Lula Cafe wins the James Beard Award for Outstanding Hospitality

The popular Logan Square restaurant was the lone Chicago winner.

Jeffy Mai
Written by
Jeffy Mai
Editor, Time Out Chicago
The interior of Lula Cafe.
Photograph: Kyle Kissel

Lula Cafe has received the 2024 James Beard Award for Outstanding Hospitality.

The farm-to-table pioneer, one of Time Out’s best restaurants in Chicago, was the city’s lone winner during the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards last night at the Lyric Opera House. The annual ceremony is one of the most prestigious honors in the restaurant industry, often referred to as the “Oscars of the food world,” with chefs from around the country flying in for a weekend of celebrations. 

Chef-owner Jason Hammel opened Lula Cafe in 1999, placing an emphasis on market-driven cooking. The all-day spot is popular for its brunch service and inventive menu that’s constantly changing to highlight what’s in season. Hammel is no stranger to the Beards, either—he was previously nominated for Best Chef: Great Lakes in 2019, 2020 and 2022. 

Coming into the evening, four Chicago nominees were up for awards. Jenner Tomaska of Esmé and Sujan Sarkar of Indienne were both up for Best Chef: Great Lakes, which ultimately went to Hajime Sato of Sozai in Clawson, MI. Elske’s Anna Posey was also a finalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker; the award was taken home by Atsuko Fujimoto of Norimoto Bakery in Portland, ME.

Take a look at the full list of winners below.

  • Outstanding Restaurant: Michael Rafidi, Albi, Washington, D.C

  • Outstanding Restaurateur: Erika Whitaker and Kelly Whitaker, ID EST (The Wolf's Tailor, BRUTØ, Basta, and others), Boulder, CO

  • Outstanding Restaurant: Langbaan, Portland, OR

  • Emerging Chef: Masako Morishita, Perry's, Washington, D.C.

  • Best New Restaurant: Dakar NOLA, New Orleans, LA

  • Outstanding Bakery: ZU Bakery, Portland, ME

  • Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker: Atsuko Fujimoto, Norimoto Bakery, Portland, ME

  • Outstanding Hospitality: Lula Cafe, Chicago, IL

  • Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program: Lula Drake Wine Parlour, Columbia, SC

  • Outstanding Bar: Jewel of the South, New Orleans, LA

  • Best Chef: California: Lord Maynard Llera, Kuya Lord, Los Angeles, CA

  • Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH): Hajime Sato, Sozai, Clawson, MI

  • Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (DC, DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA): Harley Peet, Bas Rouge, Easton, MD

  • Best Chef: Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI): Christina Nguyen, Hai Hai, Minneapolis, MN

  • Best Chef: Mountain (CO, ID, MT, UT, WY): Matt Vawter, Rootstalk, Breckenridge, CO

  • Best Chef: New York State: Charlie Mitchell, Clover Hill, Brooklyn, NY

  • Best Chef: Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT): David Standridge, The Shipwright's Daughter, Mystic, CT

  • Best Chef: Northwest & Pacific (AK, HI, OR, WA): Gregory Gourdet, kann, Portland, OR

  • Best Chef: South (AL, AR, FL, LA, MS, PR): Valerie Chang, Maty's, Miami, FL

  • Best Chef: Southeast (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV): Paul Smith, 1010 Bridge, Charleston, WV

  • Best Chef: Southwest (AZ, NM, NV, OK): Rene Andrade, Bacanora, Phoenix, AZ

  • Best Chef: Texas: Ana Liz Pulido, Ana Liz Taqueria, Mission, TX
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