America's Classics: April Bloomfield on the Grand Central Oyster Bar


The Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant


When I first moved to New York I wanted to check out the iconic places that make the city so special, so I went to the Grand Central Oyster Bar. I remember sitting at the bar and just watching all the guys shuck oysters—those guys are the fastest shuckers in the world. And to go and see them make this really amazing dish that they do there—the oyster pan roast—is pretty special. They have these things called steam kettles; they look like a big bowl and they produce steam, which gently warms heavy cream-based soups so they don’t burn, but it allows the soup to boil really fast. So what they do is they dump in a load of cream with some seasoning and some Worcestershire sauce, and I think there might be some ketchup in there too [editor’s note: it’s tomato-chili sauce]. And then they throw in the oysters and the little scallops and whatever else you want in your... Read more >

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America's Classics: Traci Des Jardins on San Francisco's Swan Oyster Depot

Photo by James Collier

Swan Oyster Depot
San Francisco


This is my go-to place for cracked crab and oysters. It oozes San Francisco history and you can see it in the generational forces working here and the pictures on the wall. I’ve been eating here for more than twenty years, and it's a must-stop when in SF for a light lunch of local favorites: Dungeness crab, Tomales Bay oysters, and a bright and clean Sauvignon Blanc to go with.


—Traci Des Jardins, JBF Award Winner




Our new... Read more >

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Awards Watch: The Winner of the First-Ever Design Icon Award

The James Beard Foundation has announced the first winner of its new Design Icon Award

When we reflect on our favorite restaurant meals, our memories usually focus on the food, but it's likely that design and ambience also played vital, albeit more subtle, roles in shaping those positive experiences. 


In order to recognize national standard bearers of outstanding design and design innovation, the James Beard Foundation has created the Design Icon Restaurant Award. In order to qualify, a restaurant’s design must have remained unchanged for at least 20 years and must have influenced and inspired the design of subsequent restaurants. Additionally, the restaurant must still be in operation. 


The inaugural Design Icon recipient will be The Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City. “In introducing generations of diners to modern elegance and luxury, The Four Seasons forever changed restaurant design, even as it remained virtually unchanged itself,” says James Biber, chair of the... Read more >

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America's Classics: Chris Shepherd on Irma’s Restaurant in Houston

Photo by James Collier


Irma’s Restaurant


How did an out-of-the-way breakfast and lunch spot with no set menu become such a beloved Houston institution? At Irma’s, explains JBF Award–winning chef Chris Shepherd, you can’t always get what you want—and that’s a good thing. He tells us what makes Irma’s so unique and how the eatery has inspired his own cooking at Underbelly.


First of all it's in a really odd place. It’s kind of in the southeast part of downtown, where there really isn't anything: it’s courthouses, courthouses, the stadium, and Irma’s. It's been there forever and it's kind of quirky and beautiful. It’s this oasis, festive and light-filled. 


You go in and there’s no menu. Being in this business, I think that’s one of the coolest things: she makes what she wants to make. That's pretty significant. We change our... Read more >

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America's Classics: Andrew Carmellini on NYC's 2nd Avenue Deli


2nd Avenue Deli


The 2nd Avenue Deli was the first experience I ever had with Jewish deli food. It was at the original location in the East Village, with the stainless steel and the red booths and I went there with friends after I moved to New York in 1990. I probably ordered the pastrami sandwich. It was my first introduction to all that stuff, like knishes and gefilte fish.

My go-to order is definitely matzoh ball soup with carrots and noodles. Pastrami with a side of Russian dressing. A potato knish—warm. That’s very important. Definitely kasha varnishkes. Their matzoh balls are just super light, not leaden at all, and they're really schmaltzy. It’s still my go-to whenever I'm down or not feeling well: delivery of matzoh ball soup from 2nd Avenue Deli. There's a certain kind of craveable comfort to it, even though I didn't grow up with that type of food.... Read more >

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America's Classics: Sean Brock on Prince's Hot Chicken in Nashville

Photo by James Collier


Prince’s Hot Chicken


No one knows exactly what’s in Prince’s addictive hot chicken—the recipe is so closely guarded the kitchen is practically barricaded off from the booth-filled dining area—but it’s so spicy and so good no one really cares. There are plenty of other places in Nashville that serve great hot chicken, but at Prince’s there’s a patina of authenticity that you just can’t fake, explains JBF award winner Sean Brock. However, eating chicken this hot is not for the faint of heart, the chef cautions. To really enjoy the experience, one needs to have a strategy. With that in mind, Brock laid out his hot chicken–eating game plan.

JBF Award Winner Sean Brock’s 5 Tips for Eating Prince’s Hot Chicken

Hot chicken here is a religious thing. There are all different... Read more >

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America's Classics: Maria Hines on Seattle's Maneki

Photo by James Collier




One of my all-time favorite Japanese restaurants in Seattle is Maneki. It’s one of those places that makes you feel like you’re being taken care of at your grandmother’s house. It’s been a longtime cooks’ spot for an incredible meal that doesn’t break the bank. The dish I always get is the sakana dinner, which is salt-broiled mackerel served with sashimi and tempura. The mackerel is fried whole and it has such crispy skin on the outside with the luxurious, melt-in-your-mouth flesh on the inside. It’s a soulful food experience. 

—Maria Hines, JBF Award Winner




... Read more >

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Awards Watch: Meet the 2016 America's Classics

The 2016 James Beard Foundation's America's Classics


Today we're excited to announce a perennial Beard-Award favorite: the America's Classics winners! This honor is given to regional establishments, often family-owned, that are treasured for their quality food, local character, and lasting appeal. Read on to learn more about our 2016 America's Classics. The winners will receive their medallions at the James Beard Awards Gala at Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 2.  


Read the full 2016 America's Classics press release. And don't forget: our new cookbook, James Beard's All-American Eats, featuring stories and recipes from past America's Classics winners, is now available. 


--... Read more >

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Introducing Our New Cookbook, "James Beard's All-American Eats"


What makes a restaurant an America’s Classic? The James Beard Awards committee’s official definition is “a restaurant with timeless appeal, beloved in its region for quality food that reflects the character of its community.” An America’s Classic also must have been operating for at least ten years and be locally owned. Unofficially, but fittingly, these establishments are often brimming with history and stories; eating at one can transport you to a bygone era. All are worth a detour, some extra miles on the odometer.



Since 1998, nearly 100 eateries, from Prince’s Hot... Read more >

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America’s Classics Across the Country


Our America’s Classics Award winners crisscross the country from coast to coast, representing the diverse culinary heritage of the U.S. Here’s a bird’s-eye view of the nearly 100 beloved restaurants distinguished by their timeless appeal, quality eats, and local character (you can also see the full list here). Stay tuned for our next batch of winners, which will be announced on February 23, 2016.




Our new America's Classics cookbook, ... Read more >

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JBF Kitchen Cam