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Chicago Has 17 James Beard Award Semifinalists for 2024

High points include noteworthy nods to Carnitas Uruapan, the Duck Inn, and the Coach House by Wazwan

2022 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards
There’s no word yet on whether Carmy will make another appearance.
Photo by Jeff Schear/Getty Images for James Beard Foundation

The James Beard Foundation released its “long list” of 2024 semifinalists on Wednesday morning, announcing 17 Chicago restaurants, bars, chefs, and hospitality professionals in the running for a so-called Oscar of the food world. That’s an uptick since last year, adding six more to the lineup than the 11 Chicago semifinalists named in 2023.

Chicago’s cohort features an interesting mix of new entries with serious local cred and noteworthy yet familiar players in the Foundation’s annual festivities. The former group includes Marcos Carbajal, the second-generation owner of mighty Mexican meat haven Carnitas Uruapan, who earned his first nod for Outstanding Restaurateur. Atelier, chef Christian Hunter’s newish fine dining den, earned a spot among the semifinalists for Best New Restaurant after replacing chef Iliana Regan’s decorated spot Elizabeth, and chef Kevin Hickey’s boisterous Duck Inn could take home the prize for Outstanding Restaurant.

Beard Award regulars John Shields and Karen Urie Shields of three-Michelin-starred Smyth are up for Outstanding Chef this year, and brothers Nicolas and Oliver Poilevey join Carbajal in the restaurateurs category with their restaurants Obelix (a finalist for Best New Restaurant in 2023), Le Bouchon, and Taqueria Chingón; and chef Zubair Mohajir is in the running for Emerging Chef for his work at the Coach House by Wazwan.

As in years past, Chicago dominates when it comes to Best Chef: Great Lakes semifinalists, this year kicking off with seven entries: Diana Dávila, who was a finalist for the same award last year with modern Mexican restaurant Mi Tocaya Antojería, Joe Fontelera of Boonie’s Filipino Restaurant (winner of Eater’s Reboot of the Year award in 2023), Joe Frillman of Daisies (Eater’s Restaurant of the Year), James Martin of Spanish spot Bocadillo Market, Sujan Sarkar of Michelin-starred Indienne, Jenner Tomaska of Michelin-starred Esme, and Donald Young of pop-up series Duck Sel.

Among the many fine dining heavyweights, however, lies an engaging list of local specialists. Loba Pastry + Coffee, the hard-fought bakery from comeback queen Valeria Socorro Velazquez Lindsten, is a semifinalist for Outstanding Bakery, while Anna Posey of Michelin-starred Elske could take home the award for Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker. Middle Brow, the neighborhood pizzeria and brewery that rolled out its own natural wines last year, has secured a nod for Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program. Scratch Brewing Company in downstate Ava, Illinois, is a semifinalist for Outstanding Bar.

The awards ceremony for some of the highest honors in the food world will return on June 10 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Finalists will be revealed on Wednesday, April 3.

Head over to Eater for the long list from around the country. This year’s Chicago semifinalist nominations are below.

(* denotes a repeated nominee from past years)

Outstanding Restaurateur

Marcos Carbajal, Carnitas Uruapan

*Nicolas Poilevey and Oliver Poilevey, Obelix, Le Bouchon, and Taqueria Chingón

Outstanding Chef

*John Shields and Karen Urie Shields, Smyth

Outstanding Restaurant

The Duck Inn

Emerging Chef

*Zubair Mohajir, The Coach House by Wazwan

Best New Restaurant

Atelier

Outstanding Bakery

Loba Pastry + Coffee

Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker

*Anna Posey, Elske

Outstanding Hospitality

*Lula Cafe

Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program

Middle Brow

Best Chef: Great Lakes

*Diana Dávila Boldin, Mi Tocaya Antojería

Joe Fontelera, Boonie’s Filipino Restaurant

Joe Frillman, Daisies

James Martin, Bocadillo Market

Sujan Sarkar, Indienne

*Jenner Tomaska, Esme

*Donald Young, Duck Sel

Disclosure: Some Vox Media staff members are part of the voting body for the James Beard Awards.

The Duck Inn

2701 South Eleanor Street, , IL 60608 (312) 724-8811 Visit Website

Wazwan

1742 West Division Street, , IL 60622 (312) 722-6911 Visit Website

esme

3837 Main Street, , CA 90232 Visit Website

Bocadillo Market

2342 North Clark Street, , IL 60614 (773) 857-0331 Visit Website

Obelix

700 North Sedgwick Street, , IL 60654 (312) 877-5348 Visit Website

Taqueria Chingón

2234 North Western Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 687-9408 Visit Website

Elske

1350 West Randolph Street, , IL 60607 (312) 733-1314 Visit Website

Smyth

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

Loba Pastry + Coffee

3600 North Lincoln Avenue, , IL 60613 (773) 456-9266 Visit Website

Indienne

217 West Huron Street, , IL 60654 (312) 291-9427 Visit Website

Lula Cafe

2537 North Kedzie Boulevard, , IL 60647 (773) 489-9554 Visit Website

Mi Tocaya Antojería

2800 West Logan Boulevard, , IL 60647 (872) 315-3947 Visit Website

Le Bouchon

1958 North Damen Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 862-6600 Visit Website

Carnitas Uruapan

1725 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608 (312) 226-2654 Visit Website

Daisies

2375 North Milwaukee Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 697-9443 Visit Website