Heat in Phoenix

I live in Phoenix Arizona and have been on a quest for fire for years. Living in a city that is near both Mexico and New Mexico I would expect to find a great selection of fiery foods. Sadly this is not the case.
The following is list of restaurants that I have eaten at. I have reviewed them based on Heat, Taste, and Value. The three categories are in relationship to each other with Heat being the primary goal. These are my own personal opinions of these restaurants and others may have differing opinions. This list started in 1998 and may be a bit dated. I am on a quest for fire, so these are my comments:

Heat: 1=None that I can taste 5=My mouth is in heaven
Taste: 1=Bland 5=Excellent
Value: 1=Expensive 5=College student cheap

All listings alphabetical

Abuelo's Mexican Food Embassy Heat=4 Taste=4 Value=2

Peoria - Arrow Head

All I can say is Chile Relleno!!! Good heat to this one! The menu utilizes some chile peppers not normally included in the standard kitchen (you know, jalapenos) Abuelo's uses pablanos, anaheims, sandia, serranos, and of course- jalapenos.

Ajo Al'sHeat=3 Taste=3 Value=2

7458 W. Bell Rd.,Glendale

This used to be Don Pablos Mexican Kitchen. The place has been given a facelift. The food has increased in taste over Don Pablos and so has the heat. Unfortunately, the price increased also. There are a few dishes that have some heat to them. You have to ask for it though. Also ask for hot salsa when they come to deliver the mild stuff.

Arriba Mexican Grill Heat=4 Taste=4 Value=3

17211 N 79th Ave, Glendale - Arrowhead

This place has a great menu. It is coded with chile pods. The more pods, the more heat. There are a few dishes with many pods! They also serve 3 different salsas. Yes, they have a good New Mexico chile sauce with the heat I need. They also have a monstrous margarita.

Benito's Heat=2 Taste=3 Value=4

13828 N. 51st Avenue

Benito's is a restaurant hidden away in a corner strip-mall. I have never seen it very busy and have always been seated immediately. The food selection is your average list of mexican cuisine. The house table sauce and salsa are flavorful but not really considered hot. The food portions are just right to fill me up. I would say that this is an average stand-by restaurant to go to when all other places are filled on a busy evening. Two can eat there fill for under $20.

Bisteces Taqueria Heat=3 Taste=5 Value=5

8248 W. Deer Valley RD #102, Peoria, AZ 85382 (623)376-0314

Wow! Here is a "hole in the wall" restaraunt that one might pass by, unless you look at the menu. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner- all the way you would expect "real" Mexican/Baja food to be... delicious! They use fresh tortillas and stuff them with all sorts of good stuff for burritos, enchiladas, fautas, tacos, chimichangas, etc. The kicker is the price- no combination meal over $7.50, most ala carte meals under $4.00 Their red hot sauce has a great level of heat to it but not overpowering. Their green hot sauce has a slight kick to it but is ever so tasty! If you live near this place, I highly recommend you try them out. I am now a regular of this place. Thank you Bisteces.

Bitz-ee Mamas Heat=2 Taste=4 Value=4

7023 N. 58th Avenue

Here is a place for good cheap food. I have been going to this restaraunt for years. The mexican food is consistant and tasty. I would not consider their food hot on the pepper scale, but they use a unique blend of spices in their meats that make this place a frequent of mine. I have also been trying to disect the table hot sauce they serve. It is extremely tasty but I have no clue as to the ingredients that make it so good. You can buy their sauce by the containter. This means you bring in a container and they will fill it up. It is around $3.00 for 16 onces. Remember to ask for the hotsauce when they bring you their salsa with the chips. (My wife's recommendation: their tacos)

Caramba Fresh Mexican Food Heat=4 Taste=3 Value=5

6661 W. Bell Road
5421 W. Glendale Ave.

This place was recommended to me by my friend Lunk. I was surprised. Here is a strip-mall eatery that serves fastfood style mexican dishes. The portions are HUGE. The taste is good. The price is...umm.. cheap! What I liked most about this place is the self-serve salsa bar. Here I was able to find salsas that had the heat I desired. If you have $5 and want to fill your stomach quickly and be satisfied with some fiery food, stop by this place.

Chevy's Fresh Mex Heat=3 Taste=3 Value=3

7700 W. Arrowhead Town Center
2650 E. Camelback Rd.
1334 S. Alma School Rd.

Ok. Chevy's caters to people who think they know what Mexican food is. I think they modify the recipes found on the back of a can of Ortega Refried Beans right before they pour the can into the meal you are going to eat. I wish I could remark on some memorable experiences, but I can't. It's just "run of the mill" psuedo Mexican food without any real taste.I take everything I said back... They have definately improved. Would you believe they actually now have habanero dishes? Yippie! They also have no problem with my 2 year old either, yippie! Therefore I have upgraded Chevy's to three 3s.

Cocono's Mexican Island Kitchen Heat=4 Taste=5 Value=2

8280 W Union Hills Dr, Glendale 85308

This is a place that has gone through changes in a very short time since it has opened early 2006. It went from a fantastic upscale restaraunt to a typical middle-class (almost chain like) restaraunt. Now, instead if a fine dining place where you would not bring your kids, now you can. Although I miss the upscale atmosphere, service, and presentation, the food was not compromised in the transition. Here we have central and south american and mexican-american fusion dishes. Let me tell you, they use many varieties of peppers- this is good! I have had a superb meal here every time- and it has heat and flavor that satisfies your tastebuds and stomach. Excellent habanero relish, tomatillo green sauce, mole, and poached pear desert. You must try this place.

