Commentary

Madness March -- Regionals, Final Four

Updated: March 13, 2011, 2:30 PM ET
By Tony Guadagnoli | Special to ESPN SportsTravel

2011 Tournament Travel GuideIllustration by Eliot Krohn. Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Quick clicks: Click on the list of cities below to get to the NCAA tournament host of choice.

Regionals and finals: Anaheim | Newark | New Orleans | San Antonio | Houston


• Photo gallery: Memories of the Madness Photo Gallery | Passport: Check in for all tourney games


REGIONALS -- MARCH 24 and 26

NEW ORLEANS -- Southeast Regional
• Arena: New Orleans Arena
• Host: Tulane
• Address: 1500 Girod St., New Orleans, LA 70113
• Phone: 504-587-3663
• Website | Seating chart | Buy tickets
• Nightlife areas: Frenchmen Street, in the Faubourg Marigny, is where some of the finest restaurants and music clubs are located, including Snug Harbor and d.b.a. To hear classic jazz, check out Frizell's on Bourbon Street, Irvin Mayfield's Playhouse in the Royal Sonesta and Jeremy Davenport's Lounge in the Ritz-Carlton. Another great area for nightlife is the Warehouse District, specifically Rock N Sake, Republic, the Red Eye and Howlin' Wolf.
• Sports bars: Gordon Biersch (200 Poydras St.; 504-552-2739) is within walking distance of the French Quarter and Convention Center. Lucy's (701 Tchoupitoulas St.; 504-523-8995) is also great for spotting some of the city's professional athletes who like to hang out there.
• Restaurants: According to the visitors bureau, there are more restaurants open in New Orleans than ever in the city's history, and most are within walking distance of the French Quarter, downtown hotels, the Warehouse District and the Superdome. New Orleans is known for its exceptional chefs and cuisine. What to try? Donald Link's Cochon features handmade boudin, rabbit, sausages, pork and other family recipes, as well as Herbsaint liquor. Chef John Besh has four restaurants downtown (Luke is a French/German bistro; Domenica is Italian; Restaurant August offers a more upscale dinner; and Besh Steakhouse is in Harrah's Casino). In the French Quarter, enjoy classics such as Antoine's, Arnaud's and Galatoire's. Emeril Lagasse spearheads his flagship Emeril's in the Warehouse District, NOLA in the French Quarter and Emeril's Delmonico. Other restaurants of note: Muriel's (on Jackson Square); Tommy's (in the Warehouse District); and Paul Prudhomme's K-Paul's.
• Cheap Eats: Mother's (401 Poydras St.; 504-523-9656) is in the heart of downtown and features po'boys (try the Debris, dripping with roast beef) and New Orleans staples, including jambalaya, shrimp creole and etouffe. The legendary Cafe Du Monde (800 Decatur St.; 504-525-4544) is open 24 hours for beignets and cafe au lait.
• Attractions: The World War II Museum; The Aquarium of the Americas and the Audubon Insectarium; The Audubon Zoo at Audubon Park; shopping in the French Quarter; riding the Natches Paddlewheeler; catching the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar


ANAHEIM -- West Regional
• Arena: Honda Center
• Host: Big West Conference
• Address: 2695 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim, CA 92806
• Phone: 714-705-2400
• Website | Seating chart | Buy tickets
• Nightlife areas: In addition to Downtown Disney's popular restaurants and shops, try Auld Irisher (1547 Katella Ave. Suite 102, Orange; 714- 633-3192); Heat Ultra Lounge (321 W. Katella Ave. Suite 214, Anaheim; 714-776-4328); The District Lounge (223 W. Chapman Ave., Orange; 714-639-7777); and The Continental Room (115 W. Santa Fe Ave., Fullerton; 714-469-1879). Downtown Fullerton (Harbor Boulevard) and the Circle in Orange (Glassell Street) also have an array of bars and restaurants.
• Sports bars: ESPN Zone (1545 S. Disneyland Drive, Anaheim; 714-300-3776) is situated in Downtown Disney and boasts more than 120 HDTVs. The Catch (2100 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim; 714-935-0101) is a mile from the Honda Center and offers seafood, steaks and chops. OC Sports Grill (450 N. State College Blvd., Orange; 714-935-0300) has 19 beers on tap, several drink specials and more than 50 HDTVs.
• Restaurants: JT Schmid's Restaurant & Brewery (2610 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim; 714-634-9200) is plush with American cuisine and just across from the Honda Center. Lazy Dog Cafe (1623 W. Katella Ave., Orange; 714-769-7020) is an American diner found less than a mile from the arena. King's Fish House (1521 W. Katella Ave., Orange; 714-771-665) is known for its seafood and close proximity to the hoops venue.
• Cheap eats: Consider patronizing Fresca's Mexican Grill (2085 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim; 714-935-0666) and Scottie's Smokehouse BBQ (220 E. Katella Ave., Orange; 714-997-3804).
• Attractions: Disneyland; Disney's California Adventure; Angel Stadium; Knott's Berry Farm; and Newport Beach.
More in the ESPN SportsTravel City Guide: Anaheim


