By Jim Boyce | Want to warm your heart—and lips, mouth and other body parts—during the final day of The Beijinger’s Hot & Spicy Festival? Here are my five favorites from more than 20 drinks and foods tried during day one. I love spicy stuff but it cannot simply be hot for hot’s sake—otherwise I’d join the chili pepper eating contest. Good taste and balance is a must.
Given this, my top pick is the Chilcano cocktail by Peruvian restaurant Pachapapi. It ably pairs passion fruit and hot pepper power, and is also aesthetically pleasing. This cocktail touched my upper heat limit—right after I ate that marinated chili pepper garnish. It’s available in varying levels of spiciness. 40 kuai. Pachapapi also gets my vote as the most fun booth, with music and dancing all day long.
Jing A. The Suan La Tang is a pleasing combo of hot and sour. It’ll perk you up. Maximize your time by getting a flight of four beers for 30 kuai, with extra spice from the Smoked Chili Porter.
Avocado Drum. The spicy cheese quesadilla is tiny but gooey good. Think three bites for 20 kuai. The Beijinger’s very own Mike Wester shared an avocado cheese jianbing later on that was also delicious. 30 kuai.
Q Mex. This past week was super stressful in terms of housing, work and other issues, so I hit the ground running yesterday. I ripped through some boozy options at Jing-A, Lianglu Baijiu, Stone Brewery and Pachapapi in just over an hour and desperately needed some comfort food. Enter a Q Mex chorizo burger (shown) and burrito (not shown) combo for 45 kuai. Boom and boom.
The last spot is tough. I loved Stone Brewery’s Tangerine Express though it didn’t fit the spicy niche. It was fun to try an Azerbaijan Petit Verdot, and Boxing Cat’s Contender, Pebbles’ Paloma, Ganges’ Coffee Stout and Crafters’ IPA, among others.
But I’m going to go with Prague restaurant, as the homemade mustard and horseradish were whole other kinds of spicy compared to what else was on offer. I had it with a food platter and a shot of hot sauce-infused Czech honey booze. Plus, the guy running this booth was so incredibly enthusiastic.
As a bonus, a shout out to Side Street. Those potato fireballs are worth a try.
So, those are my picks from visiting just a fraction of the stalls. If I went back today, I’d start with the food at Pachapapi, as well as the tacos al pastor at the Costena (Pebbles) booth next door, then get a spicy Sangri from CHEERS, some crawfish at Huda, and work from there.
Here are a bunch more photos from yesterday: