The James Beard Foundation Awards recognize superior cuisine, hospitality, emerging chefs, all of those rolled into one (best restaurant), plus pastries and booze.
This is just the semis. Nominees will be announced on March 29, then winners on June 5. The restaurant and chef awards allow for an open call of recommendations, which ran Oct. 4 through Nov. 30. Those were then viewed and considered by a subcommittee for this list.
New this year is Outstanding Bakery, which has two local spots, including La Casita Bakeshop; last year baker Marisca Trejo was nominated as Outstanding Baker, and the cottage baker Kuluntu Bakery was also on the Outstanding Bakery list.
See the full list of local semifinalists below.
Chef Junior Borges
5650 Village Glen Drive
Chef Junior Borges opened this fine-dining ode to his native Brazil in 2021. Meridian recently moved to a new four-course prix fixe menu that offers a quasi-guided tour through the kitchen.
287 N. Bishop Ave.
Well, of course. Lucia is not a restaurant — it's the chef's home, and if you haven't snagged reservations yet, put that at the top of your to-do list. This modern Italian restaurant is a ballad. And don't miss the brown butter old fashioned, while you're at it.
Best New Restaurant
3268 W. Seventh St., Fort Worth
Don Artemio of Fort Worth was a favorite of Texas Monthly's longtime food writer Patricia Sharpe, who called chef Juan Ramon Cardenas the "king of cabrito."
1111 N. Beckley Ave.
Beatrice is in the old Jonathan's Diner spot where chef Michelle Carpenter serves, per the Beatrice website, "contemporary Cajun classics."
3309 Elm St. (Deep Ellum)
This small omakase, in The Continental Gin building just outside of Deep Ellum, serves no more than 20 diners a night anywhere from 15 to 18 courses. Party note: they "kindly ask" guests not to wear perfumes, colognes or body lotions. It's that intimate. Yum.
La Casita Bakeshop
3837 Main St., Rowlett and 580 W. Arapaho Road, Richardson
When you speak of La Casita, draw out the "Laaaaaaa" and finish a quick "Ca-sita!" like it's a show tune. Because it is. This a new category this year; last year the baker Maricsa Trejo was nominated for best baker. It fills us with warm, buttery flakes to see her here again. And La Casita just opened a new coffee shop in Rowlett. High fives everywhere.
Kuluntu Bakery is a nonprofit cottage bakery in Oak Cliff near Bishop Arts, where everything is preordered. The goal is to build strong communities through baking and bread, which you can read about here.
Best Chef Texas
There are a dozen geographic regions for best chef, and Texas has a category all to itself. Here are the local semifinalists.
1902 Botham Jean Blvd.
This small bánh mì shop in the Cedars neighborhood serves amazing sandwiches built with pork, sausage patties and ginger tofu. Sandwich Hag now has a Sunday-only Vietnamese coffee shop too.
Jalen Heard, Lane Milne and Jonny White
Goldee's Barbecue, Fort Worth
4645 Dick Price Road
After Goldee's was anointed the best barbecue restaurant in the state by Texas Monthly, this shouldn't be too much of a surprise. You don't see many pitmasters getting nods, but all three did here. Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue was the first pitmaster to receive the best chef award.
Olivia López and Jonathan Percival
Online and Pop-Up
Molino Olōyō mostly operates as a pop-up. The proprietors make tortillas, tamales and a variety of other items depending on the week and event. For the tortillas, they use heirloom corn and a nixtamalization process that involves soaking kernels in lye and then grinding them down into flour.
4391 W. Lovers Lane
Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman was nominated for this same category last year, and her restaurant, José, was also nominated last year for outstanding hospitality.
Revolver Taco Lounge
2701 Main St.
Everybody loves a good party. Rojas has been nominated here several times before for his flourishing taco empire in Deep Ellum.