Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Big Texan Steak Ranch

Located in Amarillo, Texas, this gem of the south opened in 1960 on the once popular U.S. Route 66. Launched by Midwesterner, R.J. “Bob” Lee, its creator grew up on stories and movies about the old West. Lee eventually moved his family out to the Texas panhandle only to be disappointed to find there was no first-class steakhouse in this area best known for its cattle. In a flash of ingenuity, Bob decided to risk his family’s savings to open what was to become one the world’s most famous steakhouses.

R.J. "Bob" Lee
The restaurant later moved to its present location on Interstate 40 in 1970 for increased traffic. As a steakhouse and hotel, the restaurant has gathered world acclaim for its signature 72 oz. steak challenge called “The Big Texan.”

In case you didn’t read that right, that’s 4.5 pounds of pure American beef! The contestant is given one hour to finish the meal which besides the steak consists of a bread roll with butter, baked potato, ranch beans, shrimp cocktail, and salad. The meal costs a staggering $72, but if finished the contestant is refunded and the meal is free. Though by that point, you’ll probably be wondering why they didn’t pay you to go through this torture.

The Big Texan challenge was born when hungry cowboys would come in for dinner claiming they could each “eat the whole, darned cow.” After seeing one mighty cowboy shovel 4.5 pounds of steak into his stomach, he decided to let anyone who could perform the feat again receive the meal on the house (or maybe that’s more like 4-5 meals).

Since then everyone from a 11 year-old boy to a 69 year-old grandmother have completed the challenge, along with a professional wrestler by the name of Klondike Bill who consumed two of the meals within the time frame. Competitive eating champion, Joey Chestnut, holds the record for the fastest completing of The Texas King at 8 minutes and 52 seconds on March 24, 2008.

Klondike Bob looking a little stuffed.
The steak is cooked to your preference, and participants are placed on a raised seating platform in the middle of the dining area for everyone to view.

Open 365 days a year, with thousands of visitors a month, it looks as if The Big Texan Steak Ranch has cemented its place in food history. You can view the contest table LIVE! from here or you can watch Adam Richman from the Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food try his luck here.

I want to know…What’s the biggest piece of meat you’ve ever eaten? How much did it weigh and what were the circumstances? Leave a comment or post a picture.

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