This is the fifth year Boston-area restaurants battle it out in Munch Madness, The Boston Globe’s annual tournament inspired by the NCAA’s March Madness basketball tournament. On the bracket in 2014: brand-new seafood restaurants and longtime Chinatown favorites, hipster cocktail bars and classic blue-blood haunts, barbecue joints and pizza specialists, and restaurants that take their culinary cues from France, Spain, and Italy, Mexico, Turkey, and Japan. If nothing else, Munch Madness is a reminder of the diverse and rich eating opportunities that surround us.
In previous contests, though, there has been one clear favorite: Cambridge restaurant Hungry Mother. In 2010, it was a finalist, ultimately losing to East Coast Grill. In 2011, the two faced off once again, with Hungry Mother the victor. In 2012 and 2013, Hungry Mother triumphed, over Craigie on Main and Oleana, respectively. This year we have retired previous champions to make room for fresh blood. Cambridge restaurants have dominated in the past. Will they do so again?
Or is it possible that upstart Somerville will win the day? It comes out swinging with a surprise top seed: Casa B, Union Square’s sweet, sassy small-plates restaurant. This year we asked readers to vote on what restaurants are included in our bracket of 64 and used the number of votes to help establish the lineups. Check out the bracket here, then go to www.boston.com/munchmadness to cast your vote. You’ll find information about each restaurant to help you decide, and a chance to sound off on why your favorites deserve to move on. (Also feel free to talk trash on Twitter with the hashtag #munchmadness.)
Voting for Round 1 starts March 19 and goes through March 20. For Round 2, vote March 21-22. Round 3 takes place March 23-24, and Round 4 March 25-26. That leads us to the Final Four, March 27-28. Voting for the championship will be March 29-30. We’ll tally the results and announce them online March 31.
May your favorite restaurant win, and may Munch Madness make you hungry to try places you’ve never been before. Maybe you’ll find a few new favorites along the way.