The Best Places to Get Your Chile On in Austin

Autumn is on its way, and with it, a slight break from all that body-withering heat. What better way to celebrate the handful of color-changing trees than by crippling your tongue with some fiery chile peppers. After all, the Chiltepin (or wild pepper) is the state pepper. Here are some great ways to enjoy our state's fall harvest around Austin.

Make Time for Hatchfest
Although a native of New Mexico, Central Texas' internal arsonists have adopted these feisty little peppers as part of the local gastronomy. One of the easiest ways to get ahold of this sweetly picante treat is to hit up an area Central Market (south-central or northwest). Featuring tasty creations like chili-infused burgers, Hatch guacamole, and more unusual fare like the Chile Fruit Pound Cake with Mango Cream, Hatchfest (a.k.a., Hatch-a-Palooza) is a great way to get your chile on. The celebration of spice runs from throughout August at both Central Market and participating area H-E-Bs, but continues until the chiles run dry.

Kick in the Natural Heating
As the light starts to fade in preparation for winter's too short cool-down, Austinites everywhere turn to the Texas State Food, chili. Local fire enthusiasts flock to tomato-based concoctors like the Texas Chili Parlor (try the habanero chili if you dare) or the meat and vegetarian options of Billy's On Burnet. Fans of artisanal chili can sample a bowl from 24 Diner, made with Fireman's #4 beer, or enjoy vegan chili atop a vegan sausage at Frank Restaurant.

All Chiles Are Create Equal
Austin's foodscape is a diverse tapestry of spices and flavors. While our native pepper is the Chiltepin, the region has long been blessed, thanks to indigenous and Mexican cultures, with fiery fare. Hit up Licha's Cantina or Taco More for some regionally accurate heat. You can also enjoy the fine imported Thai chiles at Thai Kun (try their 6-alarm papaya salad) or the screaming heat of China at Sichuan River.

Mobile Hot Spots
As summer grows thin, time might run out to hit up the spicy spectacles of the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival (August 23, 2016) or The Quesoff (August 20, 2016). However, Austin also has a wealth of fiery food trucks waiting for you to stop by for a bite. Thai trailer Dee Dee is known will spice up your life with their larb moo. Also, for those who haven't experienced the Caribbean's rich blend of heat and flavor, Tony's Jamaican has the right kick to keep you happy. Of course, if you want to stick with Tex Mex, hit up Veracruz All Natural or Rosita's Al Pastor.

Andy L. Kubai is a freelance writer and transplanted Austinite who's been exploring the internal and external wonders of his new home for the last 5 years. Find out more about Andy on his website.

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