Austin James Beard Nominees 2018

Get a meal in now before the finalists are announced

The semifinalists for this year's James Beard Awards have been announced, with Austin proving once again why it's home to some of the country's best chefs and restaurants. But with only a few weeks until the final short list is revealed, the clock is ticking for you to get yourself to these five restaurants nominated for an Oscar of the food world—before everyone else does.

Kemuri Tatsu-ya: Best New Restaurant

From the same team who brought silky, tonkotsu-style ramen on par with what you'd find in Japan to Austin comes this Texas izakaya nominated for Best New Restaurant. The drinking-friendly menu includes smoked fish collars with yuzu salt, "Texas ramen" (beef broth with slices of hearty brisket) and traditional octopus takoyaki fritters topped with Texas chili.

Kevin Fink: Best Chef, Southwest

It's easy to see why Kevin Fink got a nod for the Southwest's Best Chef: At Emmer & Rye, he's grinding heritage grains for house-made pastas, breads and desserts, resulting in fantastic dishes like tagliatelle made from nutty Red Fife flour and served with lamb merguez sausage.

Michael Fojtasek: Best Chef, Southwest

Experience Fojtasek's "garden-inspired Southern" cooking at Olamaie through entrées like roast chicken with sweet potato, popcorn and rainbow chard. If you're lucky enough to grab a coveted table, be sure to request a basket of the not-so-secret off-menu biscuits.

Laura Sawicki: Outstanding Pastry Chef

Housed in a renovated laundromat in East Austin, Launderette is a stylishly retro café showcasing contemporary takes on American food including crispy pork ribs with preserved Brussels sprouts. But it's Outstanding Pastry Chef nominee Laura Sawicki and her birthday cake ice cream sandwiches we're saving our stomachs for after bowls of agnolotti—even if it's not our birthday.

Bryce Gilmore: Best Chef, Southwest

The chef's signature restaurant, Barley Swine, is known for small plates with inventive flourishes. Try several dishes highlighting the purity of Texas ingredients like radish pancakes with pork belly and a coleslaw made from crispy pigs' ears and kimchi dressing.