COLORADO, USA — Colorado restaurateurs scored 18 semifinalist nominations for James Beard Awards Wednesday, getting two nods in the Outstanding Restaurant category and dominating the newly created Best Chef Mountain region category with fully half of the 20 nominations.

While the awards, considered the Oscars of the restaurant industry, will reduce the number of nominees in the coming months as it gets to the level of finalists, the broad swath of citations for Colorado chefs and restaurants is testament to the state’s growing national reputation.

>> The video above features Denver restaurant El Taco de Mexico, which won an America's Classics Award from the James Beard Foundation this year.

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Frasca Food & Wine of Boulder, which last year received the award for Outstanding Service, is a semifinalist this year for Outstanding Restaurant, putting the fine-dining destination in the realm of the 20 best eateries in America. And it is joined as a nominee by Denver’s Sushi Den, a long-time go-to spot for Japanese fish dishes in this area.

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Frasca owners Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson scored a second major nomination, getting a nod for Best New Restaurant for their upscale wine bar/restaurant Sunday Vinyl, which opened late last year at Denver Union Station.

Read more at the Denver Business Journal.