First-round matchups selected for Iowa Pulled Pork Madness

This year Iowa Pork Producers Association received 850 nominations for nearly 70 restaurants.

March 12, 2024

2 Min Read

With March Madness kicking off next week for the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball teams, the Iowa Pork Producers Association has launched its own bracket challenge: Pulled Pork Madness. The organization is asking the public to decide the state’s best pulled pork sandwich. The 16 contenders were posted late Monday.

In its seventh year, Pulled Pork Madness follows a bracket-style narrowing process similar to the NCAA tournament. Fans nominated their favorite restaurants earlier this month, and the bracket is divided by region. IPPA received about 850 nominations for nearly 70 Iowa restaurants, and seeding was based on the two restaurants with the most votes in each of the organization’s eight districts.

“Iowa leads the nation in pork production, so residents definitely know good pulled pork,” said Hannah Spurr, IPPA’s consumer outreach director. “This contest highlights both mainstays and up-and-coming restaurants across the state, and it always generates fun camaraderie from those who are passionate about their favorite spots.”

Pork lovers have until 10 a.m. Friday to whittle the list down to eight. Those restaurants then compete in the next round of voting that ends March 20 to decide the final four, and the deadline to choose the championship bracket is March 25. The title round ends March 29, with the winner announced later that day.

The public can vote through IPPA’s Facebook page or on the Pulled Pork Madness webpage during each round. Folks can also keep up with the contest on social media using the #PulledPorkMadness hashtag.

First-round matchups are:

  • District 1: Iowa Barbeque Company, Le Mars, vs. The Roadhouse, Orange City

  • District 2: Birdies, Burgers, & Brews, Graettinger, vs. Smoke N Firehouse No. 20, Ringsted

  • District 3: Whiskey Road Tavern & Grill, Cedar Falls, vs. The Blue Bird Bar & Grill, Elma

  • District 4: Backwoods Bar and Grill, McGregor, vs. Brady’s Bar & Grill, Edgewood

  • District 5: Barrel Smoke BBQ, Templeton, vs. Junction Cafe, Bedford

  • District 6: Chuckwagon Restaurant, Adair, vs. Bett & Bev’s BBQ, Jefferson

  • District 7: Bubba-Q’s, Ottumwa, vs. Five Hawgs BBQ, Agency

  • District 8: Skinny’s BBQ, Muscatine, vs. Cynful Smokehouse and Creamery, Wapello

At stake is a $250 cash prize and Pulled Pork Madness plaque.

Previous winners include The Flying Elbow, Marshalltown (2023); Starbeck’s Smokehouse, which has since relocated to Waterloo (2022); Smokin’ Butt Barbeque, Davenport (2021); Whatcha Smokin? BBQ + Brew, Luther (2020); Warehouse Barbecue Co. + Brewhouse, Ottumwa (2019); and the now-closed Moo’s BBQ, Newton (2018).

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