The Best Restaurant Meals of 2022, According to BA Staff

Standout ramen and pastries in Cincinnati, super-fresh seafood in South Carolina, seriously good black garlic noodles in Hawaii, and so much more.
The Best Restaurant Meals of 2022 According to BA Staff
Bon Appétit

That's all, 2022. From the good (most popular recipes!) to the bad (least-favorite food trends!), we’re spending December looking back. Head here for all the stories in BA’s year in review.

This was a spectacular year for eating out. My respect for how determined and creative restaurants remained through a triple wallop of pandemic, inflation and, you know, everything else has only been bolstered by how thoroughly good restaurants were in 2022. There was so much talent on display. That included new spots, of course, but also the longstanding favorites that seem to only get better. Sure, we always end the year with some grumbling and complaints: We’re evenly split on whether QR code menus are great or egregious, and there’s no denying that getting a reservation at a favorite restaurant these days can feel like camping out for a sneaker drop. 

For the most part though, being in restaurants this past year just made us happy. So to cap things off, we’re taking a look back at some of our staff’s very favorite meals of 2022. Those included smoky carne asada tacos in Tucson, tableside martini service in Miami (we love a show!), unbeatable pizza in Brooklyn, and a lot more. —Elazar Sontag, restaurant editor

Tacos Apson

6741 N Thornydale Rd #121, Tucson, AZ

Food writer John Birdsall recommended Tacos Apson to me when I passed through town this year, and my husband and I loved it so much that we went twice. The low-key counter-service restaurant offers one of the city’s specialties: smoky carne asada on flour tortillas. I don’t eat a lot of beef these days, but this was the order here—chewy, slightly smoky, well-seasoned beef, on thin and pliable flour tortillas. On our first visit we arrived late at night, when teenagers and families were lining up to get their fix, and it made me jealous that there’s not more of a flour tortilla culture in New York, where I live. Then again, what a treat to eat at a restaurant like Tacos Apson, a place that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in the country. —Serena Dai, editorial director

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3905 W 6th St, Los Angeles

There was a point this year when I couldn’t go a week without hearing about Kinn, a small, understated spot in LA's Koreatown. Kinn serves modern Korean cuisine, with a rotating tasting menu that features dishes that sound simple but leave you thinking about the meal long after it's over. So by the time I locked in a reservation slot for their tasting menu, I was pumped. The first dish slid in front of me—steamed abalone served in its shell with a silky potato sauce—and it was not only beautifully crafted, but so extremely delicious. Next was a tomato perilla salad with burrata, roe, and a basil sorbet. Wild. Dish after dish, chef Ki Kim utilized ingredients I recognized but in combinations I’ve never experienced before. A restaurant that lives up to all the hype is rare, and Kinn is absolutely one of those places. —June Kim, head of video, BA and Epicurious

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Sunny’s Steakhouse

7357 NW Miami Ct, Miami

I went to Sunny’s with my parents to celebrate their wedding anniversary, and we quickly decided there is no other restaurant in Miami (or perhaps the world) better for a celebration. When I walked into Lot 6, the once-empty lot in the Little River neighborhood that now houses Sunny’s, the first thing I noticed was the massive banyan tree at its center. The almost celestial nature of the experience doesn’t end until you step back onto the street. We started with tableside martini service and moved on to splendidly fluffy Parker House rolls, Caesar salad smothered in parmesan, and the freshest striped bass crudo. For the main course we ordered a dry-aged rib eye with house-made hot sauce and potato butter (essentially mashed potatoes but with the butter-to-potato ratio reversed). In this buzzing oasis off a quiet street, you feel as if you’ve been transported to a better place—it’s the kind of meal you never want to end. Sunny’s has been closed since the summer, but I can guarantee that as soon as I hear word of a reopening, I’ll be on the first flight back to Miami. —Kate Kassin, editorial operations associate


The Westin Ka'anapali, 2365 Kaanapali Pkwy, Lahaina, HI

My culinary expectations for my family vacation to Maui were low. Not because there isn’t great food on the island—looking at you, Tin Roof and Sam Sato’s—but because we were eight adults, two kids, and one rented Chevy Impala staying near the resorts of Kā‘anapali. I steeled myself for a week of 5 p.m. *White Lotus–*style hotel dinners. But a hot tip led us to book a reservation at Waicoco, the newly opened restaurant at the Westin Kā‘anapali. The chef, Chris Kajioka (who co-owns the restaurant with Mourad Lahlou of San Francisco’s Aziza and Mourad), did tours at Restaurants You Have Heard Of on the mainland before returning home to Hawaii to open his own James Beard–recognized spots. That type of chef-y tasting menu approach can be hard to translate to a hotel restaurant the size of a football field, but Kajioka and his team killed it. We ate “ohana style,” sharing family-style platters of warm Hawaiian rolls flecked with crystals of salt, rosy pink seared ahi, and umami-rich black garlic Sun Noodles. The whole family was happy, from the four-year-old (who bogarted the rolls) to the 74-year-old (who loved the mai tais). Resort dining during the high season is usually not something to write home about, which is exactly why Waicoco was among my most memorable meals of the year. —MacKenzie Chung Fegan, senior commerce editor


