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James Beard finalists: These Houston restaurants among 13 Texas nominees

H-Town now has bragging rights to one of the best new restaurants, one of the finest chefs and one of the hottest spots for wine and cocktails in the country.

HOUSTON — It's no secret that H-Town is heaven for foodies with one of the best and most diverse restaurant scenes in the country. 

Now, there are three more local dining spots to add to your must-try list as finalists for the prestigious James Beard Foundation's 2023 Restaurant and Chef Awards.  

Editor's note: The above video originally aired on 3/27

Thirteen Texas restaurants made the cut and H-Town now has bragging rights to one of the best new restaurants, one of the finest chefs and one of the hottest spots for wine and cocktails in the country.

Two of the three are a bit off the beaten path, including a restaurant in northwest Houston that shines a spotlight on one simple ingredient: corn. 

RELATED: Let's talk food! James Beard Awards semifinalists sit down with KHOU 11's Shern-Min Chow


Tatemó, a tiny, 13-seat spot off Highway 290, is a finalist for best new restaurant with a tasting menu that showcases the diversity of heirloom corn. 

The corn is prepared with a process called nixtamalization, a big word that simply means the corn is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution -- usually limewater -- washed and then hulled. 

It's a technique that "represents Mexican culture and its traditional cuisine," Tatemó's website explains. 

The restaurant's name comes from the Mexican technique tatemar, which means to roast, toast or grill. 

Tatemó was also on Esquire's list of best new restaurants in 2022.

It's reservations only, it doesn't have a liquor license and it doesn't even have a sign at its strip center location. Then again, with a James Beard nomination, they won't need one. 

WATCH: Make quesadillas with chef Emmanual Chavez.

Nancy's Hustle

Nancy's Hustle is a modern bistro and wine bar east of downtown nominated in the category of Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages. 

Justin Van, the restaurant's wine buyer, admitted they were pretty shocked to be named semi-finalists, much less the finalists. 

"I was pretty baffled when we were nominated, if I'm being totally honest, because this category typically features very expensive, large wine programs," Van told KHOU 11 anchor Shern-Min Chow.

He said their total budget for wine is around $50,000 compared to over a million dollars and a team of sommeliers for the typical James Beard nominee. 

Van said their specialties are progressive and unusual wines.

"We try to push the envelope, but also maintain a comfort zone for everybody," Van said. "So the idea is that anyone that walks in can get something they're really thrilled by, and that's our metric for success."

Nancy Hustle's menu also features a unique flair for dishes ranging from oysters marinated in escabeche to spicy pork and butter dumplings with sauerkraut, and yogurt dill.

Expect crowds because Nancy’s Hustle was also on Esquire’s list of “Best New Restaurants in America,” and the Thrillist’s “13 Best Restaurants in the Country.”

WATCH: How to make the Gondola Gang cocktail from Nancy's Hustle

Street to Kitchen

Traditional Thai street food earned Street to Kitchen chef Benchawan Jabthong Painter a nod as one of the top chefs in Texas.  

The East End restaurant offers "unapologetically authentic Thai food." 

Texas Monthly called it a "suburb" menu with “chef-driven, handmade food" from Painter's native Thailand.  

It's an unassuming, easy-to-miss spot that even features a drive-through if you want to avoid the crowds sure to come with all the attention. 

WATCH: James Beard semi-finalists talk food and life

Full list of James Beard finalists

The following is verbatim from the James Beard Award website.

Outstanding Chef

· Rachel Miller, Nightshade Noodle Bar, Lynn, MA

· Niki Nakayama, n/naka, Los Angeles, CA

· Erik Ramirez, Llama Inn, Brooklyn, NY

· Rob Rubba, Oyster Oyster, Washington, D.C.

· Hajime Sato, Sozai, Clawson, MI

Outstanding Restaurant 

· Copine, Seattle, WA

· Coracora, West Hartford, CT

· Friday Saturday Sunday, Philadelphia, PA

· Lucia, Dallas, TX

· Mita's, Cincinnati, OH

Best New Restaurant

· Causa, Washington, D.C.

· Dept of Culture, New York, NY

· Don Artemio Mexican Heritage, Fort Worth, TX

· Kann, Portland, OR

· Lupi & Iris, Milwaukee, WI

· Neng Jr.'s, Asheville, NC

· Nolia, Cincinnati, OH

· Obélix, Chicago, IL

· Restaurant Beatrice, Dallas, TX

· Tatemó, Houston, TX

Outstanding Restaurateur

· Greg Dulan, Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen, Dulan's on Crenshaw, and Dulanville, Los Angeles, CA

· Aaron Hoskins, Sarah Simmons, and Elie Yigo, CITY GRIT Hospitality Group (small SUGAR, CITY GRIT, Il Focolare Pizzeria), Columbia, SC

· Yenvy and Quynh Pham, Phở Bắc Sup Shop, Phởcific Standard Time, The Boat, Seattle, WA

· Ellen Yin, High Street Hospitality Group (Fork, a.kitchen + bar, High Street, and others), Philadelphia, PA

