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A Food Porn Tour Of The 2019 James Beard Award Finalists


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The finalists for the 2019 James Beard Awards have finally been announced. This year, the foundation made considerable efforts to increase diversity within their long list of nominees, which resulted in a 7% increase in representation for people of color in the best restaurant and chef longlists — and those efforts have mostly paid off in the finalists, too. That aside, we don’t know how the people at the James Beard Foundation were ever able to narrow down that initial longlist of delicious looking nominees when we can’t even decide whether or not we actually like In-N-Out Fries. But hey, good on them.

Since eating at many of these joints is going to feel like a bit of a splurge, we’ve created a visual tour of what each restaurant or chef has to offer. The pics will help you decide which places you’re willing to drop coin and those you’re okay skipping. Here are all the finalists for the 2019 James Beard Award in the categories of Outstanding Restaurant, Best New Restaurant, and Outstanding Chef. Join us for a feast for the eyes!

Outstanding Restaurant Finalists

Balthazar

80 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

Balthazar has been a staple of New York City cuisine for twelve years now and has since opened another location in London, but 2019 may be the year the restaurant finally scores the coveted James Beard award. Balthazar serves up traditional French fare, focusing primarily on breakfast and supper and is a hot spot for brunch on the weekends.

Steak frites, pastries, greens, and good wine — how could one ever go wrong?

FIG

232 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401

FIG already has a James Beard-awarded chef in owner and kitchen head Mike Late, and now the Charleston South Carolina restaurant might score its very own Beard recognition, for being one of the most outstanding restaurants in the Southeast to grab a bite. What started as a humble corner bistro has turned into Charleston’s premier culinary destination, delivering a seasonal menu of Southern classics in an elegant upscale setting.

Jaleo

480 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20004

Jaleo is one of the best restaurants in all of Washington, DC, has already scored the prestigious food award the Bib Gourmand, and is part of the Michelin Guide to our nation’s capital. Chef José Andrés offers an inspired and diverse menu of regional Spanish cuisines but keeps things fresh by adopting dishes straight from the modern culinary scene in Spain.

Quince

470 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

Located in San Francisco’s Jackson Square, Quince is an upscale seasonally-driven restaurant that focuses on contemporary California cuisine. Head Chef and owner Michael Tusk — a James Beard-recognized chef — and his wife Lindsay have undeniably left their mark on the San Francisco Bay with not one, but two critically lauded restaurants in Quince and Cotogna. Michael and Lindsay offer a menu that is inspired by the seasonal offerings of Northern California and work with local purveyors to provide the freshest ingredients.

Zahav

237 St James Pl, Philadelphia, PA 19106

*UPDATE* Zahav has won the award for most outstanding restaurant, read our write up here!

Best New Restaurant Finalists

Angler

132 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105

Angler makes use of the picturesque sights of the San Francisco Bay with refined seafood on the Embarcadero waterfront. Reviews indicate that chef Joshua Skenes keeps the atmosphere casual with a mix of 80s music and an a la carte menu that doesn’t fail to feel luxurious thanks to high-end service and ingredients bursting with flavor.

Another sure-fire hit after Skenes last success, the three-Michelin starred Saison.

Atomix

104 E 30th St, New York, NY 10016

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I wish I could have a second round lol

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“Ato” is an ancient Korean word meaning “gift” — which is fitting given the special quality of every dish served up by Chef Junghyun Park and his wife Juengeun. Utilizing a multi-course menu that features both modern and traditional cooking techniques, Atomix specializes in banchan-style dishes that play thoughtful attention to presentation, as each new course of food is served on handmade plates and bowls crafted by South Korean artisans.

Bavel

500 Mateo St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Chefs Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis infuse their familial roots from across Israel, Morocco, Turkey, and Egypt into Bavel’s Middle Eastern-inspired menu. Ori and Genevieve already have one classic Los Angeles restaurant under their belts — Bestia — and if Bavel is even HALF as good, it’s probably the best Middle Eastern restaurant in all of SoCal.

Frenchette

241 W Broadway, New York, NY 10013

*UPDATE* Frenchette has won the award for best new restaurant, check out our write up here!

Majōrdomo

1725 Naud St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Majōrdomo is Chef David Chang’s long-awaited west coast debut. Instead of repeating the success he’s built up in New York City with his Momofuku restaurants, he decided he wanted to do something different with Majōrdomo. Inspired by the food culture of California, Majōrdomo delivers a more straight forward approach to Korean cuisine than Chang is known for, and it’s already received positive reviews from outlets like Eater and Los Angeles Magazine.

Outstanding Chef Finalists

Ashley Christensen — Poole’s Diner

*UPDATE* Chef Ashley is now the winner of the James Beard 2019 Award For Outstanding Chef, check our write up here.

David Kinch — Manresa

Chef David Kinch gets off on providing guests of Manresa with an unforgettable culinary experience. Seriously, he said so himself on Manresa’s website “My great pleasure is people being incredibly happy with their experience at the restaurant.” Manresa’s menu consists of contemporary California cuisine with a nightly tasting menu that doesn’t just offer the season’s finest, but the best on offer of the day. By all accounts, it’s a singular and unique experience.

Corey Lee — Benu

If any single name on this list causes the other chefs to break out in a cold sweat, it’s Corey Lee’s. Chef Corey has already received three Michelin stars for Benu, the AAA Five Diamond Award, and a perfect rating from the San Francisco Chronicle. This San Francisco restaurant’s menu consists mostly of seafood and vegetables and is known as one of the Bay’s finest — and most expensive — restaurants.

Chef Corey brings 20 years of culinary experience to Benu, so don’t be surprised if he adds a James Beard award to his many accolades.

Donald Link — Herbsaint

Donald Link opened Herbsaint in 2000 and just seven years later he had already established the restaurant as one of New Orlean’s finest and earned himself a James Beard Award for Best Chef South. The Herbsaint Bar and Restaurant is now the flagship of Chef Donald’s Link Restaurant Group and boasts a menu of contemporary seasonal French-Southern cuisine crossed with elements of traditional rustic Italian cooking. The restaurant has a consistent record of appearing on best-of-lists, whether they’re focused on New Orleans itself, or worldwide.

Marc Vetri — Vetri Cucina

Chef Marc Vetri spent years cutting his teeth at the finest kitchens in Italy and throughout the continental U.S. before settling down to open up his own restaurant. And where better to show off all he had learned than in his hometown of Philadelphia? For over two decades now, Chef Marc has been serving up rustic fare and handcrafted pasta inspired by the Italian cuisine he made in his formative years. In addition to his work at Vetri Cucina, the chef has also opened several successful restaurants like Osteria, Amis, Pizzeria Vetri, Lo Spiedo, and All Spina.

Chef Marc has already been recognized by the James Beard Foundation as the best chef in the Mid-Atlantic in 2005, so there is a good chance the foundation will finally recognize his 20+ years crafting outstanding cuisine by awarding him with one of their most prestigious awards.

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