"TO DO NOTHING is sometimes a good remedy," said old Hippocrates, but the father of medicine obviously didn't have a hot pot joint around the corner. When your face aches and your sinuses are stuffed shut, "doing nothing" isn't an option. You need something spicy, stat. These are some of my favorite options.


Pok Pok's sticky-icky spicy fish-sauce wings rightfully command legions of devotees, but Fire on the Mountain's wings will also set you straight. The Jamaican Jerk-sauced wings are my personal yen, but their El Jefe will, in fact, melt your face. If you can eat 15 in three minutes (no blue cheese or ranch allowed, cheaters), they will give you a T-shirt. Sunshine Tavern's fried chicken sandwich with chile mayo and spicy lacquer is another delicious choice for those with less masochistic tendencies.

Hot Pot and Other Soupy Things

Hot Pot City and Beijing Hot Pot are both sound choices if you need a numbing slick of chile oil and Sichuan peppercorn to battle the germs in your mucus membranes. Add your choice of protein, veg, and starch (chewy wheat noodles are my move), and go back for several rounds until the broth at the end is fully engaged. Hit So Kong Dong Tofu & BBQ for a bubbling stone cauldron of cadmium-red soontofu (silken tofu stew in kimchi broth). The seafood combo (shrimp, clams, and squid) is my go-to, but the dumpling and curry options do not disappoint. The beef (or fish) bath at Lucky Strike is a soup of Chinese celery, enoki mushrooms, bean sprouts, and thin slices of aforementioned protein in a broth that does not fuck around; they also have a clear noodle hot and sour soup that's a bit more forgiving if napalm isn't your cup of tea.


I know most Latin foods are more complex than they are bluntly hot, but sometimes when you're sick you need the tummy-blankie that only a burrito can provide. Taqueria Lindo Michoacan and El Nutri have a couple of my favorite burritos in town. The former has a little tub of whole roasted jalapeños in the Tuff Shed that passes for their dining room, and if you get there early enough, they'll still be as warm as a mother's love. The Gigante burrito at El Nutri always hits the spot, providing much-needed vegetable vitamins, and you can add jalapeños and house-made hot sauces to anything until the snot faucet gets flowing. Venture out to Gresham to Tortilleria y Tienda de Leon—in the back they have a hot deli case of guisados and other delicacies, super cheap, and several tables (kindly overlook the plasma center that shares a parking lot).

Caribbean and African

If you ask, the owner of Bete-Lukas coyly calls their food "delicately spiced," but make no mistake: That shit is hot. Any of the dishes or combos—many of which are vegetarian/vegan friendly and gluten free, if you're special needy—are spicy as all get-out, but add a side of mitmita to sprinkle on everything and prepare for the nose-flood. Enat's sublimely juicy tibs also properly bring the heat, and E'Njoni will put a hurt on you like no other. If you're not too sick to cook, hit Caribbean Spice for some bona fide Jamaican jerk sauce, or pick up a bottle of cassareep (a cassava treacle fortified with spices and Scotch bonnet chilies) and make yourself some pepperpot.

Dumpling-y Things

Salvador Molly's Great Balls of Fire are a snuglet of wicked-hot habanero cheese fritters. As with Fire on the Mountain's El Jefe wings, they're so spicy that if you have the steely fortitude to down five of these little cherry bombs (and all their accompanying sauce) Salvador Molly's bestows their greatest honor: your photo on the wall. The vada pav at Bollywood Theater will help you forget your suffering: It's a sauced, fried, mashed potato patty so spicy you'll see through time. It's helpfully placed in a burger bun for easy conveyance and assisted by extra chilies to punch you in the kisser. Finally, even though they're not murder-hot, I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for the black-eyed pea and corn fritters with green chile dipping sauce at the Delta Café. Load up on the hot sauce if you need a little more kick.