On our long drive from Oklahoma City to Albuquerque, we noted that Amarillo, Texas was pretty much right in the middle of our drive. Our friend Bec recommended that we check out the Big Texan, located right on I-40. This restaurant is quintessential Texan (at least silly, cheesy Texas) and is famous for its “free??? 72 ounce steak. Neither the Husband nor I were interested in trying to win it, but we definitely wanted to check this place out on our drive. We planned the drive so that we would arrive right around lunch time. It was not hard to find at all!
Inside the restaurant, everything appeared to be made out of cows (or wood in areas that couldn’t be cow-made such as the chairs). The place was huge, with I believe two levels of restaurant, all looking out over the stage that those trying the 72oz steak (and sides!) contest get to eat on (and are timed from – one hour to eat it all or it’s $72).
The food menu could be saved as a souvenir We looked through the regular menu and found the lunch specials on one side of it. Each lunch special came with two sides, of which there were many to choose from.
The Husband ordered the only Texan beer on the menu, the Ziegenbock. It was dark in color but light in flavor and refreshing.
From the lunch specials, the Husband chose to go with the Chicken Fried Steak – he claims it’s the best one he ever had. His side items were Beef Steak Tomatoes and Red Onions and the Mac N Cheese. Both the main dish and tomatoes came with a jalapeno on the side. The Husband ate his and his mouth was quite on fire for a bit
The lunch special I chose was the Smoke Spare Ribs and BBQ Brisket. On the side I chose the fried okra and mac n cheese. The meat was tender (especially the ribs), but too much for me for lunch. I enjoyed the mac n cheese and the fried okra was fine. Nothing to write home about.
The lunch special also came with soft, warm rolls. Yum!
Our waitress was sweet and attentive. We asked her how often customers try to tackle the 72 ounce steak and her answer surprised us. Apparently it happens at least once a day, some times up to 25 people a day. If she had to estimate, she thought that one in eight actually finish it!!! That surprised us as well. If we understood correctly, to finish it, you have to eat the whole steak and some sides, which didn’t look small themselves, all in less than an hour. As you walk into the restaurant, the food is on display on your right. Look how big it is!!!
Definitely not something we’d like to try, but it might be fun to watch someone else do it.
The overall Big Texan building itself is huge. Aside from the very large restaurant, there’s a pretty big bar area, complete with a carnival type shooting gallery :-) There’s also a gift shop if I remember correctly.
The Big Texan was a fun stopover on our way to New Mexico. If you find yourself in Amarillo, either overnight or driving by, stop by and at least see what it looks like (even if you don’t have time to eat). You won’t regret it!
As a side note, I see that, at the time of this posting, this restaurant gets a 49% on Urbanspoon. I just want to be clear that this place is FUN and definitely a touristy spot. We enjoyed our food, but we had it as a lunch special so we can’t speak to the value of dinner. There are nice steakhouses everywhere truthfully, but when can you go to one that looks like this? We recommend it as a fun place to check out