Thursday, May 1, 2008

You Ate What??

What am I eating??? Read on for the answer...

I returned to Amarillo, Texas, again this week for work. I've been there about 6 or 7 times in the past 3 years, but this time I made sure to get some new experiences since this may be my last scheduled visit for sometime. As far as I can tell, there are THREE (3) places to go in Amarillo:

1) Downtown. I'll toss that one in there even though there really isn't a ton there. It's run-down, quiet, and clearly not the focal-point of the city. There are about 2 blocks of restaurants that look like they're only busy a couple hours a day. But it's an intriguing place and shows how our car culture really takes the emphasis off downtowns and leaves them ghost towns, even in a city of several hundred thousand like Amarillo. There are a few attractive buildings like the City Hall and the Chamber of Commerce.

2) Palo Duro Canyon State Park. They call it the Grand Canyon of Texas. That sounds hokey, but actually, this is far and away one of the best state parks I've ever seen. It is a major canyon that is also rather accessible. It has gorgeous terrain and is heavily used by mountain bikers and trail runners. You know I got my run on!

3) Oh yeah, the BIG TEXAN. Home of the 72-oz steak. If people have heard of anything about Amarillo, this is usually it. This restaurant is pure tourist-trap Texan kitsch. And it is a must-see. I had been avoiding it for years, but I finally made a visit. And it was amazing. Their claim to fame is that if you eat a 72-oz steak, potato, roll, salad and shrimp cocktail in 1 hour, it's free. Many have tried, most have failed. I did not attempt this feat/feast since I had to work the next day, but I was tempted. Randomly, the Big Texan was featured in this MSN article the same week I was there!

While I was dining at the Big Texan, at the urging of some of my Texan colleagues, I tried some seafood. A local variety of oysters. Rocky Mountain I believe. (I wasn't fooled, I knew what they were). I tried one and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. But I didn't eat a second one (although I suppose they should be consumed in pairs). I'll throw in some photos from my Big Texan experience.

The Big Texan himself looms over the Interstate

Can you eat the 72-oz steak and fixins?

The table where the "magic" happens. Many have tried, most have failed...

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