Heat Hot Sauce Shop is a Berkeley store that specializes in selling all kinds of hot sauces, from “mild” jalapeño and buffalo to spicier ghost pepper and even pure capsaicin (the chemical that creates spiciness). It’s located on the corner of MLK and Berkeley Way, right down the street from Trader Joe’s, and is open 12 pm-6 pm Sunday-Friday and 11 am-7 pm Saturday.
The store also has a good collection of locally made hot sauces from around the Bay Area and features a tasting bar with over 100 different sauces of varying levels of spiciness — they even have milk ready if things get too hot.
Price-wise, the majority of sauces fall between $7-12, though a few of the spiciest ones are a bit more expensive. You can also order online through their website, where you can even customize a monthly box to be delivered straight to your door.
With so many choices, here are 5 sauces that serve as a good starting point both in terms of taste and spice level:
1. 708 7 Pot Citrus
With a lot of hot sauces, the flavor can take a backseat to the spiciness. Not this one. The 708 7 Pot Citrus infuses the heat of the Trinidad 7-Pot pepper with the sweet taste of citrus, pineapple, and pomegranate.
#SpoonTip: The heat wave that follows the first bite is really strong, so prep yourself accordingly.
2. Fat Cat Bacon-Flavored Sriracha
Bacon. Flavored. Sriracha. ‘Nuff said.
3. Yellowbird Habanero Sauce
Like the 7-Pot, the Yellowbird Habanero Sauce also has a tangy citrus taste, but it’s a lot less spicy. It also has a savory onion flavor, making it great for taking your sandwiches to the next level.
4. Yin Yang Sweet & Smoky Habanero Hot Sauce
The Yin Yang Hot Sauce is a mix of smoked habanero peppers and a secret combination of fruits. It’s just spicy enough to stand out and, according to one reviewer, tastes like a blend of BBQ sauce and steak sauce.
5. Chicaoji Chile Sauce
A sweet, fruity taste mixed with cacao beans and roasted chipotle peppers, this sauce has a unique flavor that goes well with salads. It’s also really mild, so anyone can enjoy this one.
While these sauces are a good place to start, there’s definitely a lot more you can try at the store. The owner is extremely helpful and can guide you through a tasting from mild to insane. Definitely try as many as you can!