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Does size matter?



Making the claim of "largest burger in Colorado" is a bold stand. Colorado is beef country, which in effect makes it burger territory, which makes for some all-around stiff burger competition.

So if you are going to lay claim to largest patty, you'd better be able to back it up, because many restaurants throughout this state claim some bodacious burgers.

I remember being down by Alamosa and passing a restaurant that offered burgers weighing in at 12 ounces (3/4 of a pound). That's just a sick amount of meat. Who orders that? And then even if you order it, is it humanly possible to eat that much in one sitting? Truth be told, as obscene as 12 ounces of burger sounded, I've always regretted not stopping to see, with my own eyes, what 12 ounces of meat on a bun looks like.

They say opportunity only knocks once and for a long time I feared I missed out on the giant burger-tunity. But last week opportunity came knocking again, this time right here in our very own Manitou in the form of a little restaurant called Chel's.

Chel's is a semi-new establishment, open since last spring. I've eaten breakfast there before, but never paid much attention to the rest of the menu, which also offers lunch. And a 20-ounce hamburger.

Yes, it's true. Twenty ounces. That's one and one-quarter pounds of burger. And more recently, they've had it printed on the front windows in bright red lettering: "Colorado's Largest Burger."

They say curiosity killed the cat. This burger almost killed me. But I had to know. What does a 20-ounce burger look like? I wasn't going to pass up opportunity again. So I stopped and went in for lunch.

I am not a very large person, which is why I think the waitress thought I was kidding when I placed my order. Her pen was poised to write, but she didn't actually write anything. She just stared at me. She was smiling, but looked confused. Finally, she just said, "Really? Do you want any cheese or bacon on that? Did you want fries too?"

Twenty ounces of meat is roughly three times the recommended amount of daily protein intake that I, as a human, am supposed to have in my healthy diet. I was pondering this fact when the words "order up" were yelled from the kitchen. The moment of truth was upon me.

Holy burger, is all I've got to say. The thing took up every square inch of the dinner-sized plate and came with a steak knife. Kind of flat, like a pancake. Five pieces of Swiss cheese were melted on top to make it a pancake cheeseburger, but for some reason, it only came with three tomato slices and four pickle chips.

But, you bet your sweet bippie, it was definitely the largest burger I've ever seen. However, the bun-to-meat ratio was a bit skewed.

"Um, we're out of large buns" were the embarrassed words muttered as the plate hit the table.

So there was my 20-ounce pancake burger on your average, little hamburger bun. I guess without it, it would have just been a giant piece of grilled ground chuck topped with cheese. Perhaps they felt that the bun lent more authenticity. As if. It was a hilarious sight.

I ate about 10 of the 20 ounces, which I do not recommend if you have to go back to work after lunch. I was full for the next 11 hours.

But the question remains, is bigger necessarily better?

All in all, it was a decent burger, despite the bun fiasco. I suggest bringing a friend or two. In the world of burgers, you got your quarter-pounders, your third-pounders and your half-pounders. And then you have Chel's 20-ouncer -- a pound and quarter.

Bigger might not be better, but it sure is a lot more fun.


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