Have you been gringoed? Do you order your food super spicy but end up being served food that barely makes you sniffle? There's a perception that "foreigners" don't really like spicy food, says PeterL. So if you're not the same race as the proprietors of the restaurant, you might have a hard time getting your spice fix satisfied.
"What you need to do is establish a relationship with your favorite restaurant. Once they get to know you and your taste, they'll get over that perception," says PeterL. therealdoctorlew uses this phrase: "I want it the way you make it in your country. I want it too hot for an American to eat." ipsedixit offers a tip that worked quite well and spawned a life-long friendship: "I ask the owner/chef if he (or she) enjoys spicy foods," says ipsedixit. "If the answer is 'yes' then I offer to buy him his favorite spicy dish on the menu—made exactly the way he likes it. My only request as part of this offer is that I get the same exact dish for me."
"I would reiterate the importance of becoming a 'regular' at a resto or two. If they know you, they'll come to know your tastes," says Perilagu Khan. "I would also encourage making direct eye contact with your waiter or waitress when asking for the heat, using a forceful tone of voice and even using your hands to stress the high level of heat you want."
Discuss: Spicy Etiquette