Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch?
If you’re able to eat enough — fast enough — plenty of restaurants are willing to reward you for that talent.
Welcome to the wonderful world of food challenges. Throughout Northern Utah, any number of restaurants have thrown down the gorging gauntlet: Finish an eye-and-button-popping amount of food, usually in a set amount of time, and win something. Usually your meal free. Sometimes, a T-shirt or your photograph on the restaurant’s wall.
At No Frills Diner in Ogden, for example, if you’re able to eat a large amount of breakfast or lunch — and do it in under 20 minutes — the food is free.
No Frills Diner, at 449 W. 12th St., Ogden (801-393-6090), offers diners not one, but two food challenges. One for breakfast, and another for lunch.
For breakfast, the restaurant offers the “Ultimate King Omelet” challenge. It’s an omelet featuring a dozen eggs, ham, bacon, sausage, onions, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, jalapenos and cheddar cheese.
“It’s the equivalent of four omelets,” said restaurant owner Ron Yeates.
But that’s not all. This morning challenge also involves two large hashbrowns, a large drink and a large pancake.
Not in the mood for an omelet the size of Denver? For lunch, No Frills Diner offers up “The Terminator Burger” challenge. It’s two 10-ounce beef patties topped with pulled pork, bacon, ham, cheddar cheese and an onion ring on Texas toast. It’s also served with two large orders of onion rings and a large drink.
Each challenge at No Frills is $19.99. But if you finish either in 20 minutes or less, it’s totally free.
Yeates says of the roughly 80 people who’ve tried his breakfast challenge, about 35 have been successful. As for the burger, he’s had about 20 takers, but “maybe four” have completed it.
“A lady came in one day, she was the size of a toothpick,” Yeates recalls. “She did the breakfast and lunch challenges, one after the other. And she finished both.”
The fastest time for a No Frills challenge came from a cross-country skier who does these challenges all across the country, according to Yeates.
“He finished it in 3 minutes and 21 seconds,” Yeates said. “I don’t know how he even tasted it.”
And so, to those who would stand in front of a local cafe holding a “Will eat for food” cardboard sign, here are 11 other belly-busting food challenges that, if successfully completed, earn the contestant free food, swag or perhaps just bragging rights:
Burly Burger, 2572 E. South Weber Drive, Suite 4, South Weber. 801-479-7459.
The relatively new Burly Burger restaurant offers “The Brigham.”
“Legend says that 10 of Brigham Young’s wives were named Patty,” the challenge reads “Eat the entire burger, a large order of fries and a large shake by yourself … it’s on the house.”
If you don’t finish, it’s going to run you $47.
Burger Stop, 323 E. Gentile St., Layton. 801-544-8090.
Layton’s Burger Stop offers The Deuce, a food challenge that uses five 1/3 pound patties, five slices of cheese, two strips of bacon, lettuce, tomato, and onion rings on top. It’s just over two pounds of food, and if you finish in 30 minutes or less you get a free T-shirt and your photo on facebook.
“Almost everyone who takes the challenge finishes; I don’t think it’s hard enough,” said one employee.
Cost for The Deuce is $18.99.
Angie’s, 690 N. Main St., Logan. 435-752-9252.
At Angie’s in Logan, the restaurant offers its “Clean the Sink” challenge. The Sink is a layer of ice cream, three toppings, another layer of ice cream, and another layer of toppings. Plus two bananas, chopped nuts and a cherry on top. It’s close to a gallon of ice cream, according to a restaurant employee.
In exchange for Cleaning the Sink, you get your photo on the wall, bragging rights, and a bumper sticker that reads “I cleaned the sink at Angie’s.”
Cost is $14.99, and an employee there said they usually have someone try the challenge at least once a day.
Firehouse Pizzeria, 682 S. Main St., Logan. 435-787-4222.
Although the Brigham City location doesn’t offer a challenge, if you’re willing to drive a bit farther to Logan, you’re in business.
Firehouse Pizzeria offers the “36-inch Pizza Challenge.” Between the dough, sauce and cheese, it’s the equivalent of nine large pizzas, or about 40 slices.
The nice thing about this challenge is you don’t have to do it alone. But if two people can eat that monster in under an hour, they win just what they probably want after consuming 40 slices of pizza — free pizza for a year. Plus, that day’s 36-incher is free.
But be forewarned. According to a manager they’ve only had two people finish it at the restaurant’s past locations, and they haven’t had a single soul complete the challenge at the new location.
“But we do have a wall of shame,” the manager said. “We stick a photo of you with your leftover pizza on the wall.”
And if you don’t meet the challenge? It’s $45 for the pizza, and $9 for each topping.
Sill’s Cafe, 335 E. Gentile St., Layton. 801-544-7438
At Sill’s Cafe in Layton, the challenge is a simple one. Eat a stack of three pancakes in one sitting, and you don’t have to pay for it. At least, not with money.
