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    Munch Madness 2019: The restaurant tournament begins

    This year’s Munch Madness, the Boston Globe’s annual restaurant championship, kicks off on March 5. Here’s how it works: 64 local establishments face off on an NCAA-style bracket to battle it out for top honors (and engage in some good-spirited trash talk along the way). You vote for your favorites in each round to determine the winner.

    The 2019 tournament includes plenty of longtime favorites as well as newcomers, with some very interesting matchups in the offing. In the first round, high-end sushi faces off against great pizza and charcuterie as O Ya battles the Salty Pig. Boston loves Mexican food and Southern fare; which will win out when Loco Taqueria takes on Southern Proper? Last year’s champion, Saltie Girl, has been retired, but tinned fish, oysters, and other seafood dishes are amply represented, with Eventide, haley.henry, Island Creek Oyster Bar, Neptune Oyster, and Ostra in the mix. (It is New England, after all.) And a James Beard award semifinalist takes on a “Top Chef” contestant in the case of Sarma vs. Deuxave.

    Here is this year’s timing: Round 1 of voting begins March 5 and ends March 17. Round 2 runs March 18 to March 21. Round 3 is March 22 to March 25, Round 4 March 26 to March 28, Round 5 March 29 to April 1, and Round 6 April 2 to April 4. The winner will be announced online April 5. Cast your votes at bostonglobe.com/munchmadness, and follow the action on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #munchmadness.

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    Devra First can be reached at devra.first@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @devrafirst.