The James Beard Foundation announced today that Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse, a 70-year-old family business in Dupont Circle that has become a landmark for D.C.’s LGBTQ community, has won this year’s America’s Classic award for the Mid-Atlantic region.
According to the Beard Foundation, the award honors restaurants with “timeless appeal” that “serve quality food that reflects the character of their communities.” Only two other restaurants in Washington lay claim to the America’s Classic title: Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street NW and the CF Folks lunch counter in Dupont, which shuttered last year.
The Beard Foundation only hands out five America’s Classic awards per year. Read about the other four winners here.
In a post for the Beard Foundation’s website, D.C.-based food critic and cookbook author David Hagedorn describes what makes Annie’s so special. Hagedorn, a committee member for the Beard awards, describes his experience at Annie’s during his first trip as a college freshman in the 1970s:
Most of the clientele were men, laughing, drinking, flirting; all of the staff were women. I felt like I had arrived in a place that was all mine, where the air was fresh and clear, even through a cumulus of cigarette smoke. It was freedom, the same feeling I would later experience when I stepped off the plane in Provincetown or the ferry in Fire Island for the first time. More than freedom, it was community.
George Katinas founded the restaurant in 1948 and ran the place with his two sisters, Sue and Annie. The latter presided over the venue until she died in 2013.
In addition to the atmosphere, Hagedorn commends Annie’s for its steaks, “fat and juicy” burgers, and fried clam strips.
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We're honored and excited to announce today's America's Classics winner: Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse in Washington, D.C.! George Katinas, a first-generation Greek-American and U.S. army veteran, opened the restaurant in 1948, and by the '60s it had earned a reputation as a welcoming space for the LGBTQ community. Through the years, Annie’s has remained a stalwart supporter of LGBTQ causes, among them the Gay Men’s Chorus, Whitman Walker Clinic, Food and Friends and the Pride parade. At Annie’s, the steaks are hefty, the burgers juicy and the cocktails strong, but what really keeps people coming back is the restaurant’s legacy of inclusiveness and respect. Head to our stories to learn more and huge thanks to @dannygrubs for helping us share this breaking #jbfa news!