While American restaurants have often been called out for their sometimes gluttonous serving sizes, some are proud of their oversized portions—so proud, in fact, that a few food purveyors have made them into official eating challenges. Below find eight of the most outrageous dishes around—from 42-inch pizzas to 5 pounds of pancakes—that make our bellies bellow for, well, less.
Jack & Grill Burrito Challenge
Jack & Grill in Denver, CO, is famous for their breakfast burrito challenge. Each of these seven pound behemoths contains eight eggs, one pound of ham, grilled potatoes, onions, chili and cheese, all wrapped up inside a gargantuan tortilla. But here’s the kicker: The big prize—free food for life at the restaurant—is only awarded to women who’ve successfully completed the time limit-less challenge. According to the restaurant’s owner, in the ten years the contest has been around, only five women have been up to the challenge (none of whom have returned). But men, take heart—anyone (male or female) who downs an entire burrito gets their photo displayed on the restaurant’s Wall of Fame.
The Seiad Valley Store and Café, a little restaurant in Northern California, hit the Travel Channel’s “World’s Best Places to Pig Out” list in 2003, winning 3rd place for its 5 Pound Pancake Challenge. Rick Jones, the restaurant owner, gave us a rundown of the rules: “The pancakes must be eaten in a 2-hour time limit. If you lose it, you clean it up.” According to Jones, only 17 people have finished the challenge in 19 years.
The oversized “Texas Donut” at Round Rock Donuts in Round Rock, TX, has made multiple blog headlines, and has even been spotlighted on the television program Man vs. Food as one of host Adam Richman’s official eating challenges. The donut is described by reviewers as embodying just the right mixture of fluffy dough and sweet glaze, and this photo certainly attests to its grandiose size. A Round Rock employee confirmed that the famous donut, which is a daily menu offering, weighs in at a whopping two pounds—the equivalent of a dozen of their average-sized donuts.
Beer Barrel Belly Buster
Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub in Clearfield, Pennsylvania, offers several varieties of extreme hamburgers, including the two-pound “Challenger,” three-pound “Baby Boy,” and six-pound “Ye Olde 96er” (named for the 96 ounces of meat it contains). But then, of course, there’s the fourth option: The Beer Barrel Belly Buster, which is designed to be a two-person eating challenge, contains 10 and a half pounds of ground beef, 25 slices of cheese, a whole head of lettuce, three tomatoes, two onions, one and a half cups of mayonnaise, relish, ketchup, mustard and banana peppers—all between a gigantic hamburger bun. According to local legend, in October 2008, Brad Sciullo of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, became the first patron to finish the Beer Barrel Belly Bruiser in one sitting, consuming the 20.2 pound total weight burger in 4 hours and 39 minutes. According to the pub’s owner, “People walk in every weekend ready to take it on.”
Southwestern Exposure Omelette
Beth’s Café in Seattle, Washington has become a local hotspot in large part because of the create-your-own 12-egg omelet included on the restaurant’s menu. According to the café’s staff, this breakfast option was never officially advertised as a “challenge,” but became one in its own right after local patrons began videotaping their self-imposed challenges and posting them on YouTube.com.
Big Lou’s Pizza has been serving 42-inch pizzas since 2000. Originally created as an advertising gimmick to get the local media’s attention, its popularity stuck—which prompted six other sizes of pizzas (ranging from 10 inches to 42 inches). The only catch? This humongous pizza must be eaten on-site since it’s too large for a box.
Big Texan Steak Ranch
Amarillo, Texas is home to one of the country’s most famous steak houses, Big Texan Steak Ranch, an establishment which since 1960 has been renown for its 72-ounce steak challenge. The rules of engagement? Down the entire $72 hunk of meat (plus all the fixins alongside the steak) in less than 1 hour, and it’s yours for free. The owner says that approximately 7 people walk in daily to take on the challenge, and about 6 people fail—namely because of the competition’s long list of terms and conditions. Here are a few: The last bit of meat must be swallowed within an hour (not just in your mouth); once you have started you must remain in your chair for the entire hour; you don’t have to eat the fat but it will be inspected for leftover meat; and should you become ill, it’s considered an instant loss.
The Cooling Station in Highwood, IL, owes its never-waning popularity to the Avalanche—a 15-inch tall, 42-scoop ice cream sundae loaded with every topping in the restaurant, plus whipped cream and hot fudge. Every weekend, local teens and tweens make it their business to take on the giant sundae challenge, and thus far two girls from Lake Forest High School hold the finishing record of 35 minutes. According to TravelChannel.com, the junior-level students fasted for two and a half days prior to the competition!