Brownsville bar named finalist in James Beard awards, Mission restaurant and South Carolina restaurant with Valley ties also recognized

2 months 5 days 10 hours ago Friday, March 31 2023 Mar 31, 2023 March 31, 2023 5:48 PM March 31, 2023 in News - Local

The James Beard Foundation announced the finalists for one of the nation's top hospitality industry awards.

Established in 1990, the James Beard Awards have recognized outstanding achievement in the culinary and food media industries.

To even be named a semi-finalist is a pretty big deal, and a Brownsville restaurant was the only named finalist in the Rio Grande Valley in the “Outstanding Bar” category.

A Mission restaurant and a South Carolina restaurant with ties to the Valley were previously named as semifinalists in the Best Chef categories.

Las Ramblas in Brownsville

As the cocktail and spirits director, Christopher Galicia at Las Ramblas at Market Square is taking the art of cocktails to the next level.

It's a cocktail bar that focuses on more than just their drinks.

“A lot of it is just making sure that we, as a crew and as a team, maintain the highest level of hospitality that we can,” Galicia said.

Galicia says he thinks that mindset is why they made the finalist list.

“Like, yeah, people can see you make the best drinks, or you maybe you do make the best drinks, but people come back more for the experience than they do for the one product,” Galicia said. 

It’s an experience that started as a way to try something new in an industry co-owner Michael Limas and his brother had no experience of their own with.

Whether or not they take home the title of outstanding bar this year, being named a finalist is just another step in creating new experiences for the RGV.

“We start to kind of hit our momentum and try and create more opportunities where we're evolving as an organization,” Limas said. “We have hospitality, hospitality group, and we have additional concepts.”

Comal 864 in Greenville, South Carolina

Brownsville native Dayna Lee-Marquez was previously named a semifinalist for the “Best Chef: Southeast” category in the James Beard awards.

Lee-Marquez is the owner and head chef at Comal 864, a restaurant she opened as a cure for homesickness.

“Growing up in Brownsville, it's who I am,” Lee-Marquez said. “It's shaped me, and I didn't realize how much I was gonna miss the food and the culture."

She started off with breakfast tacos wherever she could sell them, and her business grew quick.

For Lee-Marquez, making the semi-finalist list is more than just recognition. It's about putting Brownsville on the map.

“I'm not in the Valley anymore, it's my responsibility to make sure that I am part of making us look good,” Lee-Marquez said.

Ana Liz Taquería in Mission

A small restaurant, tucked away in the city of Mission, made the list of semifinalists for Best Chef in Texas.

Ana Pulido owns Ana Liz Taquería. It’s been open for a little under two years, but it’s already made a name for itself/

“I didn't even think I could be nominated, so it was a surprise,” Pulido said. “I'm super happy."

Customers at her taquería are met with a special rotating menu where everything is handcrafted.

Even tortillas are handmade every morning.

“We make everything in-house, the fajita we make it on the grill here every day.” Pulido said. “The carnitas, everything we do here is fresh."

Las Ramblas is heading to Chicago on June 5 where the 2023 Outstanding Bar will be named during the 2023 James Beard Foundation Awards ceremony.

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