George Mallory, when asked why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest, replied, “Because it is there.”
Hear, hear, George. I won’t be climbing Everest anytime soon, but Mallory’s words ring true in any daunting scenario. Sometimes what seems large, foreboding, and perhaps impossible can be can be accomplished with determination, will, and some Tums.
These local eat-feats will challenge you to explore places you may have never heard of, and will provide heroic attempts at free t-shirts.
Gena’s Restaurant 5947 S Sunbury Rd., Westerville
Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day, which is great because after tackling the pancake challenge at Gena’s, it’s probably gonna be your only meal of the day. The restaurant rolled out its three-pancake challenge when it opened for business in 2004, and although three may not seem like a lot, consider that each weighs a pound. If you finish your stack in 45 minutes (without leaving the building), your photo goes on a wall that offers a lot of room for more company. Many have tried, most have failed.
Gahanna Grill 82 Granville St., Gahanna
The Gahanna Grill is one of the best places for burgers in the county. The book Hamburger America ranks it among the 100 best burger places from state to state. My favorite is the Beanie Burger, named after the cook who created it (before some of you were born). Take a half-pound bacon cheeseburger, then add sautéed onions, lettuce, tomato, and a heap of homemade coleslaw, then double the meat and the cheese to create the Double Beanie Burger challenge. Finish it in 30 minutes for a T-shirt and your photo on the wall. There are two photos of me (when I was a few stones lighter) still hanging around. This is the easiest of all the challenges I have tried and would be a good warm-up lap if you plan to do any other eat-feats.
Melt Bar and Grilled 840 N High St.
Imagine a grilled cheese with 13 different cheese; three slices of grilled bread, then add a heap of hand-cut fries and slaw. This pile of dairy pleasure weighs over five pounds. If you finish all of this without any trips to the bathroom, you earn a Melt
T-shirt or pint glass, a $10 gift card, and entry to the online Melt Challenge Hall of Fame. Adam Richman of Man vs. Food tried it, and so can you. Pro tip: eat only a head of lettuce the day before.
The Ohio Deli 3444 S High St.
I double-dog dare you to try the Dagwood challenge. Eat the biggest Dagwood sandwich you will ever encounter and the fries on the side in 30 minutes to get a t-shirt and a photo on the wall. I’d say this is the second easiest challenge in this epic eating quest, since I’ve defeated the Dagwood three out of three times. What is truly amazing is that one person ate this tower of deli meat in six minutes, while another bested it in seven minutes and washed it down with a slice of pie.
Neighbor’s Deli 2142 W Henderson Rd.
The name (Monolith) says it all. If you can eat this monster and a side in 20 minutes and 14 seconds, your photo goes on the wall, a T-shirt goes on your back, and you earn my respect. I’ve tried to eat this twice and failed. But if you succeed, the sandwich is free. This is a tough one. It weighs at least four and a half pounds, it measures at least nine inches in height, and it includes (in order): bread,
Swiss cheese, corned beef, pastrami, horseradish, onion, pickle, coleslaw, bread, cheddar, roast beef, lettuce, tomato, spicy mustard, bread, jalapenos, pepperjack, smoked ham, turkey, lettuce, tomato, oregano mayonnaise, bacon, and more bread. I’m worn out from writing that. Pro tip: save the bacon for the end, eat your pickle at the mid point…also, settle your affairs and tell your family you love them.
Joseppi’s Pizza 4764 W Broad St. (and three other locations)
The Mega Meat Challenge is a great way to cement a friendship. All you have to do is team up with your favorite clean plater and fork over $50 for the opportunity to eat a 28-inch pizza topped with pepperoni, sausage, ham, ground beef, and bacon. The mix of meat weighs six pounds. Your team supreme has 60 minutes to make it go away. You are not allowed to leave the restaurant, but Joseppi’s is kind enough to offer you a bucket should one of you falter between slices. The key is to keep your eye on the prizes: $100, gift certificates, two t-shirts and your team photo on the wall of fame. (Note: the West Broad location only sports one photo). They even kick in free drinks during the challenge if you ask.
Thurman Café 183 Thurman Ave. (and two other locations)
Everyone – even vegans and vegetarians – knows about The Thurman Café, our local institution. Their burgers were big and creatively topped before that was the modus operandi for the industry. Thurman’s also caught the eye of Hamburger America and Man vs. Food. If you want to add a notch on your mass consumption belt, then the burger created in honor of the Arnold Classic is the way to go. The Thurmanator is no puny thing, it is pumped up. Take the standard Thurman Burger (which stacks every topping you can think of then mash a bacon cheeseburger on top of that. If you want to be extra cool, say “I’ll be back” when you finish the last bite.