Jun 4, 2021 - News

We ate at Chicken Heat in Des Moines and it's seriously spicy

The Original Spicy Nashville sandwich from Chicken Heat.

The Original Nashville Hot Chicken from Chicken Heat. Linh Ta/Axios

When a restaurant claims their dish is spicy, let's admit, it's "Iowa" spicy — a good temperament, but doesn't shake the boat.

  • So we were intrigued when Axios Des Moines reader Ernest Niño-Murcia challenged us to see how hot we could go at Chicken Heat, Des Moines' newest food truck.

What we learned: These sandwiches are legit hot. If you're the type to brag about your heat tolerance, these will test you.

  • All of them come on a pillow brioche bun, coleslaw, a secret "heat sauce" and pickles.
  • We also were the first to try "The Challenge" — the truck's off-the-menu seriously spicy sandwich. You get a T-shirt if you dare to finish it.

Price: Each sandwich was $7-7.50, while The Challenge was $10.

Find Chicken Heat: 11am to 10:30pm Monday-Saturday and every other Sunday. 3301 E. 14th Street, Des Moines. (They often sell out, so check FB first.)

Original Nashville Hot Chicken (X)

The original Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich from Chicken Heat.
The Original Nashville Spicy Chicken from Chicken Heat in Des Moines. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

For most Iowans, this sandwich is already too spicy. Good burn throughout with a lingering kick. This was the only sandwich we dared to finish because the rest were so spicy.

Ghost pepper sandwich (XX)

The XX sandwich from Chicken Heat
The XX Nashville Hot Chicken from Chicken Heat. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

We thought it was milder than the original at first. But a minute later — SMACK — that spiciness slapped us in the face.

  • One guy we talked with said the XX is so spicy, it takes him 30 minutes to eat it. And six hours to "really" finish it, if you catch our drift.

Jason's take:

Jason Clayworth crying from eating chicken sandwiches.
Tears. All the tears. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

Carolina Reaper sandwich (XXX)

Chicken Heat's Carolina Reaper sandwich
The (XXX) Carolina Reaper sandwich. Bite in only if you dare. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

Similar to the XX sandwich, the spice sneaks up on you. Only in this case, it's a fiery punch to your gut and a truly painful mouth feel.

  • Pepto Bismol is your friend.

Jason's take: "I think I've become a little numb to the pain now."

The Challenge (XXXXXX)

The Challenge sandwich by Chicken Heat.
The Challenge sandwich, slathered with a secret spicy sauce that is truly fiery. Linh Ta/Axios

By this point, we're hot messes. The way it burns is so peppery, it's like mace on your throat. For anyone who finishes this sandwich, you are superhuman.

  • The Challenge: This sandwich isn't on the menu, but mention it if you want to try it. There's no time limit and you get a free T-shirt if you finish.
  • Tip: Mango lemonade tames the spice.

Jason's take: "It's like I kissed satan."

Jason Clayworth dealing with super spicy food.
Try "The Challenge" if you dare. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

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