Posted by The LunchMen Tuesday, March 22, 2011

We started with 64 restaurants last week, and thanks to your input have culled through the lousy service and mediocre culinary offerings in one weekend. I must say I’m actually a bit surprised at the amount of “chalk” in this bracket. There were a few upsets in the first round (TakoSushi, Villa Tronco, Golden Chopstixx, etc), but by the time we get past round 2, we had NO double-digit seeds, and all of our 1, 2 and 3 seeds remain alive. Here are the second round results, with the winners moving on to the sweet 16:


#1 Café Millwood defeats #9 Nick’s House of Pizza
#5 DiPrato’s defeats #4 Vella’s
#3 The Mousetrap defeats #11 Golden Chopstixx
#2 Hunter-Gatherer defeats #7 Publik House


#1 No Name Deli defeats #8 Motor Supply Co.
#5 Mathias defeats #13 TakoSushi
#3 Andy’s Deli defeats #11 Compton’s
#2 The Other Store defeats #7 Taqueria Jalisco


#1 The Kingsman defeats #9 Cock-n-Bull
#5 Drake’s Duck-in defeats #4 Mr. Friendly’s
#3 End Zone Grill defeats #11 Groucho’s
#2 Immaculate Consumption defeats #7 Al-Amir


#1 Tony's Downtown defeats #8 Cafe Strudel
#4 El-Burrito defeats #5 Salty Nut
#3 M Café defeats #11 Villa Tronco
#2 Garden Bistro defeats #7 Dano’s

Here are the match-ups for the Round of 16. Of course, the upside to the aforementioned lack of upsets is that, as a result, we are in store for some epic culinary battles:


These match-ups could literally cause Tank’s head to explode. It’s pretty much his four favorite restaurants this side of the Congaree all facing off.

(1) Café Millwood ~vs~ (5) DiPrato’s

The first pairing is particularly interesting. Not only are these two restaurants very different in their menu offerings, décor and clientele, they seem to be diametrically opposed to one another on an almost fundamental philosophical level. I am reminded of when the gang in “The Sandlot” goes head to head with the fancy team from across town. I’ll let you figure out who is who in this analogy.

(2) Hunter Gatherer ~vs~ (3) The Mousetrap

Both have loyal fan bases, both have been around longer than the lunch men have been working downtown, and both really get going after the sun goes down. It may come down to who you prefer as your Evening entertainment – Jazz Night at the HG, or Ross Holmes at the Trap?


(1) No Name Deli ~vs~ (5) Mathias

How did this happen so early? This is a matchup worthy of the grandest stage, not the Sweet 16! There aren’t many places that can compete with No Name’s tuna, chicken, and egg salad, but if there is such a locale, its probably Mathias (who apparently also has ham salad? Who knew?)

(2) The Other Store ~vs~ (3) Andy’s Deli

Two more venerable Columbia institutions. It’s a tough call, but really we should expect that from here on out. You don’t make it through the first couple of rounds if you are boo on any level.


(1) The Kingsman ~vs~ (5) Drake’s Duck-In

This one has the feel of two aging heavyweights doing battle, each with one last chance to win the belt. The Kingsman fries pork chops better than anyone in town, but Drake’s fries everything else better than anyone in town. A true clash of the titans.

(2) Immaculate Consumption ~vs~ (3) End Zone Grill

Immaculate serves beer, its true, but its that fancy, lukewarm beer, and really its an afterthought to the rest of the menu. At the End Zone, beer is cold, cheap, and more commonly ordered than food. Two opposite ends of the spectrum do battle in The Publican’s bracket, whose personality is a contrarian as this pairing.


(1) Tony’s Downtown ~vs~ (4) El Burrito

At El Burrito, diners enjoy an open air space with a cool breeze flowing throughout the dining area. At Tony’s, customers walk through a dark hallway to a windowless, seemingly vent-less restaurant whose aromas stick in your clothes worse than the cheapest of Mexican restaurants. Despite these differences, both serve up quality lunches to their customers. I see this as a potential upset, but the fiercely loyal Tony’s proponents have surprised me thus far, so maybe they can ride their support into the final four.

