2014 America’s Classics: Hansen’s Sno-Bliz

 

Hansen’s Sno-bliz
4801 Tchoipitoulas Street, New Orleans
Owner: Ashley Hansen 

 

The snowball, one of the city’s iconic desserts, was practically invented at Hansen’s. Made of shaved-to-order ice, a Hansen’s snowball—which the family calls a Sno-Bliz—comes doused in housemade syrups that run an extraordinary gamut of flavors.

 

Ernest Hansen built one of the first electric ice-shaving machines, receiving a patent from the U.S. government for his creation in 1934. Along with his wife, Mary Hansen, he opened a small shop in 1939. Their granddaughter, Ashley Hansen, runs that shop today and carefully crafts the family syrup recipes, which include blueberry, satsuma, root beer, and the mysterious “cream of nectar.”

 

Like her forebears, Ashley Hansen opens her doors only during the summer. When Hansen’s is open, a queue forever spills out its door and snakes back through the stand’s small interior, following a... Read more >

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2014 America’s Classics: Nick’s Italian Café

 

Nick’s Italian Café
521 NE 3rd Street, McMinnville, OR 
Owners: Nick Peirano, Carmen Peirano, and Eric Ferguson

 

When Nick Peirano, a third-generation Italian-American, opened a serious Italian restaurant in the farming town of McMinnville in 1977, he had no previous restaurant experience. No matter. His restaurant soon became the place Oregon winemakers hung when there were just a dozen or so. Now there are hundreds, and Nick’s is still their clubhouse.

 

Nick’s daughter, Carmen Peirano, and her husband, Eric Ferguson, took over day-to-day operations in 2007. They updated the menu to include wood-fired pizzas and housemade charcuterie. But Nick’s Dungeness crab and pine nut lasagna and his pesto-garnished minestrone remain favorites. And you’ll find Nick himself shooting pool most nights in the Backroom Bar.

 

Nick’s has forged a marriage of Oregon wine country and Northern Italian cooking that’s as... Read more >

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2014 America’s Classics: Olneyville New York System

 

Olneyville New York System
20 Plainfield Street, Providence, RI 
Owners: Stephanie Stevens Turini and Greg Stevens

 

Olneyville New York System, despite its name, serves food that is distinctive to Rhode Island. Slathered with mustard, topped with meat sauce, sprinkled with celery salt and onions, and served in a steamed bun, the hot wiener is signature, as are the salt-and-vinegar French fries. The preferred drink is coffee milk, made in Rhode Island by flavoring milk with a sweetened coffee concentrate called coffee syrup.

 

Olneyville has been a family affair since Anthony Stavrianakos, a Greek immigrant, opened the diner in 1946 with his son, Nicholas. (Nicholas later anglicized the family name to Stevens.) Nicholas’s son Peter took over from him. Peter’s son Greg started as a dishwasher at age 13. Now he and his sister Stephanie are fourth-generation owners. 

 

Olneyville was once the... Read more >

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2014 America’s Classics: Perini Ranch Steakhouse

 

Perini Ranch Steakhouse
3002 FM 89, Buffalo Gap, TX 
Owners: Tom and Lisa Perini

 

Cowboy cook and rancher Tom Perini made a bold decision in 1983. With oil and cattle prices depressed, he turned a hay barn on his family spread into a restaurant, hoping to draw folks from nearby Abilene. Serving Texas standards with genuine hospitality, he has created a signature rural roadhouse. 

 

Grilled steaks are the heart of the menu. Tom knew that if he opted for prime beef, he’d price himself out of the local market. He chose instead to grill the best choice rib-eyes, strips, and filets. The appeal of those steaks owes much to mesquite. The scrubby, thorny trees grow everywhere in this arid terrain. And their coals yield a pungent smoke that perfumes the air. 

 

Comfort foods and chuckwagon favorites... Read more >

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2014 America’s Classics: Sokolowski’s University Inn

 

Sokolowski’s University Inn
1201 University Road, Cleveland 
Owners: Bernard Sokolowski, Mary Balbier, and Michael Sokolowski

 

In 1923 Victoria and Michael Sokolowski founded a Polish restaurant on a bank of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland. Today, Sokolowski’s University Inn serves edible homages to the city’s immigrant-driven industrial past, dishing sturdy comfort foods like the cabbage rolls that once fueled the city’s growth. 

 

Pierogis, stuffed with whipped potatoes, bathed in butter, and drenched in caramelized onions, are everyday specials. The Sokolowski family does right by Midwestern dishes, too. They beer-batter and fry Lake Erie perch. They craft their own bratwurst and smoked kielbasa. 

