Now Eat This

At either of two Rounders bars on the west side, you can get a dozen chicken wings for free. That’s a deal for sure, but these aren’t your daddy’s wings. They’re coated liberally with a super-hot blend of ghost chilies, habañeros, and jalapeños, and you have to finish them in 15 minutes. Complete the Atomic Wing Challenge, and in addition to tearing up the check, the bar will give you a commemorative T-shirt and put your name on the “Wall of Flame.” More than a dozen such food challenges around town provide a chance to eat free, as well as get a little notoriety in the bargain. They’re tough, but the only downside for failing is that you have to fork out the price of the meal ($18 to $178).

Similar to Rounders, Diablo’s Cantina has a Death Wing Challenge (eat 20 wings coated in XXX-rated hot sauce in 20 minutes) and Mint Indian Bistro has the Inferno Curry Challenge. Rick’s Tasting Game at RM Seafood requires identifying 16 different scoops of ice cream. All the other food challenges, however, are volume-related. Following is a list with an explanation of what you have to eat—and how fast you have to eat it, where time limits are imposed:

Herbs & Rye’s Nectaly’s Challenge: A 60-ounce ribeye with three sides. … Brand Steakhouse’s Ultimate Steak Challenge: A 120-ounce steak in one hour. … Born and Raised’s Bar Gamble: 15 sliders in one hour. … Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar Big Dog Daddy 100-ounce Challenge: A 32-ounce Angus beef burger with 20 ounces of bun and condiments, 16 ounces of fries and a 32-ounce beer.

Cabo Wabo Cantina’s Can’t Drive 55 Nachos: An 8-pound plate of nachos with 20 toppings in 55 minutes. … I Love Yogurt’s Devo Hat Challenge: 100 ounces of frozen yogurt and toppings in 30 minutes. … Citizens Kitchen & Bar’s Muffaletta Challenge: A gargantuan sandwich designed to feed six people. … Naked City Pizza’s Frickin’ Huge Pizza Challenge: A two-person challenge to eat a 10-pound four-topping pizza in 30 minutes (the record is seven minutes).

Succeed in the right challenge and you can even make some money:

LBS: A Burger Joint has The Undertaker: Eat an 11-patty burger that comes with a pound-and-a-half of fries in an hour and win $100. … Anime Ramen’s Sumo Bowl: It’s four times the normal order—finish in one hour and win a progressive jackpot that starts at $150 and increases by $5 every time someone tries (and fails). … Pho 87’s Phozilla: Finish a huge bowl of pho made with three pounds of beef and noodles in 33:17 (1,987 seconds) and win a progressive jackpot that’s even richer than Anime’s—sometimes more than $1,000.

Did I say the only downside was paying for the food? Correction: By the time you’re done, the antacid’s gonna cost you, too.