1001 N Winchester Ave, Chicago

As someone who can’t make it very far into the day without caffeine, I find myself pretty allergic to breakfast experiences that involve long lines. But the wait (down the block) for breakfast at Kasama in Chicago was worth every minute, and I’d do it again for a taste of that garlicky sinangag with tocino. The Filipino-inflected menu is full of incredible breakfast sandwiches (I lucked into a few bites of the longanisa, egg, and cheese) and thoughtful pastries, like a miniature ube and huckleberry-filled take on a gâteau Basque. Next time I go I’ll nab a table inside the cozy, inviting restaurant for some coffee and savory treats and then get as many pastries as I can carry to go. —Anna Hezel, Epicurious senior editor

Myers + Chang

1145 Washington St, Boston

I went to Boston with my family for my brother’s college tour weekend, and I was determined to squeeze in a few good meals while there. We ended up at Myers + Chang, and it’s a rare place that all four of us were equally excited to eat at. Walking into chef-owner Joanne Chang’s restaurant and being warmly greeted felt like being welcomed into a friend’s home for a dinner party. Ravenous after traveling, we ordered nearly the entire menu: lemony shrimp dumplings, crackly scallion pancakes, wok-roasted lemongrass mussels, crispy tofu with pickled jalapeño, chewy udon noodles in a black bean oyster sauce (that had us savoring the dregs of sauce at the bottom of the bowl with a spoon). Every dish was a highlight, and there wasn’t a single miss in our order. Warm, bustling, and with service that gives you just the right amount of time to linger between small plates, it’s the kind of place that encourages unfettered laughter and easy conversation. I can’t wait to visit again. —Antara Sinha, associate cooking editor

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Dear Annie

1741 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA

When I made plans to meet up with friends at a new wine bar in Cambridge, I thought I knew exactly what I was getting: small plates; chic, Instagrammable setting; a thoughtful and fun, short but rotating wine list. I did not expect to be so wowed by how it all came together that I’d demand my husband rearrange our plans for the next day so he too could experience it before we left town. Dear Annie, the newest spot from the wine experts and lovers at sister bar Rebel Rebel, floored me. With order-at-the-bar casual vibes and communal seating, the atmosphere is as warm and bright as the pescatarian menu. The menu features shareable small plates that rotate often, such as a house-preserved fish and seafood sausage—the most fun version of a hot dog I’ve seen all year. Go early so you can get your choice of seats and spend time chatting up the servers behind the counter, who will be glad to pour you a couple tastes of wine to make sure you find something you like. And trust me, you will. —Sonia Chopra, executive editor

Liv Breads

Millburn, NJ (multiple locations)

When I moved to New York City, I never thought I’d be taking New Jersey Transit back to my hometown to get my pastry fix. Yet nine months later I’m trekking out to the suburbs just so I can have breakfast at Liv Breads, a kosher bakery in downtown Millburn, New Jersey. While the plush challah deserves an honorable mention, the country sourdough is the tangy, crackly-crusted bread of my dreams. If you don’t want to commit to a whole loaf, try one of the rotating daily sandwiches, like a custardy egg sando with chimichurri and greens, pressed between a pillowy brioche bun. Then there is the matter of pastries. You could go for the glossy chocolate-striped croissants (and you would not be remiss—they’re technically flawless), but I suggest pocketing a few crescents of rugelach for later. The paper-thin pastry wrapped up with buttery dark chocolate spread is the bakery’s undeniable sleeper hit, best enjoyed with a hot, well-spiced chai. My favorite thing about Liv is that each beverage comes with a sample of something sweet—whether it’s a butterscotchy chocolate chip cookie segment or a bite of rugelach, that’s up to the fates. If you’re not local, you can get your sweets shipped nationwide via Goldbelly. But if you, like me, are nearby, the trip is definitely worth it. –Zoe Denenberg, associate SEO editor

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Fini Pizza

305 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn

Williamsburg has plenty of pizza options, but sometimes you don’t need an entire pie (like the delicious Neapolitan ones at Leo’s) and you want something other than Joe’s. That’s where Fini comes in. This slice shop on Bedford Avenue is helmed by Sean Feeney, co-owner of the impossible-to-get-into Italian restaurant Lilia. On my first visit I ordered a slice complete with slivers of long hot pepper and shallot, and another slice of a white pie topped with fontina, Parmesan, and mozzarella and served with a big lemon wedge. The pepper brought a kick that made my tastebuds sizzle, and the lemon on the white pizza just felt right. There’s wine and beer, but I opted for the sugar rush of a Mexican Coca-Cola to wash it all down. —Parisa Kosari, creative producer

