Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.
As much as I try to have an invincible bracket, I’ve never even placed high enough to win any cash. (Thanks a lot, Gonzaga.)
So, I’m resigned to my fate again this year. Still, I have devised a plan that’s win-win, or at least win-while-losing. I’m going to support a random bunch of my picks by consuming some of the awesome food and drinks they might be associated with - and name check some places that do a particularly good job of serving them.
On to the tourney. Go Louisville!
Kansas (No. 1 South)
I don’t need an excuse to eat pie. As it happens, Dover, Kansas, is home to Sommerset Hall Café, which won Good Morning America Weekend's "Best Slice Challenge." Flavors on a typical day include pumpkin, lemon, coconut cream and chocolate. A slice of pie is $2.50; a whole one is $15. When I called to try to mail-order an apple crumb pie (to support the Jayhawks!), they told me I had to pick it up myself; part of the secret to their deliciousness is how fresh the pies are.
Louisville (No. 1 Midwest)
The best way I can think of to support Louisville is by drinking mint juleps, the bourbon and crushed ice cocktail so often associated with Kentucky and the Kentucky Derby. If you’re lucky enough to be in Louisville, Proof on Main, located in the boutique 21c Museum Hotel, is known for its juleps (as well as for serving more than 50 Kentucky bourbons). At the Round Robin Bar in Washington, D.C.’s Willard Intercontinental, they make a mean mint julep based on a recipe from Senator Henry Clay in the 1850s.
Duke (No. 2 Midwest)
Duke University is located in Durham, North Carolina. That’s an hour's drive from Winston-Salem, the birthplace of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. Krispy Kreme was founded in 1937, when a dozen doughnuts sold for 25 cents. To honor Duke’s quasi-doughnut heritage, you can always hit your best local doughnut shop: Doughnut Plant in New York City, Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, Oregon, or Sublime Doughnuts in Atlanta. In New Orleans, you can go over the top with Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding at Boucherie.
Florida Gulf Coast (No. 15 South)
Surprise, surprise, long-shot Florida Gulf Coast University is still in the tournament - and I’m holding out hope for them. Partly because the university is based in Fort Myers, a good place to eat stone crab. You could, of course, go to the iconic Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami. But I would go instead to The Dutch in Miami Beach for their terrific stone crab claws from the Oyster Room. And if you’re nowhere near Miami, you can still support Florida Gulf Coast: Joe’s Stone Crab ships overnight anywhere in the U.S., including Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico.
More from Food & Wine:
America’s Best Beer Bars
Best Chicken Wings in the U.S.
America’s Best Doughnuts
America’s Best Pie Spots
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I would think a Hot Brown would be a better way to support Louisville. Plus, it tastes better!
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