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Statewide Food 0

Arkansas Food-Eating Challenges


Are you looking for a bit of adventure with your meal? I love adventure and have tried some exotic foods like octopus, possum and even kangaroo. I watch the hot dog eating championship on TV every July Fourth and would likely surprise a few people with the number of hot wings I can consume. There are a lot of foods I love, but I’ve never participated in a food challenge where I had to eat large quantities of something in a certain amount of time.

For many, food challenges provide a thrilling experience beyond just eating a meal. They offer a chance to test one’s limits, push boundaries, and perhaps even earn a spot in the restaurant’s hall of fame. While eating a 4-pound steak may not be on my bucket list, a lot of people love food challenges and will travel distances to participate in them.

Local restaurants benefit from food challenges in several ways. They can attract attention and draw in customers looking for an unforgettable dining experience and help restaurants stand out in a competitive market, something especially important for locally-owned restaurants competing with larger chains. Additionally, food challenges can be a profitable venture for restaurants, as many challengers bring along friends or family who order regular menu items.

There are a handful of restaurants across Arkansas that offer food challenges. Each is different, but all are meant to be fun. Some are solo challenges, and some are team challenges. Either way, be sure to bring your family and friends along to cheer you along as you cross the finish line to clear your plate.

Burger Challenges

When it comes to food challenges in Arkansas, burger challenges reign supreme. These towering creations of meat, cheese, and toppings push the limits of what seems possible to consume in one sitting. Several restaurants across the state host burger-eating challenges, each with its own unique twist.

Bacon Burger Challenge – This Guy’s Smoke and Grill – Searcy
Challenge: Eat a burger made with three pounds of beef, one pound of bacon and eight slices of cheese, plus a pound of fries on the side.
Time Limit: 30 Minutes
Cost: $59.99
Prize: Get your meal FREE and get a free T-shirt.

Are you looking for more burger challenges? Check out these juicy deals!
Ed Walker’s Drive-In – Fort Smith
Grub’s Bar & Grille Downtown – Fayetteville
Angler’s White River Resort – Mountain View

Breakfast Challenges

My husband, Richie, and my 7-year-old son, George, love pancakes. If a restaurant has a giant pancake on the menu, they will order it every time. George will also want to cover his with all the toppings. Thankfully, Chelsea at Chit Chat & Chew Cafe in Searcy will always hook him up with the mountains of whipped cream. They’ve never won a prize but they sure have fun trying.

Full Stack Challenge – Chit Chat & Chew Cafe – Searcy
Challenge: Consume a full stack of three C4 dinner-plate-sized pancakes.
Time Limit: 40 minutes
Cost: $13.99
Prize: Free meal, Trophy

More Breakfast Challenges:
Bucket List Cafe – Center Ridge

Pizza Challenges

Everyone loves pizza, and a pizza challenge is always a big hit. My first experience with a pizza challenge came many years ago at Gusano’s when it was still in downtown Little Rock. As we dined, an incredibly large pizza (30 inches to be exact) was carried to a neighboring table where two guys were about to embark on the challenge. Folks gathered around and cheered as they attempted to consume the entire thing in under an hour. It created an exciting atmosphere that everyone in the restaurant got into. Although Gusano’s is no longer in Little Rock, the “Big G” challenge is still alive and well at their other locations.

“Big G” Team Pizza – Gusano’s – Various Locations
Challenge: A team of two people must eat a 30” pizza with up to three toppings.
Time Limit: 1 Hour
Cost: $49.99
Prize: Free Meal, T-shirt, Picture on Wall of Fame

Looking for more pizza challenges? Check out these spots:
Fox’s Pizza Den – Bono
Simple Simon’s Pizza – DeQueen

Mexican Food Challenges

I love tacos, and I could eat a healthy handful of them. Although I searched and searched, I couldn’t find a taco-eating contest in Arkansas, but I did find an incredible burrito challenge at Bocadillos in Dardanelle. The best part of this burrito is that you get some choice when it comes to the fillings, so you don’t only get a giant burrito – you get a giant burrito you will love.

Cheat Meal Burrito – Bocadillos Restaurant Tacos & Ice Cream – Dardanelle
Challenge: Consume a 6-7 pound burrito layered with meat, cheese, veggies, refried beans, rice and Mexican sauces.
Time Limit: 45 Minutes
Cost: $34.99
Prize: Free Meal, T-shirt, Wall of Fame

Steak Challenges

One of my favorite movies is the 1988 John Hughes comedy The Great Outdoors. In the movie, Chet Ripley (John Candy) is encouraged by his brother-in-law Roman Craig (Dan Aykroyd) to take on a steak-eating challenge called “The Ol’ 96er” in hopes of earning the entire party a free meal. The Brangus Steak Challenge isn’t quite that large, but it’s still a hefty 64 ounces plus the sides. Are you up to the challenge?

Brangus Steak Challenge – Brangus Steakhouse – Russellville
Challenge: Consume a four-pound steak, two sides and toast.
Time Limit: 1 Hour
Cost: $79.99
Prize: Free Meal, Wall of Fame


Arkansas is home to so many different food-related festivals and many have eating contests as part of the festivities. This is by no means an exhaustive list but here are several festivals that have historically hosted eating contests.

Fallin’ Blackbird Festival – Beebe
Johnson County Peach Festival – Clarksville
Armadillo Festival – Hamburg
Cave City Watermelon Festival – Cave City
Hope Watermelon Festival – Hope
Atkins Picklefest – Atkins

I probably missed a few, so please leave a comment telling me about any food challenges in your corner of the state!

Cover image taken by Rodney G. Steele and used with permission from the Hope Chamber of Commerce.

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Julie Kohl works from home as a writer and teaches art part-time at a local private school. A former Yankee who was "converted" to the south by her husband, Julie has grasped on to rural life in a sleepy, blink-your-eyes-and-you'll-miss-it town in central Arkansas where they raise chickens, farm hay and bake bread. Julie loves adventure and sharing it with her husband and son. They frequent the trails, campgrounds and parks of Arkansas, always on the hunt for new adventures and new stories to share. Learn more on her blog Seek Adventures Media.

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