(2) Garden Bistro ~vs~ (3) M Cafe

Does anyone else think this doesn’t feel like a 2 v. 3 matchup? Don’t get me wrong, both are consistently good, but has either ever “wowed” you? I can think of at least a dozen restaurants I would choose over these two that have already been eliminated. But, that is the beauty of a tournament like this – you don’t have to beat the best restaurant, just the restaurant you actually go against.

We’ll post results on Friday, March 22. Please email us at lunchmen@gmail.com, or click at the top of this article to leave a comment with your votes. Thanks,



  1. Bach Pham Says:
  2. Looking at the list, I might have to do a pimento burger crawl the next time I have some time in Columbia! Sad Cafe Strudel and Golden got knocked out. :/

    CAFE MILLWOOD > Di Prato
    HUNTER GATHERER > Mousetrap
    NO NAME DELI > Mathias
    ANDY'S DELI > The Other Store (tough one!)
    DRAKES DUCK-IN > The Kingsman
    END-ZONE GRILL > Immaculate Consumption
    TONY'S DOWNTOWN >>> El Burrito

  3. Rob Lindsey Says:
  4. I'm really surprised DiPrato's has made it this far. Go HG & Garden Bistro!!!





  5. The Publican Says:

    (1) Café Millwood ~defeats~ (5) DiPrato’s

    This is utter domination. DiPrato's took advantage of early match ups - but I got some field peas that say DiPrato's is going down. Rest in Peace The Purple Cow!

    (2) Hunter Gatherer ~loses to~ (3) The Mousetrap

    H-G is my go to restaurant after the sun goes down... My mouth literally just watered thinking about an ESB. The Trap, however, suits me better for lunch, especially when I'm looking for a frisky octogenarian. Just kidding. As Jack Donaghy would say, "And don't ever make me talk to a woman that old again."


    (1) No Name Deli ~loses to~ (5) Mathias

    No Name Deli is one of the all time greats - but I know without having even been there that Mathias is the sleeper that belongs in the next round. In fact, I'm afraid to go there, because I might like it too much. It is just like drugs and x-box, I'm afraid if I tried them, I would get fired for my devotion to them.

    (2) The Other Store ~defeats~ (3) Andy’s Deli

    Greek Turkey? Come on man. That sandwich is so delicious, we could solve the Libyan conflict if we allowed Gaddafi to be exiled at The Other Store. If they had crushed ice at The Other Store, it would go in the Mathias/Drugs/xbox category...


    (1) The Kingsman ~defeats~ (5) Drake’s Duck-In

    Two words: pork chops. Two more: steak tips. Two more: bowling alley. Two more: Respect Cayce. Thirteen more: the waitress with gigantic pink testicles adorning the trailer hitch of her Chrysler.

    (2) Immaculate Consumption ~defeats~ (3) End Zone Grill

    End Zone Grill f/k/a Jerry Kellys serves one of the most amazing sandwiches (chicken mojo... mixed of course). And I'm a sucker for curly fries. Great atmosphere too - a place where you can feel comfortable reverting to that speech pattern you inherited from the wayward backwoods branches of your family.

    Not so fast though - Immaculate serves the most consistent, diverse, delicious line up of sandwiches. These guys are polished. I had a Bahn Mi special the other day with ground turkey. Guess what - it was delicous. The salads are ridiculous by themselves and even better with warm pita bread.


    (1) Tony’s Downtown ~loses to~ (4) El Burrito

    What an agonizing defeat. I love Tony's Downtown. I wrote my first entry about it. I'm wearing about 15 pounds of it. But El Burrito was my second home for years until Tank came into the picture. Ah, the compromise.

    (2) Garden Bistro ~loses to~ (3) M Cafe

    Garden Bistro is home to the legendary Mike. They serve up some great sandwiches, but damn I love Asian food (even when it is generic and churched up). Lettuce wraps and anything with meat, broccoli and copious amounts of sauce makes me happy.

