By Adam Dove

The winter months pose the challenge of keeping yourself warm, whether it’s by cranking up the thermostat, wearing an extra layer of clothes or sleeping next to a cozy fireplace. One overlooked method is to set your mouth on fire by eating the hottest, spiciest foods you can find.

I tried spicy dishes at four local restaurants to find out how to set your mouth on fire — and what not to eat on a first date. To give you a frame of reference for my spiciness tolerance, I like a fair amount of standard Texas Pete hot sauce on my omelets and at Buffalo Wild Wings I typically order the spicy garlic sauce. It’s ranked number seven out of their 14 sauces, and with a potent tinge of garlic, a sure way to scare your date away. I like a little bit of kick, but I’m not the fearless guy who would normally ask for the hottest thing on the menu. Here are four dishes, ranging from one to 10 on my heat scale, 10 being the hottest, for daring diners to try in Harrisonburg.

Taste of Thai — Green Curry

Taste of Thai’s green curry is available with chicken or beef with green curry paste in coconut milk. It also contains noodles, peppers and Thai basil and is served with white rice.

The dish’s spiciness is very mild and painless to handle. I ordered the standard green curry, but like the rest of Taste of Thai’s entrees, it can be altered according to your taste. The restaurant offers a variety of other hot Thai dishes, such as spicy squid, steak with spicy ginger sauce and six different types of Yum (spicy salad).

Fire Factor: 4/10
Flavor Factor: 6/10

Buffalo Wild Wings — Blazin’ Wings

When my five boneless Blazin’ wings arrived, everyone around me could smell them. “Dude, I’m nervous for you,” said my roommate, Aaron.
I ate the first wing and it took five or 10 seconds for the hotness to kick in. But when it did, it was fierce. It was a sensation I’d never felt from eating spicy food; my mouth started to itch. I’d said, “my mouth is on fire” before, but I’d never actually believed it until I tried the Blazin’ sauce. I finished four of the five wings — the final two by soaking them in ranch — and was ready for a fire extinguisher afterwards.

I’d recommend trying the sauce, or even stepping up to the Blazin’ Challenge, only if your taste buds have a fondness for the extremely fiery. The flavor leaves something to be desired, and that may be because it’s simply overpowered by the heat.

Fire Factor: 10/10
Flavor Factor: 3/10

Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint — The Shocker

Jack Brown’s shocker burger throws flames at patrons from three angles: fresh habaneros, jalapenos and pepper jack cheese. What I thought was reddish-orange hot sauce on top of all that was just juice being squeezed out of the habaneros.

I ate half of my burger fairly quickly before the heat caught up to me, and I had to take a break for a few minutes before I finished it. I thought it was almost as hot as B-Dubs’ Blazin’ wings, and afterward my lips were scorched and chapped. The combination of different spices is interesting, and I enjoyed the taste enough that I might order the burger again — for fun this time.

Fire Factor: 8/10
Flavor Factor: 8/10

Beyond Restaurant — Spicy Drunken Noodles

Beyond’s Spicy Drunken Noodles are served with chicken or beef, Thai basil and mixed vegetables. The dish is slightly hotter than Taste of Thai’s green curry, but still manageable for the average, unadventurous diner. The Thai basil gives the drunken noodles a pleasant, but not too overbearing kick, and the dish is large enough to save nearly half of it as leftovers. My waiter suggested the spicy scallops and curry as other spicy options worth trying.

Fire Factor: 5/10
Flavor Factor: 8/10

After trying these four spicy dishes — especially B-Dubs’ Blazin’ sauce — I think it’s safe to say that the taste buds have been scorched off my tongue. My roommates now know I’m the man of the house, and girls are impressed with my valiance. If you’re like me and your fortitude needs that extra bit of reassurance, try these and other spicy foods around Harrisonburg. I dare you.