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  • Tom Bastek | August 3, 2015 6:00 PM ET

    The Top 17 Coolest Food Challenges in the US

    The Top 17 Coolest Food Challenges in the US

    Photos courtesy of those featured

    There are places where a meal isn't meant to merely be enjoyed, it's meant to be conquered. These competitive cuisines, these edible Everests, are not just there for the eating, they're there as a test of willpower. Maybe you won’t ever be on the next Nathan’s Hot Dog Challenge, but here are a few places where you could go and flex your stomach muscles to see if you have the guts (literally) to win their challenges.

    BBQ: Binga’s Winga’s — Yarmouth, Maine

    It might be counterintuitive to head to Maine for barbecue, but here we are. These guys actually offer up three challenges: a heat wing challenge, a beat the record all you can eat wing challenge, and The Meat Mountain! The Meat Mountain is a 5 lb. aptly-named mountain of meat with chicken tenders, smoked wings, pulled pork, brisket and whatever else they choose, all served over a pound of French fries. You have to down it all in 30 minutes. All this without an antacid tablet for $59.99.

    Breakfast: Flann O’Brien’s — Boston, Massachusetts

    The Irish are famed for their breakfast, so it is no wonder that we are going to them for our breakfast challenge. You have one hour to finish three rashers, four Irish sausages, three fried eggs on top of a pancake, six pieces of white and black pudding, grilled tomato, mushroom and veggies, home fries, Irish baked beans, white toast & brown bread with butter, and a bowl of fresh chopped fruit.  If you would like, they will throw in a pint of Guinness to wash it all down.  If you finish, you get a shirt a free dessert and a $10 gift card.  Drink the pint of Guinness, and they’ll throw in a hat, too.

    Burger: Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub — Clearfield, Pennsylvania

    Denny’s is home to the self-proclaimed “World's Largest Hamburger Challenges” in the country and who are we to argue. They have  seven different size challenges that range from “The Pub Challenger,” which is two pounds of beef covered in a garden’s worth of veggies, all the way up to a 25-pound two-man challenge called the “Beer Barrel Burgernator.”  These guys specialize in big burgers and will make you up to a 125-pound burger. Those though, are not for a challenge, just your next special event.

    Burrito: Las Flores — Conyers, Georgia

    Yes, we are going to Georgia to find a burrito challenge. This burrito comes in at eight pounds and is made up of four 12-inch tortillas. They then stuff it with grilled chicken, Angus ribeye steak, lettuce, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, queso sauce, Serrano peppers, grilled onions, rice, and beans. If you finish it, you get the burrito for free, a $100 gift card and, if you can stomach it, free dessert.

    Hot dog: Roxy Dawgs —Corvallis, Oregon

    Head to Oregon and gird your stomach for the Dawg Pack Challenge, which requires you to eat each hot dog on the menu in less than one hour. If you finish in time, you will get the meal for free and they will post you on the “Leader of the Pack” board in the restaurant. If you are a local or a student at OSU and beat the top time on the board, you'll score yourself an extra $100. 

    Ice cream: San Francisco Creamery Company — Walnut Creek, California

    These guys have a sundae called “The Kitchen Sink” and they aren't kidding. It consists of three bananas, eight regular-size scoops of ice cream, eight toppings, whipped cream, nuts, and cherries. The idea is to consume it as fast as possible. Whoever holds the lowest time will receive free ice cream for a year. Every time the record is beat, another lucky contestant gets free ice cream.  Last year the record was 20 minutes and 37 seconds. Brain freeze!

    Milkshake: The Lunchbox — Staten Island, New York

    A little more than a gallon of milkshake awaits you on Staten Island for this challenge. Choose your flavor (strawberry, chocolate, vanilla), and start drinking. You have only 20 minutes to get rid of the 150-ounce glass and the 1 -ounce shot, so slurp quickly.

    Omelet: The Weather Vane — Menasha, Wisconsin

    If you wake up ready to take a few thousand bites out of the world, this might be your competition. The “Tsunami Challenge” is a 7-pound dish omelet containing 14 ingredients. The omelet includes: ham, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, American cheese, cheddar cheese, tomato, pepper jack cheese, Swiss cheese, onions, green peppers, and spinach, all rolled within a tortilla and eggs. Just to pile on, they add hash browns, pancakes and toast as sides.

