It’s easy to see why food challenges are here to stay: restaurants enjoy the spectacle of customers eating mega-portions of their food; ambitious diners relish winning attention and maybe a T-shirt for clearing their plates. But, real talk: you’ve got to be out of your mind, very hungry, or both to take on these food challenges. Some are heat level-based, some are volume-based, but all are for the taking. Pick your poison and ready your fork because here are the biggest food challenges around Philly.
Jim’s Cheesesteak Challenge
Jim’s SteaksAddress and Info
Time limit: One hour
Prize: Free cheesesteaks if you break the record, massive bragging rights
How many cheesesteaks can you shove into your face in an hour? Current record-holder Bob “The Notorious BOB” Shoudt managed to put away 20 sandwiches in the time it takes to watch one House of Cards episode. That’s a lot of bread, meat, and cheese, people. Take on his record, if you dare.
Pudge’s SteaksAddress and Info
Time limit: 30 minutes
Prize: Free food, along with a T-shirt
As far as food challenges go, this one is fairly straightforward. There’s not a crazy combination of food, there’s just a lot of it. Gobble down a large cheesesteak, a 3lb tray of fries, and a large soft drink in 30 minutes or less, and a Pudge's T-shirt is yours.
The Drinker’s Challenge
Drinker's TavernAddress and Info
Old City (& other locations)
Time limit: 13 minutes
Prize: Free food, a T-shirt, your name engraved on a plaque on the wall, and a bottle of Joe’s Hot Sauce.
... And, if you complete this challenge at all three Drinker’s locations, you get free drinks for a year. Slam 33 of the $1 chicken or beef tacos in 13 minutes and glory will be yours.
Gordo Board Taco Challenge
Loco PezAddress and Info
Time limit: Nine minutes
Prize: A T-shirt, your name written on the Gordo Board
Sure, these street-style tacos are small -- about two bites each -- but they add up. Twenty tacos is roughly 4lbs of food. Note that even if you win, you still have to pay for the tacos you ate.
The Kibitz Room Challenge
The Kibitz RoomAddress and Info
Cherry Hill, NJ
Time limit: 55 minutes or less
Prize: The food is free, you get your name written on the Wall of Shame
Your waistband better be made of elastic to tackle this behemoth. Not only do you have to eat this Frankenstein of a sandwich brimming with all kinds of deli meat and sandwich toppings -- corned beef, pastrami, turkey, roast beef, and brisket with coleslaw, Russian dressing, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion, to be exact -- but you also have to eat an order of potato salad, coleslaw, and one of each kind of pickle Kibitz makes. Beware: if you can’t finish it, there’s a $50 charge. You don’t have to unhinge your jaw to chomp on this bad boy, but man, it would it help.
Grand Salami Challenge
South Philly Bar & GrillAddress and Info
Time limit: 20 minutes
Prize: The food’s free if you finish it
Right in the heart of South Philly’s Cheesesteak Vegas is a truly impressive food challenge. This massive cheesesteak contains more than 6lbs of meat and various cheeses with mushrooms and onions. It’s like eating Thor’s forearm.
The Classic Whale
Spread BagelryAddress and Info
Time limit: 60 minutes for one person, 45 minutes for two people, 30 minutes for three people
Prize: If you can gobble the whole thing in the allotted time, it’s free
With two days advance notice, you and up to two of your buddies can take on this monster. It’s a 4lb Montreal-style everything bagel with three pounds of Coney Island smoked salmon, two pounds of Spread’s whitefish salad, and two pounds of farm cheese with (un)healthy servings of tomatoes, onions, and capers piled on top. This is basically what Godzilla would eat if it came to brunch at your bubbe’s house.
