Jan 24, 2024 - News

Austin's James Beard award nominations

Illustration of a first place ribbon with a gold plate at the center.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The culinary gods have looked upon Austin and smiled.

Driving the news: The James Beard Foundation on Wednesday announced its semifinalists for awards honoring the best in food and drinks across the country and, once again, there's a big helping of Austin-area restaurants and chefs.


Why it matters: James Beard recognition can serve as a flare that draws attention to up-and-comers, brings satisfaction to chefs who do consistently excellent work — and, most importantly, it boosts business.

Best New Restaurant semifinalists include Japanese-Mexican ramen shop Ramen Del Barrio on Parmer Lane and, farther afield, Barbs-B-Q in Lockhart.

  • A restaurant in that category "demonstrates excellence in cuisine, seems likely to make a significant impact in years to come, and demonstrates consistent excellence in food, atmosphere, hospitality, and operations, while contributing positively to its broader community," per the James Beard Foundation.

Of note: Mariela Camacho, whose beautiful creations are sold at Comadre Panadería, is a semifinalist in the Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker category.

  • Pizza joint Bufalina made the list in the Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program.

Meanwhile: Five Austin chefs are among the semifinalists in the Best Chef: Texas category.

What they're saying: "I can't get enough of Caribbean cuisine, and Canje nailed the melting pot of flavors from the history of the region — a little bit of African, a little bit of Indian and everything in between," our colleague Shane Savitsky wrote after his visit to Canje.

  • "Mum is like the best-ever Texas version of a delicatessen, with gorgeous pastrami, home-baked breads ("mum" is the name of a sourdough starter), crispy-sweet pork ribs and old-school collard greens," Asher observed about Mum Foods last year.

What's next: Finalists will be announced on April 3, and winners will be celebrated at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards Ceremony on June 10 in Chicago.

The bottom line: We know Austin is a great food town, but it's nice to get national recognition.

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