Things are about to get serious, Munch Madness fans.
Only 16 teams are still dancing in the Miami Herald’s Munch Madness restaurant tournament challenge. Nearly 45,000 votes were cast in the second round alone, to cut the field in half. That means one of these remaining teams will take home the brass trophy and retire as the Munch Madness 2018 champion.
The winners will be crowned crowned April 3 on Miami Herald Food’s Facebook Live.
Some highlights from the second round of voting:
Two tournament powerhouses seem to be emerging, and they’re both from the top half of the bracket.
In a Local Faves matchup that saw nearly 7,000 votes, No. 15 seed Bocas House, a Venezuelan meat and milkshake mecca, racked up more than 3,500 votes to edge out Sports Grill. And in World Cuisine, Tropical Chinese registered more than 3,100 votes to knock off Finka, a returning team from last year’s Sweet Sixteen.
In Hidden Gems that are hidden no more, Calle Ocho oyster bar Ella’s squeaked by Hialeah Frenchie spot La Fresa Francesa by just five — yes, five! — votes, in a matchup that saw more than 3,000 total votes cast. And a Fine Dining matchup to watch will be last year’s runner up, Mignonette (which defeated Giorgio Rapicavoli’s Eating House by just 20 votes) and Kyu, a James Beard award-nominated restaurant which came on strong to defeat riverside rival Seaspice.
Two No. 1 seeds remain alive in the tournament: Mignonette and Sunset Harbour’s Pubbelly, which defeated Phuc Yeah (it’s pronounced Fook!), which has expanded from its Viet-Cajun cuisine to add pho soup delivery and lunch through its new pop-up, Pho Mi, on UberEats.
On to the Sweet Sixteen! Voting opens at 9 a.m. and continues through Wednesday at 9 p.m. at miamiherald.com/munchmadness.