Follow the Spice Trail - Discover downtown’s spicy foods to warm your soul during the winter months

February 07, 2020 Written by

Has the snow, cold weather and shorter winter days got you feeling down? Nothing beats the winter blues like eating something hot and spicy. Downtown Salt Lake’s spice trail of flavorful food finds range from hot chicken sandwiches and dim sum to molés and curries. With downtown’s ever-evolving culinary scene, there’s no shortage of eateries dishing up and delivering heat to warm your soul (and taste buds) during the winter months. Here are some of our fiery favorites.

Bird is the Word

Nashville-style hot chicken is sizzling at Pretty Bird (146 S. Regent St). The refreshingly simple menu consists of a fried chicken sandwich, a quarter bird (breast, wing, leg or thigh), a few sides and beverages. Their signature jumbo-sized sandwich starts with a juicy, boneless chicken thigh fried and seasoned to your preferred spice level (you get a choice of mild, medium, hot or "hot behind") and is topped with pickles, a cider slaw and a buttermilk-based PB sauce, all stuffed in a soft, buttery bun.

HallPass (153 S. Rio Grande St), Salt Lake's first food hall, just opened and brings the heat with the Blaze of Thunder menu. Crispy hot chicken is available as a sandwich or wings, tenders, breasts, thighs or legs. Choose your desired heat level from 0 m.p.h (no spice) to 500 m.p.h. (hotter than your ex). Southern sides of coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, frog eye salad and banana pudding help put out the flame.

Take the Spice Route

Bundle up and meet some friends at Hong Kong Tea House (565 W. 200 South) to experience some of downtown’s best dim sum. Since dim sum is prepared in small-plate portions, diners are able to try and share a variety of authentic dishes, including rice noodle rolls and pan-fried dumplings. Make sure to try their famous steamed barbecue pork buns - three steaming, doughy spheres with a healthy amount of moist, juicy, barbecue-style pork chunks inside. Serving an extensive dim sum menu (only until 3 p.m.), they also have a lunch and dinner menu featuring traditional Chinese entrees and a diverse tea selection.

Southeast Asian fare, showcasing Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai flavors, is what sets apart Ginger Street (324 S. State St) from the rest. Identifying as a casual “Southeast Asian Hawker Style Street Food” restaurant, Ginger Street features a fresh and locally sourced, inventive menu in a hip and clean atmosphere. Don’t miss out on the popular crispy duck fresh rolls, loaded with fresh lettuce, basil and savory duck meat, all wrapped in rice paper, like a spring roll. Steamed pork buns, pad thai and orange chicken are other favorites served at this “fast-casual” dining entity. 

Scurry for Some Curry Bump up the spice level at Curry N’ Kabobs  (268 S. Main St) for a burn so good that you won’t be able to stop. Specializing in authentic Indian and Afghan cuisine, this cozy eatery serves up made-from-scratch classics such as curries and kabobs, along with a variety of traditional dishes such as Beryani bowls and Mantu dumplings. Indian food can be prepared from mild to volcanic, so it would be wise to pair your meal with a refreshing mango lassi.

Himalayan Kitchen (360 S. State St) is downtown’s award-winning Indian and Nepalese restaurant. Dedicated Nepali chefs use the freshest ingredients to prepare classics like saag paneer, vindaloo, tikka masala and aloo gobi in their sizzling Tandoori grills. Warm, hand-made naan accompanies any of those dishes, allowing you to soak up every last drop of savory sauce. Sip on organic Himalayan coffee while savoring Momos - a typical Nepali steamed dumpling stuffed with moderately spiced filling of minced chicken or vegetables.


Whether it’s Taco Tuesday or a frigid Friday in February, hungry diners gather at Taqueria 27 (149 E. 200 South) for the popular, versatile culinary phenom known as the taco. The shell is a vessel for scrumptious fillings ranging from duck confit and pork belly to roasted seasonal veggies and carne asada. Salads, starters, enchiladas, mole platters and desserts round out the menu, along with an extensive tequila inventory. Fun fact: they have daily guacamole, taco and fish specials which has people coming back time and time again to sample the chef’s new creations. 

Named after the hot chile-tepin pepper, Chile-Tepin (307 W. 200 South) prepares classic dishes of Mexico from family recipes handed down for generations, using the freshest local ingredients. Their popular molcajete features a large heated lava rock bowl (called a molcajete) brimming with grilled steak, chicken, shrimp, nopales (cactus) and sticks of queso fresco simmering in green tomatillo sauce and topped with charred jalapeños and onion. Sides of rice, smoky beans and warm tortillas make this an easy dish to share with friends. Olé!