Updated Jan 24, 2024 - Food and Drink

San Antonio restaurants honored as James Beard semifinalists

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

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Four San Antonio names made the semifinalist list for the prestigious James Beard Awards, considered the Oscars of the restaurant industry.

Why it matters: The city's growing food scene is competing with larger cities on a national scale and gaining recognition for diverse cuisines.

Driving the news: Mixtli, a progressive Mexican restaurant, represents San Antonio in the Outstanding Restaurant category on the list of nominees that was released Wednesday.

Three San Antonio chefs or groups were also nominated for best chef in Texas:

  • Christopher Cullum, Cullum's Attaboy
  • Jennifer Hwa Dobbertin, Best Quality Daughter
  • Andrew Ho, Andrew Samia and Sean Wen, Curry Boys BBQ

Zoom out: Thirty-nine Texas restaurants and chefs are semifinalists for the 2023 awards.

  • In 2019, the James Beard Foundation established Texas as a separate region.
  • The decision was supported by demographers who analyzed the growth of the state and hospitality industry data.

Flashback: It's the second consecutive year that Curry Boys BBQ, an Asian barbecue restaurant, has landed on the semifinalist list.

  • "The genuine truth is everyone on that list, at least from San Antonio, are people that we always look up to. So it's pretty wild to see," Wen told Axios.

Of note: David Kirkland and Ernest Servantes of Burnt Bean Co. in Seguin are up for Outstanding Chef. Barbs-B-Q in Lockhart is a semifinalist for Best New Restaurant.

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.

  • Local chefs Bruce Auden, Steve McHugh, John Russ and Andrew Weissman were nominees in the past, but a San Antonio chef or restaurant has never won a James Beard award.

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