The Elite Eight of appetizers have been determined, in some of the closest tastings and vote totals we’ve had in the tournament’s seven years. Let’s take a look.
In the North bracket (and yes, alert anonymous online reader, the teams are not placed in brackets by geography: they’re randomly seeded, because we felt the apps themselves were too diverse to group logically in any way):
Greg’s Pickles from Pinky’s, fried dill slices in abundance, topped guacamole made tableside at the multiple locations of Azteca with their iconic, so-very-Charlotte nature. Maybe Greg Auten’s having appeared, long ago, on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” with these pickles helped sway the public vote, too.
Mimosa Grill’s stuffed Georgia hush puppies took the victory over Vietnam Grille’s Khai Vi Tu Cuon, a do-it-yourself deal in which the diner softens rice-paper rounds in hot water, layers on ingredients such as grilled meat, bean sprouts and cilantro, then rolls it neatly and consumes. The pups are a little easier to navigate, but they also brought the surprise of crunch and crawfish (and shrimp), with some heat.
In the East:
Ni Fen pork potstickers topped the pretzel from VBGB with a passionate voting public, the pork and scallions and ginger and hoisin being just too vibrant to lose to the pretzel, which proved a mite oily on this occasion.
And Midwood Smokehouse’s bacon-wrapped jalapenos topped Soul’s Dirty South Nachos, suggesting that bacon may prove hard to beat in this tournament.
In the West:
Nolen Kitchen’s zucchini chips took a handy victory over e2’s wood-oven-roasted oysters, despite a surprising late-in-the-game retweet from the actual Emeril Lagasse suggesting that fans of the oysters vote, and including a link! (He’s got 585.5 thousand followers, of whom it appears roughly 99.9995969 percent did not take up that challenge.)
131 Main’s double dip (a plate of both pimento cheese and guacamole, with corn chips) triumphed in the battle of the numbered restaurants, with Cantina 1511’s sidewalk antojitos (a revolving assortment of appetizers) settling for second.
And in the South:
Crepe Cellar’s Blasted Brussels Sprouts edged McKoy’s Buffalo shrimp with barbalo sauce, with a sprightly flavor that fared better than this go-round of the shrimp – though there were lots, several were quite overbreaded, turning soggy.
Finally, the tater tot duo from Fran’s Filling Station just nipped Heritage’s deviled eggs. Again with the bacon? Probably.