Known as the Oscars for the culinary set, the annual James Beard Awards showcase the best the food world has to offer. And in addition to paying tribute to the nation’s most talented chefs and restaurateurs, the competition also highlights the best restaurant design of the year. The category is split into two divisions—under and over 75 seats—with one additional restaurant also earning the annual distinction of Design Icon. In advance of the awards ceremony, held this year on May 6 in Chicago, here’s a primer on all the nominees.
75 Seats and Under
Otoko, Austin, Texas
A joint project between FÖDA Studio, Studio MAI, and Michael Hsu Office of Architecture, this miniscule 12-seat Japanese restaurant is tucked away inside the boutique South Congress Hotel. The vibe is Japanese minimalist: Materials used include burned cedar panels, redwood countertops, and copper accents. “These enable the customer to maintain a pure, driven focus on the soft texture and aroma of the food being prepared,” says Milo Garcia of Studio MAI.