Earl's Heat=1 Taste=1 Value=3

9852 W. Peoria Ave.

Have you ever tasted the difference between fresh vegetables and vegetables that have been boiled? Did the taste seem to be missing? Well, that is what I feel at Earl's. The mexican food has the right ingredients, but the taste is missing. Or could it be that there is no heat to be found in the food? Whatever, I do not like this place. A lot of senior citizens frequent Earl's. I guess it is good for those clientel.

Garcia's Heat=1 Taste=2 Value=1

17037 N. 59th Ave.

Garcia's must be the place for visitors from out of town. You know, those that don't know what mexican food is? Your plate is filled to the edges with food. But the food is lacking any heat. The staff give the impression that you should appreciate the food they serve. I would appreciate some spicy flavor myself. It is a little on the pricy side as well.

Humbertos, Filibertos, etc. Heat=1 Taste=3 Value=5


Here is a 24hr mexican fast-food joint that delivers great greasy mexican food for the buck. I love the cheese crisp with sour cream and guacamole cooked with it. You can fill up your stomach for under 3 bucks at one of these places.

Lalo's Heat=3 Taste=3 Value=3

6750 W. Peoria Ave.

Lalo's has consistantly stable mexican food. Their menu doesn't change much and keeps the same recipes. I like the food here. Ask for the hot sauce or things will be a bit mild on the salsa end. What can I say? A good all-around mexican restaraunt that is located in Peoria. (Good guac)

La Parrilla Suiza Heat=2 Taste=1 Value=1

3508 W. Peoria Ave.

This place serves what I call Mexico City food. It was pretty darn bland. Overall I was not impressed with the food I received. I ordered a nacho cheese dip and received a bowl of melted cheese. Not what I would expect. I had to put their bland sauce into the dip just to give it taste.

La Perla Heat=2 Taste=2 Value=2

5912 W. Glandale Ave., Glendale

La Perla has been in downtown Glendale forever. It is a local pick for Glendale residents. My opinion is that they are consistant in serving average food. I would also say that they are a bit pricey for what you get. They do not have any special hot sauce that could make them a worthwhile stop. I would recommend going to Bitszee Mama's (about 1/4 mile from La Perla) if you are in the area and looking to eat.

La Rosa Mexican,Chinese & American Heat=2 Taste=1 Value=3

4416 W. Peoria Ave.

This place is for those who are in mixed parties and everyone wants to eat a different cuisine. They have an extensive menu selection. Only problem is that their food has no redeeming value whatsoever. All I can say is it is cheap and is better than going to Denny's.

Perry's Pick!

Los Dos Molinos Heat=4 Taste=3 Value=4

8646 S. Central, Phoenix

Los Dos Molinos Heat=5 Taste=4 Value=5

East Main Street, Springerville, AZ

Let me tell you, this is the best place in Arizona for good spicy hot mexican food, New Mexican that is. I discovered this place while vacationing in a small town called Springerville. My wife and I were hungry for some mex food so we found Los Dos Milinos. It was a religious experience! The place had the hottest, most tasty food I have ever had. The table sauces provided come in two flavours- Hot and Hotter. The word mild does not exist here. I was so impressed that I asked about the establishment and learned that they had a restaurant in Phoenix too! The owner runs the establishment in Springerville while relatives run the operation in Phoenix.

I have been to the Phoenix restaurant many times now. I have to say that the Phoenix location does not have the heat that the Springerville location has, but it is still hot and tasty! The Phoenix location is in the most undesireable location one could find. South Central. Hidden away in this dismal area is the oasis of hot food- Los Dos Molinos. You can expect to see customers who have driven over 30 miles just to eat here. Expect a wait of 1 hour for seating if you get here 1/2 hour after opening.
Update (3-25-02): Recently the Phoenix restaurant has changed their hours and no longer close between lunch and dinner service. This has done wonders for shortening the long wait time. Beware on weekends! They are busy.

Parrot Bay Cafe Heat=5 Taste=3 Value=4

5625 W. Bell Rd. Glendale

Really the only reason I have listed this place here is because of their Insanity wings. Their chicken wings come in your usual range of heat descriptors except for the special insanity wings. These are twelve wings drenched in Dave's Insanity Sauce!!! I actually ate the whole plate. My head was numb, I could not speak, my mouth was not responding to muscle movement, I was salivating all over my face and front, and I had a massive head rush. Obviously I could not eat nor taste any subsequent menu items. These wings have cured my search for the hottest wings in Phoenix.

Valle Luna Heat=3 Taste=3 Value=3

3336 W. Bell Rd., Glendale

Valle Luna is an old standby favorite. If I am on the north side of west phoenix and want some good mexican food, Valle Luna does not let me down. I can not say their is any particular dish that stands out, but I can say that if you request their Mexicalli sauce (actually it is a relish) then you are in for some good heat! This stuff complements every meal I get here.