Announcing the 2019 America's Classics WinnersJBF Editors
February 01, 2019
Today we're pleased to announce the five recipients of our 2019 America's Classics Awards. For the past week, we've been announcing the honorees day by day with the help of influencers from across the country (check out our Instagram page to see the videos). The awards are given to regional establishments, often family-owned, that are cherished for their quality food, local character, and lasting appeal. Read on to learn more about this year's winners, who will be honored at the James Beard Awards Gala at Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 6.
9941 Hazard Ave., Garden Grove, CA
Owners: Tong Trần and Liễu Trần
Orange County, California, claims one of the most vibrant Vietnamese-American communities in the country. Pho 79 was founded by Thọ Trần and Liễu Trần who opened in 1982, when it was among the area’s very first restaurants of its kind, introducing Americans to bowls of slippery rice noodles in beefy broth, topped with eye of round steak, brisket, tripe, meatballs, or the restaurant's justifiably legendary oxtails. With chef Lieu Trần in the kitchen, Pho 79 helped pave the way for southern California’s Little Saigon to become the dynamic hub of Vietnamese cuisine it is today. The next generation of the Trần family continues to operate the restaurant, as well as others in the area including Pho 101. The family’s story is as much about intrepid entrepreneurship and excellent cooking as it is about a community that rose from war and displacement to forever change American cuisine.
Jim’s Steak & Spaghetti House
920 5th Ave, Huntington, WV
Owners: Jimmie Carder, Larry Tweel and Ron Tweel
Spaghetti is central to West Virginia, a state that in the early 1900s attracted so many Italian immigrants that their homeland set up a consulate there. And since 1945, it’s been the lifeblood of Jim’s Steak & Spaghetti House in Huntington, West Virginia. In fact, most people leave “steak” out of the name when referring to it, according to co-owner and general manager Jimmie Tweel Carder, who along with her two brothers, inherited the restaurant from their father, Jim Tweel. Spaghetti and excellent service are among the tiny luxuries that Jim’s has long offered the Huntington tri-state region but it’s the strawberry pie that draws thousands. In February, Jim’s starts prepping pie shells for the one-week-only slice sale that coincides with Mother’s Day, another tradition with West Virginian roots.
A&A Bake & Double Roti Shop
1337 Fulton St., Brooklyn, NY
Owners: Noel and Geeta Brown
The cheap-and-cheerful breakfast is a New York City art form, but few stand out like the doubles at A&A Bake & Double Roti Shop. The Trinidadian specialty, which consists of an irresistible combination of curried chickpeas layered between two deep-fried flatbreads, costs just $1.50 at the shop. Trinidadian natives Noel and Geeta Brown have been serving trailing line of customers since they opened the business in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in 2002. The Browns recently moved the restaurant down the street into a much larger space, offering customers more seating (and, hopefully, shorter lines). As the neighborhood continues to rapidly gentrify, A&A’s sustained success serves as a delicious reminder of the Bed-Stuy’s rich Caribbean history.
Sehnert's Bakery & Bieroc Cafe
312 Norris Ave., McCook, NE
Owners: Matt and Shelly Sehnert
The bieroc is as essential to the fabric of Nebraska as is Husker football. A savory yeasted pastry, its legacy reaches back to German-speaking Russians who immigrated to the state in the nineteenth century. Sehnert's, in the southwest Nebraska town of McCook, makes a definitive version. The Sehnert family has been baking in the United States since 1897. Walt and Jean Sehnert opened the McCook bakery in 1957, and fourth-generation baker Matt Sehnert and his wife, Shelly, have operated the business since 1991. They provide a place to gather for everyday meals and special events; for live music; and, of course, for the signature bierocs filled with seasoned ground beef and cabbage or sauerkraut.
Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse
1609 17th St NW, Washington, D.C.
Owner: Paul Katinas
Annie’s endures as a nexus for Washington, D.C.’s LGBTQ community. George Katinas, a first-generation Greek-American and U.S. army veteran, opened the restaurant in 1948, and by the early sixties it had earned a reputation as a welcoming space for gay people. It moved to its current location in 1985, and George’s son, Paul Katinas, eventually took over. Through the years, Annie’s has remained a stalwart supporter of LGBTQ causes, among them the Gay Men’s Chorus, Whitman Walker Clinic, Food and Friends and the Pride parade. At Annie’s, the steaks are hefty, the burgers juicy and the cocktails strong, but what really keeps people coming back is the restaurant’s legacy of inclusiveness and respect.