It's not often I get to say so, but I wish I'd been in Amarillo last night.
That's where the Big Texan Steak Ranch kicked off its two-month team rib-eating tourney, where one of 32 four-eater teams will try to gorge their way to glory, and a $1,000 grand prize. Last night was the first of the weekly qualifying rounds, which'll run every Tuesday night at 7 until March 1. Each week's winner advances to the March 6 semifinals, followed by the championship two days later, March 8.
If you think you and three friends are cast from the stuff of champions, Beth Connell at the Big Texan told us you'd better be sure before making that road trip -- last night's competition was pretty serious. With 12.8 meat-pounds in 10 minutes, last night's winners were a team of Army mechanics, she said, beating out the next-best team by just 4 ounces. The runners-up, a team called "Hog Wild," already signed up to go again, she said.
That alone is a testament to their team spirit -- the day I ate 67.5 ounces of a 72-ounce Big Texan steak, eating another one was the last thing on my mind. At least until most of it came back up on the Interstate 40 access road beside the Cadillac Ranch.
Connell says the Big Texan owners, Bobby and Danny Lee, had been trying to dream up a fitting celebration for the roadside destination's gold anniversary. In the end, this particular tag-team meatstravaganza was a little bit about the dough. "We got a really good deal from our rib vendor," Connell said.
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Next week's schedule's already set with a foursome from an Amarillo arena football team, and the "Silver Bullets," a team of Coors factory workers, she said. Another team's already registered under the name "We Like Big Racks" -- but Connell says she's still got seven or eight spots left, for now. It's $40 per team to register, which you can do online. And even if you can't line up a team of friends, Connell reminds, ribs are $1 and beer's $2 on Tuesday nights.