James Beard Foundation Announces Brownsville’s Vera’s Backyard Bar-B-Que as 2020 America’s Classics Award Honoree
The James Beard Foundation announced today Brownsville’s Vera’s Backyard Bar-B-Que as one of the six recipients of its 2020 America’s Classics Award. Over the course of this week, the James Beard Foundation will reveal two honorees daily via the Foundation’s Instagram page in partnership with a selection of prominent food industry friends of the Foundation located in each of the honorees’ regions.
The America’s Classics Award is given to locally-owned restaurants that have timeless appeal and are beloved regionally for quality food that reflects the character of its community. This year’s honorees join the ranks of over 100 restaurants across the country that have received the Award since the category was introduced in 1998. They will be celebrated at the annual James Beard Awards Gala on Monday, May 4, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Vera’s Backyard Bar-B-Que (2404 Southmost Blvd, Brownsville, TX; Owner: Armando Vera)
Armando “Mando” Vera and his family practice a near-lost art in South Texas: barbacoa de cabeza (barbecued cow’s head) buried underground in a brick-lined pit and smoked for up to 12 hours. The tradition stems from the region’s 19th century vaquero-cowboy culture; Vera’s father opened a restaurant serving the specialty in 1955. Barbacoa is for weekend feasts. Customers request meat by the pound or half-pound (cachete, or cheek meat, is a rich and popular cut) and then build their own tacos with tortillas, homemade garnishes, onion, and cilantro that come with each order. Brownsville is a four-hour drive from San Antonio, the closest major Texas city, but the chance to savor this disappearing border-town delicacy merits a pilgrimage.
About the James Beard Foundation
The James Beard Foundation’s mission is to promote Good Food for Good™. For more than 30 years, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization has highlighted the centrality of food culture in our daily lives. Through the James Beard Awards, unique dining experiences at the James Beard House and around the country, scholarships, hands-on learning, and a variety of industry programs that educate and empower leaders in our community, the Foundation has built a platform for chefs and asserted the power of gastronomy to drive behavior, culture, and policy change around food. To that end, the Foundation has also created signature impact-oriented initiatives that include our Women’s Leadership Programs, aimed at addressing the gender imbalance in the culinary industry; advocacy training through our Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change; and the James Beard Foundation Leadership Awards, which shine a spotlight on successful change makers. The organization is committed to giving chefs and their colleagues a voice and the tools they need to make the world more sustainable, equitable, and delicious for everyone. For more information, please visit jamesbeard.org and follow @beardfoundation on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.