Tequila cocktail at Superior Motors. Photo by Jennifer Baron.

“The restaurants we fell in love with this year were the ones that offer a rich portrait of the people who made them. They remind us that a good meal can capture the spirit of a place as sharply as a postcard.”

That was the introduction to Food & Wine Magazine’s Restaurants of the Year for 2018. Kevin Sousa’s exceptional Superior Motors in Braddock made that list, praised for its food, decor and community-driven mission.

The magazine didn’t just acknowledge Sousa’s complicated road to success. They credited his determination and commitment in the face of challenge.

Summarizing a saga that many Pittsburghers have followed closely, the magazine wrote that “Superior Motors was a big idea. And big ideas take time—in Sousa’s case, five years. In 2014 he set a Kickstarter record for the most-funded restaurant campaign, raising $310,225. But then construction costs built up, and the money ran out. The project seemed to founder. Finally, last spring, there were signs of life: an Instagram photo of a brick hearth; another of new kitchen equipment. Funding came through, and on July 15, 2017, Sousa opened the doors to Superior Motors, a poured-concrete temple built on the bones of a former Chevy dealership on Braddock’s main drag.”

Given that long road, this national recognition is even sweeter.

“For so long I wasn’t able to celebrate successes; I just had to apologize for failures,” Food and Wine quotes Sousa. “Now I am surrounded by amazing people who want to be in Braddock, who are even moving here to be a part of this. It feels really, really good.”

The magazine did devote a few words to praising Sousa’s cooking, calling out “a simple halibut seared off in the gut of the hearth” and “a juicy slice of pork loin cut with trout roe’s salty pop.”

To that, we’d add praise for the restaurant’s exceptional cocktails and the powerful interior design and architecture.

Kidsburgh Editor Melissa Rayworth specializes in stories about culture, gender, design and parenting. She has written for a variety of outlets in the U.S. and Asia, and is a frequent contributor to The Associated Press. Find a selection of her work at melissarayworth.pressfolios.com.