The 6 Toughest Eating Challenges in St. Louis and One Foolish Man's Attempt to Beat Them All

The Hot Mess. | Zach Garrison

Hot Mess
The Dubliner
(1025 Washington Avenue; 314-421-4300)

Server Jordan Flanigan had to be very careful when carrying out the Hot Mess or the tower of food would surely collapse. This challenge is a mishmash of foods: three six-ounce burgers covered in Swiss, Irish cheddar and slices of bacon; a Reuben sandwich sliced in half so as to bookend the whole pile; plus two fried pickles. A pound of fries served as a sturdy base, and three shish-kebab stakes pierced the layers of food to hold it all together. Flanigan looked at me dubiously before handing over the required shot of Jameson and pint of Guinness. He set the timer for 30 minutes.

I stared at the glob of meat and cheese with total confidence -- this time I felt like I had a chance. I can eat me a burger. I took the shot of Jameson, a big sip out of my Guinness and dug in. I ate the top half of the Reuben and moved on to the beef patties, which were delicious. I was on fire, destroying all three burgers with a carnivorous rage. I felt strong and punctuated the last bite of beef with a swig of Guinness.

Here's the one factor I didn't consider: I'm not a huge fan of Thousand Island dressing. By the time I made my way to the final half of the Reuben, I got one whiff of the rich and mayonnaisey dressing and dry heaved. I threw the sandwich back on the plate and did not pick it up again. Half a pound of fries and two fried pickles remained. Once more, I was beaten.

Aftermath: After losing yet again, it helped to still have half a Guinness in front of me, which I sipped in bitter consolation. I felt extremely fatigued and lethargic afterward, but relatively speaking, the effects were mild. I even jogged a few miles, albeit at a pathetically slow pace -- until nearly throwing up on the side of the road.

Difficulty: ++
This proved to be the most doable of all the challenges. Had it not been for the Thousand Island dressing, I might have had a shot.

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