Highlands Bar and Grill Named Most Outstanding Restaurant in America at James Beard Awards

Highlands Bar and Grill Named Most Outstanding Restaurant in America at James Beard Awards

The wait is finally over for Birmingham's Highlands Bar and Grill, which tonight won the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award as the most outstanding restaurant in America.

Highlands previously had been a finalist for the award for nine years in a row before winning in its 10th year.

Executive chef Frank Stitt and his wife and co-owner Pardis Stitt accepted the coveted James Beard medallion at 2018 awards ceremony at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Highlands pastry chef Dolester Miles also won big earlier in the night, taking home the award for most outstanding pastry chef. Read more about that here.

This year's other finalists for outstanding restaurant were Balthazar in New York City, Canlis in Seattle, Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, Colo., and Quince in San Francisco.

Highlands joins a select group of previous outstanding restaurant winners that includes Alinea and the Frontera Grill in Chicago, Boulevard and the Slanted Door in San Francisco and the New York restaurants Daniel, Jean Georges, Eleven Madison Park and Gramercy Tavern.

Only two of the previous 27 outstanding restaurant winners have been from cities other than New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles or New Orleans.

The James Beard Awards are often called "the  Oscars of food," and the outstanding restaurant award recognizes "a restaurant in the United States that serves as a national standard bearer of consistent quality and excellence in food, atmosphere and service," according to the James Beard Foundation website. Only restaurants that have been open 10 or more consecutive years are eligible.

Birmingham has also been well-represented at the James Beard Awards in recent years.

Stitt was chosen the best chef in his region in 2001, and he was one of five finalists for the most outstanding chef in the country in 2008. Also, in 2011, he was inducted into the foundation's Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America, a group that includes Julia Child, Thomas Keller, Graham Kerr, Wolfgang Puck and Emeril Lagasse, among others.

In 2012, Chris Hastings of Birmingham's Hot and Hot Fish Club won a James Beard Award for best chef in the South, and in 2010, the Bright Star in Bessemer was named an "America's Classic" by the Beard Foundation.

Established in 1990, the James Beard Foundation Awards are named in honor of the late chef and cookbook author who is credited with introducing gourmet cuisine to America.

For a full list of this year's winners, go to www.jamesbeard.org/awards.