MACON, Ga. — 13WMAZ, Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism, Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Macon Telegraph have partnered to bring you the Macon Food Story.
There are hundreds of restaurants in Central Georgia – locally owned, unique establishments.
While college basketball teams compete over the next few weeks in the NCAA Tournament for a national title, the Macon Food Story is putting some skin in the game.
We want YOU to help us decide which restaurant takes the top spot in Central Georgia… and we’re calling it Munch Madness.
We selected 64 restaurants across eight different categories and seeded them out into a bracket: BBQ, burgers and dawgs, desserts, international, meat and three, pizza, seafood and upscale dining.
Over the next three or so weeks, you’ll have the opportunity to vote online for your favorite for several rounds as we go from 32, down to the Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final 4, Top 2 and ultimately the winner on April 8.
In most instances when there's a selection process, there are also a few snubs.
Munch Madness is no different. For example, we couldn't come up with 8 local (non-chain) wing restaurants to build out a wing category, so we didn't select any wing spots. Francar's Wings is a popular eatery in Macon that didn't make our original field.
Mercer's Amyre Makupson spoke to two other Central Georgia restaurants that were left out who say they put winning ingredients on the table every day.
"I guess if we didn't get voted by the people, we're the Gonzaga of the restaurant business," said Taco Shed owner Derrick Baas.
The Houston County native loves showing his hometown pride.
"I'm from Warner Robins, so we started naming off the tacos as far as the schools go, then we ran out of schools and then we started with the roads and other things around town, so everything comes out of Houston County," he said.
Through his love of gourmet tacos, including seafood and hand-cut meats, Baas says the Taco Shed was a Munch Madness international category oversight.
"Everything is handmade. There are 23 different tacos with a lot of variety in each taco," he said. "We have our steak, which is hand cut, we have our chicken that's handcut and marinated for two days before we cook it, [and] we have brisket."
He encourages you to stop by and check them out if you haven't already because they have something for everyone.
And in Macon, we left off Brasserie Circa in the upscale dining category.
"We've only been here for about five years, so not everyone knows about us. We still see people on a daily basis and this is their first time here or we talk to people, 'Oh we have to check you out, we've never been there,'" said general manager Christopher Barton.
He says Circa is all about selection.
"Just a fusion of different foods from sushi to steaks to seafood, we have a little bit of Mexican flare on some dishes," he said.
It's the variety paired with quality that Barton says keeps people coming back...along with one dish he says really stands out.
"Definitely our sushi. Our sushi is probably the most underrated in town. You can talk to a lot of people and they feel like it's the best in town. We're good on the seafood and steaks and salads, but I feel like our sushi is number one."
That's one bold claim, but there's only one way to know if it's true -- you try it.
Want to talk more about food and fellowship in Central Georgia? Join the Macon Food Story Facebook group here.