A Ballard restaurant is in the running for "Best New Restaurant" from the prestigious James Beard Foundation.

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Sawyer, the eclectic bistro in Ballard known for its playful spins on comfort and lowbrow food such as jojo potatoes and oxtail nachos, is in the running for a James Beard Award for “Best New Restaurant” in the United States, one of the highest culinary honors.

“I’m blown away — very excited, very humbled,” said chef Mitch Mayers. “You hope it would happen but you don’t think it would happen. It’s very cool to be nominated.”

The surprise nomination is Mayers’ first, and it comes a year after another Seattle restaurant, JuneBaby, was also nominated. That Edouardo Jordan restaurant went on to win “Best New Restaurant” in the U.S.

Overall, there were few surprises as the usual suspects were named semifinalists.

Canlis, which won for best wine program two years ago, is up for best service, and its chef Brady Williams is in the running for best chef in the Northwest. Renee Erickson was nominated for “Outstanding Chef” and Ethan Stowell was for “Outstanding Restaurateur.” Both also made the list last year.

L’Oursin, which runs respected cocktail-and-wine programs, was nominated for “Outstanding Wine Program,” while No Anchor in Belltown nabbed a “Best Bar” nomination. No Anchor comes from the same team that stunned the bar world by winning “Best New Cocktail Bar” in America for its tiki-inspired bar Navy Strength at the prestigious “Tales of the Cocktail” last summer.

There are seven semifinalists outside of Seattle, including Jay Blackinton of Aelder/Hogstone’s Wood Oven on Orcas Island, who is in the running for “Rising Star Chef of the Year” and Junko Mine of Cafe Juanita in Kirkland, who is up for “Outstanding Pastry Chef.” That acclaimed Eastside restaurant from chef Holly Smith was also nominated for “Outstanding Restaurant.”

The list of local semifinalists is below. For the complete list of semifinalists, check here.

Winners will be announced May 6 in Chicago.

Best New Restaurant

Sawyer, Seattle

Outstanding Baker

Kit Schumann and Jesse Schumann, Sea Wolf Bakers, Seattle

Outstanding Bar Program

No Anchor, Seattle

Outstanding Chef

Renee Erickson, Bateau, Seattle

Shiro Kashiba, Sushi Kashiba, Seattle

Outstanding Pastry Chef

Junko Mine, Cafe Juanita, Kirkland

Outstanding Restaurateur 

Ethan Stowell, Seattle

Outstanding Restaurant

Cafe Juanita, Kirkland

Outstanding Service 

Canlis, Seattle

Outstanding Wine Program 

L’Oursin, Seattle

Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Producer

Dave Green, Skagit Valley Malting, Burlington

Mike Sauer, Red Willow Vineyard, Wapato, Yakima County

Mhairi Voelsgen, broVo Spirits, Woodinville

Rising Star Chef of the Year 

Jay Blackinton, Aelder/Hogstone’s Wood Oven, Orcas Island

Shota Nakajima, Adana, Seattle

Best Chef: Northwest

Logan Cox, Homer, Seattle

Eric Donnelly, RockCreek, Seattle

Eric Johnson, Stateside, Seattle

Taichi Kitamura, Sushi Kappo Tamura, Seattle

Colin Patterson, Mana Restaurant, Leavenworth, Chelan County

Mutsuko Soma, Kamonegi, Seattle

Brady Williams, Canlis, Seattle

Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi, Joule, Seattle