Banish blandness with these recommendations for places using spices with special nuance and spots that’ll set your mouth on fire.

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Sometimes readers write to me for restaurant recommendations, and I (try to!) always answer (eventually!). I also urge everybody to check out menus and photos online — whatever you think of Yelp, it’s a good site for seeing whether interiors and food presentations will agree with you — and to let me know how it goes.



George wrote in about a visitor who’s vague, yet apparently adventurous.

Hi Bethany,

I’m taking a friend from out of town to dinner, and she enjoys spicy food — what kind, I have no idea, she just said “spicy.” Have any recommendations in Seattle or Bellevue? Thank you in advance!



Hi George,

Way better than a visitor who wants it “bland”! Take a look at Kraken Congee in Pioneer Square, and Kedai Makan and Little Uncle on Capitol Hill. Chili’s in the U-District is also worth considering. But I think of these places more for their nuanced use of spices rather than five-alarm-hotness; in terms of sinus-clearing-lips-burning-eyes-watering spicy-heat, Seattle overall is a little wimpy. Exceptions that spring to mind include the “Insane” (and insanely good) Nashville hot chicken at Sisters and Brothers in Georgetown; the “Extra-Crazy” at kitschy Crawfish King in Chinatown-International District; and the “spicy and numbing” option at Szechuan Fish.

In Bellevue, people swear by (and sometimes at) the Sichuan cuisine on La Bu La’s “Wild Side” menu, that of Szechuan Chef, and at Spiced. (Sadly, Spicy Talk Bistro in Redmond just closed down, but rumor has it they may reopen elsewhere there.)

Hope your friend achieves spicy satisfaction!