The semi-finalists of the James Beard Awards have been announced, and both Dallas and Fort Worth put on a good show – a sign of our thriving local food scene. The James Beard Foundation Awards recognize superior cuisine, hospitality, emerging chefs all rolled into one (Best Restaurant), plus pastries and liquor.
This is just the semi-final. The nominees will be announced on March 29, the winners on June 5. The restaurant and chef awards allow for an open call of recommendations, which ran from October 4 through November 30. Those were then reviewed 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 home baker Kuluntu Bakery was also on the Outstanding Bakery list.
See the full list of local semi-finalists below.
Boss Junior Borges
5650 Village Glen Drive
Chef Junior Borges opened this fine-dining ode to his native Brazil in 2021. Meridian recently switched to a new four-course prix fixe menu that offers a quasi-tour of the kitchen.
287 N. Bishop Ave.
Yes of course. Lucia isn’t a restaurant – it’s the chef’s home, and if you haven’t made a reservation yet, put that at the top of your to-do list. This modern Italian restaurant is a ballad. And don’t miss the old-fashioned brown butter, while you’re at it.
Best new restaurant
3268 W. Seventh St., Fort Worth
Don Artemio of Fort Worth was a favorite of Texas Monthlys Patricia Sharpe, long-time food writer, who called Chef Juan Ramon Cardenas the “king of the cabrito.”
1111 N. Beckley Ave.
Beatrice is in the old Jonathan’s Diner spot where chef Michelle Carpenter, according to the Beatrice website, serves “contemporary Cajun classics.”
3309 Elm St. (Deep Ellum)
This little omakase, in the Continental Gin building just outside Deep Ellum, serves no more than 20 dinners per night between 15 and 18 courses. Party Note: They kindly “ask” guests not to wear perfumes, colognes or body lotions. Are Which intimate. Jamie.
Bakery La Casita
3837 Main St., Rowlett and 580 W. Arapaho Road, Richardson
If you’re talking about La Casita, draw the “Laaaaaaa” and make a quick “Ca-sita!” like it’s a show tune. Because it is. This is a new category this year; last year 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 non-profit cottage bakery in Oak Cliff near Bishop Arts where everything is pre-ordered. The goal is to build strong communities through baking and bread, which you can read about here.
Sandwich Hag owner Reyna Duong is a semifinalist for Best Chef Texas.
Best Chef Texas
There are a dozen geographic regions for the best chef, and Texas has a category all its own. These are the local semi-finalists.
1902 Botham Jean Blvd.
This little bánh mì shop in the Cedars neighborhood serves great sandwiches made with pork, sausage patties and ginger tofu. Sandwich Hag also now has a Vietnamese coffee shop on Sundays only.
Jalen Heard, Lane Milne, and Jonny White
Goldee’s Barbeque, Fort Worth
4645 Dick Price Rd
After Goldee’s was named the best barbecue restaurant in the state by Texas monthly, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. You don’t see many pitmasters get nods, but here you do all three. Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue was the first pitmaster to receive the Best Chef award.
Olivia Lopez and Jonathan Percival
Online and popup
Molino Olōyō usually works as a pop-up. The owners 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 where the kernels are soaked in lye and then ground into flour.
4391 W Lovers Lane
Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman was nominated for the same category last year, and her restaurant, José, was also nominated for Outstanding Hospitality last year.
Revolver taco lounge
Main Street 2701
Everyone loves a good party. Rojas has been nominated several times here for his thriving taco empire in Deep Ellum.