Alamosa restaurant is one of 30 nationwide to earn the distinction
THIRTY new restaurants across America – from New York to Honolulu – have been named 2023 James Beard Awards semifinalists, and there’s one restaurant in particular on that nationally prestigious list that stands out.
Denise Vigil and her Friar’s Fork Restaurant in Alamosa are among the 30 best new restaurants named by the James Beard Foundation on Wednesday. It’s a mind-blowing recognition for the beautiful eatery on Alamosa’s Fourth Street, and a dream come true for Vigil, the Alamosa native who went off to become a chef, trained and worked in the country’s top restaurants under the finest chefs, and eventually came home to her Valley and did what she always wanted to do.
“We are competing against San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York. I take this as a win,” Vigil said upon receiving the news.
The Friar’s Fork is her creation in every way, with husband Nealson Villapando a willing sidekick. She stuccoed the walls to echo an Italian eatery. She chose the paint and did the painting. She selected the art, the glassware, and created two spaces, not one, to celebrate Alamosa and the San Luis Valley.
Now she’s put her hometown on the map with one of the highest honors a chef and her restaurant could want.
The Friar’s Fork and Sanctuary opened in July 2022 after Vigil and Villapando purchased and renovated the former St. Thomas Episcopal Church. How they stumbled onto the opportunity in itself was a blessing.
And now a James Beard Awards Semifinalist for Best New Restaurant.
See Vigil’s reaction here: