The James Beard Foundation just announced their winners last week, which means we've got a whole new list of restaurants that have moved to the top of our Need to Go There and Eat That Food List. You know you have a list like that, too. Admit it.
Rather than firing up the google machine to find out where you'll be traveling, we've done the work for you. Just bookmark this post, and you're all set. And, when you're ready for a long weekend of fabulous meals, call us to book your travel!
Here we go:
New York City
Best New Restaurant
Le Coucou, New York, New York
Outstanding Pastry Chef
Ghaya Oliveira, Daniel, New York, New York
Best Chef: New York City
Marco Canora, Hearth
Daniel and Hearth have each been around for a while, but maybe you haven't been there yet. Or maybe it's time for a repeat visit, next time you're in New York City. Le Coucou gets the award for best new restaurant, and if you're watching RuPaul's Drag Race right now, you'll know why that makes me smirk a little bit. But no doubt, Le Coucou is a deserving winner. It's a Stephen Starr restaurant, for one thing, and he's also a Beard award winner this year for Best Restauranteur.
Topolobampo, Chicago, Illinois
Best Chef: Great Lakes
Sarah Grueneberg, Monteverde, Chicago, Illinois
I love, love, love eating in Chicago. Topolobampo isn't a newcomer, by any means, but Rick Bayless's restaurant has long been one of my favorites. If you want high-end authentic regional Mexican cuisine, Topolobampo is the place to go, for sure. But you can also sample the same awesome food next door at the more casual Frontera Grill. Or, you can get Rick Bayless tortas to go at the airport on your way in and out of town.
Pocantico Hills, New York
Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, New York
If you're a certifiable foodie, you probably already know about Blue Hill. Their restaurant at Stone Barns (a four-season farm and education center in New York's Hudson Valley), it literally is farm-to-table. And there's a Blue Hill restaurant in New York City, as well, if you want to have locally-sourced seasonal food at one of the Obama's favorite dining spots in NYC.
Outstanding Bar Program
Arnaud’s French 75, New Orleans, Louisiana
Rising Star of the Year
Zachary Engel, Shaya, New Orleans, Louisiana
Best Chef: South
Rebecca Wilcomb, Herbsaint, New Orleans, Louisiana
Is it any surprise that New Orleans is a food town? No. No, it is not. So, I guess we shouldn't be surprised that they've got three winners. Honestly, at this point, there are so many must-visit restaurants in New Orleans on my list, that I think I need to just take a month off from work and go to New Orleans and eat myself into oblivion.
Outstanding Wine Program
Canlis, Seattle, Washington
Oh, Seattle! How I do so love eating food in your amazing city. And yet, I've never been to Canlis! Time to plan a trip. I will say that I've had one of the most incredible meals of my life in Seattle at Altura in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. We sat at the counter and watched the chefs working to prepare an unbelievable tasting menu for us. So, when I go back, I'm just going to line up all of the places I want to re-visit, and then add Canlis to the itinerary!
Michael Solomonov, Zahav, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic
Greg Vernick, Vernick Food & Drink, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
As I mentioned, earlier, Stephen Starr won Best Restauranteur this year, and you might as well chalk this up as another win for Philly, though he's also got restaurants in New York City, Florida, New Jersey, and Washington DC. I've been to a few of his restaurants, Buddakan (in NYC, not the Philly or Jersey locations), and Alma de Cuba and El Vez in Philly, and, well, they were terrific dining experiences. So when you're dining your way around the City of Brotherly Love (and Sisterly Affection), add a Starr restaurant to your itinerary, as well.
Best Chef: Midwest
Kevin Nashan, Sidney Street Cafe, St. Louis, Missouri
I used to go to St. Louis a lot for work, and I can verify that there's good food to be had. I've never been to Sidney Street Cafe, but I took a look at the menu and saw "Pan Roasted Scallops--
Stew of artichokes, potatoes, pearl onions, and stinging nettles with a barigoule broth." I don't even know what a barigoule broth is, but I think I need to go to St. Louis to find out! And I'll also need to make a stop at Ted Drews to get some amazing frozen custard.
Best Chef: Northeast
Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley, Eventide Oyster Co., Portland, Maine
I've sent my friend, Kristine, on a recon mission to bring back information about Eventide Oyster Co. Kristine's a recent transplant from NYC to Portland, and she's heard that long-time residents of Maine report that they have the best lobster rolls that they've ever tasted. That's really saying something! Perhaps you're planning a trip to Ogunquit, Bar Harbor or Acadia, and you'll want to stop off in Portland to see for yourself?
Best Chef: Northwest
Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton and Greg Denton, Ox, Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon is another of my all-time foodie destinations. I have certain rituals when I eat in Portland. A breakfast at the Heathman Hotel, and at least one dinner at Higgins. I usually stop by Jake's Famous Crawfish to soak in it's old-school vibe. And usually, there's a lunch at on or another of the McMenamin's places thrown in there. But now, I need to add Ox to that list. And it's already so crowded!
Best Chef: Southeast
Steven Satterfield, Miller Union, Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta has a great food scene, and Steven Satterfield brought home the Beard Award for best chef in the Southeast. Check it out when you're in Atlanta, but don't forget to mix it up a bit. Atlanta is also the Soul Food Capital of the World, so you've got lots of great options ranging from contemporary soul food restaurants like JCT, to old-school classic restaurants like K&K Soul Food and (don't laugh) Gladys Knight & Ron's Chicken and Waffles.
Best Chef: Southwest
Hugo Ortega, Hugo’s, Houston, Texas
Here's a reason to visit Houston: a Sunday brunch buffet with traditional Mexican dishes, prepared by a James Beard Award-winning chef. What the what?!? Mother's Day is next weekend, by the way. You still have time to get there, if they're not already booked. The menu looks incredible, and they've also got a really extensive vegetarian menu, as well! Hey, everybody! Let's go to Houston!
Best Chef: West
Corey Lee, Benu, San Francisco, California
A visit to Benu isn't exactly cheap, unless you don't bat an eye at a $285 tasting menu, with an additional 20% service charge, and it doesn't include wine, by the way. But they've got three Michelin stars, four stars from the San Francisco Chronicle, they've been named one of 10 Restaurants worth a plane ride by the New York Times, and now, a James Beard Award. So, take the advice of the New York Times, get on a plane (we can help with that) and go eat at Benu!