Rio Grande Valley taqueria owner named Best Chef: Texas at James Beard Awards

Ana Liz Pulido of Mission, Texas, won the regional Best Chef award at the 2024 James Beard Awards on Monday.

MISSION, Texas — A taqueria chef representing the Rio Grande Valley was awarded Best Chef in Texas in one of the nation’s most prestigious honors for leaders in the culinary and food industry on Monday.

Ana Liz Pulido, owner of Ana Liz Taqueria in Mission, Texas, won in the category for Best Chef in the Texas region at the 2024 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards, which were handed out at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

The JBF Awards honor excellence across the culinary industry from fine dining to casual small businesses in local communities, and annually recognize food industry leaders from across the country.

Ana Liz Taqueria takes pride in its authentic Mexican food and tortillas made from scratch using fresh masa made in-house.

In her acceptance speech Monday night, Pulido thanked her father who she says is her biggest inspiration. 

“I’m speechless. The first person I want to thank is my dad,” she said. 

In a post-awards interview Pulido added of her father, “He likes to cook, but he’d do it just in the house. He used to have some taquerias in Mexico that were closed down, and then he retired. He’s helping me now in the taqueria, so I’m so excited—this is for him, honestly.”

The taqueria chef said she’s proud to represent South Texas. To audible cheers Monday night, she gave the RGV a shoutout in her speech, say it’s an area that is often overlooked. 

“People go, ‘Where is South Texas?’ They go into San Antonio, but they don’t know about the Rio Grande Valley close to the border,” she said. “To be the first restaurant that is nominated (from there) and to represent, I’m so grateful.”

Ana Liz Taqueria was previously nominated in 2023 in the same category.

“Huge thanks to all our employees, my family, everyone who has supported us, our community. I’m so grateful,” said Pulido.

The voting process for the James Beard Awards involves multiple rounds of tastings from committee members who live in the requisite region, including food writers, critics and culinary instructors. 

For more information about the awards and to view the full list of winners, visit the website here.

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