It’s that time of year again to award the best of the best when it comes to great dining. The James Beard Foundation has announced its 2024 semifinalists. And several of them are in North Carolina.

I always love to check out the list because it always gives me a wide range of restaurants to choose from when I want really good food. And that’s what makes it extra special because the list of restaurants below is considered the ‘creme de la creme.’ They made the James Beard list.

And in case you didn’t know, to receive any recognition from The James Beard Foundation is an honor within itself. According to its website, the James Beard Award honors those who create exceptional food, food media content, and better food systems while demonstrating a commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive.

Who Is James Beard?

As a foodie, I’ve always heard of the distinguished James Beard Award in the culinary industry. But, I never really knew who he was. I’ve since learned Beard was a pioneer foodie. And was one of the first to host a food program on television back in the 1940’s. Beard was from Portland, Oregon and appeared to have a passion for food honestly. He and his family would often spend summers at the beach fishing and cooking meals with what they caught.

He studied for a short time at the local college in Portland, but was expelled. Beard believed it was because he was a homosexual. He went on to try to get into the theater and movie business, but realized his real passion was food and cooking. Beard would go on to leave his imprint in the cooking industry, writing the first major cookbook of its kind devoted exclusively to cocktail food, Hors d’Oeuvre & Canapés.

Beard died in 1985 at the age of 81. But, he left a legacy of culinary excellence to generations of home cooks and professional chefs. See some of those restaurants, bars and bakeries are listed below.

  • Jimmy Pearl's - Outstanding Chefs (Charlotte)

    This Southern restaurant serves a unique blend of Afro-Southern eats inspired by the Foodways of Chesapeake Bay. Growing up, the owners, Oscar Johnson and Darryl Cooper shared the passion of family meals and history of their ancestors. They founded Jimmy Pearl’s initially as a pop-up restaurant. Their quality and passion for food has sustained them and today they run a restaurant inside a public market space. Both Johnson and Cooper are up for Outstanding Chef.

    Jimmy Pearls
    The Market at 7th Street
    224 E. 7th Street
    Charlotte, NC 28202

  • The Market Place - Outstanding Restaurant (Asheville)

    In the heart of downtown Asheville, The Market Place offers handcrafted and ingredient driven cuisine. It offers seafood dishes, steak and pork. Chef William Dissen prides himself on specializing in farm-to-table cuisine. The menu items are healthy and locally sourced, so it makes sense that this food haven would be a semifinalist for the James Beard Award.

    The Market Place
    20 Wall Street
    Asheville, NC 28801


  • The Restaurant @ Gideon Ridge Inn - Outstanding Restaurant (Blowing Rock)

    This restaurant sets the tone as soon as you visit their website. They’re slogan ‘We don’t need an excuse to make it unforgettable’ makes your experience just that — unforgettable. Imagine dining in the High country, where you get to take in a breath-taking mountain view. If the scenery doesn’t do it for you, the food surely will. The restaurant proclaims the farmers define the menu. So you can look forward to fresh and local produce. It’s refreshing to note the menu changes based on the season of the Appalachian weather.

    The Restaurant @ Gideon Ridge Inn
    202 Gideon Ridge Road
    Blowing Rock, NC 28605


  • Ajja - Best New Restaurant (Raleigh)

    The owners, Cheetie Kumar and Paul Silas, are musicians at heart. After touring the U.S. and Europe with their bands for years, they opened a musical venue in the late 90’s. It wasn’t long after that the two decided to bring their collective experiences of music and travel together. Their vision came to reality. The creation of Ajja — a restaurant that celebrates the diverse foodways and cultures, vibrant spices and cooking techniques of the Mediterranean, the Middle East and beyond! All set in the fast-growing city of Raleigh.

    209 Bickett Blvd.
    Raleigh, NC 27608

  • Seabird - Outstanding Chef (Wilmington)

    If you want authentic and quality seafood, what better way to go than this restaurant in Wilmington which is right off the coast of North Carolina. Seabird specializes in fresh oysters, fish and more. The culinary team is led by Chef Dean Neff, who is a semifinalist for Outstanding Chef for the James Beard Award. Besides fresh seafood, Seabird is also known for its brunch menu served every Saturday and Sunday.

    1 S. Front Street
    Wilmington, NC 28401

  • Bobby Boy Bakeshop - Outstanding Bakery (Winston-Salem)

    Located in the Buena Vista neighborhood of Winston-Salem, Bobby Boy Bakeshop is an artisanal bakeshop. They offer pastries, coffees and breads. I hear the croissants are to die for — made fresh daily. The bakeshop prides itself on using the highest quality ingredients. And the reviews, speak for themselves. One customer exclaimed, “The ultimate pastry/sandwich experience. The quality and sheer art form of each item impeccable. Devoured every last crumb!”

    Bobby Boy Bakeshop
    1100 Reynolda Road
    Winston-Salem, NC 27104

  • Crawford And Son - Outstanding Bar (Raleigh)

    If you’re looking for that neighborhood spot, where you feel at home without being at home and where everybody knows your name, than Crawford And Son may be your spot! It’s located in historic Oakwood neighborhood near downtown Raleigh. They serve what they call ‘honest food’ that ranges from the familiar to the unexpected. They have everything from Pan Roasted NC Trout, to Duck Breast to the popular Manchego-Herbed biscuits. They seem to serve up the flavor of home with an edge.

    Crawford And Son
    619 N. Person Street
    Raleigh, NC 27604

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