3 Columbia-area restaurants have been named James Beard semifinalists, in the running for top food honors


Three Columbia-area restaurants and chefs have been named semifinalists for the prestigious USA Culinary Awards, marking the second year in a row that several Midlands culinary institutions have been recognized among the best in the country.

Lula Drake Wine Parlor, City Limits Barbeque and Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles are all semifinalists for the 2024 James Beard Award, it was announced Wednesday.

It’s Lola Drake’s second straight James Beard nod Tony’s Wine Bar Which opened seven years ago on Main Street in downtown Columbia. Owner Tim Gardner’s bar is up for this year’s James Beard Award for Best Wine and Other Beverage Program. Last year, Lola Drake advanced to the final round of nominees in the James Beard Outstanding Hospitality category.

Both City Limits and Kiki’s are in the running for the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southeast Award, with nods for chefs Robbie Robinson, Kitwanda “Kiki” and Tyrone Cyrus, respectively.

For 12 years, husband and wife Cyrus ran what was seen as a nobody The tastiest fried chicken operations in South Carolina. The first Kiki’s restaurant opened on Parklane Road in Columbia in 2012 and welcomed Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. Several years later, the business expanded by opening a second restaurant on Bower Parkway in the busy Harbison retail district. Kiki Cyrus was named a SC Chef Ambassador in 2018.

Robinson opened City Limits’ first permanent brick-and-mortar home in Cayce last year after operating as a food truck since 2016. The business quickly hit the ground running She has made a name for herself among barbecue connoisseurs Across the Midlands, he leans heavily into the trappings of Texas-style barbecue (brisket, beef ribs, etc.) and Carolina favorites (pulled and chopped pork, hash, etc.).

A total of 11 South Carolina restaurants and bars were selected as semifinalists James Beard Restaurant and Chef of the Year Awards, which is awarded each year “to recognize exceptional talent and achievement in the culinary arts, hospitality, media, and the broader food system, as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture in which everyone can thrive.” “, according to the James Beard Foundation. The awards are considered one of – if not the – highest culinary achievements in the country.

The other 2024 semifinalists from South Carolina are:

  • Distinguished Restaurateur: Kimball Brienza and Stephen Palmer, O-Ko Sushi, Charleston

  • Emerging Chef: Nico Cagalanan, Cultura, Charleston

  • Best New Restaurant: Scoundrel, Greenville

  • Distinguished Pastry Chef or Baker: Tania Cienfuegos Harris, Topsoil Kitchen and Market, Travelers Rest

  • Best Pastry Chef or Baker: Remy Vanfruck, La Patisserie, Charleston

  • Featured Bar: Edmund’s Oast, Charleston

  • Best Chef Southeast: Jack Larson, The Obstinate Daughter, Sullivan’s Island

  • Best Chef in the Southeast: James London, Chubby Fish, Charleston

In 2023, Columbia also boasted three James Beard semifinalists: Lula Drake, City Grit Hospitality Group (smallSUGAR, il Focolare Pizzaria and City Grit Market) and Spotted Salamander Cafe and Catering, with Lula Drake and City Grit advancing to the final round .

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