The mural on Bellaire Boulevard boasts a red heart-shaped pepper roasting on a fire fueled by two iconic hot sauce bottles. The imagery is almost religious, and iBurn, Houston’s only hot sauce store, has become a kind of mecca for the spice community.
The shop specializes in “all things spicy” and boasts an array of local and imported hot sauces, salsas, barbecue products, condiments, drink mixes and other items to spice up food, said James Beck, owner of iBurn, who is known as the “Hot Sauce Boss.”
“If you’re looking for the hottest things in the world, we got you covered. I always tell everybody, ‘Go to your usual grocery store for your meat, fruit, bread and basics like that. Then come to iBurn to get the stuff that makes everything taste better,’” said Beck, who attended Bellaire High School.
Meet Your Maker Retribution hot sauce, made from ghost pepper puree and powder, is the hottest item available at iBurn, at 6 million Scoville units. For reference, a jalapeno pepper is about 5,000 Scoville units, Beck said.
One popular offering is the Tabanero Agave Sweet and Spicy sauce, which Beck said uses Key lime juice as a base and adds just the right amount of habanero pepper.
“Balance is key. I want depth. I want complexity. There needs to be some kind of synergy in the ingredients,” Beck said. “You should be able to try a sauce, and if the sauce is doing its job, you should say to yourself, ‘Oh my gosh! This would be perfect on X.’”
Beck curates the store’s inventory—he still taste-tests every sauce—and he favors small producers.
“I would say 80% of the products we carry are produced by small businesses, and probably 90% of the products we carry can only be found here,” Beck said.
He began his business online after building a following writing hot sauce reviews for a blog, where he saw that he could help producers by providing good recommendations. In 2013, he opened iBurn, which he runs with the help of his wife, Amy.
“We have evolved from when we first opened from just being a hot sauce shop to be more of a grocery store now,” Beck said.
4227 Bellaire Blvd., Houston
Hours: Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.