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11 Houston Restaurants and Chefs Stack Up 2024 James Beard Award Semifinalist Nods

Nearly a dozen Houstonians, including Tatemo chef Emmanuel Chavez, Chopnblok’s Ope Amosu, and Nancy’s Hustle have been named James Beard Award semifinalists

A bronze James Beard Award medal with a black backdrop.
The Beards are back, and so are Houston bragging rights.
James Beard Foundation

It’s Wednesday, January 24, and the awards committee that comprises the James Beard Foundation has revealed its list of names under consideration for nominations for the 2024 James Beard Awards ceremony. It’s no surprise that Houston chefs and restaurants have made a great showing, with 11 semifinalists in the running for medals out of the 11 categories the city qualifies for. So who made the cut?

  • Emmanuel Chavez of Mexican tasting menu restaurant Tatemó; Mark Clayton of the carb-loving restaurant Squable; Victoria Elizondo of East End’s Mexican restaurant, cafe, and favorite hangout Cochinita & Co., and Thomas Bille of Spring’s newly reopened Belly of the Beast are nominated for the Best Chef: Texas category.
  • Sof Hospitality Group’s Itai Ben Eli and Itamar Levy, the owners behind restaurants Doris Metropolitan, Hamsa, and Bādolina Bakery & Café, are nominated for Outstanding Restaurateur.
  • East End restaurant Nancy’s Hustle, known for its iconic Nancy’s Cakes, has been nominated for Outstanding Restaurant. (In 2023, it was nominated for Outstanding Wine Program.)
  • Ope Amosu of ChòpnBlọk, a West African restaurant located in Downtown’s Post Houston food hall, has been nominated for the Emerging Chef category. (Amosu recently announced that ChòpnBlọk will be branching out to Montrose, where it will open its flagship restaurant this spring.)
  • Heights’ Southeast Asian and Latin restaurant Jūn, helmed by Houston’s own Top Chef: Houston finalist Evelyn Garcia and partner chef Henry Lu, is nominated for best new restaurant.
  • Koffeteria, the bakery known for its innovative kolaches and quirky-in-the-best-way pastries, is nominated for outstanding bakery, while Stephanie Velasquez of Ema HTX is nominated for the Outstanding Baker or Pastry Chef category.
  • Chef Aaron Bludorn’s namesake restaurant, Bludorn, is nominated for outstanding hospitality.

Though Houston didn’t show up in either of the drink-focused categories, it’s worth noting that cocktail bar Julep won an award for outstanding bar program in 2022; it was the first time Houston had been honored with an award in a national category at the Beards. And in 2023, Street to Kitchen’s chef Benchawan Jabthong Painter, best known as Chef G, took home the award for Best Chef: Texas, becoming Houston’s first woman to win an award in Beard history and the only Houston award-winner of 2024. Previously, chefs Hugo Ortega, Justin Yu, Chris Shepherd, and Robert Del Grande earned medals in regional categories.

Elsewhere, Texas also had a robust showing with more than 10 nominees in national categories, including the woman-owned Lockhart barbecue joint Barbs-B-Q, nominated for best new restaurant; Marfa’s premier barbecue restaurant Convenience West, which earned a nod for outstanding restaurant; Las Ramblas in Brownsville representing Texas in the outstanding bar category; and Dallas’ Gemma nominated for outstanding hospitality.

Considered the Oscars of the restaurant world, the James Beard Foundation Awards takes place this year at a gala event hosted in Chicago on Monday, June 10. The names of the official nominees in the restaurant and chef categories will be whittled down from this long list and finalists will be announced on Wednesday, April 3.

Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the James Beard Foundation Awards voting body.

Nancy's Hustle

2704 Polk Street, , TX 77003 (346) 571-7931 Visit Website


632 West 19th Street, , TX 77008 (832) 834-7362 Visit Website


401 Franklin Street, , TX 77201 Visit Website


5555 Morningside Drive, , TX 77005 (281) 612-3515 Visit Website


1110 Hutchins Street, , TX 77003 Visit Website

Badolina Bakery & Cafe

5555 Morningside Drive, , TX 77005 (832) 649-5909 Visit Website


4740 Dacoma Street, Suite F , Houston, TX 77092 Visit Website

Doris Metropolitan Houston

2815 South Shepherd Drive, , TX 77098 (713) 485-0466 Visit Website


420 East 20th Street, , TX 77008 (832) 469-7664 Visit Website

Cochinita & co.

5420 Lawndale Street, , TX 77023 (713) 203-3999 Visit Website


807 Taft Street, , TX 77019 (713) 999-0146 Visit Website