Pulled Pork Madness: Voting Underway to Determine ‘Elite 8’

Pulled Pork Madness: Voting Underway to Determine ‘Elite 8’

Has the NCAA’s cancellation of March Madness given you the blues? Get in on some bracket action with the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) Pulled Pork Madness, a competition that pits Iowa restaurants against each other for the best pulled pork sandwich. The “Sweet 16” matchups were announced Monday.

Members of the public have until noon Friday, March 20 to vote for their favorites and help determine which advance to the next round. Past winners—Warehouse Barbecue Co. + Brewhouse in Ottumwa (2019) and Moo’s BBQ in Newton (2018)—are going head to head in District 7.

The monthlong contest, which mimics the college basketball tournament, follows a similar narrowing process that gets restaurants to the “Elite 8” and “Final Four.”

Restaurants in the “Sweet 16” are:

District Restaurant Town
1 Sizzlin’ J Bar & Grill Galva
1 Burn Unit BBQ Sibley
2 Smokin’ Grumps Barbecue Rockwell City
2 Double M Catering & Sandwich Shop Emmetsburg
3 Blue Barn BBQ Cedar Falls
3 Starbeck’s Smokehouse Cedar Falls
4 Backwoods Bar and Grill McGregor
4 Bents Smokehouse & Pub Westgate
5 The Twisted Tail Steakhouse & Saloon Logan
5 Smokin with E’s Bbq (Cafe Sign) Lenox
6 Whatcha Smokin? BBQ + Brew Luther
6 ShortE’s BBQ Johnston
7 Warehouse Barbecue Co. + Brewhouse Ottumwa
7 Moo’s BBQ Newton
8 Wildwood Smokehouse & Saloon Iowa City
8 Kula’s It’s Just Sauce Walker


Earlier this month, nearly 1,700 pork fans nominated Iowa restaurants they felt have the best pulled pork sandwiches. Of the 125 restaurants nominated, the two with the most votes in each of IPPA’s eight districts make up the “Sweet 16” bracket.

Playoffs will be fast and furious. Other voting deadlines are March 25 (Elite 8), March 30 (Final Four) and April 2 (championship round). The winner will be announced April 3.

Cast votes and see the results from each round at IPPA’s website, https://www.iowapork.org/, and by following the organization’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/IowaPork/. Also, keep up with the contest on social media using the #PulledPorkMadness hashtag.

“This campaign is a fun way to promote businesses around the state, including restaurants, bars and food trucks who serve up delicious pulled pork sandwiches,” said Kelsey Sutter, IPPA’s marketing and programs director. “We love the interaction and excitement for pork that comes with this bracket-style competition!”

Along with bragging rights, the winning restaurant will receive $250 and a “Pulled Pork Madness” plaque.