Friday, August 26, 2011
Mmmmm.... pancakes! A couple months ago, Aaron Ybarra and I met up for a pancake challenge in downtown Fullerton. Heroes Bar & Grill is known better for its nightlife, but on Sunday mornings they tempt us mass consumers with an offer for free breakfast.
That's a stack of six large pancakes. Of course, everything Heroes serves is large. Their nachos or chili cheese fries could easily pass off as challenges. All their beverages come to the table in huge glass mugs. The pancakes are just following a set reputation for grandiosity.
The challenge is simple. Eat all six pancakes, a cup of fruit, and two strips of bacon (I subbed more fruit) in one sitting and your $12 meal is free. There's no time limit. We were confident that we'd finish, and it turns out that didn't need more than 20 minutes when it was all said and done.
Of course, Aaron and I aren't strangers. We've done plenty of challenges together. We clashed in at least two contests. So for this challenge, we decided to do something special and create a "how to" video regarding approaching a challenge like this one.
The video process is a bit frustrating. You don't always remember that you're on camera while eating. There's moments where I look messy. We stopped to give little hints, and there is some humor going back and forth between "Froyo" and the "Freak." Hopefully you like the finished product.
We left the place feeling not quite stuffed, but fluffy. That's pancakes for you.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Time to report a Tucson double header. Not one eating challenge, but two, roughly 45 minutes apart during a roadtrip last January. All that driving and hanging out with friends and make you hungry. Tucson has a few big meals to satiate that drive.
La Botana serves up a 5 lb burrito challenge, but my gut tells me it weighed more than 5 lbs. You get 45 minutes to finish this behemoth or you'll fork over $30. The insides are filled with steak, rice, potatoes, freshly sliced jalapenos, salsa, and cheese.
There was no reason to rush on this one. It tasted incredible. I really liked the red sauce the potatoes were cooked in. My completion time of 18 minutes wasn't shocking, but the staff sure acted like it. Michelle the "Cardboard Shell" completed this burrito before her MLE days, and that's how I stumbled onto the restaurant.
After a burrito, it was time for dessert. I was going in for a rematch against the 9000 calorie Sugar OD offered up at Something Sweet Dessert Lounge. I'd already conquered this sugary monster, but they have nothing against repeat offenders.
Huge brownies, collosal chunks of cheesecake, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry! This monstrosity is a full-on meal. When I ventured inside, the Wall of Fame consisted entirely of 4 serious eaters. It's not for the faint of heart. As tough as it was last time, I was back for more.
Things went more smoothly this time. Despite my earlier meal, I improved my completion time from 30 minutes down to 23. "Cardboard Shell" was the first finisher of this challenge, and still maintains the house record of 15 minutes 11 seconds. I'm happy enough being the first person to finish it twice. That's a ton of sugar. The "brownie sludge" at the end was the hardest part.. it was like chomping into sweet dirt. I'd say it needs more ice cream to keep the pile interesting.
One of these days, I'll learn to eat like normal people.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Well, this is what was left of the Monster Burger Combo after 15 minutes. The manager does play-by-play commentary over the PA system as you chow down. He remarked that he never saw anyone tear into the burger the way I did. It only took me 6 minutes to demolish the massive hamburger, but the fries were too much. I stopped eating (and drinking) around the 13 minute mark when I saw it was hopeless.
The manager decided to credit me with his restaurant's first-ever challenge victory in 5 years. That got me a $25 refund and a t-shirt. He was impressed with the way I annihilated the burger and drained over half the pitcher. I was a bit crestfallen that I didn't finish it all.
In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have done this after waging a double cheeseburger war with Johnnie Excel. Lesson learned.
A few weeks later, Kevin Ross rolled in and got even closer to a 100% finish. He nearly finished all the fries! I don't have photos, but he was credited with the second-ever win over the Monster Burger Challenge. Maybe one day we'll both roll in starving and go for broke. I feel like I could take this one on an empty stomach.
Stephen Obar informed me that he also completed the burger within 10 minutes, but was unable to conquer the massive pile of stringy potatoes. This challenge is a beast.
So who's next? Where's winner #3?
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Some challenges feel more like contests. Yankee Doodles, in Santa Monica, offers a stupendous burger challenge with a 15 minute time limit. You gotta eat it all to win: the burger, the fries, and a pitcher of drink.
