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Get your brackets ready for return of Munch Madness

By Devra First
Globe Staff / March 16, 2011

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Last year we launched Munch Madness, The Globe’s tournament of restaurants. Inspired by the NCAA’s March Madness, we created a bracket of 64 restaurants. Then you, the readers, did your part, casting more than 167,000 votes in total. The contestants were winnowed down and a winner declared: East Coast Grill in Cambridge’s Inman Square, which defeated Hungry Mother in the championship. (It was close, with ECG winning by just 182 votes out of 1,432 cast in the final matchup.)

Along the way, we witnessed the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, and some pretty cutthroat competition. Someone sent East Coast Grill a fish skeleton, a six-pack of Miller High Life, and a threatening note. “To ECG: Drop out of the contest now or you will really know what Hell Night is!’’ East Coast Grill, presuming the package must have come from Hungry Mother, retaliated by sending Hungry Mother a pig’s head and a bottle of Fernet-Branca. (This is what I love about food world feuds: They always come with booze.)

We had such a good time, we’re doing it again. Welcome to Munch Madness 2011. Again, we’re pitting 64 restaurants against one another: all the establishments that made it through the first round last year, in all-new matchups. Here’s where you come in. First, we need your help seeding the bracket. Go to www.boston.com/munchmadness to find the list of contestants, posted today. Pick your favorites, and we’ll take your input into account when setting up the matches.

Next comes the voting period, more condensed than it was last year. Log on to vote in Round 1 from March 21-22. For Round 2, vote from March 23-24. Round 3 is March 25-26, and Round 4 March 27-28. That leads us to the Final Four, March 29-30. Voting for the championship will take place from March 31-April 1. We’ll tally the results and announce them online April 4. Each Wednesday right here in the Globe’s Food section, we’ll run a Munch Madness update.

Can East Coast Grill defend its title? Will an underdog surprise us all? Will random animal parts and alcoholic beverages soon be appearing on restaurant doorsteps all over town? Stay tuned, cast your votes, and may the best restaurant win.