Texas takes pride in its cuisine and its portion sizes, so it’s no surprise how many big-food challenges exist across the state. (See the August 2011 issue for more.) While some of these challenges end in a free meal, others end in large monetary prizes—and an even larger sense of pride and stomach pains. From the Gulf Coast to the Panhandle, wherever there are hungry Texans, there are challenges sizzling in the kitchen. Here are ten places to get your challenge on.— Sarah Pressley
Cowtown Diner, Fort Worth
The World’s Biggest Chicken Fried Steak: $69.95
This chicken-fried-steak is so big, it’s served on an extra-large pizza pan. Eat the entire nine pounds of steak, served with cream gravy, six pounds of mashed potatoes, and ten pieces of Texas toast, and the meal is free. A reservation is required 24 hours in advance.
Cowtown Diner is at 305 Main Street in Fort Worth. Call 817/332-9555.
Kenny and Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen Restaurant, Houston
The Zellagabetsky—The Sandwich that’s Bigger than its Name: $48.00
New York-style delis may not be a Texas tradition, but massive amounts of meat sure are. This challenge consists of nothing but an eight-decker deli sandwhich, with pastrami, corned beef, turkey, roast beef, salami, tongue and swiss cheese, with cole slaw, Russian dressing and sweet red pepper. Any candidate to consume the whole sandwich without any help wins a free slice of cheesecake, just in case they’ve left room for dessert.
Kenny and Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen Restaurant is at 2327 Post Oak Blvd. in Houston. Call 713/871-8883.
Hullabaloo Diner, Wellborn
The Aggie Special—Texas sized omelet: $19.99
Eat a 12-egg omelet with your choice of bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, jalapenos, cheese (cheddar, American or Swiss) ham, bacon, and sausage covered in green chili, pepper gravy or sausage gravy. If you can finish it faster than the previous record holder, your meal is free, and you get a free T-shirt.
The Hullabaloo Diner is at 15045 FM 2154 in Wellborn. Call 979/690-3002.
A Giant Bowl of Pho: $18.00
Three gallons of pho in less than 90 minutes? If you can do it, you’ll win a $200 gift card from Bistro B, so that if five pounds of noodles and two pounds of meat isn’t enough to satisfy your appetite, pho is basically free for awhile.
Bistro B is at 9780 Walnut Street in Dallas. Call 214/575-9885.
Mel’s Country Café, Tomball
Mega Mel Burger: $19.95
This Texas-size burger is made up of one and a half pounds of fresh ground beef, a pound of bacon, a quarter pound of American cheese, topped with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles, and even a tiny flag at the top. Challengers have two hours to eat the Mega Mel. The current record for finishing this colossal burger is 19 minutes; winners receive a free T-shirt and have their names added to the wall of fame.
Mel’s Country Café is at 24814 Stanolind Road in Tomball. Call 281/255-6357.
Sunset Restaurant and Bar, Blanco
Wagon Wheel Challenge—“The Biggest Pancakes in Town!”: $9-$12, depending on flavor
Entrants who can manage to eat three Texas sized pancakes in 30 minutes get their breakfast for free, along with a $20 gift certificate and a photo on the wall of honor. These enormous pancakes come in buttermilk, pecan. or blueberry.
Sunset Restaurant and Bar is at 419 Third Street in Blanco. Call 830/833-5776.
Church Street Texas Blues and BBQ, College Station
Chubby Challenge: $30.00
Challenge hopefuls who can finish one pound of sliced or chopped brisket, one pound of pulled pork and one pound of sausage on a bun with a half pound each of coleslaw and potato salad —in an hour or less—win a free Chubby Challenge T-shirt. Call ahead to give the restaurant time to prepare this colossal barbecue meal.
Church Street Texas Blues and BBQ is at 100 Church Street in College Station. Call
The Waffle Cone, Copperas Cove
The Stem, $49.99
Served in a stemmed sundae dish, this sweet treat contains 13.5 pounds of ice cream. Contestants only have one hour to finish the sundae but if they do, they win a T-shirt, a framed photo on the wall of fame, and their stem dish. Also, a video of them eating the dessert will be posted on YouTube so that everyone can share in their glory.
The Waffle Cone is at 306 Avenue D in Copperas Cove. Call 254/574-0420.
Marianito’s, San Antonio
The Extreme Grizzly: $24.95
Why be normal when you can go extreme? That’s the motto of Marianito’s, home of the seven-pound, 18-inch Grizzly Burrito. Anyone who can demolish this feast in one hour, which includes cheese, carne guisada, refried beans, enchilada sauce, and is topped with lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream, and tortilla chips, gets the meal for free, as well as a T-shirt and a picture on the wall of fame.
Marianito’s is at 2102 Bandera Road in San Antonio. Call 210/433-7100.
Hammerhead’s Bar and Grill, Fulton
The Hammer: $49.95
The Hammer is so massive, the restaurant needs four hours’ notice to cook it. Anyone who can devour the six pounds of beef on a half-pound bun, topped with one and a half pounds of tomatoes, lettuce and pickles, plus one and three fourths a pound of fries—in an hour or less—wins $200 and the burger for free.
Hammerhead’s Bar and Grill is at 115 South Fulton Beach Road in Fulton. Call 361/729-3287.