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Houston Dominates This Year’s List of James Beard Award Semifinalists

A plethora of talented Houston chefs and exciting Space City eateries are on the list

Tacos de Chicharron crispy pork belly, blue corn tortilla, refritos, pickled red onion, salsa martajada.
The bright Oaxacan fare at Xochi earned the restaurant a James Beard nod
Bill Addison/Eater
Amy McCarthy is a reporter at, focusing on pop culture, policy and labor, and only the weirdest online trends.

Today, the James Beard Foundation dropped its lengthy list of semifinalists for the 2018 James Beard Awards, and Space City has a prominent place on that list.

Last year, Houston brought home the Best Chef - Southwest trophy via Hugo Ortega, and now the chef’s beloved new restaurant Xochi is among this year’s finalists for the coveted Best New Restaurant award, according to a press release. Ten Houston chefs and restaurants join Ortega on this year’s list of semifinalists, including some former nominees like Anvil Bar & Refuge.

In addition to the stalwarts, there are also some surprises on the list, especially in the Best Chef category, where Crawfish & Noodles’ Trong Nguyen is nominated alongside Houston’s own Ryan Pera, Ronnie Killen, Ross Coleman and James Haywood of Kitchen 713, and Pondicheri chef Anita Jaisinghani.

Check out the full list of Houston-based nominees below:

  • Xochi — Best New Restaurant
  • Anvil Bar & Refuge — Outstanding Bar Program
  • Jill Bartolome, Aqui — Outstanding Pastry Chef
  • Tracy Vaught & H-Town Restaurant Group — Outstanding Restaurateur
  • Hugo’s — Outstanding Service
  • Pappas Bros. Steakhouse — Outstanding Wine Program
  • Martha de Leon, Pax Americana — Rising Star Chef of the Year
  • Ross Coleman and James Haywood, Kitchen 713 — Best Chef: Southwest
  • Anita Jaisinghani, Pondicheri — Best Chef: Southwest
  • Trong Nguyen, Crawfish & Noodles — Best Chef: Southwest
  • Ryan Pera, Coltivare — Best Chef: Southwest
  • Ronnie Killen, Killen’s Steakhouse — Best Chef: Southwest

This list of semifinalists will be whittled down into a list of final contenders on March 14, when the Foundation will announce this year’s finalists during a press release in Philadelphia. The actual awards will be held on May 7 in Chicago.

Here Are the 2018 James Beard Awards Restaurant and Chef Semifinalists [Eater]