Amarillo & The 72oz Steak Challenge (Btw, Texas. Is. Huge!)
They say that everything is bigger in Texas. I know, I know. You’ve heard it 1000 times before. But after driving from the eastern boarder near Shreveport, LA, across the entire state to the northwestern panhandle, I can tell you from personal experience that Texas is absolutely huge. It took us about 11 hours of drive time to make this trip. That’s pretty incredible considering we were in the same state the entire time.
As a matter of fact, if you wanted to drive from the southeastern corner on the Mexican border, to the northwestern town of Texline, TX, near the borders of Oklahoma and New Mexico, you would have to drive for about 14 hours… nonstop.
To put that into perspective, you could drive from our home in Columbus, OH, to Daytona Beach, Florida in that same time frame, and still have 30 minutes to stop for lunch. The 13 smallest U.S. states could fit inside of Texas, with a little bit of room left over for a section of Ohio. It’s so big, in fact, that the entire world’s population could fit inside the state, and it would have the population density of New York City. It’s big…. REALLY BIG!
Leaving the 8th stop on our cross-country road trip (Dallas, TX), we had roughly 6 hours of windshield time to get to Amarillo (our next stop) in the center of the Texas Panhandle. I wasn’t sure what to expect along the drive, but it was surprisingly green and beautiful in some areas.
It was also very vast, pancake flat, and extremely dry in parts. Morgan and I squealed with excitement at the sight of our first rolling tumbleweed, quickly hustling across the highway as if it was late for an appointment. We pulled into Amarillo just before dinnertime.
Fun Amarillo facts…
- 14th largest city in Texas
- Amarillo means “Yellow” in Spanish
- Amarillo sits closer to Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, and even Wyoming, than it does to Austin, the Texas state Capitol. (Again, Texas is not small)
- Amarillo also has the only nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly plant in the country (yikes!)
We reserved a spot at Amarillo Ranch RV Park https://amarilloranch.com/. The staff was extremely friendly, and it was a clean, well-maintained park right off the highway. If you’re ever in Amarillo on an RV road trip, it’s a decent place to ‘rest a spell’.
The highway I’m referencing is the famed Route 66. It was our first time on the highway, but definitely not our last Route 66 adventure (more on that in a future post).
Since we didn’t have much daylight left at our disposal, and only one night in town, we decided to grab dinner at the famed Big Texan. It’s been featured on countless TV shows (‘Man Vs. Food’, ‘Anthony Bourdain – No Reservations’, etc.) and news outlets, specifically for their 72oz steak challenge. If you can finish the steak in 1 hour or less, with all the ‘fixins’ (baked potato, side salad, dinner roll, and shrimp cocktail), it’s free. If you fail, it’s $72.
Now, there’s no amount of free steak you could give me to make me want to eat that much food. But people do it, including the current record holder, a 124-pound female from California, who did it not once, but THRICE, in 20 minutes. That’s 13 pounds of steak, and 3 of EACH side!! All of that in less time than it takes to watch an episode of “Walker, Texas Ranger.” I’m not sure even Chuck Norris, with all his amazing skills, could accomplish that feat. Don’t hurt me, Chuck. It’s nothing personal…
I’ll say this for the Big Texan – They go above and beyond to give you a very cliché Texas experience. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. It started with a complimentary Texas Longhorn limo ride from the RV Park to the restaurant.
They have plenty of Texas flags, in case you forget you are in the Lone Star state.
They have a Texas gift shop and Texas-themed animated shooting gallery inside the restaurant, next to (of course), the Texas themed bar.
They even have a saloon-type dining area, with a platform seating space reserved for those doing the 72oz challenge.
We were lucky enough to see someone attempt the challenge. Unfortunately, he failed miserably, not even making it through half of the grilled slab of choice beef. I’m fairly certain he had the meat sweats by ounce 12. He looked thoroughly beaten soon after, and gave up before time expired.
Our steaks, however, were a bit more manageable in size
In full disclosure, I couldn’t finish my steak either. And to be completely honest, I’ve had more scrumptious steaks. It wasn’t bad, but for a place known for steaks, I guess I expected a bit better. Regardless, if you find yourself in Amarillo and you don’t have dinner plans, the Big Texan is definitely worth the visit, even if it’s just for the Longhorn limo ride.
Next Stop – Santé Fe… one of the more surprising gems on our trip. You can check out more photos of our cross-country adventure on our Instagram page, @chalcraftyadventrues. See you in Santé Fe!