If you’ve got an appetite for adventure (and a stomach of steel), Texas is home to some of the craziest food challenges anywhere. Most fall into the extra-large category, while others test your will with hot-as-heck spices. Some reward you with cash for cleaning your plate, others with a T-shirt or photo on a wall of fame.
But all come with bragging rights for accomplishing a flavourful feat of dining endurance. Take a look at our 10 craziest food challenges in Texas.
10. Brooklyn Heights Pizzeria. Austin, TX.
Challenge: 12-pound pizza
Time Limit: 1 hour
What You’re In For: The good news? You can enlist a friend or family member to help you tackle this huge pizza with four veggies or two meat toppings. The entire pie is covered in six pounds of cheese. They do provide non-alcoholic drinks to aid in the consumption of this Italian masterpiece, but there are no bathroom breaks or leaving the table allowed. Those wishing to take the challenge are required to reserve a time slot 24 hours in advance.
Reward: $200 cash.
9. Atomic Sports Bar & Grill. Arlington, TX.
Challenge: 15 Atomic Wings
Time Limit: 10 minutes
What You’re In For: Fifteen chicken wings may not sound like much food (it’s not compared to some of the other monstrosities on this list), but they’re coated in a fire-breathing level of ghost pepper sauce, a secret recipe of super-hot peppers and pure chili extract. Finish all 15 in the allotted time without any dipping sauce or beverage and you’ll achieve success. The owners warn that grown men have indeed been known to cry.
Reward: A spot on the Colon Pow Wall of Fame and an Atomic t-shirt.
8. Kenny & Ziggy’s Deli. Houston, TX.
Challenge: The Zellagabetsky (a.k.a. The Sandwich That’s Bigger Than Its Name)
Time Limit: None
What You’re In For: If you, and you alone, can finish an eight-decker corned beef, pastrami, turkey, roast beef, salami, tongue, and Swiss cheese sandwich on rye bread topped with coleslaw, Russian dressing, and red sweet peppers, you’re a deli daredevil.
Reward: A piece of cheesecake. Because you’re going to need dessert.
7. Bistro B. Dallas, TX.
Challenge: Giant Bowl of Pho
Time Limit: 90 minutes
What You’re In For: This Vietnamese soup is always popular thanks to its layers of flavour and fresh toppings, including basil, lime, bean sprouts and jalapeños. But the big bowl for this challenge weighs in at a whopping seven pounds, five of which are from the noodles alone.
Reward: $200 Bistro B gift card.
6. Hullabaloo Diner. Wellborn, TX.
Challenge: The Aggie Challenge
Time Limit: Faster than the incumbent.
What You’re In For: If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, this is the best of the week. Devour a 12-egg omelette with bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, jalapeños (optional), cheddar, American, Swiss, ham, bacon, and sausage that’s smothered with your choice of green chili pepper gravy or sausage gravy. It’s all served with toast and fries for a well, for a balanced start to your day.
Reward: Beat the incumbent and the omelette you just ate is free, plus a diner t-shirt just for cleaning your plate.
5. Ol’ South Pancake House. Fort Worth, TX.
Challenge: Pancake Challenge
Time Limit: 1 hour
What You’re In For: You’re gonna need a lot of maple syrup to tackle this one. Eight light and fluffy yet unapologetically XXL pancakes arrive at your table on a plate that can barely contain this tower of sweet delight. Just be aware that you can’t take the challenge on Saturday or Sunday from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. because they’re too busy churning out their famous pancakes to people with slightly smaller appetites.
Reward: The eight pancakes you just ate for free.
4. Kenny’s Italian Kitchen. Dallas, TX.
Challenge: Midnight Meatballs
Time Limit: No limit, but must be eaten in a single sitting
What You’re In For: Prepare yourself for meatballs the size of burgers. Kenny’s Midnight Meatballs are quarter-pound orbs of beef and pork mixed with secret seasonings and actual bread instead of breadcrumbs (this keeps them extra moist). Eat more than 20 (the current record) and your meatballs are free.
Price: $2.50 per meatball daily; $1 per meatball on Sundays.
Reward: All the Midnight Meatballs you just ate for free.
3. Kenny’s Burger Joint. Frisco, TX.
Challenge: El Jefe Grande burger
Time Limit: 1 hour
What You’re In For: A gigantic burger with a three-pound patty made from Sterling Silver beef is then topped with french fries, chili, chile con queso, sliced jalapeños, a half-pound of bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and onions all stacked on two enormous pieces of Texas Toast made especially for use on this burger. Including toppings, the entire burger weighs in at a massive seven pounds (and more than 7,000 calories). Out of 150 people to attempt the challenge to date, only two have been successful.
Reward: The El Jefe Grande you just ate for free; $100 gift card for Kenny’s Burger Joint.
2. Big Texan Steak Ranch. Amarillo, TX.
Challenge: 72-ounce Steak
Time Limit: 1 hour
What You’re In For: Dating back to 1962, this challenge is one of the most famous in Texas. The meal consists not only a 4.5-pound slab of beef (cooked to order, of course), but also a shrimp cocktail, baked potato, salad, and roll with butter. Once you begin you are not allowed to stand up, leave your table or have anyone else touch the meal. You must pay up-front for the meal, but the full amount is refunded upon successful completion. The adjacent motel is the perfect place to slip into a food coma for a few hours afterward.
Reward: The 72-ounce steak meal you just ate for free and a certificate of completion, as well as listing in the Hall of Fame in-store and on the website.
1. Taproom Pub & Grub. San Marcos, TX.
Challenge: The Chupacabra Challenge
Time Limit: 45 minutes
What You’re In For: It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet—for one. The practically non-stop meal consists of a full rack of BBQ ribs, two-dozen nuclear hot wings, a one-pound burger topped with Swiss and American cheese, grilled mushrooms, jalapeños, onions, and hickory-smoked bacon. Side dishes are a basket of fries and a basket of onion rings.
Reward: The feast you just ate for free and a Chupacabra Challenge t-shirt.
Header image: Amarillo's Big Texan Steak Ranch, Home to One of the Biggest Challenges © Amarillo Convention & Visitor Council
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Would you attempt any of these food challenges in Texas? Which one would you try? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Steven Lindsey
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About the author: StevenSteven Lindsey
Steven Lindsey is a Dallas editor, freelance writer and obsessed lover of travel, food and cocktails. Steven is editor of the Zagat blog in Dallas and Contributing Editor of He Said Magazine's USA and Dallas editions. Additionally, he regularly contributes to The Dallas Morning News special sections.