There’s a phenomenon that sometimes occurs after you’ve eaten something doused in enough hot sauce. Even after your meal is done, you still feel a slight tingle in the sensitive nerves on your lips. It’s like an echo of the conflagration that was just raging through your mouth, and I just love it.
Hot sauce is like a dare you give yourself. That first taste might be OK, but what if I added more? Pretty soon you’re sweating like crazy and trying to suck cool air into the maelstrom inside your head. Awesome.
In my search for hot sauce heaven, I’ve tried just about all the variants you can find in stores. But as my fellow connoisseurs of capsaicin know, the best stuff is always homemade. (Capsaicin is the chemical compound that makes things taste spicy. There’s actually a measurement of it, the Scoville heat unit, or SHU, which is about as nerdily awesome as food gets. It’s like being able to calculate your tongue’s on-base percentage.) So I went out into the city looking for some special hot sauce to feed my jones, listed here on my own 1-10 heat scale.
(Just to clarify: The sauces labeled “secret” are the ones for which I was unable to get a full ingredient list. But anything listed (other than the “unconfirmed” items) is in there, according to the restaurants.)
Take a trip to the Outer Mission and visit The Front Porch, which just got its liquor license and now features a new bar menu. Hog & Rocks is nearby in the Mission and is a sneaky-great place to watch a game while feasting on the aforementioned wings. There’s no TV at La Palma, but they are an amazing caterer for events big and small. Subs is in Noe Valley – remember to get that garlic spread with your hot sauce! You can also get amazing party platters from Hot Sauce and Panko in the Outer Richmond, but be sure to check the website because they do run out of food sometimes. Head over to Irving Street to visit King of Noodles and bring a crowd, as there are too many kinds of dumplings for just one or two to try. And Yellow Submarine, along on Irving Street, is close enough to Golden Gate Park that there’s no excuse not to have a spicy picnic.