Where to Find Delicious Spicy Food in San Diego

Maybe it’s our proximity to the Mexican border. It might be our melting-pot culinary culture. There’s a chance it’s the daredevil streak that runs through our local character. Whatever the catalyst, “America’s Finest City” is a foodie heat-lovers’ haven. When it comes to delicious dishes designed to really raise your temperature, San Diego delivers — deliciously. Looking for a little spicy food to torch your tongue with some serious sizzle? Here’s where to find the city’s most ferociously fiery fare.

La Doña (3.6 miles away)

(Photo: @ladonacantina)

A lot of Mexican food can be pretty heavy on the heat, but the Chicken Tinga at La Doña is in a class by itself. It’s available here in tacos, flautas or enchiladas — and regardless of how it’s served, it’s downright delectable. That said, it’s got a sneaky slow burn that might have you thinking, “that’s not so bad” after the first few bites. Even so, if you’re not asking for extra napkins to mop your brow before you finish your plate, we’ll be really surprised.  

1852 Bacon St. San Diego, CA 92107


The Original Sab-E-Lee (7.1 miles away)

(Photo: @foodiequeensandiego)

There’s a bright and flavorful brilliance to the authentic Issan (northeastern-style) Thai cuisine at Sab-E-Lee that’s otherwise hard to find outside its native region. Be warned, though — your server will ask you how spicy you want your dish when you order. And even if you think you know what to expect based on having dined at other Thai restaurants, you may want to knock your usual level down a few notches at Sab-E-Lee. They’re infamous for making even veteran spice-seekers tap out at “low” levels. 

6925 Linda Vista Rd B, San Diego, CA 92111 


World Curry (7.3 miles away)

(Photo: @worldcurry)

Everything on offer at this locals’ favorite Indian spot can be ordered on a spiciness scale from “mild” to “really hot” — except for one notorious dish that leaves all of that in the dust. The Phall Chicken Curry only comes in one heat level, and it’s described as “insane” on the menu. That’s likely thanks to the fact that it includes a cocktail of peppers including serranos, habaneros, thai, and ghost chilis. NOT for the faint of heart. Or gut.   

1433 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109 


La Puerta  (8.1 miles away)

Sometimes our need for heat goes beyond a fiery meal. Sometimes it’s the perfect spicy margarita that will hit the spot. Look no further than La Puerta here in San Diego, with multiple locations in town. Awarded one of “America’s Best Margaritas” by Travel  + Leisure, as well as the BEST SPICY MARGARITA IN THE COUNTRY by PopSugar…their “Bark at the Moon” margarita is sure to tantalize those taste buds! Made with Anejo tequila, agave, lime, and muddled serrano peppers, you’ll definitely find yourself asking for another round.


Nishiki Ramen (8.1 miles away)


(Video: @nishikiramen)

There are spicy food challenges. And then there’s Nishiki Ramen’s “Death Ramen” challenge. And with a name like that, you know it’s serious. Anyone who takes it on is required to agree to a stringent set of rules (e.g., no leaving your seat after the challenge starts, no beverages except water, and you have to be 18 to even attempt eating it). In fact, the Death Ramen is such a threat that anyone who manages to eat (and keep down) the whole bowl within 20 minutes takes home a $300 prize. Are you brave enough?  

1040 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103


Spicy City (11.7 miles away)

(Photo: @cataliving.jpg)

When “spicy” is right there in the name of the restaurant, you know you’re in for a heaping helping of heat. Spicy City serves lusciously authentic Chinese food with guest-customizable spice levels that range from gentle as a spring rain, to “are you sure?” zones of searingly stinging swelter that could make even a stone statue weep. So proceed with caution — and be prepared to order a few extra icy-cold beverages in self-defense.    

4690 Convoy St #107, San Diego, CA 92111


Regents Pizza (13.5 miles away)

(Photo: @regentspizzeria)

Think you’ve had hot wings? Not like this. Regents Pizza serves wings with levels of heat that will make you question your life choices. If you’re feeling adventurous, opt for the habanero. Want to really grab some gusto? Go for the ghost pepper. But if you want to risk your very sanity, look your server dead in the eye, and ask for the scorpion pepper. They’ll bring you a serving of TWO MILLION SCOVILLE UNIT wings — and a waiver. Really.      

4150 Regents Park Row #100, La Jolla, CA


Relax and Recuperate at Best Western Plus Island Palms

If you’re ready to take on the hottest eats San Diego has to offer, we’ll gladly offer you the comfort you’ll need to recover at Best Western Plus Island Palms. Our central location on Shelter Island puts us within striking distance of all the best restaurants in town, and our accommodations, service, and amenities will be a welcome comfort after you’re through torturing your taste buds. When you’re ready to plan your visit, take a look at our Special Offers page, and select the hot San Diego travel deal that’s right for you.