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Hot food on a hot day? Eating spicy foods induces sweating, which ultimately reduces body temperature. Sure, it’s an ancient form of air conditioning, but it works in a pinch. As the warm weather crescendos, here’s how to cool down with some of D.C.’s hotter foods.
3 Alarm Cruncher
DC-3, 423 8th St. SE, $4.99
This bacon-wrapped half smoke is topped with a relish made from four different kinds of peppers, cayenne, and sriracha. As if that wasn’t enough, DC-3’s dog wranglers sneak a little surprise inside the half smoke itself—fiery habanero peppers, lots of ‘em. Although this dog will leave the menu at the end of June, you can get it by request at any time.
But is it spicy? Order some of the hot-doggery’s soft-serve ice cream on the side to cool your palate. You’ll need it.
The Pinch, 3548 14th St. NW, $9
Every batch of The Pinch’s ghost wing sauce must be made to taste: the ground ghost peppers, imported from India, vary in spiciness. But the chefs take great care to ensure the barbecue sauce-like coating that douses every chicken wing is both pleasing and piquant.
But is it spicy? The wings are deceivingly sweet at first, but they reveal their devilish nature after the second or third bite. You’ll want to take advantage of the sliced cucumbers and blue cheese dip that comes with each plate.
Ma Po Tofu
Sichuan Pavilion, 1814 K St. NW, $11.95
Beef broth lends this red, oily dish some saltiness, while chunks of white soft tofu contrast the chopped green scallions. The dish is served with white rice.
But is it spicy? It’s not blazing hot, but the Sichuan peppercorns inflict a dual sensation of heat and mouth numbness.
Nooshi, multiple locations, $12.50
This red, coconut-creamy curry is composed of seven spices that might sizzle your taste buds but leave you otherwise unsinged. Though you can pick your own protein, the dish is most popular when paired with beef, and arrives packed with a side of rice to drown in the thick broth. Don’t look for this kicked-up curry on the menu; you have to be in the know to order it.
But is it spicy? The fiery curry induces a little nose-blowing and tear-wiping, but nothing worse.
“Extra Spicy” Crawfish
Hot N Juicy Crawfish, 2651 Connecticut Ave. NW, market price
The meal arrives floating unceremoniously in a clear plastic bag. But inside is a potent red broth and plump crawdads. Like any small shellfish, it’s a lot of work for a little meat, but ultimately worth it.
But is it spicy? Though the red, peppery broth is by far the spiciest part of this dish, it seeps into every nook inside the crawfish shells and slowly builds into a lip-burning inferno.