St. Louis Restaurants Clean Up on James Beard Semi-Finalist Nods


Vicia could be a big, big winner in this year's biggest food awards — the Central West End restaurant is a semi-finalist in the James Beard Foundation's best new restaurant category.

For the record: That's best new restaurant in the nation — putting Michael and Tara Gallina's eatery in extremely rarified company. It's one of just five Midwestern restaurants in the category.

And Vicia isn't the only local restaurant vying for national honors. It's joined by downtown fine-dining bastion Tony's, a semi-finalist in the "outstanding service" category.

In the Best Chef: Midwest category, St. Louis is also well-represented. Lona Luo of the fast-casual Lona's Lil Eats is a finalist, as are Michael Randolph (Privado), Ben Grupe (Elaia) and Ashley Shelton (Sardella).

The semi-finalists were chosen out of 23,000 entries — and will be winnowed down further with the selection of nominees, a narrower list of finalists that comes out next month.

The winners are announced at a grand ceremony in Chicago on May 7. In a growing sign of the city's food excellence, St. Louis can boast the Best Chef: Midwest winner for the last two years running — Gerard Craft won for Niche in 2016 and Kevin Nashan for Sidney Street Cafe in 2017. Could we take home the trophy again in 2018? Chefs Luo, Grupe, Randolph and Shelton, it's all on you!

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