Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Big Texan

I told Philippe Holtzweiler about this. I mentioned it to at least two Belgians who looked at me as though I'd lost my mind. Half a dozen Scots were extremely skeptical, if not downright disbelieving: Nobody, nobody in the world, could eat a 72-ounce steak (that's 2.4 kilos, right?) in 60 minutes.

We're talking about The Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, friends, where the current record-holder is a young man weighing in at 195 pounds – he ate the entire piece of meat plus all the fixings in just 53 minutes. The restaurant and its challenge has been around for years and is well-known among aficionados of Americana.

(If you eat the entire steak and all the fixins' you get the entire meal free. We were told that someone tries the challenge approximately once a week – and one person out of seven is successful.)

I first ran across it, oh, a dozen or more years ago when Mary Jo Martin (now of Cynapsus), Alan Vera and I came up to Amarillo to work with a company called Corporate Systems...we ate at the place although even then I had zero inclination to try eating a single piece of beef as big as a dinner plate and almost three inches thick.

The restaurant is still booming – Barbara and I visited it this evening on our way into Amarillo, our stopover on this week's road trip to Denver. It's still serving great gobbets of beef, though they've added slots and an electronic shooting gallery opposite the bar (I don't remember these last time I was up this way.

And yes, the restaurant still offers the humongous steak and it's even more intimidating now that we're trying to cut down. Nevertheless, we had a couple of good pieces of beef (not even in the same county, size-wise, as the 72-ouncer). We resisted our waitress's blandishments about dessert – imagine trying to eat a piece of chocolate cake the same dimensions as a Hoyo de Monterey cigar box!

I wanted you to know, though, that if there's such a thing as “wretched excess” (or even died-and-gone-to-Heaven steak and lots of it) you can still drop into Amarillo. If it weren't a 600-plus-mile car trip, I'd have driven the gaggle of OTC visitors up here myself, just to see their eyes bug out.

You'll just have to come up yourselves. Oh yes, special for Cameron Wallace: The Big Texan has Stella Artois on draft for $ many glasses do you want with your steak?


S Reeves said...

Oh my, you can watch it live via their website! The guy eating there now is at 33:52 minutes and I think he's done.

Anonymous said...

Yu are the only person I know who has actually eaten there, Richard! I used to go by it all the time when I lived in Tucumcari, NM and went to the big city of Amarillo for shopping. But we never stopped to eat there. Fun,after all these years to see a picture of it and to read about the place! Hope you enjoyed Denver!