The James Beard Foundation has announced the six recipients of the America’s Classics Award for 2020.
The America's Classics Award is given to locally-owned restaurants that have timeless appeal and are beloved regionally for quality food that reflects the character of its community. The six new establishments are added to a roll call that includes over 100 classic American restaurants to have received the award since 1998. The winners will be celebrated at the James Beard Awards Gala on Monday, May 4, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
America's Classics 2020 Announced by James Beard Foundation
Lassis Inn, Little Rock, Arkansas
Founded by Joe and Molassis Watson in 1905, this hub for locals serves Arkansas-style catfish buffalo ribs. Historically a meeting place, including leaders of the Civil Rights movement, under current owners Elihue Washington Jr. and his wife Maria, it acts as a community focal point.
Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth, Frankenmuth, Michigan
Run by run by third and fourth generation members of the Zehender family, this chicken dinner restaurant is part of a complex that includes a hotel, waterpark, and golf course can accommodate 1,500 guests and brings in close to a million people each year for their crisp-skinned fried chicken, dressing, mashed potatoes, liver pâté, cranberry relish, cottage cheese and more, proving those good things don’t always come in small packages.
Puritan Backroom, Manchester, New Hampshire
Since 1974 the Puritan Backroom has been serving their famous Puritan ice cream, American comfort food and Greek classics. Today it is run by third-generation owner Arthur Pappas, son Chris, and son-in-law Eric. The restaurant has a political pedigree, as a partisan stop along the campaign trail which inspired Chris Pappas to become a Congressman.
Oriental Mart, Seattle, Washington
Serving food in the style of the Philippines’ turo restaurants, such as adobo and sinigang, this market stall and eatery has served Seattle’s Filipino community since 1971. The food served by Joy Apostol is so good it became a draw for Seattle in general.
El Taco de Mexico, Denver, Colorado
Starting life as a trailer on Santa Fe Drive in Denver’s Art District, Maria Luisa Zanabri has seen her Mexican fare become part of everyday life in Denver. The all-female staff keep Denver locals happy feeding the long queues that snake outside their colourful taqueria with carne asada, al pastor, lengua, enchilada, gorditas, and weekend menudo.
Vera’s Backyard Bar-B-Que, Brownsville, Texas
Specialising in barbacoa de cabeza (barbecued cow’s head) buried underground in a brick-lined pit and smoked for up to 12 hours – a tradition that stems from the region’s 19th-century vaquero-cowboy culture. Founded by current owner Armando “Mando” Vera’s father in 1955 the restaurant is off the beaten track, with the nearest major city, San Antonio, a four-hour drive away. That doesn’t stop the crowds from making the journey for a rare delicacy that is a dying art.