It’s officially James Beard Award season: Today, the Foundation announced the first winners of 2022. As in years past, six long-tenured restaurants have been named “America’s Classics.” Per the Foundation, the award “is given to locally owned restaurants that have timeless appeal and are beloved regionally for quality food that reflects the character of its community.” This year’s list has an especial focus on restaurants serving soul food, which comprises half the list.
Over 100 restaurants have won the award — recent honorees include Vera’s Backyard Bar-B-Que in Brownsville, Texas; Pho 79 in Garden Grove, California; and El Guero Canelo in Tucson, Arizona — and winners tend not to receive other nominations for Beard Awards. Those other awards nominations, which tend to focus on individual chefs as well as newer (and typically more expensive) restaurants, will be announced soon: Semifinalists will be announced next week, followed by the shorter list of finalists in March, and culminating in an awards ceremony in Chicago on June 13.
And now, here are the newest America’s Classics winners:
Casa Vega Wonho Frank Lee
Casa Vega, Sherman Oaks, California: A beloved Valley institution, Casa Vega is a family-owned Mexican restaurant that has been serving LA’s civilians and celebrities since 1956.
Corinne’s Place, Camden, NJ: The Sunday buffet is the hallmark of this New Jersey soul-food destination, as are the Cajun turkey wings, smothered chicken, and fried catfish.
Solly’s Grille, Milwaukee, WI: Diners flock to this nearly 90-year institution for its butter burger, a famously rich onion-and-butter topped sirloin patty.
Wo Hop Robert Sietsema
Wo Hop, New York, NY: One of the oldest restaurants in NYC’s Chinatown, Wo Hop stands as a testament to the old-fashioned Chinese American cooking that is increasingly hard to find.
The Busy Bee Cafe, Atlanta, GA: This essential Atlanta restaurant is a fried chicken legend in a city that boasts plenty of it and has been open since the 1940s.
Florence’s Restaurant, Oklahoma City, OK: Mother and daughter together keep Florence’s Restaurant’s place as one of Oklahoma City’s best loved, serving some of the city’s favorite fried chicken, oxtails, and homey classics like chicken and dumplings and honey meatloaf.