But, an employee cautions, these pancakes are “ginormous,” with a diameter of about 12 inches.
“I’ve worked here about a year and a half, and I’ve never seen anybody finish them,” she said.
Cost for the three pancakes? A reasonable $7.50.
Steiny’s Family Sports Grill, 119 600 West, Ogden. 801-781-3663.
If you think you’re up for it, try the Steiny Challenge at Steiny’s Family Sports Grill, in Ogden. It’s two one-pound burgers with the traditional pickles, onions and lettuce, but topped with a hot dog, a spicy polish dog, and five ounces of ham. Oh, and you also have to down a large cheese fries and two beverages — although it can be anything from water to beer.
Cost is $25, but if you can do it in 15 minutes or less your meal is free.
“We’ve only had five people do it in seven and a half years,” explained manager Tessa Fillpot. “And we have about 25 to 30 people try it every year.”
Surprisingly, in all that time Fillpot says they’ve only had one challenger get sick.
“But he made it to the bathroom first,” Fillpot said.
GriDeli’s North, 380 N. 2000 West, Marriott-Slaterville. 801-732-2550.
At GriDeli’s North in Marriott-Slaterville, the restaurant offers what’s called “The Big Nasty Challenge.” It features two Big Nasty Burgers (a total of four one-third-pound hamburger patties topped with onion rings and fixins), an order of fries, and a soft drink. And be forewarned: The Big Nasty Challenge is by appointment only, so you’ll need to sign up for it in advance.
Consume it all in 15 minutes or less and you get a T-shirt and your photo on the wall of the restaurant. Set the record for fastest time (currently somewhere around 7 minutes, 30 seconds), and the $20 meal is free.
Oh, and there’s one more catch, according to co-owner Mae Miya.
“After you finish, you have to sit there for five minutes to make sure you don’t ‘refund’ anything, if you know what I mean,” Miya said.
Pizza Pie Cafe, 1970 N. Washington Blvd., North Ogden. 385-244-1923.
At Pizza Pie Cafe in North Ogden, they offer “The Warrior Challenge.” It’s a 28-inch pizza that is half cheese and half pepperoni — although other toppings can be requested.
The challenge permits teams of two, but in five years of offering it, Pizza Pie Cafe has only had one team complete the challenge.
Those winners earned their photo on the Wall of Fame and free pizza for six months. Losers get their photo on the Wall of Shame, and pay $14.99 per person.
Farr Better Ice Cream, 274 21st St., Ogden. 801-393-8629.
Farr Better Ice Cream in downtown Ogden is a recent entrant into the food challenge wars. General manager Parker Crawford said they just started it last May, and customers can take their pick of two challenges — the “Full Kitchen Sink” or the “Half Kitchen Sink.”
The Full is 20 scoops of vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and mint ice cream, topped with hot fudge, caramel and strawberry topping, two bananas, two cones, whipped cream, nuts and a cherry. Up to four people can attempt the Full Kitchen Sink, and they have to finish it in 15 minutes. Or, if you can’t find three friends, two people can also attempt the Full Kitchen Sink challenge, and they’ll give you 30 minutes to complete the task.
The Half Kitchen Sink is exactly what it implies — 10 scoops of ice cream, one banana one cone, toppings, nuts, whipped cream and a cherry. One or two people can attempt this one; two people get 15 minutes, one person gets a half hour.
The cost is $39.99 for the Full Kitchen Sink and $24.99 for the Half Kitchen Sink. Winners earn a photo on the wall of fame, a $5 Farr’s gift card for each participant, and a bumper sticker.
During the summer months, Crawford says they had at least one team a night take on the challenge. And in a little less than a year, Farr’s has seen just four or five teams complete the task.
Cantina Southwestern Grill, 296 N. Main St., Layton. 801-444-9898.
For those convinced they can pack away the Mexican food, Cantina Southwestern Grill offers a daunting test: the “El Mucho Burrito Challenge.” It’s a traditional burrito filled with refried beans, cheese, rice, meat — all the typical ingredients. There’s just lots more of it.
The half-foot-long burrito weighs in at six pounds. Finish it off in an hour or less and the $29.85 hunk of food is free. Plus which, you get an “Eat My Burrito” T-shirt and your photo on the restaurant’s wall of fame.
Buffalo Wild Wings, 702 W. Riverdale Road, Riverdale. 801-392-2337.
The Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant chain offers the “Blazin’ Challenge” — 12 wings (six drumsticks, six flat pieces), all in the restaurant’s Blazin’ Sauce, which is formulated with ghost peppers.
Cost for the challenge is $10.99, and if you can eat it within six minutes, you get a free T-shirt.
“It’s a T-shirt to the winners, and milk to the losers,” said shift manager Mike Palmer. “Well, actually, everybody gets milk.”
Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Friend him on Facebook at facebook.com/MarkSaal.