Review: Maple Grove’s spiciest food

You might need a beer to put out the fire on your palate when you order the three-alarm burger at Lookout Bar and Grill.

There’s no telling what the weather will bring every March in Minnesota. Will there be ample amounts of snow and ice on the ground, and lingering cravings for hot chocolate and soup? Or will we experience an early season warm up that reveals the grass and budding trees, prompting thoughts of detoxification with fresh vegetables and lighter fare? Whether temps are at -4 or 40 above, spicy foods are known for their ability to activate your palate and keep the fire burning within while you wait for those balmy summer days to set in (and you don’t have to set your mouth on fire to achieve this effect, by the way). And, when you happen to fall victim to a much-loathed spring cold, it’s spicier fare that comes the rescue, clearing out your sinuses and making you feel like you can taste again. In this story, we’ve done the groundwork and identified some spicy favorites from area restaurants, which we’re sure you’ll enjoy, no matter what the forecast.


Beef Brisket Chili

Z’s Smokin Bonez

Z’s Smokin Bonez, from restaurant owner Dave Zapf, has been open less than a year, but this hearty, spicy chili has been in the works since 2008. Zapf, who loves the comradery of a good barbecue competition, has entered his chili in numerous contests from Sauk Rapids to Mason City, Iowa, and has even snagged a few “people’s choice” awards along the way. The chili is made with beef brisket, chili beans, chipotle and ancho peppers, tomatoes, onions, and a base that contains tomato sauce, chili seasonings and beer. At the restaurant, you’ll find this dish partnered with jalapeno cornbread, for $6. Other fiery favorites include the chili mac ($8), a multi-layered affair, made with cut up sausage, macaroni and cheese, chili and a topping of sauteed onions and gouda cheese, plus the sausage, a house signature created locally by Brothers Meats and Seafoods, and one of 12 meat choices on the menu. 16362 County Rd. 30; 763.400.7979;


Three Alarm Burger

Lookout Bar and Grill

Who could resist ordering a burger that’s been dedicated to the Maple Grove Fire Department? The Three Alarm burger at Lookout Bar and Grill gives the department a shoutout right on the menu, and it offers considerable heat, with a Cajun-spiced beef patty, pepper jack cheese, salsa verde made with three varieties of peppers, and fresh mushrooms ($8.99, $5.99 on Mondays). The ribs at the Lookout are all-new, a St. Louis-style rib that’s dry-rubbed and can be topped with a choice of three sauces right at the table, including a new hot and spicy barbecue sauce. Try the all-you-can-eat on Thursdays. 8672 Pineview Ln. N.; 763.424.4365;


Supenn’s Thai Style Pasta


If you’ve got a partner in crime when it comes to loving spicy food, consider the Tuesday night “Thai for Two” special at Sawatdee, which includes two entrees, an appetizer platter and a bottle of house wine for $34 in total. The Supenn Thai style pasta will pacify spiceheads with its rich and spicy green curry sauce, flavoring up the rice noodles, mixed vegetables and your choice of protein. The dish is one of the few that cannot be ordered mild, and if not part of the Tuesday night special, it’ll run $14 with chicken, $15 with shrimp, or $18 with both shrimp and scallops. Anything on the menu with curry in it will offer some heat, as will the toam yum soup, a brothy cold suppressor made with Thai chilies, lemongrass, mushrooms and a meat of choice ($13 with chicken, pork or tofu, $15 with shrimp, or $18 with seafood mix), red in color with a hot and sour flavor. Don’t forget, there’s Zushiya Sushi at this spot, too, and sushi rolls containing the spicy tuna, like the Sawatdee roll ($16), with the “dynamite mix” of spicy tuna, cucumber and tempura, sprinkled with chili pepper, offer the nose-tickling heat that wasabi is known for. Also, kids eat free at Sawatdee on Mondays. 7885 Main St.; 763.494.5708;


Chili Verde

El Rodeo Mexican Restaurant

The choices are many for spicing things up at El Rodeo. The chili verde is a favorite of manager Jose Rojas, pieces of pork that are seasoned with a spicy green chili sauce and served with rice and beans. The chili Colorado is a complement to that, pieces of steak in a red salsa with rice and beans. Both priced at $10.99, the chilis are served in generous portions on a large platter. Fajitas can also be made spicy upon request, with chicken and vegetables ($8.49 lunch, $11 dinner). The salsas are homemade at El Rodeo and can add zest to any meal, from the mild tomatillo to the spiciest habanero. 13572 80th Cir. N.; 763.493.4443;


Kung Pao Seafood

Mongo’s Grill

Create the heat your way at Mongo’s Grill, where you pick the ingredients and have them doctored up with sauces and spices, like red pepper flakes, dragon ranch or jalapeno peppers. When you’re stumped on what to order, ask for an off-menu item like the Kung Pao seafood that comes with crab, shrimp, scallops and salmon, served with red and green peppers and jalapenos in the Kung Pao sauce ($13.99–$14.50), or the fajita, with beef or chicken, green, red and yellow peppers, onion and the spicy dragon ranch sauce ($11.99). 11628 Fountains Dr. N.; 763.493.2695;


Dave’s Cheesy Macaroni and Cheese

Famous Dave’s

A comfort food staple, the macaroni and cheese, is embellished with jalapenos and spicy brown mustard, along with corn, and cheddar and Parmesan cheeses, to make things interesting at Famous Dave’s. Another popular side dish has two sources of heat–the Wilbur beans, where hot link sausage and jalapeno are added to baked beans with onion and barbecue sauce, for a savory treat that could be a meal on its own. Both the macaroni and cheese and the Wilbur beans are available with an entrée or by the quart, which serves 6–8 people, for $8.99. Take matters into your own hands with the Wilbur’s Revenge, an award-winning habanero based barbecue sauce that sits out on the tables for spicing up your chicken or ribs. 7825 Vinewood Ln. N.; 763.416.4600;


Dali Chicken

PF Chang’s

While you can customize many of the dishes at PF Chang’s, there’s no way to tone down the heat in the Dali chicken ($13.75), so proceed with caution. The Thai-inspired plate is made with diced potatoes, chili paste, tender, juicy chicken and vegetables, with Thai pepper, Sriracha sauce and leeks, in a tomato-based sauce that is spicy and a little sweet. The Chang’s spicy chicken ($13.95) is a happy medium, which can be adjusted depending on your tolerance for spice, a colorful dish made with sauteed chicken, garlic, chili paste and green onion. 12071 Elm Creek Blvd.; 763.493.9377;