Restaurants

Fort Worth Finally Gets Some James Beard Award Restaurant Respect — Texas Semifinalists Abound and Cowtown’s Included This Time

See Which Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio Restaurants and Chefs Also Made the Coveted Cut

BY // 01.25.23

The 2023 James Beard Award semifinalists were revealed today and as usual Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio chefs, restaurants and bars received lots of love from the food world’s version of the Oscars. But this time Fort Worth’s often overlooked restaurant scene also garnered two nominations.

Fort Worth’s Don Artemio received the nod in the prestigious Best New Restaurant category, no small breakthrough for Cowtown. Dallas’ Restaurant Beatrice and Tatsu and Houston’s unique corn haven Tatemó also made the Best New Restaurant semifinalist cut.

In the Best Chef: Texas category, the biggest and most welcome surprise is how Texas barbecue received some major James Beard Award respect. Barbecue pitmasters took a handful of the 20 semifinalist spots in Best Chefs: Texas. Fort Worth Goldee’s Barbecue owners and chefs Jalen Heard, Lane Milne and Jonny White were nominated together and Houston’s Greg Gatlin of Gatlin’s BBQ also garnered some overdue respect.

Fort Worth’s James Beard Moment

An offshoot of a Mexican restaurant, Don Artemio arrived in Fort Worth’s Cultural District last spring, bringing Mex-Mex to a land filled with Tex-Mex.

Juan Ramón Cárdenas Cantú’s first Don Artemio restaurant remains firmly planted in Saltillo, Mexico. The first stateside Don Artemio brings painstaking attention to detail. Thousands of handmade bricks, pots, weavings and woodwork were imported from Saltillo for installation in Fort Worth. Cantú partnered with his friend and Fort Worth restaurant veteran Adrian Burciaga, who also hails from Saltillo, on the new Fort Worth Don Artemio.

“Burciaga’s smile and enthusiasm are infectious,” PaperCity wrote after a first taste visit. “He’s like a new father, passing out cigars to complete strangers and pointing to his brand new bundle of joy snuggled behind the nursery glass. And who can blame him? This new Fort Worth restaurant is a beauty.”

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Imagine his smile today, after his restaurant’s first James Beard nod.

The Don Artemio team with Adrian Burciaga, Juan Ramón Cárdenas Cantú and Rodrigo Cantú on the front row are now James Beard nominated.
The Don Artemio team with Adrian Burciaga, Juan Ramón Cárdenas Cantú and Rodrigo Cantú on the front row are now James Beard nominated.

You’ll find nopalitos fritos (fried cactus), chapulines (fried grasshoppers), Cantú’s famous roast cabrito and succulent sea bass in a memorable mole negro on Don Artemio’s adventurous menu.

Goldee’s Builds More Barbecue Buzz

Goldee’s Barbecue already reigns supreme as the top barbecue spot in the Lone Star State in Texas Monthly‘s vaunted rankings. PaperCity Fort Worth first predicted Goldee’s ascent way back in March of 2020. And now James Beard is adding its prestige to the growing Goldee’s aura.

The young, upstart team behind Goldee’s trained at some of Texas’ best barbecue joints before setting up shop along a backroad in Fort Worth and quickly winning the hearts and stomachs of the masses. Stellar smoked meats and side dishes have barbecue devotees lining up early.

Now, imagine how long the lines at Goldee’s will be after this James Beard nod.

The line forms early at Goldee's Barbecue, already annointed as the top barbecue joint in the state of Texas.
The line forms early at Goldee’s Barbecue, already anointed as the top barbecue joint in the state of Texas.

The rest of the Best Chef: Texas semifinals represent a tour de force from across the Lone Star State. In fact, this list easily could be someone’s dream Texas dining itinerary:

— Nicola Blaque, The Jerk Shack, San Antonio

— Tavel Bristol-Joseph, Canje, Austin

— Damien Brockway, Distant Relatives, Austin

— Reyna Duong, Sandwich Hag, Dallas

— Kareem El-Ghayesh, KG BBQ, Austin

— Jalen Heard, Lane Milne and Jonny White, Goldee’s Barbecue, Fort Worth

— Andrew Ho, Andrew Samia, and Sean Wen, Curry Boys BBQ, San Antonio

— Greg Gatlin, Gatlin’s BBQ, Houston

— Benchawan Jabthong Painter, Street to Kitchen, Houston

— Ai Le, Nam Giao, Houston

— Olivia López and Jonathan Percival, Molino Olōyō, Dallas

— Enrique Lozano, El Charlatan, Socorro

— Emiliano Marentes, ELEMI, El Paso

— Ana Liz Pulido, Ana Liz Taqueria, Mission

— Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman, José, Dallas

— Regino Rojas, Revolver Taco Lounge, Dallas

— John Russ, Clementine, San Antonio

— Ernest Servantes and David Kirkland, Burnt Bean Co., Seguin

— Kiran Verma, Kiran’s, Houston

— Jon Walter, Chez Sami, Wolfforth

James Beard’s Texas Love

In the James Beard Award’s Outstanding Restauranteur category, Chris Williams of Houston’s Lucille’s Hospitality Group earned a semifinalist spot.

Two Texas favorites are national Outstanding Restaurant semifinalists ― La Condesa in Austin and Lucia in Dallas. Notable Emerging Chefs include Houston’s Victoria Elizondo of Cochinita & Co. and San Antonio’s Jennifer Hwa Dobbertin of Best Quality Daughter.

La Casita Bakeshop in Richardson received a James Beard Award semifinalist nomination.
La Casita Bakeshop in Richardson received a James Beard Award semifinalist nomination.

Texas spots earned two nods in the Outstanding Bakeries category with Richardson’s La Casita Bakeshop and Kuluntu Bakery in Dallas making the list. Mariela Camacho of Austin’s Comadre Panadería and Anne Ng of San Antonio’s Bakery Lorraine made the Outstanding Pastry Chefs cut.

Two Texas restaurants made the grade in Outstanding Hospitality ― The Local of Abilene and Houston’s Theodore Rex. For Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program, Texas earned two nods, one for Nancy’s Hustle of Houston, the other for Suerte in Austin. Brownsville’s Las Ramblas and San Antonio’s Weathered Souls Brewing Company made the semifinalist cut for Outstanding Bars.

The James Beard Awards semifinalists will be whittled down to finalists on March 29, and the winners will be revealed and celebrated at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards Ceremony on June 5 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

More major Texas restaurant moments could be coming. With Fort Worth having grabbed a seat at the table.

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