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Restaurant News

Lucia, Gemma, and Petra and the Beast Are Dallas’ James Beard Award Finalists

Misti Norris, David Uygur, and the hospitality at Gemma are being celebrated this year.
Plum tart at Lucia courtesy Lucia

For all the gossip and angst that the James Beard Awards can generate, this year’s Dallas contenders are restaurants that just about all of us can agree count among the city’s—and the state’s—finest. In fact, our city scored nominations for two of its top three best restaurants (and three of its top dozen or so).

David Uygur of Lucia is a finalist for Outstanding Chef—which is a nationwide award, pitting him against colleagues in Washington, D.C.; Portland, Oregon; Connecticut; and North Carolina.

Gemma is a finalist for Outstanding Hospitality—another national category, with other nominees hailing from Chicago, Raleigh, New York City, and Portland, Maine. (Good year for Portlands, by the way.)

And for the regional Best Chef: Texas category, Misti Norris of Petra and the Beast is one of the five finalists. Let’s cut straight to that list, actually.

Best Chef: Texas Finalists, 2024

  • Emmanuel Chavez, Tatemó, Houston, TX
  • Christopher Cullum, Cullum’s Attaboy, San Antonio, TX
  • Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel, Birdie’s, Austin, TX
  • Misti Norris, Petra & the Beast, Dallas, TX
  • Ana Liz Pulido, Ana Liz Taqueria, Mission, TX

As it happens, I’ve been to three of them (the middle three on the list). Although I did not get a chance to dine at Tatemó on recent trips to Houston, there is a good chance I will be able to visit later in the spring. My understanding is that it is similar to the experience Regino Rojas provides in the back room at Purépecha here in Dallas—an experience that was on the 2024 semifinalist list, but did not advance to this round. (If I visit Tatemó and/or Ana Liz Taqueria, I will file a “who should win” column before the final awards are announced.)

I am not a Beards voter this year and cannot pretend to know who will ultimately win Best Chef: Texas. But if I had to guess, this is a head-to-head matchup between Malechek-Ezekiel and Norris, two women who have rethought what a restaurant should look and act like, and who also happen to serve off-the-charts delicious food. Cullum’s Attaboy, from San Antonio, is a dark horse candidate, but it would be deeply weird, in my opinion, for the diverse melting pot that is San Antonio to bag its first-ever competitive James Beard Award (yes, really) for a restaurant that specializes in omelets and French toast.

Dallas, remember, has not won a Beard in 30 years, since Dean Fearing in 1994.

The rest of the Texas contenders

Convenience West (Marfa) and Mixtli (San Antonio) are up for the national award of Outstanding Restaurant. Barbs-B-Q in Lockhart is a national contender for Best New Restaurant. A Brownsville bar, Las Ramblas, is up for Outstanding Bar nationally. Notice, please, the geographic spread across Texas in those national categories: Brownsville, Lockhart, Marfa, San Antonio, but not a single contender from Austin or Houston. (The less said the better about poor Fort Worth.)

On a national note, I’m happy to see D.C.’s Tail Up Goat deservedly nominated for Outstanding Wine Program and—sorry to gloat about my vacation—excited to be visiting an Outstanding Pastry Chef contender, Elske in Chicago, this weekend.


Brian Reinhart

Brian Reinhart

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Brian Reinhart became D Magazine's dining critic in 2022 after six years of writing about restaurants for the Dallas Observer and the Dallas Morning News.

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