 

Originally a tavern when the Tremont neighborhood was flush with blue-collar steelworkers, Sokolowki’s expanded to cafeteria-style service in the 1950s, and has evolved more recently into a touchstone... Read more >

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Awards Watch: Meet the 2014 America's Classics

Meet the James Beard Foundation's 2014 America's Classics

 

Today we're excited to announce the recipients of one of our most popular awards: the America's Classics! 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 2014 America's Classics. (Read the full press release here.)

 

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Hansen’s Sno Bliz, New Orleans (Owner: Ashley Hansen)

 

Meet the James Beard Foundation's 2014 America's Classics

 

The snow-ball, one of the city’s iconic desserts was practically invented at Hansen’s. Made of shaved-to-order ice, a Hansen’s snow-ball -- which... Read more >

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America's Classic: C. F. Folks

 

1225 19th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 
Owner: Art Carlson

 

Art Carlson’s weekday-only lunch haunt on Dupont Circle, open since 1981, is a 600-square-foot temple of honest cooking and goodwill. (The name combines the initials of Carlson and his business partner, Peggy Fredricksen.) The vibe is loud and scrappy, and the food is delicious. Art Carlson, the ever-present host, is one of the last of a dying breed: a hands-on owner who schmoozes and teases his customers, often at the same time.

 

The place, with its 11 counter stools, is comfortable in its age. Behind the long Formica counter, racks of cookbooks from Julia Child and fellow titans share space with scribbled postcards, a rattletrap stereo system, a collection of old political campaign buttons, and a jumble of knickknacks including a Presidential Barbie and dusty cans of Alpo and Cheez Whiz.

 

The cooking is in the hands of George Vetsch, a veteran... Read more >

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America's Classic: Frank Fat's

 

806 L Street, Sacramento, CA 
Owners: the Fat Family

 

Frank Fat’s is a political landmark in California, once known as the “Third House” and one of Sacramento’s oldest restaurants. It serves Chinese-American food and is renowned for honey- walnut prawns; Frank’s-style New York steak (grilled, sliced, and smothered in sautéed onions and oyster sauce); Fat’s brandy fried chicken; and banana cream pie.

 

Kevin Hefner, writing about the restaurant’s 70th anniversary in 2009 in Capitol Weekly, said: “The restaurant often was the site of political meetings that, according to some, sometimes accomplished more than those in the Capitol. The most notable of these deals was the “Napkin Deal” of 1987, written on the back of a napkin by the participants that defined a multimillion-dollar pact between the lawyers, insurers, doctors, and business interests over tort reform.”

 

Willie Brown, former assembly Speaker and San Francisco mayor, recalls that it was the place... Read more >

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America's Classic: Kramarczuk’s

 

215 East Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis 
Owner: Orest Kramarczuk

 

Minneapolis is known for its Scandinavian heritage, but for more than a century the city’s northeast neighborhoods have been a vibrant Eastern European enclave. A great deal of that Catholic, blue-collar culture has dissipated during the past 20 years, but some overt traces remain, most notably a dozen or more elaborate churches and Kramarczuk’s, the landmark sausage-making company and restaurant.

 

The business dates to 1954, when Ukrainian refugees Wasyl and Anna Kramarczuk purchased Central Provisions, one of the city’s oldest butcher shops, and renamed it Kramarczuk Sausage Co. It has been at the same address, just across the Mississippi River from downtown Minneapolis, since 1967. Wasyl and Anna’s son Orest joined the business in 1979. He’s now the primary owner. His father died in 1991, and Anna Kramarczuk died in 2008.

 

Kramarczuk’s more... Read more >

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America's Classic: Prince's Hot Chicken Shack

 

123 Ewing Drive, Nashville 
Owner: Andre Prince Jeffries

 

Hot fried chicken, long popular in towns across the South, has become synonymous with Nashville. A visit to town doesn’t count unless you make the pilgrimage to this joint, set in an abbreviated strip mall alongside a nail salon, for crispy yardbird with a cayenne-soaked coat of armor.

 

Thornton Prince was the original owner. He was a handsome fellow. One of his girlfriends grew weary of his late-night carousing. As a revenge tactic, she doused his Sunday morning favorite, fried chicken, with cayenne pepper. But her plan backfired: he liked it. By the mid-1930s Prince and his brothers had perfected the process and opened a café, which they originally called the BBQ Chicken Shack.

 

Current owner Andre Prince Jeffries, great-niece of Thornton Prince, continues the family tradition. She brines her chicken, flours it, fries it to order, and slathers it with a secret layer of hot spices. You can order it... Read more >

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