Emerging Chef 

· Damarr Brown, Virtue, Chicago, IL

· Rashida Holmes, Bridgetown Roti, Los Angeles, CA

· Serigne Mbaye, Dakar NOLA, New Orleans, LA

· Charlie Mitchell, Clover Hill, Brooklyn, NY

· Amanda Shulman, Her Place Supper Club, Philadelphia, PA

Outstanding Bakery 

· Angelo Brocato Ice Cream & Confectionery, New Orleans, LA

· La Casita Bakeshop, Richardson, TX

· Kuluntu Bakery, Dallas, TX

· Yoli Tortilleria, Kansas City, MO

· Zak the Baker, Miami, FL

Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker

· Veronika Gerasimova, Veronika's Pastry Shop, Billings, MT

· Elaine Uykimpang Bentz, Café Mochiko, Cincinnati, OH

· Vince Bugtong, ABACA, San Francisco, CA

· Margarita Manzke, République, Los Angeles, CA

· Shawn McKenzie, Café Cerés, Minneapolis, MN

Outstanding Hospitality 

· The Black Cypress, Pullman, WA

· Bottega, Birmingham, AL

· Lula Drake, Columbia, SC

· The Quarry, Monson, ME

· Sepia, Chicago, IL

Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program

· COTE, New York, NY

· Lazy Bear, San Francisco, CA

· Nancy's Hustle, Houston, TX

· OTOTO, Los Angeles, CA

· Spencer, Ann Arbor, MI

Outstanding Bar

· Bar Leather Apron, Honolulu, HI

· Drastic Measures, Shawnee, KS

· Garagiste Wine Room | Merchant, Las Vegas, NV

· Las Ramblas, Brownsville, TX

· Rob Roy, Seattle, WA

Best Chefs by region

Best Chef: Texas

· Reyna Duong, Sandwich Hag, Dallas, TX

· Benchawan Jabthong Painter, Street to Kitchen, Houston, TX

· Emiliano Marentes, ELEMI, El Paso, TX

· John Russ, Clementine, San Antonio, TX

· Ernest Servantes and David Kirkland, Burnt Bean Co., Seguin, TX

Best Chef: California

· Gilberto Cetina Jr., Holbox, Los Angeles, CA

· Kyle and Katina Connaughton, SingleThread, Healdsburg, CA

· Brandon Hayato Go, Hayato, Los Angeles, CA

· Justin Pichetrungsi, Anajak Thai, Sherman Oaks, CA

· Carlos Salgado, Taco María, Costa Mesa, CA

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

· Omar Anani, Saffron De Twah, Detroit, MI

· Diana Dávila, Mi Tocaya Antojería, Chicago, IL

· Tim Flores and Genie Kwon, Kasama, Chicago, IL

· Andy Hollyday, Selden Standard, Detroit, MI

· Sarah Welch, Marrow, Detroit, MI

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (DC, DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA)

· Jesse Ito, Royal Sushi, Philadelphia, PA

· Dionicio Jiménez, Cantina La Martina, Philadelphia, PA

· Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski, Apteka, Pittsburgh, PA

· Michael Rafidi, Albi, Washington, D.C.

· Chutatip “Nok” Suntaranon, Kalaya, Philadelphia, PA

Best Chef: Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI)

· Sanaa Abourezk, Sanaa's Gourmet Mediterranean, Sioux Falls, SD

· Gregory León, Amilinda, Milwaukee, WI

· Francesco Mangano, Osteria Papavero, Madison, WI

· Itaru Nagano and Andrew Kroeger, Fairchild, Madison, WI

· David Utterback, Yoshitomo, Omaha, NE

Best Chef: Mountain (CO, ID, MT, UT, WY)

· Salvador Alamilla, Amano, Caldwell, ID

· Michael Diaz de Leon, BRUTØ, Denver, CO

· Suchada Johnson, Teton Thai, Teton Village, WY

· Kris Komori, KIN, Boise, ID

· Ali Sabbah, Mazza, Salt Lake City, UT

Best Chef: New York State

· Nasim Alikhani, Sofreh, Brooklyn, NY

· Mary Attea, The Musket Room, New York, NY

· Amanda Cohen, Dirt Candy, New York, NY

· Shaina Loew-Banayan, Cafe Mutton, Hudson, NY

· Junghyun Park, Atomix, New York, NY

Best Chef: Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT)

· Valentine Howell, Krasi, Boston, MA

· Christian Hunter, Community Table, New Preston, CT

· Sherry Pocknett, Sly Fox Den Too, Charlestown, RI

· Yisha Siu, Yunnan Kitchen, Boston, MA

· Renee Touponce, The Port of Call, Mystic, CT

Best Chef: Northwest and Pacific (AK, HI, OR, WA)

· Joshua Dorcak, MÄS, Ashland, OR

· Vince Nguyen, Berlu, Portland, OR

· Thomas Pisha-Duffly, Gado Gado, Portland, OR

· Beau Schooler, In Bocca Al Lupo, Juneau, AK

· Aaron Verzosa, Archipelago, Seattle, WA

Best Chef: Southeast (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV)

· Sam Fore, Tuk Tuk Sri Lankan Bites, Lexington, KY

· Josh Habiger, Bastion, Nashville, TN

· Sam Hart, Counter-, Charlotte, NC

· Terry Koval, The Deer and the Dove, Decatur, GA

· Paul Smith, 1010 Bridge, Charleston, WV

Best Chef: South (AL, AR, FL, LA, MS, PR)

· Ana Castro, Lengua Madre, New Orleans, LA

· Timothy Hontzas, Johnny's Restaurant, Homewood, AL

· Henry Moso, Kabooki Sushi, Orlando, FL

· Alex Perry and Kumi Omori, Vestige, Ocean Springs, MS

· Natalia Vallejo, Cocina al Fondo, San Juan, PR

Best Chef: Southwest (AZ, NM, NV, OK)

· Oscar Amador, Anima by EDO, Las Vegas, NV

· Kaoru Azeuchi, KAISEKI YUZU, Las Vegas, NV

· Andrew Black, Grey Sweater, Oklahoma City, OK

· Jeff Chanchaleune, Ma Der Lao Kitchen, Oklahoma City, OK

· Justin Pioche, Pioche Food Group, Upper Fruitland (Doolkai), Navajo Nation, NM

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