Home to the Big Texan Steak Ranch and its famous 72-oz.-steak challenge, Amarillo certainly knows its beef. And while this Panhandle city is loaded with hidden culinary treasures, don’t miss Coyote Bluff Cafe, a 12-table burger joint that whips up Southern-style dishes with a fiery Texas kick.

Thanks in part to a recent spot on the Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food,” Coyote Bluff draws in nearly 300 hungry patrons each day. “The atmosphere is very relaxed and easygoing—it’s like having a cookout in your backyard,” owner Rob Haas says.

With its checkered tablecloths, wooden benches, and chalkboard menu, Coyote Bluff has no shortage of Texas appeal. Outside, crowds line up on the restaurant’s wooden porch beside leaning wagon wheels, and a toilet-turned-flower “pot” holds bouquets of fake greenery by the door. But it’s the food that gives customers a Texas-size wake-up call.

Meet the Burger from Hell. “It’s not the hottest burger you’ve ever eaten, but it should be the best hot burger you’ve ever eaten,” Haas says. The Burger from Hell delivers the heat with its zesty mix of Tabasco, cayenne sauce, and a full cup of sauteed jalapeños on top of a juicy half-pound of ground beef.” I never thought I would sell one,” Haas says. “I like fresh jalapeños on my burger instead of the pickled ones, so I put that burger on the menu. Now, it’s what most people know me for.”

Coyote Bluffs no-frills menu includes rib-eye steaks, stuffed jalapeños, fresh cut chili-cheese fries, and a whopping eight ounces of lean ground beef in each of its 10 different burgers. Cooks trap steam, flavor, and juiciness in the patties by covering them with individual caps while they grill; then they slide the plump burgers between fresh, locally baked white buns.

Try the hearty California Burger, packed with guacamole, sour cream, and green chiles, or chow down on the succulent Mushroom & Swiss Burger, a top seller. “We hand-form all of our burgers ourselves. There are no fillers . It’s just plain ground beef, and we try to make everything that we can fresh every day,” Haas says.

Step up to the plate at Coyote Bluff Cafe at 2417 S. Grand St. in Amarillo. Call 806/373-4640; www.coyotebluffcafe.com.

From the October 2010 issue

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