Three Levels of Hell
Meatheads DeliAddress and Info
Time limit: 30 minutes
Prize: A cash jackpot
This is the most convoluted of all the food challenges we’ve seen. Three of the spiciest half-hoagies -- the Devil’s Flame, the Super Devil’s Flame, and The Non-Sense -- need to be consumed in order of least to most hot, along with a side of ghost pepper au jus. You can only drink water or soda during the challenge, no heat-tamping dairy. If you finish it all, the cash jackpot is yours. However, if you fail, you have to kick $50 into the kitty. Only those over 18 can participate -- you need to sign a waiver.
Man Vs Food Crazy Dogg Challenge
Crazy Doggs GrillAddress and Info
Time limit: 15 minutes
Prize: A free meal and a T-shirt
A pound of hot dogs, 2lbs of chili, and two pounds of fries splattered with Cheez Whiz round out this buckle-buster. It’s $20, but on the house if you lick the plate clean.
1. Spread Bagelry262 S 20th St, Philadelphia
2. Jim's Steaks400 South St, Philadelphia
3. Pudge's Steaks & Hoagies1555 Sumneytown Pike, Lansdale
4. The Kibitz Room100 Springdale Rd, Cherry Hill
5. South Philly Bar & Grill1235 E Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia
6. Loco Pez2401 E Norris Ave, Philadelphia
7. Meatheads Deli3362 Grant Ave, Philadelphia
8. Drinker's Tavern124 Market St, Philadelphia
9. Crazy Doggs Grill913 Lincoln Ave, Prospect Park
This bakery's cooking up bagels that boast a sweeter taste since they're prepped Montreal-style (boiled in honey water, then baked in a wood-fired oven), and's offering them topped with one of seven spreads including olive oil/ garlic/ cream cheese,
You cannot call yourself a true cheesesteak lover without stopping by Jim's Steaks. They have a wide variety of sandwiches to choose from, including the classic cheesesteak. Those who feel that one cheesesteak isn't enough can try the Jim's Cheesesteak Challenge.
In a town known for it's cheesesteaks, you need to make a pretty fantastic sandwich in order to stand out. Enter: Pudge's Steaks & Hoagies, which serves up the best cheesesteak you will ever eat in your life. If one sandwich isn't enough for you, make sure to enter yourself into their cheesesteak challenge.
Okay, technically this place isn't in Philly, but it is totally worth the trip to Jersey. Here you'll not only enjoy delicious food, but you can partake in The Kibitz Room Challenge, where you need to eat their monster sandwich in under an hour.
Just because, SPBG's hosting a 15hr Rocky marathon on Sat in the very neighborhood where Balboa used to chug those nasty raw egg drinks, knocking out all six classics in reverse order, with all-day specials on beer, punch, and pizza before an all-night after-party.
Loco's a blessedly Tex-Mex neighborhood dive set up in the former old-man Crazy Fish Saloon, keeping the fish tank but adding ornamental Pez dispensers and Julio Iglesias portraits to admire while you take down refried beans-/ crema-topped hot dogs, fish tacos, margaritas, and micheladas, plus six taps including Dos Equis, Victory Prima Pils, and Lionshead, also what occurs after the cameras stopped rolling on that YouTube video with him hugging the dudes who raised him.
Meathead's Deli is known by locals as having some of the best food in Philadelphia. If you dare, be sure to enter their food challenge, the Three Levels of Hell, where you are required to eat the world's spiciest hoagie in 30 minutes.
With a murderer's row of bars in the area, the one true dive bar that sticks out in Old City is Drinker’s. Those claiming that Khyber Pass is a dive bar are fooling themselves; dive bars aren’t stocked with a beer selection that includes Bayerischer Banhof Leipziger. Drinker’s, however, is the quintessential dive -- a place where you go to drink, often times hard. It serves 40s, cheap draft beer, and boozy huggie bombs (for the nostalgic). And like any dive bar, the food is pretty good as long as it’s swimming in buffalo sauce.
Crazy Doggs Grill is known for their out-of-this-world hot dogs by locals and tourists alike. All of the best ballpark-style food can be found here, and if you are up to the challenge, try their Man Vs. Food Crazy Dogg Challenge.