The Big Texan Steak Ranch & Brewery

Amarillo can be cited for its involvement in Route 66, the famous Cadillac Ranch, and another unusual attraction. This attraction is likely the thing the city is most known for because of the challenge it features. Billboards lining the roads into the city miles out from city limits and beyond advertising the contest to the public. The billboards read “Free 72oz Steak,” but if you look closely, you’ll be able to see the details of what you have to do to earn that free hunk of meat. The attraction is named The Big Texan Steak Ranch & Brewery and is an extravagant western/cowboy-themed restaurant. 

The Big Texan Steak Ranch & Brewery sits on Interstate 40 on the way in from east of the city at 7701 I-40 East, Amarillo, TX 79118. It is open from 10:00 am to 10:30 pm every day of the week and features a giant neon cowboy sign that was part of the original building. When the steakhouse first opened, visitors could expect to see riders on horseback around the facility only to be greeted by them. People traveling down Route 66 would stop at this attraction to indulge in some cowboy culture on their way through the great state of Texas. 

R.J. Lee opened The Big Texan in 1960 as a way to give travelers an exciting time when making their way through Amarillo on Route 66. The restaurant was moved to its current location in 1971 and, a few years later, was the victim of a fire. This fire demolished the main dining hall, so the banquet hall equipped with 300 seats was used for the restaurant patrons. The restaurant was reconstructed two years later in a manner that truly encompassed the feel of the wild west. 

Not only is The Big Texan very well known in Amarillo and its surrounding areas, but it is also well known across the country. It is one of the most notable sites on Route 66 and has hosted an array of famous celebrities. It has also been featured and parodied in TV shows and movies. The film “Waking Up in Reno,” film released in 2003, features a scene in which Billy Bob Thorton attempts the restaurant’s famous 72 oz Steak Challenge in the presence of Patrick Swayze, Charlize Theron, and Natasha Richardson. 

The challenge is made up of a shrimp cocktail, salad, dinner roll, baked potato, and, of course, a 72 oz steak, and contestants must consume every bite of food in an hour or less. This whopping meal might not seem intimidating when you hear about what it entails, but the restaurant keeps a recreation of the meal in a display case to take a look at it while visiting, and it will truly make your stomach hurt just by looking at it. If the person completes the challenge, they do not have to pay for their dinner. If they lose, however, they have to pay for the whole 72 oz steak dinner. They will also get their picture hung on the wall featuring the winners of the challenge. 

Many people have tried their hand at the challenge, but it only boasts a 12% rate of completion. The famous wrestler Klondike Bill ate two full dinners within the time frame in 1963, and in 2008, Man vs. Food host Adam Richman tried his hand at the challenge and succeeded. Undoubtedly, the most impressive challenge attempt that has ever been done was by a 120-pound woman named Molly Schuyler. Schuyler impressively ate three complete 72 oz steak dinners in under 20 minutes. She even wanted to eat a fourth, but the owners would not let her.

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Map from The Big Texan Steak Ranch & Brewery to William Wheeler, Amarillo REALTOR

Map from The Big Texan Steak Ranch & Brewery to Amarillo Route66