When March was rolling around, we immediately thought, oooh March Madness. As college basketball fans (yes, we filled out our brackets this morning) we decided to find the most delicious plate of food in each of the college towns for each team competing in this year's NCAA Basketball Tournament.
Some were no-brainers (roast pork Italian in Philly for Temple; Graeter's ice cream in Cincinnati for Xavier) while others required help from siblings, old classmates, readers, and other FOSE (friends of Serious Eats). But eventually we found a damn-good bite for each city (yes, including you: Clemson, South Carolina! And you: Bryan, Texas!) So as you root on your teams this month, salivate over all the beloved foods from each team's hometown.
A cold craft beer, the Brewery Burger and some Cheddar Ale soup from Free State Brewing. 636 Massachusetts Street, Lawrence KS 66044 (map); freestatebrewing.com; 785-843-455
Butter brickel, chocolate banana, or any of the other rotating flavors from Heavenly Hedgehog Ice Cream. 563 Main St, Bethlehem, PA 18018 (map); heavenlyhedgehog.com; 610-332-1600
Raspberry coffee cake from Barn Happy. 11310 University Avenue Cedar Falls, IA 50613 (map); barnhappy.net; 319-266-0888
The Mars Scramble—a mixed bag of mushrooms, turkey, green onion, tomatoes, and other things you probably won't remember, encased in three scrambled eggs—from Golden Harvest Restaurant (but be prepared to wait!). 1625 Turner Street, Lansing MI 48906 (map); myspace.com/golden_harvest; 517-485-3663
Garlic prawns. [Flickr: Muy Yum]
Thai food from Lotus of Siam. 953 East Sahara Avenue, Las Vegas, NV 89104 (map); saipinchutima.com/; 702-735-3033
New Mexico State
Brisket Burritos (beef brisket and coleslaw in a flour tortilla) from Bosa Donuts. 1190 Avenida De Mesilla, Las Cruces, NM 88005 (map); 575-526-3388
Rectangular pizza topped with gobs of smoked provolone from Tommy Marcos' Ledo Restaurant (the original Ledo Pizza). 2420 University Blvd., Adelphi MD 20783 (map); ledorestaurant.com; 301-422-8122
Brisket plate from Pierson & Company Bar B Que. 5110 T C Jester Blvd, Houston TX 77091 (map); piersonandcompanybbq.com; 713-683-6997
Red velvet cake from Litton's. 2803 Essary Road, Knoxville Tennessee 37918 (map); littonsburgers/lynda-jones.html; 865-688-0429
San Diego State
Scallop burritos and 99-cent beer-battered fish tacos from El Zarape. 4642 Park Boulevard, San Diego CA 92116 (map); 619-692-1652
[Photograph: Robyn Lee]
Argentine gelato in all kinds of unique flavors like mascarpone and fig, blood orange, and the never-disappointing hazelnut from Dolcezza. 1560 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington DC 20007 (map); dolcezzagelato.com; 202-333-4646
The Spring Omelet—made with fresh local eggs, cheese from nearby Laurel Valley Creamery, and local spinach and mushrooms—from Casa Nueva. 6 West State Street, Athens OH 45701 (map); casanueva.com; 740-592-2016.