    Pancake: Batter Up Pancakes — Fresno, California

    These guys bring the breakfast, too.  First they do a 10-egg scramble with four cups of fillings and 10 ounces of country potatoes. They cover the whole thing with a cup of shredded cheese and then serve it on a 25 fluid ounce buttermilk pancake.  The challenge is easy:  Without leaving your seat, eat the whole thing in less than 20 minutes. You will get a tee shirt, a coffee mug, your photo on the wall and your $36.99 back.

    Pasta: La Famiglia Girogio’s – Boston, Massachusetts

    These guys have four challenges for you to think about: meatballs and sausage challenge, a chicken parmigiana challenge, a gnocchi challenge called “Little Al’s Challenge,” and their lasagna challenge. You have no time limit, but you have to finish six pounds of the lasagna of the day. If you succeed, you get a T-shirt that says, “I ate the plate.”   

    Pizza: Graziano’s – Corona, California

    Many places have the 30-inch, two-person challenge, but rarely do they make the contestants load up the pizza.  Graziano’s goes easy on the size of the pie, making you and a buddy only have to consume 24 inches.  But where their “Monster Pizza Challenge” lacks in size it more than makes up for in weight. The dough is 2.5 pounds, to which they then add 1.5 pounds of sauce and two pounds each of cheese, meats and vegetables.  The two of you have 45 minutes to chow it all down, and if you do, you will receive t shirts and two free large pizzas.

    Sandwich: Philly Cheese Steak Shop – Arcata and Eureka, California

    It does seem out of place to go to Cali for a cheese steak, but the guys at the Philly Cheese Steak Shop have a hell of a challenge to try to complete. You have to consume eight classic cheese steaks and if that isn’t bad enough, a basket of fries to go with it. There’s no time limit and if you finish, you get your pic on the wall, a Philly hat, Philly gear, and a $100 gift card.

    Seafood: Shakespeare Pub – San Diego, California

    The Great White Whale Challenge is huge plate of fish and chips. You get two pounds (about eight filets) of battered cod, two pounds of “proper chips" and a pretty big bowl of peas. Finish it in 45 minutes or less and it’s on the house. You also get a complimentary T-shirt. If you don’t finish, take home the leftovers knowing that you spend a very reasonable $29.95.

    Spicy: Brick Lane Curry House – New York City, New York

    There are a ton of restaurants around the U.S. offering spicy wing challenges but there aren't a lot of spicy curry challenges. At the Brick Lane Curry House, their Phall curry is so hot that they make you agree to a verbal "hold harmless" agreement for any “physical or emotional damage after eating the curry.” There is no time limit but if you should finish you get a beer on the house and your picture in the (P)Hall of fame.

    Steak: The Black Otter Super Club – Hortonville, Wisconsin

    Steaks are another item that is famously put up for challenge across the country.  Most of the time, you are looking at a challenge that is somewhere between a 64- and 72-ounce cut of meat. At the Black Otter Supper Club they serve up a real challenge: a 160-ounce bone-in prime rib dinner. Now the good news is that even know the dish comes with soup and salad bar and choice of potato, you only have to get the meat and finish it yourself. If you do, you are on the wall of fame, you get a T-shirt and a $20 gift card.

    Sushi: American Sushi House – Pacifica, California

    Sushi is typically not a cheap meal in many cities anymore, making this the deal of a lifetime. If you take “Bruce’s Challenge” you will be served their Freedom Roll, an 18 inch long, four-pound roll with avocado, shrimp and yam tempura, crab meat, salmon skin, and four different types of vegetables on the inside, plus, spicy tuna and seven other types of fish on the outside of the roll.  If you finish it in under 30 minutes without leaving the table or vomiting, it is free and you get your picture on the wall.

    Wings: West End Tavern – Boulder, Colorado

    This wing challenge doesn't just punish those who fail with a mouthful of stinging spice, it also hits them right in the pocketbook. At the West End Tavern in Boulder, twice a year they offer up the chance to become a Wing King by eating 50 wings in 30 minutes. If you succeed, you get reimbursed the price of the wings, another free dozen, your picture on the wall and a Wing King T-shirt.  If you don’t finish, the wings cost you $50.

    So there you go, 17 of the best food challenges in the U.S., but there are many more out there.  Have you ever tried one?  Have you succeeded?  Let me know about it in the comments below.



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Tom Bastek The Main Course

Tom Bastek Tom is a writer in the Atlanta Area. He has traveled to all 48 continental states and almost every stop in the Caribbean. In addition to Traveling, Tom geeks out on bowling, craft beer, trains, pinball, comic books, sci-fi and playing the tuba. You can get him at and @TravelWriterTom.
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