This post has been updated.

Mixtli, the progressive Mexican restaurant that has earned its founder-chefs national recognition for years, has added two new accolades to its collection: James Beard Award nominations for Outstanding Restaurant and Outstanding Pastry Chef for Sofia Tejeda.

Mixtli and Tejeda are among eight San Antonio-area semifinalists named this year by the James Beard Foundation after a two-year hiatus. The 2022 national award semifinalists also include David Cáceres, co-founder of La Panadería, for Outstanding Baker, and High Street Wine Co. for Outstanding Wine Program.

Four San Antonio-area chefs have been nominated in the regional Best Chef: Texas category, including Steven McHugh, chef and owner of Cured; Esaul Ramos Jr., pitmaster and co-owner of 2M Smokehouse; John Russ, chef and co-owner of Clementine; and Ernest Servantes and David Kirkland of Seguin’s Burnt Bean Co.

McHugh has been a semifinalist in the Best Chef: Southwest category each year from 2016 to 2019 and again in 2020 when Texas got its own Best Chef category. 2M Smokehouse’s Ramos was also a semifinalist in 2020. That year, the foundation chose not to hold its final awards ceremony because of the pandemic, and it canceled the event in 2021 altogether.

Winners will be feted at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards on June 13 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

McHugh congratulated his fellow semifinalists, calling it “a privilege to be in their company.” The recognition of so much Texas talent, he said, is a “true testament to the talent and culinary creativity within our state.

“My partner Sylvia and I humbly share this dream with our family at Cured,” he continued. “Thank you to everyone for putting your trust in us.”

Mixtli chef and co-founder Diego Galicia called the nomination a “huge honor” and a validation of the work he and partner Rico Torres did to take care of their staff through the pandemic.

“We made a promise, a commitment when we closed back in March 2020 that we would always take care of our staff,” he said, including paying for everyone’s health insurance. “I can’t tell you how many times we opened, then closed, or pivoted — whatever we did, it was always with the team in mind.”

Galicia and Torres were semifinalists in the Best Chef: Southwest category in 2018; they were named best new chefs by Food & Wine the year before.

Tejeda joined the team as executive pastry chef in June of last year, one of the restaurant’s first hires at Mixtli’s Southtown location on South Alamo Street.

Mixtli’s team of chefs prepare food during dinner at Mixtli on Wednesday.
Mixtli’s team of chefs prepare food during dinner at Mixtli on Wednesday. Credit: Nick Wagner / San Antonio Report

“Our menu is a symphony,” he continued, “and dessert is the last note. That last part of the concert is the loudest, the fireworks, and that’s Sofia.”

Mixtli is the only Texas restaurant represented on the list of 20 semifinalists, he noted. “It’s just so awesome and so sweet. We are self-owned, no investors, just us and our families and our team.”

No matter what happens in Chicago in June he said, “our commitment is the same: to our team, our family and friends, our purveyors. Today, we’re just soaking it all in.”

James Beard, a chef, cookbook author and teacher, is the namesake and inspiration for the awards and foundation. The New York Times named Beard, who died in 1985, as the “Dean of American cookery” in 1954.

Tracy Idell Hamilton

Tracy Idell Hamilton is Story Editor for the San Antonio Report.