Anyway, once I tell them I'm from Amarillo, Texas they either nod politely and say, I'd have guessed Alabama, or they say, "Hey, I've driven through there." And then they mention one of two things. Cadillac Ranch which I talked about in an earlier My Town Monday post, or The Big Texan Steak Ranch.
The two actually have a good many things in common. Both are on Interstate 40. Cadillac Ranch on the western end of Amarillo and The Big Texan on the eastern. Depending on your direction of travel, they are either one of the first or last impressions you have of the city.
They are both listed in various roadside attraction books and magazines, both have been used as movie sets and both revel in their kitschy - ness.
And since I've covered one, I'm going to give you a detailed look at other this week. The following is directly from The Big Texan's website ...
In 1960, the Big Texan Steak Ranch opened its doors alongside old Route 66 in Amarillo, Texas. On evening a hungry cowboy ventured in bragging that he was so hungry that he could "eat the whole, darned cow." Big Texan founder, R.J. "Bob" Lee started cooking him steaks. When the cowpoke finally hollered "calf rope," he had consumed 4 1/2 pounds of tasty Texas beef. Bob vowed from that day forward the dinner would be served "FREE" to anyone who could consume it in one hour.
The FREE 72oz. STEAK dinner is still flourishing at the Big Texan. More than 40,000 people have attempted to consume the Free 72oz. Steak dinner since 1960. About 7,000 have succeeded. People from all over the world continue to visit us to take the challenge and claim the bragging rights.
Interstate 40 is one of, if not the longest interstate highways in the United States. The road runs from Wilmington, North Carolina in the East all the way to Barstow, California in the West. If you travel anywhere on it's length you might spy a billboard advertising The Big Texan and their
*FREE 72oz Steak. Free being the case only of you consume the entire dinner in one hour or less. Otherwise you meal will set you back a dollar for ever once of Texas beef you are served. That's right fail to eat everything on under an hour and the bill will say $72.00.
No, I've never attempted the feat. To be honest I am fairly confident I could eat that much steak, but the rules say you must eat the entire meal which consists of 72oz of top sirloin steak, shrimp cocktail, baked potato, a dinner roll and the very devil itself -- salad. (For those new to the blog I do not eat anything green, especially lettuce as in my view it is the spawn of Satan) And I ain't all that crazy about crustaceans floating in tomato sauce either. Fried or grilled shrimp I like but you can keep the Shrimp cocktail.
If you want to read some interesting facts about the history of the challenge, click here.
Along with the restaurant there is a motel for people and one for horses . Inside the decor is splashed with every conceivable stereotype of Texas and the Old west. There is a small arcade shooting range, hundreds upon hundred of animal mounts, a giant ricking chair. The female wait staff is decked out in the attire of 1880's saloon girl and the men wear boots, jeans and cowboy hats. a three piece western band moves around the table playing old cowboy classics and the kids meals are sered in a straw hat.
Many times they have live music, including a Texas Opry and in the summer they have a live band and dancing in the outdoor facilities.
And of course there is a gift shop stacked with every thing a drugstore cowboy would ever need. There is also a pen full of live rattlesnakes in the shop[ as well as many forms of Texas souvenirs.
The place is frequented by more tourists than locals and is priced along with similar establishments, but I have had many a good steak there over the years as part of our local writing conference out organization normally takes visiting agents, editors, and authors to The Big Texan for dinner.
Stay at any I-40 hotel and The Big Texan will gladly send a limo to pick you up and fetch you out to their establishment. In one of these ...
The limo that is, not the giant cow.
Or, if you are dying to try a a bit of The Big Texan's beef, but you aren't going to be passing this way, you can mail order order their seasoned steaks via www.ilovesteaks.com But only at the holidays so you'll have to wait a while.
In 2007 Maxim magazine listed The Big Texan as one of America's top ten steakhouses and the travel channel listed it as a top ten destination to make a glutton of yourself.
No it is not my favorite restaurant in town, or even my preferred place to eat a steak but The Big Texan is a unique part of Amarillo and a place that will give you a good meal and a bit of a show while you dine. And The Lee family which still own it today are generous supporters of the city who give back to the community so I don't mind overpaying every now and then. And I certainly recommend it over the other chain restaurant that dominate I-40 through town.
Any of y'all ever eaten there? Seen the billboards? heard of the place?
Links to other blogger's, My Town Monday Posts will be included below as I become aware of them, so let me know in the comments of you decide to join in this week.
Alex Keto reconts a story that got away, while he was a journalist in Bonn, Germany.
Debbie Lou tells us about one of Bishops Stortford, England's famous residents.
Lyzzydee gives us a royal look at England's Hatfield House.
Josephine Damian teaches us a bit of history about her dad, George Washington and her town of New Rochelle, New York.
Sex Scenes at Starbucks takes us down the slopes of Winter Park, Colorado.
The Anti-Wife introduces us to her college hometown, Carbondale, Illinois.
Merry Monteleone takes us out the the ballgame with a post about Chicago, Illinois's Wrigley Field.