Los Angeles Regional
With both UCLA and USC both in prime position to punch a ticket to the show, the Los Angeles regional is bound to give the city tourney fever. Those of you lucky enough to be in the Southland and its surrounding locales will be able to choose where to watch, whether it’s at the Staples Center, in a backyard, or huddled over your tablet in the shadow of a taco truck. This city offers up so many options for both food and fandom, you’re going to have to plan and play it smarter than a lot of the competition from other cities… just like your teams themselves.
There is nothing better than watching a Cinderella claw its way to the Elite Eight in the great outdoors and LA just happens to be the warmest of the four major tournament hubs in the runup to the Final Four. Make sure you have your al fresco viewing setup ready to rock before tip-off. Grab a digital projector and a makeshift screen -- a white sheet or blank expanse of wall is great here -- and make sure the internet connection is strong and stable. You don’t want to be the one who had buffering issues before a buzzer beater.
As for food, this is the land of fresh produce so guacamole is going to be a hit whether you’re a guest or a host. But consider a taco assembly station, where guests can create their own masterpieces from a dozen or so small bowls of beloved fillings. Go with two meats, a tofu (this is LA after all), and a bean option, plus cheese, pico de gallo, and various sauces. But don’t forget the love for tacos Americanos, with diced tomatoes and shredded lettuce in a hard shell. The important thing is that your serving station, like the tourney, has plenty of options, but anything can happen.
Dips and chips will reign supreme as long as you keep it healthy. That means for every tortilla or potato chip, include some raw veggie slices, and make sure there’s a dip for every type of diet, be it keto, paleo, vegan, gluten-free, or fun (omnivore). Again, this is LA.
If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Los Angeles proper for the tournament, you’d do well to eat your way through the city one taqueria at a time. A full-blown taco crawl is recommended, but if you can’t make that happen then the greatest hits will have to suffice: Tacos Guanajuato in Boyle Heights, Mariscos Jalisco Truck on the east side, and La Flor de Yucatán Bakery near the USC campus are all guaranteed to satisfy. Just make sure your stops don’t pull you out of viewing range -- especially since LA traffic can add hours to your travel. The wise taconnoisseur picks a choice spot for lunch, then removes to the nearest sports bar or friend’s house.
Los Angeles is also overflowing with sports bars that take advantage of the region’s choice weather. The Butcher’s Dog in Japantown serves up refined bar grub with plenty of patio seating while The Garage on Motor Ave in Culver City has the best beer list to ever be served in a converted auto body shop. And if you prefer more of a beach vibe with your March Madness, look no further than Big Dean’s Ocean Front Cafe, a Santa Monica institution that has been around in one form or another since 1902. (Don’t worry, the TVs are of a more recent vintage.)
Of course, the most LA thing you could ever do would be to create your own fusion taco at home. This town might get territorial about its tacos, but it also loves a great cultural mashup dish, and you could be the hero it needs… even if you have to borrow one of our recipes, like the ramen taco or the chicken skin taco.