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Chicago’s 2017 James Beard Award Semifinalists Highlighted by Topolobampo, Boka Group

Plus a trio of best new restaurant nominees are among 31 semifinalists from the Windy City

A dimly lit dining room with shelves full of trinkets.
Topolobampo’s new look
Courtesy of Topolobampo

‘Tis the season for James Beard Awards news, and today the foundation reveals its list of semifinalists for the 2017 awards. Chicago representation is highlighted by Rick Bayless’ long-acclaimed Michelin-starred Topolobampo, the Boka Restaurant Group, and a trio of best new restaurant semifinalists among 31 total nominees from the Windy City.

Topolobampo is nominated for the top award, outstanding restaurant, after years of being a finalist for outstanding service. The Boka guys (Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz) are again nominated for outstanding restaurateur after being finalists last year — and their flagship restaurant is a semifinalist for outstanding pastry chef (Meg Galus), outstanding service, and best chef: Great Lakes (Lee Wolen). Other highlights include a trio of best new restaurant semifinalists (Oriole, Roister, Smyth), Tony Mantuano and Carrie Nahabedian again becoming semifinalists for outstanding chef, and Lost Lake being nominated for outstanding bar program.

Check out the full list of local semifinalists below and head over to Eater National for the list from around the country. Finalists will be announced on March 15 and the awards will head to the Lyric Opera House on May 1, once again right here in Sweet Home Chicago.

Best New Restaurant




Outstanding Baker

Greg Wade, Publican Quality Bread

Outstanding Bar Program

Lost Lake

Outstanding Chef

Tony Mantuano, Spiaggia

Carrie Nahabedian, Naha

Outstanding Pastry Chef

Aya Fukai, Maple & Ash

Meg Galus, Boka

Outstanding Restaurant


Outstanding Restaurateur

Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz, Boka Restaurant Group

Outstanding Service


North Pond

Outstanding Wine Program


Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional

Charles Joly, Crafthouse Cocktails

Rising Star Chef of the Year

David Park, Hanbun, Westmont

Jenner Tomaska, Next

Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH)

Jake Bickelhaupt, 42 Grams

Abraham Conlon, Fat Rice

Paul Fehribach, Big Jones

Phillip Foss, EL Ideas

Sarah Grueneberg, Monteverde

Gene Kato, Sumi Robata Bar

Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark, Parachute

Edward Kim, Ruxbin

Ryan McCaskey, Acadia

Iliana Regan, Elizabeth

Noah Sandoval, Oriole

Lee Wolen, Boka

Erling Wu-Bower, Nico Osteria

Fat Rice

2957 West Diversey Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 661-9170 Visit Website

Sumi Robata Bar

702 N Wells Street, Chicago, IL 60654 (312) 988-7864 Visit Website


500 North Clark Street, , IL 60654 (312) 321-6242 Visit Website


1729 North Halsted Street, , IL 60614 (312) 337-6070 Visit Website

Big Jones

5347 North Clark Street, , IL 60640 (773) 275-5725 Visit Website

EL ideas

2419 West 14th Street, , IL 60608 (312) 226-8144 Visit Website

Nico Osteria

1015 North Rush Street, , IL 60611 (312) 994-7100 Visit Website

Next Restaurant

953 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 312 226 0858 Visit Website


3500 North Elston Avenue, , IL 60618 (872) 204-7138 Visit Website


665 Pasquinelli Drive, , IL 60559 (630) 948-3383 Visit Website

Maple & Ash

8 West Maple Street, , IL 60610 (312) 944-8888 Visit Website


851 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (312) 624-8509 Visit Website


661 West Walnut Street, , IL 60661 (312) 877-5899 Visit Website


123 North Jefferson Street, , IL 60661 (312) 441-1920 Visit Website


1639 South Wabash Avenue, , IL 60616 (312) 360-9500 Visit Website


1020 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 888-3041


951 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 789-4896

42 grams

4662 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL 60640 Visit Website


445 North Clark Street, , IL 60654 (312) 661-1434 Visit Website

Lost Lake

3154 West Diversey Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 293-6048 Visit Website


177 North Ada Street, , IL 60607 (773) 913-3773 Visit Website


980 North Michigan Avenue, , IL 60611 (312) 280-2750 Visit Website

North Pond

2610 North Cannon Drive, , IL 60614 (773) 477-5845 Visit Website

Elizabeth Restaurant

4835 North Western Avenue, , IL 60625 Visit Website