This spot brings the flavors of Chicago’s Italian-style dishes to the denizens of Louisville, Kentucky, who crowd in for a taste of favorites such as a 5-pound Italian beef sandwich. Sliced beef is slathered in au jus, then piled onto a 12-inch roll that’s layered with sauteed onions, green peppers, mushrooms, cheese and sausage to create The Godfather, which Josh Denny deems “the boss of sandwiches.” The meaty masterpiece is finished with ladleful upon ladleful of au jus, giardiniera and marinara sauce.
The chili at this Cincinnati institution can be served plain, 3-way, 4-way, 5-way or 6-way. Learning the lingo didn't take long for Guy Fieri. He ordered the 6-way, which includes everything: chili, spaghetti, beans, onions, cheese and fried jalapeno caps. When Josh Denny stopped by, he took on the ultimate chili challenge, a hefty dish aptly named No Freakin’ Way. Massive portions of spaghetti, chili, Cheddar cheese and jalapeno caps are piled together to create this 8-pound masterpiece.
Former fireman Sean Gregory knows a thing or two about smoke. These days, he’s serving succulent barbecue at his firefighter-themed restaurant, where locals crowd in to sample the smoked meats and stellar sides such as rosemary-laced cornbread and nachos topped with pulled pork. Josh Denny stopped in to take down the towering Flatliner, a five-pound sandwich that comes stacked with a heap of meat, including a burger patty, brisket and pork loin, all smothered in layer upon layer of cheese.
Pizza lovers pack in to Champs for the beyond-basic pies crowned with crisp fried chicken, maple syrup-soaked waffles and other creative toppings. Opt for the Ultimate Chesapeake and you’ll get an immense, seafood-forward pie that Josh Denny calls “the Moby Dick of pizzas.” Owner Sonny Rawal channels the flavors of Maryland by adorning the pizza with succulent morsels of crab and shrimp, along with silky Alfredo sauce, mounds of cheese, a flurry of broccoli and a blizzard of Old Bay seasoning.
Locals and tourists alike pack in to this restaurant for the enormous pizza pies, such as one that’s made with 18 pounds of dough. At 62 inches in diameter, this pie is so massive that owner Brian Lujan had to have a custom table and tools specially designed just so that he could build it. The pizza is slathered with 88 ounces of sauce, then loaded with 16 pounds of shredded cheese and 30 pounds of toppings. The result is a flavor-packed pie that Josh Denny described as a "football field of pizza."
This spot takes the hot chicken game to a fiery new level with its Tender Royale. Chicken tenders are brined, fried and doused with an oil made from Carolina reaper peppers before being served on a grilled cheese sandwich. Another standout is the Battle Royale, which clocks in at 9 pounds. Cheese sandwiches are fried until golden, then heaped with hot chicken tenders. Another layer of sandwiches and fried tenders are stacked on top, then finished with a mound of sweet apples.
This cozy spot draws the crowds with its creative takes on downhome favorites. Josh Denny stopped by to tuck into The Big Daddy Hot Brown, a stunner of a sandwich that weighs in at 10 pounds. This supersized spin on the classic hot brown starts with dozens of toast points, which are then loaded with turkey, silky Mornay sauce, chopped tomatoes, bits of bacon and shredded parmesan cheese. After a 10-minute turn in the oven, the massive sandwich gets an elegant tweak in the form of edible flowers.
Heaping portions are the standard at this cozy breakfast spot. One popular pick is the Backpackers’ Pie, a supersized omelet of sorts that brings eggs together with sausage, cheese, green peppers and a slew of other ingredients, all served in a cast-iron skillet. Another standout is the Fall Harvest Pancakes, a 12-inch stack that is offered seasonally. Four kinds of flour, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and baby pumpkins are combined to make these autumn-themed pancakes, which weigh in at five pounds each.
Mexican-inspired eats get the Southern treatment at Baja Bean Co., where innovative mash-ups include Shrimp and Grits Fajitas. For this dish, the traditional tortilla is switched out for a cheese-drenched grits casserole. Another standout is The Donkey, which Josh Denny called a “helluva burrito.” Four 12-inch tortillas can barely contain a bevy of fillings, including pulled pork, seasoned ground beef and a blizzard of shredded cheese.
This neighborhood fixture keeps the crowds coming back with comforting staples such as chicken and waffles and a 10-pound take on French toast known as Car 23. This beast of a breakfast dish starts with an entire loaf of cinnamon challah bread, which is dunked in a cinnamon-laced egg wash, cooked on the flattop and then stuffed with a cream cheese-based berry filling and layers of fresh strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. “Such a balanced bite,” said Josh Denny of the sweet and savory creation.
This tiny jewel of a restaurant dishes up a quirky, homey vibe, thanks to the offbeat art and oversize plates of food. The bustling spot attracts droves of Virginia Commonwealth University students and other diners, with Josh Denny taking a trip here just to tackle the massive CSS Manassas sandwich. Four fillets of rainbow trout are fried until crisp and golden, then stuffed into a 24-inch-long roll and loaded with tomatoes, lettuce, sliced radishes and a spicy layer of Cajun tartar sauce.
Jake's Sandwich Board pays homage to Philadelphia with a two-foot Philly cheesesteak grilled in au jus sauce that left Tom Pizzica impressed. And that’s not the only massive creation churned out at this spot. Josh Denny tackled The 100/100 sandwich, which weighs in at a whopping 9 pounds. A 24-inch roll is slathered in spicy mayonnaise, stuffed with crisp strips of bacon, fork-tender roasted pork and sharp provolone cheese, then finished with generous squirts of Sriracha-laced mayonnaise for extra kick.
Burger lovers crowd in to this joint for the beef patties smothered with ingenious toppings. Josh Denny couldn’t resist the Macho Nacho, a massive creation that comes stacked with a trio of 12-inch patties covered in molten cheese. This burger is shot through with nacho-inspired flavors, thanks to the addition of guacamole, pico de gallo and chipotle mayonnaise. “The pico’s bite balances perfectly with the rich guac and cheese,” Josh declared after tucking into the towering creation.
Piranha’s may be a party spot, but Chef/Owner Mike Hanlon serves seriously inventive eats. Josh Denny started with the Cap & Egg sandwich piled high with spicy Italian ham, provolone cheese, eggs, coleslaw and fries, then moved on to the Doughnut Burger composed of an 8-ounce patty, fried eggs and crisp bacon sandwiched between 2 glazed doughnuts. His ultimate indulgence, though, was the 10-pound Titan Cheesesteak stuffed with grilled steak, provolone cheese, a mound of coleslaw and a heap of fries.
Crowds pack in to Bard’s for the craft burgers and Cincinnati-style chili. There’s even one dish that combines them both: the Cincinnasty. Six cheese-smothered beef patties are layered with bacon and a Cincinnati breakfast meat known as goetta, then crowned with grilled onions and chili. The result is a 5-pound burger that Josh Denny says is “stacked with Cincinnati attitude.” The fried cheese curds are another menu favorite. Each nib of ultra-fresh cheddar cheese is coated in a crunchy golden crust.