The Big Texan in Amarillo, Texas
The Big Texan is a Texas landmark. It first opened over 50 years ago and moved to its present location on Interstate 40 in Amarillo, Texas in 1970. The restaurant is very large with an upstairs and downstairs. Private tables and booths are available along with family style seating at long picnic tables where you can make new friends during dinner. There is a 54 room hotel across the parking lot called the Big Texan Motel. It is designed to look like main street in a Western. Behind the Big Texan is a large beer garden which is quite lively on weekends. There is also a large bar inside, a buffet room, gift shop, arcade and shooting gallery. The waiters and waitresses are all dressed as cowboys. When you pull into the parking lot a large bull greets you in front of the restaurant advertising the free 72 ounce steak.
The Texas King - free 72 ounce steak
"The Texas King" is what makes the Big Texan famous. What is the "Texas King"? It's the original big food challenge. A 72 ounce steak complete with all the fixings that you have 60 minutes to eat. If you can finish the dinner in under one hour then it's free, you get a t-shirt and your picture on the wall. Less than one in five are able to complete the meal in the alloted time. If you can't finish the meal then it costs you $72!
"The Texas King" is served at a table on a stage in front of the kitchen and in full view of the entire restaurant. There are six seats at the table with a digital timer above each counting down 60 minutes. The steak is cooked to your liking and you are allowed a sample bite before the contest starts to make sure it's prepared the way you requested. In addition to the 72 ounce steak you are served salad, baked potato, beans and shrimp cocktail. All of it must be finished in order to win. Fat and gristle do not count.
Competitive eating champion Joey Chestnut has the record, he finished the "Texas King" in 8 minutes and 52 seconds! The previous record was set in 1983 by Cincinnati Reds pitcher Frank Pastore who downed the entire meal in 9 and a half minutes. The Travel Channel's "Man v. Food" has visited the Big Texan and the steakhouse has also been featured in the movie "Waking Up in Reno" with Billy Bob Thornton. "The Simpsons" even did a spoof of The Big Texan!
In 1965, professional wrestler Klondike Bill ate two entire 72 ounce meals in less than one hour! The unofficial record has to go to a 500 pound Siberian Tiger who devoured the meal in 90 seconds! The oldest person to finish it is a petite 63 year old grandmother.
Big Texan Brewery
The Big Texan Brewery opened in June 2011. They serve nine different micro brews including Rattlesnake IPA, Texas Red Amber Ale and Pecan Porter. I ordered the Honey Blonde Ale and it was very good. They will only serve you four beers to prevent drunk driving and there are no exceptions.
Fun for the whole family
While very touristy, The Big Texan has great food. Every type and size of steak you can imagine, BBQ, chicken, Texan quesadillas and more. It is reasonably priced, for example the 18 ounce ribeye is $23.95 and comes with two side dishes. You get a lot of fun with a great dinner that the whole family can enjoy.