Does it even seem plausible? That's a 24 oz patty smothered in cheese and vegetable toppings buried beneath a mammoth custom bun. The whole monstrosity straddles about 1.5 lbs of french fries. The pitcher of "drink" (soda, water, or anything else on the menu) couldn't be any less than 44 oz. It's a ton in 15 minutes.
The manager told me that they had run the challenge for five years. In those five years not one person even managed to finisher the burger. What's the story? An impossible challenge?
I started to wonder if they even kept champion t-shirts on hand. This looked like a solid bet for the House. Maybe they'd get $30 out of me too.
Monday, August 8, 2011
The Pregnant Burrito is El Nopal's signature dish. It's a 2 lb concoction, stuffed inside with chicken, avocado and onions. They glaze the top of the tortilla with red sauce and jack cheese, and you're all set. It's a set piece of baked deliciousness.
El Nopal runs an official house record challenge for the most burritos consumed in one sitting. New champions get their food for free and score a golden t-shirt. Unofficially, they also recognize a speed record for consuming one Pregnant Burrito.
On July 29, 2011, it stood at 6:05. Around 1 PM, Matt Cohen walked inside the restaurant and ordered his meal. The record wouldn't stand a chance.
Down to 1:38, a decent time on a messy 2 lb dish. Things would have gone more quickly if Matt went for a "hands-on" approach, but it was still fun to watch.
Does anyone else want a burrito now?
Sunday, August 7, 2011
The Bull Shed Bar & Grill is tucked away behind a series of hotels in Bakersfield. GPS isn't helpful, but there are plenty of signs. If you can find it, you might be able to take on their Big Bad Bull Shed Burger Challenge. You get 45 minutes to tackle a burger featuring 2.5 lbs of meat and 2.5 lbs of fries.
Winners get a shirt and a free meal, losers get a bill for $30 and a very full stomach. At the time I took this challenge, there were two previous victors. And for good reason! You've got a lot of starch to contend with, so I tackled the pile of wedge cut potatoes first.
The waitress was concerned that I wouldn't get to the burger in time, but 45 minutes is plenty. The fries tasted great. It wouldn't have been bad if this was a 6 lb fry challenge. Switching to the burger, I discovered a dense bun that tasted sweeter than brioche and burger meat that was well-seasoned.
Eating at a leisurely pace, the challenge was over in 32 minutes. I'd estimate the whole meal at just under 7 pounds. The heavy bread and vegetable toppings add considerable weight.
The restaurant was quiet when I visited on a Saturday afternoon. Some guys were playing pool on the far side of the dining area, and there were a few guys at the bar. It was nice to eat in peace for a change.
Maybe I would have tried their mechanical bull machine if I was there during its hours of operation. All I will say is they have a solid challenge going. They need to get more people in the doors! The environment was welcoming, the food was delicious, and the servers were attentive. I can't say that about every establishment.
Monday, August 1, 2011
A few hours after getting a 4+ lb sugar high in Bakersfield, I was ready to eat some Mexican food in Danville.
Here's their challenge: a 5 lb burrito, complete with two types of meat, cheese, rice, salsa, and covered in more sauce and glazed with sour cream. They'll give you an hour to take it down. If you fail it's about $20. Since this was the day's second challenge (back in June 2011), I knew it wouldn't be a blitz.
Things proceeded at a brisk pace. Eating dessert before the main course offers a strange perspective, like you entered the store through the exit door. I didn't feel full but I wasn't famished either. There was plenty of room to store this delectable burrito. As I was eating, a very large man walked up to me and told me that he thought I could do it, and that he'd buy me a drink if I won. Well, eating challenges sometimes bring up strange offers in people...
And when I say he was big, height was part of the description. The guy was at least 6'9, taller than Ben Monson, and probably the tallest human being I'd ever up close. While I was continuing to chomp away, the server informed me that the gargantuan man was actually a member of the Oakland Raiders football team, and dined there frequently. Wow.
That wasn't the only interesting detail about this challenge. As I got close to a finish, a large group of diners suddenly stood up in their chairs and started clapping and cheering. They wanted to see a win! This wasn't something I'd encountered before. It made me a little nervous, but I concentrated on my plate.
Oh, and I can't forget the diner who suddenly ran up to my table, grabbed my camera and starting snapping pictures of me eating. That was both weird and appreciated.
When it was all over, the manager gave me a baseball cap advertising his restaurant. Several staff members congratulated me, and that's when I revealed my previous dessert challenge of the day.
Shock and awe just about sums it up.