North Carolina-Based Indian Eatery Chai Pani Voted Best Restaurant In US

The James Beard Foundation Awards on Monday awarded a North Carolina-based Indian eatery named Chai Pani America’s Most Outstanding Restaurant after being voted the best restaurant in the US.

North Carolina-Based Indian Eatery Chai Pani Voted Best Restaurant In US 1

The best restaurant in America is Chai Pani, which serves cheap Indian street food in North Carolina.

At the James Beard Foundation Awards in Chicago on Monday, the Asheville diner was awarded America’s Most Outstanding Restaurant, beating out competitors including Brennan’s in New Orleans.

After being cancelled in 2020 and 2021 so the foundation could address systematic bias and as lockdowns to halt the spread of the Covid-19 virus prompted the temporary closure of numerous US restaurants, the honors were given for the first time in two years.

The awards also come at a time when Americans are paying the highest food costs in four decades, owing to rising inflation that is hurting the economy as a whole.

This year’s award recipients and nominees were more diversified in order to better reflect the demographics of the United States. There was also more geographic diversity this year, as opposed to previous years, when many winners came from New York or Chicago.

Chai Pani, whose name literally translates to “tea and water,” serves Indian snacks known as “chaat,” which are recognized for their spicy, sweet, and tangy flavors. Best New Restaurant went to Owamni, a Native American restaurant in Minneapolis with a staff that is 75 percent indigenous.

Don Guerra of Barrio Bread in Tucson, Arizona, was named Outstanding Baker for his use of ancient grains with seeds designed to grow in the desert.

Mashama Bailey of Savannah, Georgia’s The Grey was selected Outstanding Chef. Outstanding Restaurateur went to Chris Bianco of Tratto, Pane Bianco, and Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix.

During its absence, the foundation did a “deep dive,” according to Dawn Padmore, vice president of awards.

“Looking at the audience and seeing so many different people, it feels different,” she added. “It’s about reflecting the true diversity of the industry.”

See the full list of winners below.

Outstanding Restaurant: Chai Pani, Asheville, North Carolina

Outstanding Chef: Mashama Bailey, The Grey, Savannah, Georgia

Best New Restaurant: Owamni, Minneapolis

Outstanding Restaurateur: Chris Bianco, Tratto, Pane Bianco and Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix

Emerging Chef: Edgar Rico, Nixta Taqueria, Austin, Texas

Outstanding Baker: Don Guerra, Barrio Bread, Tucson, Arizona

Outstanding Pastry Chef: Warda Bouguettaya, Warda Pâtisserie in Detroit

Outstanding Wine Program: The Four Horsemen, New York

Outstanding Bar Program: Julep, Houston

Outstanding Hospitality: Cúrate, Asheville, North Carolina

Best Chefs

Best Chef: California

Brandon Jew, Mister Jiu’s, San Francisco

Best Chef: Southwest

Fernando Olea, Sazón, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Best Chef: Midwest

Dave Baldwin, The Diplomat, Milwaukee

Best Chef: Mountain

Caroline Glover, Annette, Aurora, Colorado

Best Chef: Northwest and Pacific

Robynne Maii, Fête, Honolulu

Best Chef: Texas

Iliana de la Vega, El Naranjo, Austin, Texas

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic

Cristina Martinez, South Philly Barbacoa, Philadelphia

Best Chef: New York State

Chintan Pandya, Dhamaka, New York

Best Chef: South

Adam Evans, Automatic Seafood and Oysters, Birmingham, Alabama

Best Chef: Southeast

Ricky Moore, SALTBOX Seafood Joint, Durham, North Carolina

Best Chef: Northeast

Nisachon Morgan, Saap, Randolph, Vermont

Best Chef: Great Lakes

Erick Williams, Virtue Restaurant & Bar, Chicago

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