Once a year, the
James Beard Foundation gets off its mighty throne of pearl, throws on rough spun peasant clothes made of sack-cloth, and visits everyday, classic, mom-and-pop restaurants all across America. Then, once back in their palatial Greenwich townhouse, they choose five with the winningest humble fare and Real American-ness for an America’s Classics award. It’s almost like how the Pope brings five homeless people to the Vatican to wash their feet every Palm Thursday, except in this case, the following restaurants (and their owners) will receive shiny gold medals.
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CF Folks, Washington, DC
"Art Carlson's weekday-only lunch haunt on Dupont Circle, open since 1981, is a 600-square-foot temple of honest cooking and good will. (The name combines the initials of Carlson and his business partner, Peggy Fredricksen.) The vibe is is loud and scrappy, and the food is delicious. Art Carlson, the ever-present host, is one of the last of a dying breed: a hands-on owner who schmoozes and teases his customers, often at the same time."
1225 19th St. NW
Image credit: CF Folk's
Frank Fat's, Sacramento, CA
"Frank Fat’s is a political landmark in California, once known as the “Third House” and one of Sacramento’s oldest restaurants. The restaurant serves Chinese American food and is known for honey-walnut prawns; Frank’s-style New York steak (grilled, sliced, and smothered in sautéed onions and oyster sauce); Fat’s brandy fried chicken; and banana cream pie."
806 L Street
Image credit: The Good Life Sacramento
Keens Steakhouse, NYC
"New York City specializes in new restaurants, not old ones, and local interest in them is generally measured in months instead of years. So it’s nothing short of astonishing that a 120-something-year-old restaurant has managed to stay both relevant and wildly popular in the middle of Manhattan."
72W W 36th Street
Image credit: Businessweek
Kramarczuk's Deli, Minneapolis
"Minneapolis is known for its Scandinavian heritage, but for more than a century, the city’s northeast neighborhoods have been a vibrant Eastern European enclave. A great deal of that Catholic, blue-collar culture has dissipated during the past 20 years, but some overt traces remain, most notably a dozen or more elaborate churches and Kramarczuk’s, the landmark sausage-making company and restaurant."
215 E Hennepin Ave
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Prince's Hot Chicken Shack, Nashville
"Hot fried chicken, long popular in towns across the South, has become synonymous with Nashville. A visit to town doesn’t count unless you make the pilgrimage to this joint, set in an abbreviated strip mall alongside a nail salon, for crispy yardbird with a cayenne-soaked coat of armor." (And yes, that is Thomas Keller digging into fried chicken.)
123 Ewing Dr #3
Image credit: Mandy Lunn, The Tennessean