You vs. Food

Mike Cook

I've been watching a lot of Man vs. Food reruns lately. If you haven't seen the show, it breaks down into two parts. In the second half of the show, host Adam Richman tries to conquer food challenges, such as the oversized steak that must be consumed in half an hour, the super-spicy tuna roll, or the burrito the size of a human torso. Watching him do so is both impressive and a bit disgusting.

In the first half of the show, though, Richman tours his chosen locale's food highlights, and any repeat viewer is sure to note: we have a real obsession with sandwiches. In every city Richman alights there seems to be a giant sandwich, often a burger, with a small barnyard's worth of toppings. We pile fries inside our sandwiches, we deep fry them, and we use non-bread items as the bread. We really love extravagant sandwiches, and Baltimore is no exception.

If you want a dreadnaught of a dinner, look no further than Mother's Heart Attack on a Plate. It's a burger that's been stuffed with cheese and then deep fried. Further explanation is surely useless. How does one possibly experience this burger except with the tongue?

Bad Decisions’ Gut Buster is a bacon cheeseburger that uses, in place of a bun, two bacon-grilled cheeses. The physical complexity is staggering. Whenever someone orders one, Bad Decisions calls in a structural engineer. I'm not even sure how you fit it all in your face.

If that didn't fill you up, you can walk across the street to Ale Mary's for brunch and grab a Saints and Sinners sandwich. This beaut features sausage, egg, cheese and bacon on--wait for it--two glazed donuts, taking the place of bread.

That's not even close to a full list of the massive meals available in Baltimore. Red House Tavern has one, and the Saints and Sinners is not alone on Ale Mary's menu. Feel free to leave notes on the most outrageous foods you've had in town. (On a side note, I've just returned from Minneapolis, where I had a primordial version of the Heart Attack on a Plate, the “Jucy” Lucy, which is a burger patty built around an American cheese center. During grilling the cheese becomes a molten core of greasy, cheesy sauce that, if it doesn't burn the taste buds off your mouth, will surely blow them away.)

Man vs. Food has actually visited Baltimore. In episode 13 of season 2, Richman samples pit beef, a crab cake, and picks his own crabs before tackling a ridiculous steak challenge outside the city at Steak and Main. What is it he has to do, exactly? Let's just say the only creature that should eat that much meat in one go is a Kodiak bear.

Steak and Main is in North East, about an hour away, which got me wondering: are there any ways to win food glory in Baltimore? There are plenty of extravagant sandwiches, but are there any challenges?

Oooh Yes. In fact, there are tons. A buddy of mine has taken on a taco challenge at Alexander’s, for which he prepared by eating whole heads of lettuce to expand his stomach. If this sounds awesome and not mildly nauseating to you, check out this site, which has an impressive list of local challenges, (though I'm not even sure it's comprehensive or entirely up to date). And of course there's been some talk here on BaltimoreEats of an eating competition. That means it's time to start practicing now. A massive bacon/donut/deep-fried/cheese-stuffed mega-sandwich wouldn't be a bad way to warm up. Then take a look at the Chick and Ruth’s Delly (yes, Richman has been there too) and see which entices you, for your chance in an Eats video spotlight!


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