Six Restaurants Receive Prestigious James Beard American Classics Award
Fine dining and chains have their place in the restaurant world, but it’s hard to beat a great meal from a local restaurant, whether you’re in a big city or a small town.
The James Beard Foundation, which rewards the best dining experiences in the country, singled out six local restaurants for its 2022 designation as American classics.
“America’s Classics award is given to local restaurants that have a timeless appeal and are valued in the region for quality cuisine that reflects the character of its community,” the Foundation said.
The six winners of this year run the bet of the big cities to the guests of the south. They join more than 100 other restaurants that have earned the honor since the James Beard Foundation established the award in 1998.
This year’s winners include:
Busy Bee Cafe (Atlanta)
Founded in 1947 in the heart of Atlanta, the Busy Bee Cafe serves southern dishes and has served as a community gathering place for 75 years. His comfort food of smothered pork chops, oxtails, catfish, collard greens, mac and cheese and cornbread have been served to celebrities, neighborhood regulars and even the most feared of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s landlady, Tracy Gates, is running out of extra pooch — the sharp cheddar cheese she uses in mac and cheese. “It must be true”, she say it Constitution of the Atlanta newspaper. “You can’t mess this up.”
Casa Vega (Sherman Oaks, CA)
Opened in 1956 as an opportunity to bring authentic Mexican cuisine to the San Fernando Valley, Casa Vega remained in family hands for 66 years. Founder Rafael Vega inspired it from Cafe Caliente, a restaurant his parents opened in the 1930s on Los Angeles’ famed Olvera Street. “The secret of the restaurant is consistency”, Christina Vega say it Hollywood journalist. “We respect our recipes because they’re all our family’s comfort food recipes, so these don’t change. I’ll add things to the menu to make it more relevant, but we’re not subtracting. Casa Vega may look familiar to anyone who has seen Quentin Tarantino Once upon a time in Hollywood.
Corinne’s (Camden, NJ)
Corinne Bradley-Powers served soul food at At Corinne’s in the heart of Camden since 1989. Whether it’s Cajun turkey wings, leafy greens, cornbread or sweet potatoes, critics say Bradley-Powers actually feeds the souls of its customers. “Being in Camden all my life and just taking a risk by faith, getting into the business, and it’s thank God that I’ve been in the business this long and had favor with people coming from everywhere, despite what they heard about Camden,” she said the Cherry Hills Mail Post. During the pandemic, she set up a tent in a vacant lot nearby to continue serving the community.
Florence Restaurant (Oklahoma City)
In 1952, at only 21 years old, Florence Jones Kemp opened The Florentine restaurant, and it’s still thriving 70 years later. Florence still works there today, although her daughter Victoria runs the operation and serves what they call homemade dishes like yam fried chicken and fried pork chops. “People always say it reminds them of home. It reminds them of their grandmother’s food because everything we make is fresh, just like my grandparents used to make on the farm,” Victoria says KWTV News 9. Florence’s is the first restaurant in Oklahoma to make the James Beard List.
Solly’s Grid (Milwaukee)
You better love butter if you venture into Solly grid, which boasts of using 130 to 150 pounds of it every week. And why not? The restaurant has been serving butter burgers for 86 years. Opened by Kenneth “Solly” Salmon in 1936 as a cafe, the still family-run restaurant is a throwback with its burgers, fries, onion rings, cod, cherry pies and malts served in a steel can. “People come from all over the world. I’m talking about Japan, I’m talking about China and Australia, and we have people from all over the United States who have seen us on the internet,” owner Glenn Fieber say it Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Wo Hop (New York)
Opened in a Chinatown basement in 1938, Wo-Hop is now in its third generation of owners. Ming Huang describes his food as “old fashioned chop suey style food” that customers love and are rarely found in Chinatown. “This restaurant has a long history. People have been coming here for 50 or 60 years and they bring their children here,” Huang say it New York Business Journal. It’s also popular with tourists and almost always open – 21 hours a day, only closed 7-10am.
For other exceptional dining experiences across the country, check out these stories: