One Heck of a Big Bite

This modern West Campus sandwich shop shovels every fried food imaginable into monster subs. For girls who laugh at dinner salads, like me, it’s a late-night heaven.

It typically hits me at the end of a night spent roaming around with my friends downtown, or “dee-tee,” as I fondly refer to it. I’ve got the munchies. I am a notorious night eater. A quick run through a fast food joint would suffice—but my taste buds don’t call out for a commercial burger and fries (how mainstream do I think I am?). No, they want chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, French fries, and jalapeño poppers!

“Wait—jalapeño poppers?” I ask myself, then answer, “Yes, jalapeño poppers!”

Impossible, some would say. Surely it can’t be done, not all at once. Even if my youthful vigor could withstand a hard blow from this fatty, fried monstrosity—not to mention potentially years’ worth of damage to my cholesterol levels—it would be a suicide mission, with my thighs being the collateral. Or maybe . . . just maybe . . . this unholy concoction is the single greatest vision for all that fried food can be since the State Fair of Texas.

Putting every unhealthy late-night snack I crave into a single sandwich is not just my dream but a UT reality: the Phat Sandwich. The concept behind the Phat is anything that shouldn’t go together in the name of decency can at long last live peacefully together, finally free from society’s judgment and condemnation. An East Coast college staple for years, the Phat Sandwich has been a mere myth everywhere else.  Until a few years ago on 24th Street, when a little restaurant named Big Bite opened, and a Longhorn Country legend was born.

Coming to the Forty Acres an unknowing, dewy-eyed freshman three years ago, I heard rumors about this place of intestinal purgatory. There, in West Campus, frat daddies, hippies, and hipsters alike would descend upon this hotbed of fried debauchery in the late hours of the night. They would sit, side-by-side, indulging in favorites such as the Phat Buffalo, comprised of chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, bacon, French fries, buffalo sauce—and, the staple on any food eaten in the South, ranch dressing—all stacked neatly on a French roll.

But like they say (or I say, really): those who eat together, regret it together. The Phat Sandwich is not for the faint of stomach. If you think you have mentally prepared to take on the kraken of all fried monster sandwich things, think again. A double cheeseburger with mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers, bacon, french fries, egg, mayonnaise, and ketchup may seem like a good idea at 3 a.m., but remember when the American people thought the break-in of the Democratic headquarters in ’72 was, well, just a break-in? Robert Redford and the rest of us know better. (If you’re wondering, the concoction I just described by memory isn’t fictional but rather a number 28 at Big Bite called the Phat Longhorn). So as a preventative measure, I recommend taking a few TUMS before and maybe a swig of Pepto afterward.

Enough about these lesser Phats, though. For me, a seasoned regular, my poison of choice is the Phat Mouse — chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, jalapeño poppers (yes, jalapeño poppers), French fries, mayonnaise, and ketchup (I substitute ranch like any respectable Southern lady would). Yes, my taste buds rejoice! I have satisfied every single fried craving, and for under $7, a triumph on any college student’s budget. With each bite a six-part harmony of cheesy, fried, ranchy deliciousness sounds off. When I look down, I can’t really make out what is a chicken finger and what is a mozzarella stick, but that might just be a side effect of the food coma setting in.

Friends are both appalled and fascinated by my association with the Phat Sandwich and Big Bite. Appalled at my culinary preferences, I suppose, and fascinated as to why I don’t weigh 500 pounds. Maybe I should join the circus. My name could be: the phat-but-not-really-fat lady.  It’s a talent I’m happy to keep cultivating.

So if you’re feeling in the mood to put your digestive tract in the front row of the Texas Cyclone without going to the state fair, try it out, and if you find you can take the deep-fried heat, welcome to the club!

Did I mention they deliver?

Photo by Penny de los Santos


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