Barbecue and sweet tea from Bad Brad's. 3317 East 6th Avenue,
Stillwater OK 74074 (map); 405-377-4141
Fried chicken from Watershed (co-owned by one of the Indigio Girls, Emily Saliers!). 406 West Ponce De Leon Avenue, Decatur Georgia 30030 (map); watershedrestaurant.com; 404-378-4900
Hot fudge sundae from Jeni's Ice Cream. Multiple locations; jenisicecreams.com
UC Santa Barbara
Tacos from La Super-Rica Taqueria. 622 North Milpas Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93103 (map); 805-963-4940
A "garbage plate"The Bar-B-Que Pork Ribs or the Big Ass Pork Plate from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. 246 W. Willow Street, Syracuse, NY 13202 (map); dinosaurbarbque.com; 315-476-4937
Any crepe with house-made sausage from Skinny Pancake. 60 Lake St., Burlington, VT 05401 (map); skinnypancake.com; 802-540-0188
Monster turkey sandwiches (the amount of meat is actually kind of frightening, and they have no vegetables in the shop—unless you count the corn in the complimentary popcorn) from Domini Sandwiches. 703 West Sprague Avenue,
Spokane WA 99201 (map); 509-747-2324
Fried oysters from Shell Oyster Bar. 114 Oakland Avenue, Tallahassee FL 32301 (map); 850-224-9919
Breaded pork tenderloin sandwich from Mug 'N' Bun. 5211 West 10th Street, Indianapolis, IN, 46224 (map); mug-n-bun.com; 317-244-5600
Queso fries (a MUST appetizer) and the Machaca from Kiki's Mexican Restaurant. 2719 N. Piedras 79930 (map); kikisrestaurant.com; 915-565-6713 [Jay Koester]
[Photograph: Erin Zimmer]
Spicy fried chicken from Prince's Hot Chicken Shack. 123 Ewing Drive, Nashville TN (map); Read about our visit there; 615-226-9442
Ribs and chicken from Bad Bob's BBQ & Grill. 806 Chestnut Street, Murray KY 42071 (map); badbobs5.com; 270-767-0054
[Flickr: Brandon Cirillo]
Black raspberry chip ice cream from Graeter's. Multiple locations; graeters.com
Hot brown sugar ice cream from Izzy's. 2034 Marshall Avenue, St. Paul MN 55104 (map); izzysicecream.com; 651-603-1458
Sweet pork barbacoa (available as a salad, in a burrito, enchilada, taco, quesadilla, or tostada) from Cafe Rio. 2250 N University Pkway #A16, Provo, UT 84604 (map); caferio.com; 801-375-5133
Grits and biscuits from The Flying Biscuit Cafe. 4150 NW 16 Blvd, Gainesville FL 32605 (map); flyingbiscuit.com; 352-373-9500
[Photograph: Carey Jones]
Pastrami (with fries & coleslaw, like all their sandwiches) from Primanti Brothers. 46 18th Street, Pittsburgh PA 15222 (map); primantibros.com; Read more about our visit here; 412-263-2142
Croissants from The Give Thanks Bakery and Cafe. 225 S. Main Street, Rochester MI 48307 (map); givethanksbakery.com; 248-601-1542
Burgers from So Long Saloon. 1130 Moro Street, Manhattan KS 66502 (map); solongsaloon.com; 785-537-9292
Root beer (made in-house) float from Frosty Drive N. 1002 Fort Worth Drive, Denton TX 76205 (map); 940-387-5449
Glazed doughnuts from Spalding's Bakery. 760 Winchester Road, Lexington KY 40505 (map); spaldingsbakery.com; 859-252-3737
East Tennessee St
The chopped pork with a crazy array of sauces to choose at Dixie Barbeque. 3301 N. Roan Street, Johnson City TN 37601 (map); dixiebarbeque.net; 423-283-PIGS
[Flickr: CC Chapman]
Barbecue from The Salt Lick (duh!). 18300 FM 1826, Driftwood TX 78619 (map); saltlickbbq.com; 512-858-4959.
Soul food with a modern twist from Sweet Potatoes 529 North Trade Street, Winston-Salem NC 27101 (map); sweetpotatoes-arestaurant.com; 336-727-4844.
[Photograph: Adam Kuban]
Roast pork Italian from Tony Luke's 39 East Oregon Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19148 (just west of the I-95 overpass; map); tonylukes.com; Read more about our visit here; 215-551-5725.
[Photographs: Adam Kuban]
French bread pizza from The Hot Truck Parks at 635 Stewart Avenue, Ithaca NY 14850, on Cornell University's West Campus (map); 607-273-1111
Mac and cheese slice from Ian's Pizza. 115 State Street, Madison WI 53703 (map); ianspizza.com; 608-257-9248.
The Chili Cheese A-Plenty chili cheeseburger (and a sweet tea!) from The Beacon Drive-In. 255 John B. White Sr Boulevard, Spartanburg SC 29306 (map); beacondrivein.com; 864-585-9387.
