Top Five Spicy Restaurants to Beat the Summer Heat

It's hot out. Like standing sweat, hair-matted-down, ass-stuck-to-the-seat hot. And thanks to the six months of virtual summer we get around here, it doesn't look like it's going to be relenting anytime soon.

When it's this hot out, all you want to do is sit inside with a cold drink and get fanned by attractive music video stand-ins. But food can also be a great way to escape the heat. Specifically spicy food, preferably served with a cool beer. Wait a second: Spicy foods cooling you off is actually a contradiction, right? Wrong. The secret is that eating something hot doesn't drop your body temperature; it makes you feel cooler. How that works is when you eat something spicy, it gets your blood flowing toward your stomach. That in turn takes blood away from your extremities, which is what makes you feel like your skin is actually cooling off. Couple that with a little bit of habanero-induced sweat and eating something tongue-numbingly spicy should cool you off in no time.

So take a look at our list of five local restaurants where, thanks to food that's actually hotter than our Florida sun, you can feel just a little bit cooler than anywhere else.

Lovey's Roti Shop

I don't know if you've ever visited the Caribbean islands, but I'm told

it gets pretty hot there too. And what do Trinis do when the sun grows

too sweltering? They hole up with some spicy-as-hell roti and a super-cold lager beer. You can do just that at Lovey's, where the mango

kuchela is tart, the sada and bussupshut is freshly baked, and the

fiery-green Scotch bonnet sauce known colloquially as "peppa" will have

you sweating in no time flat. Order a cold beer or a grape soda to go

with it and you'll be cool as a cucumber (which, incidentally, you'll

also find in their famous aloo pies).

Sheila's Famous BBQ Conch & More

It's no coincidence that barbecue is most popular in the summer, when

the weather in most parts of the country makes standing over a barrel

smoker for a few hours sound attractive. Here in South Florida, that

can be a painful experience. But not if you don't have to do the

smoking, and definitely not at Sheila's, where the smoky, hot barbecue

pairs best with the cool flavors of conch salad. The meaty, smoky pork

has a perfect pair in that salad, all tart with lime and kicked up to

extra-hot levels, if you prefer, with the addition of slivers of orange

Scotch bonnet pepper. That conch, all chewy and light, takes you away

to a breezy island. A seat at a stone table under the shady overhang at

Sheila's helps as well.

Pho Hoa

The Vietnamese chain serves some intensely hot Asian food, starting

with boiling pho that you can kick up with the absolute hottest slices

of raw jalapeño you'll find. But soup may not be on your priority list, and

that's OK. Then try a cold chicken salad with vermicelli rice noodles,

slathered with tangy nuoc cham and plenty of ridiculously hot,

lemongrass-infused sambal chili sauce. The cool/spicy salad, paired with Pho Hoa's

ice-cold boba smoothies, is dynamite. Those smoothies, by the way, made

with fruit or tea or tapioca, are the absolute best around.

East Coast Burrito Factory

East Coast serves about the hottest hot salsa you'll find anywhere in

South Florida. Made with habanero peppers, this stuff once made me

physically cry when I decided not to stop at the clear warning signs --

loss of vision, weakness, and a feeling like someone had set off a nuclear

bomb in my stomach. Of course, you can opt for the mild salsa on your

big-ass burrito. But where's the fun in that? East Coast doesn't serve

beer, so here's my suggestion: Get your burro loaded with hot salsa

to-go. Grab a couple of cans of Tecate or Modello Especial and wrap them

in foil, the way Mexicans do. Take that combo to the beach and enjoy

the sun like only someone with his mouth on fire can.

Treasure Trove

The Trove, as it's known in these parts, has everything you need to

embrace summertime in Florida. It's an open-air bar that's so informal

(and frankly pretty divey) that you can totally come straight off Fort

Lauderdale beach in your swim trunks and not feel out of place. The

beer is cold and plentiful, with decent options on tap and almost

constant specials on Corona. It also serves some halfway decent Mexican

food for a bar of its ilk. And lest there be any questions about the

food's providence, you can nuke your tacos (which on Tuesdays are just

one buck a pop) with a veritable cavalcade of hot sauces. There are so

many varieties of hot sauce up on the Trove's wall -- habanero-based, Texas and

Louisiana-style, Caribbean, and more -- that you can literally change up your poison with every bite. Ah, hot sauce, tacos, and beer. Sounds like

summer's best friend. 

Got a suggestion for spicy summer food? Let us know in the comments field below.

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John Linn