The Big Texan Steak Ranch & Brewery

The city of Amarillo, TX, doesn’t seem like much, but when you look at the things the town is known for, it becomes somewhat of a flashy scene. Most who have traveled along Interstate 40 through Amarillo can say they have come across ten heavily spray-painted Cadillacs sticking out of the dirt. The display is definitely something interesting to look at as it is plastered across a flat plain. These same people can say they have also seen the huge cowboy-themed restaurant on the completely opposite side of the city off I-40 called The Big Texan Steak Ranch & Brewery. This entertaining steakhouse is said to be one of Amarillo’s most fascinating points of interest.

The restaurant is so famous it has been shown in many TV shows as well as feature films. In 2003, a movie called “Waking Up in Reno” was released that featured a scene in which Billy Bob Thorton attempted the 72 oz Steak Challenge, a contest that helped the steakhouse come into fame, in the presence of Patrick Swayze, Charlize Theron, and Natasha Richardson. The scene is reflective of the actual challenge in which contestants have only one hour to eat all of the food items presented alongside the massive slab of meat.

This competition gives the people brave enough to attempt 60 minutes to eat a full 72 oz steak cooked to the temperature of their choosing, a shrimp cocktail, a baked potato, a salad, and a roll. When you think about the portion sizes restaurants typically give paying customers, this doesn’t sound like a lot, but as they say, everything’s bigger in Texas, and The Big Texan lives up to that. A lifted table is located in the middle of the dining hall where challengers sit to complete this test of their guts. Patrons dining in at the restaurant can watch as the contestants are pushed to their limit.

The 72 oz Steak Challenge really is just that: a challenge. Only 12% of people who have taken on the meal can say loud and proud that they overcame it. The other 88% have failed. The steakhouse has also been featured on the popular TV show Man V Food. Adam Richman made a stop at the restaurant to see if he had what it takes to finish all the food encompassing this hefty meal.

Of course, to a trained professional, this food challenge might be a breeze, but to the average joe, maybe not so much. To many people’s surprise, a woman by the name of Molly Schuyler actually did complete the full meal. Not only that, but she ate three full meals in a row in under 20 minutes. She also only weighed 120 pounds when she began the challenge.

The restaurant has an extensive history starting in 1960. It was opened by R.J. Lee on Route 66 to entice travelers with its impressive 60-foot-high neon cowboy sign. The first location also featured employees on horseback that would welcome restaurant goers as they approached. The steak challenge came to fruition about eight months after the steakhouse opened and featured all the meal items it has today. The restaurant relocated to its current residence in 1971, fell victim to a fire in 1976, and was rebuilt and reopened in 1978. Mr. Lee opened up a Texas-themed motel to match the steakhouse on the east side of the lot the restaurant was located in in the year of 1983. This motel boasted a striking Texas-shaped pool to match its style.

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Map #1 Title: Driving directions from The Big Texan Steak Ranch & Brewery to 11 Marketing + Design

Map #2 Title: Driving directions from The Big Texan Steak Ranch to the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum