Dining With Denise Neil

Wichita’s most obscene foods are humongous calorie bombs

Dining with Denise: Wichita’s most obscene foods

Episode 3: The Wichita Eagle's Denise Neil visits a couple of area restaurants that specialize in gigantic portions of food that few people could eat by themselves. (Video by Travis Heying / The Wichita Eagle)
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Episode 3: The Wichita Eagle's Denise Neil visits a couple of area restaurants that specialize in gigantic portions of food that few people could eat by themselves. (Video by Travis Heying / The Wichita Eagle)

If you’re going to eat a burger, go for the 10-patty tower dripping with 30 pieces of melty American cheese.

Craving a bloody Mary? Might as well make it a meal and garnish it with a barbecue rib, a hot link slider, a hunk of burnt end and a whole stalk of celery.

And why not turn pizza night into a party by ordering a pie so big, it’ll only fit in the trunk? Of an SUV.

Though most rational diners infrequently order such monstrous calorie bombs, the fact that they exist on Wichita restaurant menus is an entertaining curiosity.

Some of the offerings are stunt foods that exist so diners with larger appetites can stuff them in, say they did and get their pictures posted on the restaurant wall. Others come in sizes large enough to feed a crowd, and their enormity is visually startling enough to entertain a crowd, too.

I recently rounded up a list of some of the Wichita area’s most obscenely interesting restaurant offerings, which included towering burgers and bloody Marys as well as pizzas and doughnuts with unreasonably excessive circumferences.

Though I don’t recommend anyone tackle these items on their own, they sure are talkers and bizarrely fun to order. After watching Big Larry’s owner Larry Hall construct his 8 1/2-pound, foot-tall Big Larry burger at his restaurant in Valley Center, I transported it back to the Wichita Eagle newsroom (in a giant box) and watched my coworkerstear into it with forks, knives and glee. (You can see Hall in action by watching the latest episode of Dining with Denise at Kansas.com.)

Work your way though this list if you dare.

The Big Larry

What: A 10-patty, 9,000-calorie, 8 1/2-pound burger made by piling 10 3/4-pound patties with 30 pieces of American cheese, grilled onions, lettuce, tomato and pickle.

Where: Big Larry’s at 328 S. Meridian in Valley Center

Larry and Heather Hall have owned Big Larry’s for nine years. At some point, they decided it might be fun to add a burger-eating challenge. Their first offering was a three-patty giant topped with nine slices of American cheese. Anyone who could devour one in a sitting would get a T-shirt and their picture on the wall.

Then, a few years ago, an orthopedic resident from Via Christi named James Womack easily conquered the burger. He requested the chance to set his own record and ordered the now infamous 10-patty tower. An hour and a half later, he’d done it, and his picture is framed on the wall of fame, surrounded by smaller cutout pictures of the dozens of others who have defeated the smaller Big Larry.

Though Big Larry’s frequently sells the burger to basketball team and groups of friends who want to photograph it and share it, the last time someone attempted to break the record dining solo was a year ago, Heather Hall said.

“He was all talk,” she said. “I think he didn’t even eat three.”

The Halls will happily cook up a 10-pound Big Larry for anyone who wants to attempt it. It costs $45.99, and if you go during a busy time, it’ll take a while.

Heather Hall said her customers have fun with the challenge. And she has fun watching them.

“I do offer them a bucket when they leave,” she said. “They might need that.”

The Superdome Pizza

What: A 29-inch pizza that’s so big, it doesn’t really fit out the door. Each weighs about 10 pounds, serves 11 and includes 49 square pieces.

Where: AJ’s Sports Grill, 3232 N. Rock Road. Also available at the AJ’s at 11413 E. 13th St. and at 1221 E. 23rd Ave. in Hutchinson

When this 25-year-old Northrock Lanes-adjacent sports bar started offering its massive pizzas, sales were slow. But as word traveled, they became a thing, and now the restaurant sells 20 or 30 a day, said food and beverage director Jimmy Wheeler.

The pizzas are perfect for parties, not only because they feed crowds but also because their dimensions wow crowds. People frequently order them for birthday parties in the bowling alley.

“It’s a shock when you first look at it,” Wheeler said. “It’s great for kids.”

Assistant manager Caitlin Brewer said she once saw two people finish an entire Superdome. They didn’t seem to feel so hot when they were done.

“They were really full,” she said.

A Superdome costs between $37.99 to $47.99. A single pie barely fits through the kitchen’s pizza oven. And the carryout boxes are so big, they don’t fit through the door of the restaurant without a serious tilt.

“We made the building before the pizza,” Wheeler said.

Bite Me Bloody Mary

What: A bloody Mary with an insane amount of skewered, piled-high garnishes, including a big burnt end, a barbecue rib, a hotlink slider, picked okra, spicy cucumbers, tomato, a cheese cube and a whole celery stalk.

Where: Bite Me BBQ, 132 N. St. Francis

This bloody Mary was created by the daytime bartender, who prefers to remain anonymous. But he did describe this dramatic creation as dinner and a drink in one. The cocktail costs $12.50, and though they’ve never advertised it, it’s attracted lots of word-of-mouth business – and has been an accessory in many selfies.

Hurts Donut Big Mouth Doughnut

What: A doughnut the size of a steering wheel that serves eight to 10 people

Where: Hurts Donut, 7010 W. 21st St., 3750 N. Woodlawn

Though they must be ordered 24 hours in advance, these giant Hurts doughnuts are popular with birthday party throwers and offer a dramatic alternative to cake. Though they can only be made as yeast doughnuts, not cake, they’re available with just glaze for $8 and go all the way up to a maple bacon for $25.

Big ole barbecue sandwiches

What: Sandwiches piled high with barbecued meats from the beef, pork and poultry families.

Where: Several Wichita barbecue restaurants, notably Pig In Pig Out, 1003 E. 13th St., and Sweet Willy’s BBQ at 4628 S. Seneca.

Pig In Pig Out has a “secret menu” item that many customers know about, even though it’s not listed. It’s called the Fireman’s sandwich, and it’s a giant made with pulled pork or brisket plus hot links and turkey. Sweet Willy’s has lots of wild sandwiches listed, including one called the “Danged It’s Big” sandwich. But the biggest one is called The Giant and comes with 12 ounces of three different kinds of barbecue meat. Choices include smoked brisket, pulled pork, pork rib, turkey, brats and more.

Other calorie bombs

Bionic Burger’s $6 Million Burger: This hamburger restaurant, with three Wichita locations, sells a burger that features three 3/4-pound hamburger patties, each with three slices of cheese on top, for $16.65. It takes the restaurant eight to 10 minutes to cook it, so patience is required along with a big appetite.

Spangles’ “The Beast”: This local fast-food chain got a lot of attention in 2013 when it added this crazy burger to the menu, and it’s still there. It is made with six 1/3-pound steak burger patties layered with 12 slices of American cheese and topped with mustard, ketchup, onion and pickle. It costs $21.99.

Picasso’s Ginormous Pie: This Delano pizza restaurant at 621 W. Douglas also serves huge, party-ready pizzas. Theirs are 26 inches and range from about $30 to $43 apiece. The restaurant needs at least an hour’s notice to get one made.

Poplar’s “Party Pizza”: This restaurant at 127 W. Highway 54 in Andover has a big pizza on its menu that includes 24 slices and starts at $23.99 for a cheese version.

Flying Donut’s Texas Donut: The doughnut shop at 4618 E. Central also serves outrageously large party doughnuts that cost $4.29. Call in advance if you want one – or more.

The Anchor’s Haystack: If you feel like you haven’t been getting enough cholesterol in your diet, The Anchor, 1109 E. Douglas, can help. It’s famous but gut-busting Haystack is an open-faced burger topped with a big pile of fries then smothered in queso. It’s $8.99.