The 2018 American Classics Award honors regional restaurants beloved by their communities.
Every year since 1998, the James Beard Foundation has honored five restaurants with the America's Classic Award, which, according to a statement, looks for "restaurants that have timeless appeal and are cherished for quality food that reflects the character of their community." In other words, the award often goes to longtime regional favorites, often family-owned, that exemplify local character (and serve delicious food, of course). Announced today, the 2018 recipients will be honored at the James Beard Awards Gala at Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 7, so get to know them now.
5039 N. Broadway Street, Chicago, IL
Opened by married team Eric and Lynda Cheng in 1986, Sun Wah has since been passed down to the next generation. In 2008, the couple's children, Laura, Kelly and Michel, took over as executive chef, general manager and barbeque chef respectively, and they moved the restaurant around the corner to a larger space in Chicago's most ethnically diverse neighborhood. The three-course Beijing Duck Feast is so renowned it's not even on the menu.
289 Hanover Street, Boston, MA
Another family affair, brothers Paul and Ralph Deuterio now run the Sicilian pizza institution their father Umberto founded in 1974. Located in the North End neighborhood of Boston, Galleria Umberto still sells slices for $1.75, and closes for the day once the pizza runs out, so make sure to get there on time.
3706 Main Street, Union Gap, WA
Handmade tamales are the only things on the menu at this restaurant founded by Felipe Hernandez in 1990, adapting a recipe from his sister Leocacia Sanchez. Hernandez immigrated to eastern Washington from Piedras Negras in Coahuila, Mexico in 1957. He runs Loz Hernandez with his wife, June, daughter, Rachel Wilburn, and son-in-law, Dion Wilburn, and bolsters its year-round menu of chicken and pork tamales with seasonally available pepper jack and asparagus tamales, taking advantage of the huge local vegetable crop.
5201 S 12th Avenue, Tucson, AZ
In 1993, then 33-year-old Daniel Contreras opened a stand making elaborately dressed hot dogs inspired by those in his home city of Hermosillo, the capital of Sonora, Mexico. Now, it's grown into a go-to restaurant with crowds lining up for Bacon-Wrapped Franks, topped with beans, onions, mustard, jalapeño sauce, mayo and all stuffed into a baguette-esque Mexican bread called bollilo.
14207 Chef Menteur Highway, NO
Immigrating to New Orleans as refugees after the end of the Vietnam War, De Tran and Huong Tran opened Dong Phuong in 1982, launching one of New Orleans' first Vietnamese bakeries. Now run by Huong Tran and daughter Linh Tran Garza, it's also one of its longest lasting, both thanks to its own banh mi sandwiches, and the supply of bread that stocks dozens of cafes and shops around the city.