The chile peppers in the shot above are Trinidad scorpions, some of the hottest on the planet. Why would a human want to put that in his or her mouth? We took one for the team to find out if it was more pleasure than pain. Keep reading to find out where — and then check out some veggie noodles and a new Brazilian lunch from an old Denver favorite.
4408 Lowell Boulevard
How to you say "lunch" in Portuguese? The answer these days is "Cafe Brazil," which just added lunch hours from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The menu is pared down from the standard dinner slate, but one thing you'll find is feijão, a spicy bean stew that the cafe tops with succulent pulled brisket. Tropical, spicy, earthy and filling, the dish is a great addition to lunch if you're in the Berkeley or Sunnyside neighborhoods. But be careful: You'll want to stick around for caiparinhas and mojitos.
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Hopdoddy Burger Bar
1747 Wynkoop Street
You've heard of the habanero — boring. And then came the ghost chile (also known as bhut jolokia), but that's just a winter warmer when compared to the Trinidad scorpion "Butch T" pepper, which rings in somewhere in the range of 1.4 million Scoville heat units (compared to about 300,000 for the habanero). So of course you'll want the angry red pepper on your next sandwich. Texas transplant Hopdoddy is happy to oblige, with a new burger called the Love at First Sting, which is currently running as a $13 special through August 22. The burger bar next to Union Station shingles its beef patty with slices of raw Trinidad scorpion chiles along with ghost chiles, habaneros and serranos (practically cool as ice cubes compared to the others). There's also some pepper Jack cheese and caramelized onions on board, in case your tastebuds are still working after the fiery assault. Hopdoddy thinks its burger is so potentially hazardous that you'll need to sign a waiver before you take your first bite — and you'll also get a mini-milkshake to help douse the flames. We tried a few bites from two different burgers, and the results varied from a pleasing endorphin rush to a tongue-roasting blaze. Be afraid — and then sink your teeth into what's actually a really good burger.
Noodles & Company
635A Flatiron Marketplace Drive, Broomfield
Noodles & Company helped make Colorado the fast-casual capital of the country, and the chain's menu development can be an indicator of the nation's food trends in general. Bowls, which Noodles & Company pioneered, have been big for years, but gluten-free dining has also taken hold around the U.S. The company has offered gluten-free fusilli as a substitute in some dishes, and rice noodles have been part of its Asian-style menu items since the beginning. But for paleo types and others looking for grain-free options, the noodle-based eatery has developed something not-so-starchy. This week, the Broomfield outpost of Noodles & Company rolled out veggie noodles for a test run. They're made entirely from fresh zucchini "spiralized" each day into noodle-shaped strands. The picture above shows the veggie noodles in the penne rosa and pesto cavatappi dishes, adding crunch and flavor in place of the typical toothsome pasta. Even if you're not looking to avoid wheat and other grains, for an extra $1.50 per order, trying something new at a familiar fast-casual stop is practically a Colorado hobby.