The James Beard Foundation has announced the recipients of its 2016 America’s Classics Award — the five restaurants , which must be locally owned and in business for at least a decade to qualify are: Al Ameer Restaurant in Deerborn, Michigan, Brooks’ House of BBQ in Oneonta, NY, Matt’s Place Drive-In in Butte, MT, Bully’s Restaurant in Jackson, MS, and Rancho de Chimayó Restaurante in Chimayo, NM.
Here's the full announcement:
JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES
2016 AMERICA’S CLASSICS AWARD HONOREES
The James Beard Foundation announced today the five recipients of its 2016
America’s Classics Award. The America’s Classics Award is given to restaurants that have timeless appeal and are
cherished for quality food that reflects the character of their community. The 2016 honorees join the ranks of nearly
100 restaurants that have received the award since the category was introduced in 1998. This year’s winners will be
celebrated at the 26th annual James Beard Foundation Awards, taking place on Monday, May 2, 2016, at Lyric Opera
“James Beard would have loved these restaurants; they represent how America eats,” says Susan Ungaro, president
of the James Beard Foundation. “Each has played a role in bringing their communities together, representing the heart
and soul of our national culinary landscape—we’re proud to honor them as classics!”
The 2016 James Beard Foundation America’s Classics Award winners are:
Al Ameer Restaurant (12710 W. Warren Ave, Dearborn, MI; Owners: Khalil Ammar and Zaki Hashem)
This restaurant, with its rows of floral print booths, is a bedrock institution in Dearborn, Michigan, and one of the nation’s
most welcoming introductions to the pleasures of Lebanese cuisine. Khalil Ammar, Zaki Hashem, and their families
started this community-minded spot in 1989. Unfailingly warm servers explain the fine points of maza (a spread of
dishes that might include falafel and hummus) and define the differences between fattoush and Lebanese salad. The
owners also run a halal butcher nearby. Accordingly, Al Ameer is the place to savor sujuk sausage, vivid with paprika
and cumin, or a feast of tender shredded lamb rich with almonds, yogurt, and rice.
Brooks’ House of BBQ (5560 State Highway 7, Oneonta, NY; Owners: Beth and Ryan Brooks)
Brooks’ began in 1912, when John McClelland and his wife founded a chicken farm in upstate New York. A catering
business followed, then a drive-in, then, in 1961, Brooks’ BBQ. Their grandson is at the helm today. The rust-and-toffee
interior features rooster-print wallpaper, a scalloped lunch counter, and state-themed paper placemats that detail the
entirety of the “Brooks’ BBQ Campus.” The complex includes a banquet center, gift store, children’s park, picnic area,
and a sauce bottling plant. Cooked on a 38-foot indoor charcoal pit, the barbecue chicken emerges with blistered skin
and backyard flavor that goes bone-deep. A spiced apple ring, dyed deep garnet, tops each bird. Set on a backroad
that cuts into the Catskills, Brooks’ is a memory-making place for families driving to and from the mountains.
Matt’s Place Drive-In (2339 Placer St, Butte, MT; Owners: Robin and Brad Cockhill)
This whitewashed cottage with sky-blue trim opened in 1930 as a drive-in. The staff still deliver some meals curbside
to this day, and they remain cheerful curators of community, working the soda-fountain counter in a room lined with
midcentury-style wood paneling. The food does the roadside genre proud. Most everyone comes for the crisp, flattopgriddled
burgers. The masterpiece is the nut burger, crowned with crushed peanuts mixed into mayonnaise; the topping
melds with sliced pickles, tomatoes, and onions righteously. Served with homemade onion rings and a strawberry
milkshake made with house-churned ice cream, such a meal is blissful evocation of Montana’s culinary culture.
Bully’s Restaurant (3118 Livingston Rd, Jackson, MS; Owners: Tyrone Bully and Greta Brown Bully)
Tyrone Bully and his father, both trained as masons, built this mansard-roofed restaurant with their own hands. Pride
of place goes to a portrait of Civil Rights Movement martyr Medgar Evers. Bully’s opened as a snack shop. Nearby
factory workers flocked there for cold cut sandwiches. Regulars today include police officers, city council members,
state legislators, musicians who record at a nearby studio. Folks from all walks of life arrive for oxtails, neckbones,
macaroni and cheese, rice and gravy, and sweet potatoes. Tyrone Bully arrives at six each morning and stays until he
locks the doors at night. Bully’s serves three different greens daily—typically collards, turnips, and mustards—which
cooks strip, wash, and simmer in pork-infused broth. This is back-of-the-range cooking without peer.
Rancho de Chimayó Restaurante (300 Santa Fe County Rd 98, Chimayo, NM; Owner: Florence Jaramillo)
Florence and Arturo Jaramillo envisioned this restaurant as a living tribute to the heritage of New Mexico, a way to
honor the land and the culture. Arturo Jaramillo is a direct descendant of the first settlers to the Chimayó Valley in the
late 1600s, and the hacienda was the home of his grandparents. The menu has expanded over the years. At the core
are peerless regional dishes like carne adovada, tamales, posole, pinto beans, sopaipillas, flan, and natillas. The village
of Chimayó is celebrated for its particular cultivar of red chile. Ristras of those chiles dangle decoratively from the eaves
of the hacienda, a reminder of the import of local goods and local traditions.
To qualify for the America’s Classics Award, establishments must have been in existence at least ten years and be
locally owned. The honorees are selected each year by the James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant & Chef Awards subcommittee, a group composed of restaurant critics, writers, editors and other experts. The selection process begins
each fall with a public call for entries, allowing anyone the opportunity to suggest candidates for the awards.
This year, in recognition of past America’s Classics Award recipients, Rizzoli and the James Beard Foundation is
publishing James Beard’s All-American Eats: Recipes and Stories from Our Best-Loved Local Restaurants, a
photo and anecdote-filled cookbook featuring more than 75 recipes from eateries across the country that have been
honored with the America’s Classics Award.