PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The finalists for the James Beard Award were announced this week. Now, it's time to learn a little more about our local nominees.
Jessica Boyington digs into to some top-notch dishes at two special restaurants in this week's Top 6.
CANTINA LA MARTINA: Best Chef Mid-Atlantic
Cantina La Martina, a Mexican restaurant in Kensington, opened only a year ago, which makes them one of the youngest finalists on the list.
Puebla native, Dionicio Jiménez is nominated for "Best Chef Mid-Atlantic", and he and his fiancé, Mariangeli, could not be happier. All the dishes and décor is shipped right from Puebla, so it's as authentic a vibe as you can get!
Chef Jiminez said he learned to cook from watching his family, and that he's not a fan of measuring...he just "feels it."
So for me, it felt right to start with a heaping bite of freshly made guacamole! Next, a Chayote salad with salmon. (Chayote is a crunchy vegetable that tastes like a cucumber/apple combo, and it was delicious!)
He makes an amazing goat and ricotta mixiote, a traditional Mexican BBQ dish, and duck carnitas that you can't make yourself.
If you stop by, make sure you try some mezcal or a specialty tequila cocktail to wash all the goodness down.
FRIDAY, SATURDAY, SUNDAY: Outstanding Restaurant
Friday, Saturday, Sunday in Rittenhouse is no stranger to a James Beard nominating, but this time they're a finalist for "outstanding restaurant."
Chef Chad Williams created the magic menu and his wife Hanna is responsible for everything else, including the quirky, luxurious décor that made me feel like I was in an extra in an episode of White Lotus.
You can attend a 5 p.m. or 8 p.m. tasting of their New American cuisine, or pick some bites off their bar menu. Since the spot is increasingly more popular, I would suggest that you be prepared to wait for a bar seat since it only has about 15 of them. (If they had 100 seats though, I think they'd fill those too!)
From the tasting menu, I tried the chicken liver paired with apple butter and a French toast style brioche, the grilled quail with curry spice and coconut milk brown butter toasted bread, lamb belly with celery root puree and cherry sauce.
From the bar menu, I slurped up some crab spaghetti with toasted nori and a cocktail that turned out to be my favorite drink on earth. It's called the Assassin's Handbook, and it's a concoction of all things I thought I didn't like. (Jamaican rum, cognac, averna, mulled wine shrub, and habanero.)
That drink and the spicy crab spaghetti could very well be my last meal. But it wasn't the end...yet. I munched on some sweet potato ice cream and a handmade coffee rose canele for dessert.