    - The Publican

  7. lauren Says:
  8. (1) Café Millwood < (5) DiPrato’s

    (2) Hunter Gatherer < (3) The Mousetrap


    (1) No Name Deli > (5) Mathias

    (2) The Other Store > (3) Andy’s Deli


    (1) The Kingsman < (5) Drake’s Duck-In

    (2) Immaculate Consumption < (3) End Zone Grill


    (1) Tony’s Downtown < (4) El Burrito

    (2) Garden Bistro > (3) M Cafe

  9. Anonymous Says:
  10. Di Prato's
    Hunter Gatherer

    The Other Store

    End Zone Grill

    El Burrito
    M Cafe

  11. Ben Says:
  12. (1) Café Millwood Defeats (5) DiPrato’s

    (3) The Mousetrap Defeats (2) Hunter Gatherer


    (1) No Name Deli Defeats (5) Mathias

    (2) The Other Store Defeats (3) Andy’s Deli


    (1) The Kingsman Defeats (5) Drake’s Duck-In

    (2) Immaculate Consumption Defeats (3) End Zone Grill


    (4) El Burrito Defeats (1) Tony’s Downtown

    (2) Garden Bistro Defeats (3) M Cafe

  13. Long time, no see, ladies. Drop your panties and allow me to enlighten you.

    Bill Braksy's Picks:


    (1) Café Millwood loses to (5) DiPrato’s

    A #1 seed goes down to the superior depth of DiPrato's menue. Millwod has some stars, but the aren't able to answer DiPrato's second half points off the bench, and are sent home.

    (2) Hunter Gatherer defeats (3) The Mousetrap

    In an extremely close one, HG's youthful energy from their micro-brews powers them past a solid Mousetrap lineup with few flaws. Very few turnovers in this game, but HG comes out on top.


    (1) No Name Deli defeats (5) Mathias

    Not even close. This is vintage UCLA beating up on Gonzaga, who never saw the beat-down coming. No-Name can beat you so many different ways, you can't stop them all.

    (2) The Other Store loses to (3) Andy’s Deli

    Smilin' Andy just runs his system, and it works. TOS is able to keep pace for awhile, but the edge of atmosphere and a winning tradition put Andy on top.


    (1) The Kingsman defeats (5) Drake’s Duck-In

    The best pimento cheeseburger in town takes down fried food heaven in an 2OT thriller.

    (2) Immaculate Consumption loses to (3) End Zone Grill

    Imac has a great menu of wonderfully diverse food, but the service (read foul trouble) gets them in trouble every time with me. End Zone runs a simple system and executes it well. Imac goes down badly, and starts a coaching search.


    (1) Tony’s Downtown loses (4) El Burrito

    The fresh Mexican food at El Burrito is too rare a thing in Columbia, which puts it over TD.

    (2) Garden Bistro defeats (3) M Cafe

    Personal bias: I don't like Asian food in general. Sue me. Garden Bistro brings great tasting food (Ant's Delight), a cool vibe, and....oh yeah...it's not Asian food.

  14. Steph Says:
  15. DiPrato's takes Cafe Millwood

    Hunter Gatherer dominates over Moustrap

    NoName wins, over Mathias

    The Other Store loses to Andy's(location location location)

    The Kingsman Defeats Drake’s Duck-In in overtime

    Immaculate Consumption Clobbers End Zone Grill (which ironically hosts the best post-game party)

    El Burrito Defeats Tony’s Downtown

    M Cafe schools Garden Bistro



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Rabbit, Tank, and The Publican are three dudes just trying to get through the work week here in Columbia. Rabbit is a Columbia native, Tank is from Charleston, and The Publican hails from Greenville. Rabbit's favorite lunch spot is the No Name Deli on Elmwood, where you may find him putting down a grilled chicken salad and a side of vinegar pasta. The Publican usually wants to find food to cure his all-too-common hangovers. Tank claims no favorite lunch spot - he lives for the thrill of the hunt.


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