“We had 28 military guys in here the other day,” Lorna, a server at Middlegate Station, says. “Only six of ’em finished.” The item in question, the “Middlegate Monster,” comes with one and one-third pounds of ground beef, three slices of bread and heaping handfuls of classic burger fixins. “Myth or legend,” the menu description reads. “You decide.”
I decide to go for it, seeking the glory — and commemorative T-shirt — that comes to all who finish the burger in one sitting. Lorna briefs me on the extensive rules. “You get unlimited time,” she says. “You just can’t feed it to the dog or anything like that.”
Built in 1857 along the famed Pony Express route, Middlegate Station is technically listed as part of Fallon, Nevada, but falls about 45 minutes east of town, along U.S. 50 — “America’s loneliest road,” per the trucker caps on sale.
A hungry-looking border collie stares at me through the open front door as Lorna places the monstrosity before me. I don’t have a ruler handy, but I reckon it has to be eight inches tall, with a pair of onion rings and olives affixed to the top to resemble eyes; a pepperoncini for a nose; and a tomato slice for a tongue. As I take my first bite, Lorna regales me with more tales. Like the guy from Australia who researched the most efficient method — bread and fries first — and nailed it in one go. Or the guy walking for charity all the way from Boston who tried and failed — only to succeed the very next day. A combination of red secret sauce and melted fat drips from my fingers as I finish half of it.
But staring at the second half, plus all the fries, I know I can gorge myself no longer. I manage only five or six more bites. I box it up with no T-shirt (or glory) to show for my efforts. Hobbled by an expanded stomach, I step outside toward my car. The restaurant door creaks shut behind me, and the gravel parking lot crunches beneath my boots, and the only other sound for miles is the hiss from the grill.
42500 Austin Highway