The James Beard Foundation Named These Restaurants 2022's America's Classics

Some of America's most iconic local eateries were awarded one of the culinary world's highest honors this week. The James Beard Foundation — a nonprofit culinary arts organization named after the legendary cookbook author who revolutionized American dining — recently announced the recipients of one of its most esteemed annual culinary awards.

The organization unveiled the winners of the 2022 America's Classics Award, which is given out annually to "locally owned restaurants that have timeless appeal and are beloved regionally for quality food that reflects the character of its community."

Since the JBF established this award category in 1998, over 100 restaurants have joined the ranks of America's Classics winners, including iconic eateries like Langer's Delicatessen in Los Angeles, Swan Oyster Depot in San Francisco, John's Roast Pork in Philadelphia, Peter Luger Steakhouse in NYC, and Prince's Hot Chicken Shack in Nashville.

This year's winners, which will be honored at the 2022 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards in Chicago, include restaurants that stretch coast to coast, representing some of the best local dining America has to offer, from a trio of soul food institutions to an iconic burger spot to ground-breaking Mexican and Chinese restaurants.   

This NYC resturant has been open since 1938

One of the James Beard Foundation 2022 America's Classics honorees is Casa Vega, a Mexican restaurant in Sherman Oaks, California, which has been serving the Los Angeles-area community since 1956. The eatery, which is credited with helping "introduce and popularize Mexican food in the San Fernando Valley," is a family-owned restaurant that has long been a favorite haunt of celebrities and local diners alike (via Los Angeles Times).

On the opposite coast, Wo Hop, a Chinese American restaurant in New York City's Chinatown, was honored by the Beard Foundation for the first time since opening its doors in 1938. The restaurant, which has inhabited the same space for the past 80+ years, has been a pillar of the neighborhood ever since, serving "old fashioned, chop suey-style food" to hungry New Yorkers (via Wo Hop).

One state over, in Camden, New Jersey, the soul food institution Corinne's Place — named after its founder and former owner, Corinne Bradley-Powers (who sold the business in 2019) — was also honored in this year's awards. Corinne's, which offers "generous plates" of home-style soul food classics, like Cajun turkey wings, collared greens, smothered pork chops, and black eyed peas, has been serving food out of a cozy pink dining room since 1989 (via Philadelphia Inquirer).

This Southern soul food institution was awarded

Another famed soul food restaurant, Atlanta's Busy Bee Cafe, was also named one of this year's America's Classics award winners. The restaurant, which opened its doors in 1947, has been serving classic Southern dishes like fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, catfish, and cornbread for decades, and was notably a favorite meeting place of civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Andrew Young (via Atlanta Magazine).

The 70-year-old Oklahoma City soul food spot Florence's Restaurant also made this year's list, receiving recognition for its popular down-home specialties like fried chicken, smothered steak, and pork chops. The family-owned and family-run institution, which was founded by Florence Jones Kemp in 1952, is the first Oklahoma restaurant to ever receive a James Beard Foundation award (via Fox25).

Rounding out this year's list is the iconic Milwaukee, Wisconsin eatery Solly's Grille, which is known as the home of the "butter burger." The family-owned restaurant, which was founded in 1936, is a local institution that goes through 130 pounds of Wisconsin butter a week. Upon receiving the culinary honor, Solly's owner Glenn Fieber told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he never thought the national award "would be something that comes our way. It's like the World Series, the Super Bowl in the restaurant world."