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Helen’s horiatiki salad and dolmades.

Back in September, we named Helen Greek Food & Wine Houston's best new restaurant of 2015. It looks like the folks at the James Beard Foundation might agree: Semifinalists for the 2016 James Beard Awards in the restaurant and chef categories were announced this morning, with Helen as the only Texas restaurant represented among 25 potential Best New Restaurant winners.

Owner and sommelier Evan Turner says he found out with a Twitter alert just after getting out of the shower. After telling us a few times that he was "speechless," he gathered himself enough to give credit to his 27-year-old chef. "I couldn't be happier and prouder for William Wright," he said. "It's an utterly, totally justifiable nod for someone who is going to be one of the greatest chefs the country has ever seen. This is all about him and his team."

Other Houston nominees were likely less surprised. Anvil Bar & Refuge was once again nominated for Outstanding Bar Program. Tracy Vaught of Hugo's, Caracol and Backstreet Café was recognized for Outstanding Restaurateur, as was local boy Ford Fry, best known for his Atlanta restaurants, but now also behind Houston's State of Grace. The Pass received two nods, for Outstanding Service and for chefs Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan in the Best Chef: Southwest categories. Other chefs named among the semi-finalists were Manabu Horiuchi of Kata Robata, Hugo Ortega of Caracol and Justin Yu of Oxheart

With so many nominees, Houston's chances for taking home a Beard award this year look pretty darn tasty. We'll find out on May 2.

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Editor’s Pick

Anvil Bar & Refuge

Cocktails 1424 Westheimer Rd

The bar that started the cocktail boom in Houston, Anvil is still the standard by which all other Houston cocktail joints are judged, slinging expertly made ...

Oxheart Closed

$$$$ American/New American 1302 Nance St.

When Justin Yu came back to Houston from Copenhagen and opened Oxheart in early 2012, detractors claimed that a multicultural, vegetable-focused, tasting men...

Editor’s Pick

Kata Robata

$$$ Japanese, Sushi 3600 Kirby Dr.

Kata Robata is, quite simply, the best sushi restaurant in Houston. Sitting at chef Manabu Horiuchi’s counter and ordering the omakase—Japanese for “I’ll lea...

Editor’s Pick

Provisions

$$$ American/New American 807 Taft St.

There’s nothing snooty going on at Provisions, as evidenced by the playful, boisterous dining room, walled with reclaimed basketball court flooring. In the o...

Editor’s Pick

State of Grace

$$$ American/New American, Southern 3258 Westheimer Rd.

Diners may know James Beard Foundation award nominee Ford Fry as an Atlanta chef, but he grew up in River Oaks. His high school is across the street from Sta...

Editor’s Pick

Backstreet Café

$$$ American/New American 1103 S. Shepherd

One of the main attractions at Backstreet Café on Shepherd near West Gray— helmed by chef Ortega of Hugo’s, along with his wife, Tracy Vaught—is the patio se...

Editor’s Pick

Caracol

$$$ Mexican/Tex-Mex 2200 Post Oak Blvd., Ste. 160

The cool crudos at Caracol, chef Hugo Ortega’s beguiling Galleria-area restaurant, may be the perfect antidote to the summer heat. Among the offerings: lime-...

Editor’s Pick

Hugo’s

$$$ Mexican/Tex-Mex 1600 Westheimer Rd.

Hugo’s chef/owner Hugo Ortega has been a finalist for the James Beard Award three times; no surprise, as his Montrose restaurant has been the city’s top choi...

Editor’s Pick

Helen Greek Food & Wine

$$$ Greek 2429 Rice Blvd.

Helen is fascinated by the shared passions of Greek and Texan cuisine—and there are many, it turns out, including a love for such ingredients as quail and ok...