cover image: Arlene’s Truck Stop
Go Big, Because You’re Home: Food Challenges + Unique Food in Kalamazoo
Kalamazoo is a foodie town, offering cuisine for every taste bud: sushi, tacos, ice cream and burgers are all here in spades.
But what if you want something a bit outside of the norm: food challenges that reward you with free food if you finish it by yourself? A tee-shirt to commemorate finishing said food?
Yup, we have those too. We scoured the best restaurants in Kalamazoo for what we’ll term “over the top” or unique food in SWMI.
Our thanks to the restaurants for their innovative culinary skills and fantastic photos.
8 Kalamazoo Food Challenges
Think you have what it takes to win a food challenge?
If you can eat these meals within the time allotted, you may win money, free food, or simply bragging rights.
We’ve found eight food challenges in SWMI with super-sized meals.
Note: Food challenges are subject to change without notice. Be sure to call ahead to confirm challenge availability, prizes and rules.
These meals often require advanced notice for the kitchen to prepare and are dine-in only.
Benny DiCarta’s keeps their menu simple: three regular flavors (cheese, Italian sausage, pepperoni) and two monthly specials are offered here in only one size: giant.
If your car or stomach isn’t large enough for a 28-inch pizza, Benny’s also sells by this unique food by the slice.
Food Challenge: Benny’s Challenge invites guests to finish a 28-inch pizza in less than 28 minutes. Reward includes a $280 check ($100 for professional challengers), Benny’s Challenge tee shirt (while supplies last) and your picture posted in store.
You can Dare to be Great with this ice cream creation at D’Nicio’s: 21 scoops of assorted flavors are accompanied by strawberries, chocolate, pineapple, and marshmallow toppings, chopped nuts whipped cream and cherries.
Food Challenge: If you finish this mega sundae by yourself within one hour, it’s free.
This massive, unique food measure three feet long and includes beans, lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, sour cream, and your meat or veggie choice in a grilled tortilla.
Food Challenge: For guests that can tackle the Don’t Even Think About It Burrito in less than 12 minutes, the meal is on the house, and you receive a free Big Burrito tee shirt.
The Dump Truck Burger is on the secret menu at Arlene’s Truck Stop in Battle Creek, a mom-and-pop style restaurant where you will never leave hungry.
It includes 18oz fresh ground beef, 8oz ham steak, 4 fried eggs, 4 slices of cheese, 4 strips of bacon and lettuce on a house made, 8-inch bun.
This monster-sized meal also includes a pound of fries and crispy pickle spear.
Food Challenge: Call ahead for this mega meal (they need at least a couple of hours’ notice) and see if you can finish it. The record is 20 minutes. PS: Your only prize is bragging rights.
The Hungry Boi Challenge at Lake Burger in Kalamazoo invites diners to try three, quarter-pound patties, American cheese and burger sauce stuffed between TWO grilled cheese sandwiches.
Food Challenge: Whether you finish this big meal or not, your picture goes up on the wall- either the wall of fame or shame!
The “Gutbuster” features three sandwiches combined into one 26-inch French loaf and paired with a pound of fries.
The three sandwiches include Italian beef, meatball and sausage links.
Food Challenge: If you can finish this meal in less than an hour, your meal is free, and you’ll receive a free tee shirt. Your picture will also be added to the wall of fame.
Maggie’s Viking breakfast includes four eggs any style, hash browns, four bacon slices, four sausage links, slice of ham, and three pancakes with toast.
Food Challenge: If you finish this meal, your photo joins the Viking wall.
Order the “Whole Hog” at Skinny Kenny’s BBQ & Ice Cream and you’ll be treated to two scoops of vanilla ice cream, one scoop of chocolate ice cream and three scoops of your choice of ice cream.
The dessert also includes Oreos, pirouettes, whipped cream, hot fudge, nuts, and one additional topping (your choice).
Note: The Whole Hog is only available at the Stadium Drive location.
Food Challenge: If you finish this dessert in under 15 minutes, you’ll receive a free tee shirt and your photo on the restaurant’s wall of fame.
More Unique Kalamazoo Food
While these foods won’t win you bragging rights for eating them, you may want to brag about how delicious (and sometimes enormous) some of these foods are in Kalamazoo.
Even a pandemic didn’t stop this epic Bloody Mary Bar at The Dock at Bayview in Richland. When restaurants were closed to in-person dining, the team pivoted and sold them to go, in carryout kits.
Seemingly anything goes with this unique beverage; in addition to the traditional celery and olives, guests can add shrimp, chicken wings and cheese.
Also Try: Bloody Mary Bar at Louie’s Corner Bar or Louie’s Trophy House
While known for their extensive donut selection, don’t sleep on the Sweetwater’s cinnamon roll. Easily eaten in multiple meals, this culinary creation will fill an entire dinner plate with its cinnamon sweetness.
Their cinnamon rolls are available glazed, with chocolate icing, vanilla icing, or caramel icing. You can also purchase them topped with peanuts.
If you’re looking for another large offering from their shop, order a fritter.
Also try: Rykse & Co cinnamon rolls
While nearly anything from Cherri’s Chocol’art is a decadent, unique food, their Monster Shakes have become a signature item in their shop. With different flavors seasonally, you can find a Monster Shake for any holiday or event.
The Halloween shakes pictured included the Caramel Apple Cider Monster Shake, Spooky Wooky Monster Shake and Pumpkin Pie Monster Shake.
Each shake features Lafayette Creamery’s ice cream and treats from the shop, made in-house.
Voted as one of the best restaurants in Kalamazoo for their burgers and chicken sandwiches, Nonla is also known for its innovative daily specials.
Whether it’s a fried pickle burger, steak and egg bagel or the Blueberry Bomber (shown), their kitchen creativity knows no bounds.
The Blueberry Bomber includes Belgian waffles, crispy fried chicken breast, jalapeño blueberry cream cheese, blueberry compote, bacon and powdered sugar served with maple syrup.
Follow their Facebook page for their latest creations.
Why scoop ice cream when you can roll it instead? Visitors will find this unique rolled ice cream accompanied by toppings like cookies, brownies or lemon bars.
Some of Rollup’s signature dishes include Monkey Business, Orange Dreamsicle and Sweet S’more (pictured).
The Sweet S’more includes a chocolate base, marshmallows, graham crackers, a chocolate bar, toasted marshmallows and whipped cream.
Did we miss one of your favorite Kalamazoo foods or food challenges?
Have we missed one of your favorite, unique foods in Southwest Michigan?
Leave us a comment and let us know!