Feeling Peckish?

The Big Texan

The Big Texan

Everything Big at the Big Texan

If you live in Texas, you’ve heard of the Big Texan, a ballroom sized, balconied testament to all things Texas, where the heads of deer, elk, and other hunted forest creatures stare at you as you sit at long dining tables consuming what might be the best steak you’ve ever eaten.

Ribeye

A ribeye from the Big Texan

This is the place that offers the free 72 oz. steak—that’s 4 ½ pound of meat—to anyone that can eat it (along with a baked potato, shrimp, salad, and roll) in under 60 minutes. Think of a five pound barbell, or a small baby, or a bag of sugar in your belly. Contestants have to sit under a glowing bull skull on a raised platform at the front of the auditorium, a red timing clock ticking down over their heads, and, so I hear, are charged for any portion they are unable to finish. The talk of the restaurant was Molly Schuyler’s April 19 visit, when she devoured three 72 oz. steaks and accompaniments in under twenty minutes. Unfortunately for us, no one took the challenge on our evening, despite the fact that the ample space was packed with patrons.

72 oz steak

The 72 oz. steak

The Big Texan opened in 1960 by R.J. “Bob” Lee along historic route 66. The menu is simple: they offer ribeyes, sirloins, Texas strips, and prime rib in various sizes. For beer aficionados, the beer in brewed on site at the Big Texan Brewery. “Whoop your Donkey” and “Whiskey Barrel Stout” are just two of the eleven beers offered.

We were serenaded by a trio of excellent musicians on guitar, violin, and bass, who happily performed Johnny Cash’s “Burning Ring of Fire.”

Burning Ring of Fire

Musicians at the Big Texan

The Big Texan is a fun place for kids too, who can go home with boot cups and cowboy hats.

If you visit, plan to wait a bit for your table, or call them and they’ll pick you up in a limousine. You can check out their menu and other interesting things at bigtexan.com.

DESOLATE DRIVES

The Top Ten Things About the Drive to Amarillo

It is easy to look forward to the destination when traveling, but what about the road itself? These vast stretches of mindless highway can seem as daunting as traveling between two planets unless you know what to look for. The ten things below defined this stretch of highway for us.

10_farmimplements

  1. IMPRESSIVE FARM IMPLEMENTS

I287 cuts through agricultural space. Lots of it. Along the way you’ll see a panoply of multi-colored, insect-like farm implements, some for sale, and some in action violating soil and seed with their spiny limbs.

9_roadconstruction

  1. ROAD CONSTRUCTION

What trip is complete without a lane closure to complain about? Road construction is a fact of life for highway denizens, even when it isn’t actually being worked on.

8_abandonedboat

  1. ABANDONED VEHICLES

In a six hour drive we counted nine boats, cars, or trucks simply parked at the side of the road with no humans present and no visible structure within miles. How did they get there? Where did the drivers go? Is it a Children of the Corn thing? Space alien abduction? Maybe they’re geocaching?  Attacked by Indians?  Perhaps, as in Dean Bakopouloos’ novel, they just went to the moon. . .

7_pecans7_beefjerky

  1. BEEF JERKY AND PECANS

Given the ubiquitous signs for pecans and jerky, I’d expect this to be a staple of the upper-northwest-Texan’s diet. Do these good folk really eat that many nuts and that much meat?

6_windfarm6_wires

  1. ALTERNATIVE ENERGY

Impressively ginormous windmills dot the flat landscape like thorns, generating energy and sending them through wires that drape across the fields like gigantic badminton nets.

5_cows

  1. COWS

Of course, our bovine friends dot the grassy landscape too, ruminating while they fatten up to become our 2% homogenized milk or our 72 ounce Big Texan steak while leaving a trail of ozone depleting methane.

4_picnic

  1. PICNIC AREAS

These are like rest areas without the amenities. There are four of them between Wichita Falls and Amarillo, and who wouldn’t want to take the kids out on a Sunday afternoon to one of these? Complete with one, two, or three picnic tables, a rusted grill, wasps nests, and a tree in case nature calls.

3_porn

  1. CORN PORN

Rising up from the fields, it is not uncommon to see an XXX sign beckoning the lonely (or the horny) traveler or farmer to Sodom’s door (this one was a few miles East of Vernon). Zoning laws, perhaps, push them away from towns and into the corn, but all the better for us. After all, who hasn’t run out of porn on a long trip?

2_Quanah2_Chillicothe2_Childress

  1. SPEED TRAP TOWNS

The speed limit on I287 is 75 miles per hour, but who doesn’t enjoy slowing down to 55, 40, or 35 when they’re making really good time? The highway patrol is always there to make sure you relax your speed and enjoy the beautiful sights of small town America. Chillicothe, Quanah, and Childress are three signs of the Apocalypse, undoubtedly. And would someone please explain to me what the sign in the picture above means?

1_abandoned

  1. COMING TO TERMS WITH FEELINGS OF ABANDONMENT

With mile after mile of empty buildings, chipping paint, caved roofs, shuttered windows, and vacated businesses, you can’t help but remember your own failed dreams, feelings of abandonment, the coming of old age, and ultimately our slow but inevitable death.