REGIONALS -- MARCH 25 and 27

NEWARK -- East Regional
• Arena: Prudential Center
• Host: Seton Hall
• Address: 165 Mulberry St., Newark, NJ 07102
• Phone: 973-757-6000
• Website | Seating chart | Buy tickets
• Nightlife areas: Adega's Grill (130 Ferry St.; 973-589-8830) is a stylish restaurant and dance club and one of the Ironbound neighborhood's prime after-work and weekend destinations. Located near the Newark Museum, Savoy Grill (60 Park Place; 973-286-1700) is a contemporary bar and grill that appeals to the young and stylish crowds who work and relax in downtown Newark. Vivo Lounge (167 Ferry St.; 973-465-4800) features tapas and Mediterranean food with live entertainment nightly.
• Sports bars: Hell's Kitchen (150 Lafayette St.; 973-465-4422) is a gastropub featuring live entertainment and is open until 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Scully's (11 Clinton St.; 973-622-3341) is near Prudential Center and offers a diverse menu and busy atmosphere. Some say Port 44 (44 Commerce St.; 973-642-4330) is the best brewpub in New Jersey.
• Restaurants: Chateau of Spain (11 Franklin St.; 973-710-3970) is less than two blocks from the Prudential Center and features classic Spanish fare. Diners can even cook their own steaks on a granite stone plate. Je's Restaurant (260 Halsey St.; 973-623-8848) serves Southern and soul food with all the taste of home cooking. Don PePe (844 McCarter Highway; 973-623-4662) is a popular spot for Iberian food with the seafood paella a favorite.
• Cheap eats: Hamburgao (288 Lafayette St.; 973-465-1776 ) offers huge hamburgers with a Portuguese flavor and potato sticks.
• Attractions: Branch Brook Park; Military Park; Lincoln Park; Newark Museum; and New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
More in the ESPN SportsTravel City Guide: New York City


SAN ANTONIO -- Southwest Regional
• Arena: Alamodome
• Host: Texas-San Antonio
• Address: 100 Montana St., San Antonio, TX 78203
• Phone: 210-207-3663
• Website | Seating chart | Buy tickets
• Nightlife areas: The River Walk is the center of San Antonio's busiest district. The downtown/River Walk neighborhood is where famous sites such as the Alamo, San Fernando Cathedral and missions of the San Antonio Mission Trail meet a wide range of shops and restaurants. King William Historic District (Southtown) has undergone a renaissance and is home to more hip and urban spots, art galleries and other businesses.
• Sports bars: Tex's Sports Bar (200 S. Alamo St., in the Hilton Palacio del Rio; 210-222-1400) is known for Texas-style appetizers. Farther away from downtown, Fatso's Sports Garden (1704 Bandera Road; 210-432-0121) has won many awards as the city's best sports bar. Fatso's has on-site volleyball tournaments and numerous drink and food specials.
• Restaurants: Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar (255 E. Basse Road, Suite 200; 210-824-9463) features prime-age, corn-fed beef, which is hand-cut daily on site into thick steaks. The Fleming's 100 wine list is a highlight of this chain. Each year wine director Marian Jansen op de Haar selects 60 wines to appear on the national list and the 40 other wines are selected in conjunction with the local wine managers to reflect regional tastes. Found in the King William District, Rosario's (910 S. Alamo St.; 210-223-1806) has received national recognition and specializes in a roasted tomato salsa. Boudro's on the River Walk (421 E. Commerce St.; 210-224-8484) is a favorite for Texas-style seafood and steaks.
• Cheap eats: Chris Madrid's (1900 Blanco St., San Antonio; 210-735-3552) is located in midtown and has often been voted to have the best burgers in the city. According to its website, Chris Madrid's motto "has always been to 'cook each item as if you were cooking it for a friend.'" Chris Madrid's is closed Sundays.
• Attractions:The Alamo; Riverwalk; San Antonio Museum of Art; Fort Sam Houston Museum; and Market Square.
More in the ESPN SportsTravel City Guide: San Antonio


FINAL FOUR -- APRIL 2 and 4

HOUSTON
• Arena: Reliant Stadium
• Host: Houston and Rice
• Address: One Reliant Park, Houston, TX 77054
• Phone: 832-667-1400
• Website | Seating chart | Buy tickets
• Nightlife areas: Downtown/Midtown (VOICE CQ, La Carafe, Houston Pavilions complex, 3rd Bar, Reef), West University (Little Woodrow's, Ginger Man and Baker St. Pub & Grill), Montrose (Anvil, Poison Girl), River Oaks (Red Room, Haven) and Washington Avenue (Ei8ht, Roosevelt, Pearl Bar, Max's Wine Dive).
• Sports bars: The Mezzanine Lounge (2200 Southwest Freeway, Suite 150; 713-528-6399) offers a lively atmosphere upstairs, with poker tournaments and several TVs (including some in the restrooms); downstairs is more laid-back. Little Woodrow's (5611 Morningside Drive; 713-521-2337) is a favorite of Rice University students and it's not hard to see why, what with its 100 beers on tap and numerous drink specials. There is also a Little Woodrow's in Midtown.
• Restaurants: Irma's Restaurant (22 N. Chenevert St.; 713-222-0767) is quite small and has the look of a house. Known for having no menu, Irma's serves what many consider some of the city's most delicious Mexican food. With many locations around town, including one venue right near Reliant Park, Pappasito's Cantina (2515 South Loop West; 713-668-5756) is a Tex-Mex favorite that has often been voted Houston's best Mexican restaurant. Kata Robata (3600 Kirby Drive; 713-526-8858) in River Oaks offers one of Houston's unique menus, with traditional and modern Japanese dining, as well as tapas.
• Cheap eats: Chicken wings and waffles for breakfast? Why not? Have both at The Breakfast Klub (3711 Travis St.; 713-528-8561). About five miles north of Reliant Stadium in Montrose you'll find Niko Niko's (2520 Montrose Blvd.; 713-528-1308), which always draws a crowd (that's part of the fun to some) and serves hearty portions.
• Attractions: Space Center Houston; Museum of Natural Science; Downtown Aquarium; Houston Zoo; The Galleria; and the Houston Museum District.
More in the ESPN SportsTravel City Guide: Houston

Tony Guadagnoli is a freelance writer in western Washington.

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