UPDATE: Voting in the Final Four round is now closed. Check MiamiHerald.com/restaurants on Monday at 8 a.m. to vote in the Munch Madness Final.
Welcome to the Final Four, Miami.
You've contracted Munch Madness and made it felt over the last two weeks, voting for your favorite Miami-Dade County restaurants in our bracket-style challenge.
You voted and voted (and clearly were voting from four and five screens at the same time). There's no James Beard Award at stake, but clearly bragging rights are on the line.
The result? One of these four Miami restaurants with cult (and social media) followings are poised to cut down the nets on April 4: Pincho Factory, Mignonette, NaiYaRa and Flanigan’s. Voting closes at 8 p.m. Friday, March 31. We’ll vote on the champions the day of the NCAA basketball championship (Remember sports?), April 3 at MiamiHerald.com/restaurants and announce the winners April 4.
Here's a little recap of how they got here:
Casual Dining Region: Pincho Factory, the Miami-born burger and kabob spot, shook their No. 11 seeding and took down one beloved restaurant after another: Pinch Kitchen, Kendall's chef-driven Finka and finally the No. 1 seed, the first-year restaurant Beaker and Gray.
Chef-Driven Region: Mignonette is still wearing its glass slippers. The No. 16 seed proved it has become a beloved Miami seafood restaurant and raw bar by upsetting No. 1 seed Alter, Francis Mallmann's mortgage-buster Los Fuegos, and finally the upscale Peruvian La Mar in the Mandarin Oriental, which looked on pace for a Final Four spot itself.
World Cuisine Region: No. 3 NaiYaRa is the highest rated seed still alive in tournament and it got there by taking down three Italian restaurants: Strada in the Grove, Macchialian and MC Kitchen before knocking off the upscale Asian barbecue spot KYU.
Local Favorites, Chains Region: Flanigan’s has been, simply, a voting juggernaut. They drew the most votes on any day they competed with legions clicking to get them past Andiamo Pizza, Captain’s Tavern, Shorty’s Bar-B-Q, and, in a dog fight, taking out another vote-getting machine in Garcia’s Seafood.
On to today’s voting!
(16) Mignonette vs. (11) Pincho Factory
Mignonette’s Danny Serfer, when he isn’t creating comfort food at his nearby Blue Collar, has created the go-to spot (that has sparked a second location) for a raw bar and flavorful seafood, including oysters flown in fresh from all over the country. Pincho Factory took off in Miami with amazing burgers on pillowy potato bread, sweet potato tater tots with apple butter and a Cartel hot dog with shaved potato sticks that might be Miami’s best.
(3) NaiYaRa vs. (10) Flanigan’s Seafood Bar & Grill
Every dish that comes out of NaiYaRa’s kitchen is a bright, flavorful and loving ode to Thai street food, turned up with Chef Bee’s skill with ingredients, in a lively South Beach setting. Who doesn’t have one of those green Flanigan’s cups in their cupboard? No one, that’s who, because Flanigan’s has been the South Florida-based sports bar with cold beer and hot wings (though others prefer the baby back ribs) that has been a natural for Dolphins watch parties.