Five Cincinnati Restaurants Are James Beard Award Semi-Finalists

Some of the city’s best chefs, bakers, and restauranteurs are up for the most prestigious awards in the restaurant world.

Cincinnati’s culinary scene is making waves nationwide in the list of Beard semi-finalists this year. The James Beard Foundation’s ceremony is widely considered the Oscars of the restaurant world, and this year, five local chefs, bakers and restaurants are up for one of cuisine’s highest awards.

JULY 2022
Chef Jose Salazar of Mita’s.


In the Outstanding Restaurant category, which selects the best restaurant in the United States, Jose Salazar’s eclectic Latin-American eatery Mita’s has been nominated. It has regularly made our Best Restaurants list since its opening, and was #3 on our previous list in 2020. Jose Salazar and his restaurants have been nominated for the award several times already in previous years.

Nolia Kitchen, the New Orleans-style restaurant in Over-the-Rhine, is nominated for Best New Restaurant in the U.S. We’ve mentioned Nolia (and head chef Jeffery Harris) in our article about how culinary incubators are helping local chefs “make an indelible mark on our local and even the national food scene.”

Photograph courtesy Elaine Uykimpang Bentz

For the second year in a row, Elaine Uykimpang Bentz at Café Mochiko was nominated as the nation’s best Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker. We’ve written about Mochiko many a time since they were a twice-monthly pop-up in 2019 and opened a brick-and-mortar in 2021. They’re no stranger to awards, either—the East Walnut Hills restaurant was also recently featured on Bon Appetit’s “50 Best New Restaurants 2022” list and named as one of the “best bites of 2022” by Food & Wine magazine.

Two of the city’s most-beloved chefs were also nominated for Best Chef: Great Lakes (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio) award. Francisco Alfaro of Mid-City, which we wrote served “timelessly tasty eats,” and Hideki and Yuko Harada of Kiki, where we said you should “go for the ramen, stay for everything else,” were named as two of the best in the region.

Finalists will be announced on March 29, and winners will be celebrated at the Lyric Opera in Chicago for the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards Ceremony on June 5.

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