, chili flinging fare coming and The Iowa Gallivant will be showing up for chow time again and again.

Thanks for reading! -Team Goodvin

3 thoughts on “Iowa City on the Spicy Side-8 Restaurants Serving Up an Inferno

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