If the NCAA's cancellation of March Madness has given you the blues, the Iowa Pork Producers Association says you can still get in on some bracket action with IPPA's Pulled Pork Madness, a competition that pits Iowa restaurants against each other for the best pulled pork sandwich. The "Sweet 16" matchups were announced Monday.
Members of the public have until noon Friday, March 20 to vote for their favorites and help determine which advance to the next round. Past winners-Warehouse Barbecue Co. + Brewhouse in Ottumwa (2019) and Moo's BBQ in Newton (2018)-are going head to head in District 7.
The monthlong contest, which mimics the college basketball tournament, follows a similar narrowing process that gets restaurants to the "Elite 8" and "Final Four."
Restaurants in the "Sweet 16" are:
Sizzlin' J Bar & Grill, Galva
Burn Unit BBQ, Sibley
Smokin' Grumps Barbecue, Rockwell City
Double M Catering & Sandwich Shop, Emmetsburg
Blue Barn BBQ, Cedar Falls
Starbeck's Smokehouse, Cedar Falls
Backwoods Bar and Grill, McGregor
Bents Smokehouse & Pub, Westgate
The Twisted Tail Steakhouse & Saloon, Logan
Smokin with E's Bbq (Cafe Sign), Lenox
Whatcha Smokin? BBQ + Brew, Luther
ShortE's BBQ, Johnston
Warehouse Barbecue Co. + Brewhouse, Ottumwa
Moo's BBQ, Newton
Wildwood Smokehouse & Saloon, Iowa City
Kula's It's Just Sauce, Walker
Earlier this month, nearly 1,700 pork fans nominated Iowa restaurants they felt have the best pulled pork sandwiches. Of the 125 restaurants nominated, the two with the most votes in each of IPPA's eight districts make up the "Sweet 16" bracket.
Other voting deadlines are March 25 (Elite 8), March 30 (Final Four) and April 2 (championship round). The winner will be announced April 3.
Cast votes and see the results from each round at IPPA's website, and by following the organization's Facebook page. Also, keep up with the contest on social media using the #PulledPorkMadness hashtag.
"This campaign is a fun way to promote businesses around the state, including restaurants, bars and food trucks who serve up delicious pulled pork sandwiches," says Kelsey Sutter, IPPA's marketing and programs director. "We love the interaction and excitement for pork that comes with this bracket-style competition."
Along with bragging rights, the winning restaurant will receive $250 and a "Pulled Pork Madness" plaque.