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Bacon-wrapped onion rings? Yes, please!

Want to know what’s hot? Dining out in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood, for one. Dining solo, for another. But when it comes to hotness, there’s no challenging the Carolina Reaper. That’s because it’s literally the world’s hottest pepper, checking in at an absurdly high 2.2 million Scoville Units. Our associate editor took one down whole over the weekend…and we have the video to prove it! As the weather finally heats up (we’re really on a hot streak here), we wrote about burger blends and burger alternatives, pointed out some spring-dining trends and rounded up the five Italian wine grapes you need to know. Also, a pissed-off Tampa chef explains his take on the “farm to fable” controversy — it’s a must-read. All that and more on this week’s Hot Topics on Food Republic.

  1. Chicago’s West Loop is the hottest restaurant ’hood in the U.S. Here’s why.
  2. A pissed-off Tampa chef explains the “farm to fable” controversy.
  3. Solo dining is on the rise big time! We examine why.
  4. The guys from NYC’s Contra and Wildair are next up on our New Chefs Rising series.
  5. Bacon-wrapped onion rings? Yes, please! Here’s how to make ‘em.
  6. Here are burger-blend and alternative-burger ideas for your next grill-out.
  7. These are the five Italian wine grapes you need to know.
  8. Associate editor George Embiricos ate the world’s hottest pepper. Video included.
  9. We’ve spotted these five trends in NYC restaurants this spring.
  10. Meet the chefs behind Portugal’s thriving restaurant scene.