Burgers and frozen custard from Kopp's. Multiple locations; kopps.com
[Photograph: Erin Zimmer]
Coconut cream pie from Dahlia Bakery. 2001 4th Avenue, Seattle WA 98121 (map); tomdouglas.com/dahlia-bakery; Read more about our visit here; 206-441-4540.
Green Chile Stew from Model Pharmacy. 3636 Monte Vista Blvd NE, Albuquerque NM 87106 (map); 505-255-8686.
The "Megadeath" sandwich from Tagliare Deli. 1433 South Higgins Avenue, Missoula MT 59801 (map); 406-830-3049 [H/T to Holly McKinney]
Hot dogs from Skin Thrashers (aka "Skin's"). 139 Anderson Highway, Clemson SC 29631 (map); skinshotdogs.com; 864-654-4422
Burgers served in wax paper (even when it's slammed on football Saturdays, they get 'em out as hot as they should be) from the over-a-century-old Booche's Billiard Hall. 110 S 9th Street, Columbia, MO 65201 (map); 573-874-9519. [Ann "Lemons" Pollack]
Peanut Pie. [Photograph: Robyn Lee]
Peanut Pie, Sweet Potato Buttermilk Pie, or really any of the pies from Scratch Seasonal Artisan Bakery. Multiple locations; piefantasy.com.
Pepperoni roll from Country Club Bakery. 1211 Country Club Road, Fairmont WV 26554 (map); 304-363-5690.
Crab cakes from Faidley's. 203 North Paca Street at the Lexington Market, Baltimore, MD 21201 (map); faidleyscrabcakes.com; 410-727-4898.
Arkansas Pine Bluff
Purdue Burger, a double-bacon cheeseburger, from Sno-White Grill. 310 E. 5th Avenue, Pine Bluff AR 71601 (map); 870-534-9811.
[Photographs: Adam Kuban]
Pizza from Emilia's Pizzeria. 2995 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley CA 94705 (map); emiliaspizzeria.com; Read more about our visit here; 510-704-1794.
Fall-off-the-bone ribs and fried pickles from Mark's Feed Store. Multiple locations; marksfeedstore.com
Burger Basket from River Bridge. 200 South Main Street, Bryan TX 77803 (map); koppebridge.net; 979-823-2333.
Tuscan cuisine prepared by a Tuscany transplant at Le Nonne. 129 N 100 E, Logan UT 84321 (map); 435-752-9577.
Real-sugar Dr. Pepper from the Dr Pepper Museum. 300 S. 5th Street, Waco TX (map); drpeppermuseum.com
Soup with made-right-then super-long noodles from the Japanese-Korean Kibu Cafe. 11 South River Road Suite D, West Lafayette IN 47906 (map); kibucafe.com; 765-743-3190.
A Juicy Burger (and a shake and fries) from Juicy Burgers & More. 5 New Karner Road, Guilderland NY 12084 (map); orderjuicyburgers.com; 518-464-9800.
Pizza from Rocco's Pizza. 537 N Street Louis Blvd, South Bend IN 46617 (map); orderjuicyburgers.com; 574-233-2464.
Crab cakes from A.W. Shucks Raw Bar & Grill. 2200 Colonial Avenue, Norfolk VA 23517 (map); a-w-shucks.com; 757-664-9117
Sam Houston State
Ribs from Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Barbecue. 2601 Montgomery Rd, Huntsville TX 77340 (map); nzmbc.com; 936-295-8856
Anything from the nightly-rotating menu at Acacia Midtown. 2601 W. Cary Street, Richmond VA 23220 (map); acaciarestaurant.com; 804-562-0138
Chinese food from Chef Chao Restaurant. 343 Rheem Blvd, Moraga CA 94556 (map); chefchaorestaurant.com; 925-376-1740
Primanti Brothers in Pittsburgh is too good. We have to pick it twice.
The Arista Sandwich (suckling pig and broccoli rabe) from Paesano's isn't technically in Villanova, but it's totally worth the SEPTA trip into Philly. 152 West Girard Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19123 (map); modomiorestaurant.com/paesanos; 267-886-9556