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The Four Horseman

295 Grand St, Brooklyn

After hearing about wine bar and restaurant Four Horseman for years, I finally made it there recently. The restaurant itself is small, with close-together tables that make you feel as if you’ve been transported to Europe. The thoughtfully designed and curated menu changes often, with the day’s date printed at the top to prove it. After we were seated and immediately overwhelmed by the fantastic natural wine selection, a waiter brought a few to try—the kind of service you don’t forget. My friend and I ordered plenty of dishes to share, including charred Jimmy Nardello peppers, ricotta and corn agnolotti, and a grilled piece of toast topped with paper-thin slices of juicy tomato. I’ll never forget the first bite of a wonderfully flaky and expertly butterflied whole trout, hiding a bed of creamy slaw beneath. We ended the meal with a pavlova and a slice of Basque cheesecake. The dishes here are simple and cooked using the best ingredients. It’s everything I want from a dining experience. —Kelly Janke, director of culinary production

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Cafe Ubani

37A Bedford St, NYC

I strolled into Cafe Ubani with no particular expectations and was humbled. The acharuli khachapuri (a Georgian cheese and egg bread) was a touchdown. The egg was cooked just right, the bread was fluffy, and the ratio of egg to cheese to bread was 10/10. I even FaceTimed my mother (who, obviously, makes the best acharuli khachapuri) for approval and she was impressed. I also ordered shkmeruli, a creamy chicken dish cooked in butter, garlic, milk and herbs, along with a generous platter of vegetarian sides that were all delightful. Most impressive was the portion size relative to the price. We ordered a mountain of food and between the four of us we ended up paying $40 each. It was a lovely taste of home. —Dimitri Lazarashvili, associate producer

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Patacon Pisao

New York City (multiple locations)

This bright blue Venezuelan food truck sits on 202nd Street in Inwood and serves hearty patacones (fried green plantains) and extra cheesy cachapas (tender griddled corn cakes). Patacon Pisao has locations in the Lower East Side and Elmhurst too, but the Inwood truck is the original. It’s been open since 2005, and I finally got a chance to try it for myself this year. I ordered the patacon paisa, a sandwich that smashes grilled steak, grilled chorizo, egg, and avocado between two enormous discs of fried plantain. That was filling on its own, but I had to double back for a cachapa. Between the sweet corn crepe and mozzarella stuffing, it was an ideal sweet-savory balance. I craved another one, but thankfully made myself walk away before I blacked out and woke up surrounded by cachapas, clutching an empty wallet. —Karen Yuan, lifestyle editor

White Restaurant at the Urban Hawker food hall

135 W 50th St, NYC

When Urban Hawker first opened, I went to the new Singaporean food hall twice in one week. It reminded me of the stalls I used to frequent when we visited family in Malaysia and Singapore as a child. The one dish from the food hall that really made me feel like I was back in Singapore was the bee hoon from a stall called White Restaurant. The saucy noodles have a distinct, rich flavor from a chicken broth that’s simmered for eight hours. The noodles are paired with the typical accompaniments of shrimp, sotong (squid), eggs, and chai sim (a vegetable similar to bok choy). It’s a dish I’ll be sure to go back to when I’m missing Singapore. —Urmila Ramakrishnan, associate director of social media


853 Onderdonk Ave., Queens

I recently went to this neighborhood-favorite restaurant in Ridgewood with a group of friends and became so instantly obsessed that I still scroll back through my phone to look at pictures. We ordered the black rum, cognac, and falernum cocktail to start, which arrived in an adorable ceramic fish bowl with sharing straws. The sun was setting just as our appetizers landed: wood-fired polenta bread (an impossibly pillowy pocket of dough) topped with Calabrian chili butter, silky rounds of house-made mortadella, and a pool of stracciatella cheese doused in olive oil and sumac. All of the mains were noteworthy, but I crave the lasagna verde bolognese most of all. Made with just two sheets of delicate, bright green dough and a thin layer of perfectly seasoned meat, it’s best consumed at a sidewalk table while local dogs trot by. —Ali Francis, staff writer

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Cafe Mochiko

1524 Madison Rd., Cincinnati

After the Asian American café and restaurant Cafe Mochiko landed on BA’s 50 Best New Restaurants list, I knew my husband and I needed to go on our next visit to his family in Cincinnati. We first went for dinner and there truly wasn’t a bad bite. The small, casual sit-down dinner is surprisingly shareable. The chili miso udon was a slippery warm-spicy pleasure to eat. And the shitake don (a bowl of rice topped with tamago and shiitake and oyster mushrooms) featured velvety-soft egg, chewy mushrooms, and perfectly cooked rice. I don’t eat beef, but my husband ordered the Cincinnati-style chili ramen, and, in his words, “It made me want to slurp from the bowl like it was cereal milk.” Of course we went back the next morning for pastries and milk tea. The pandan doughnut was the best of the bunch, but you won’t hear me complaining about the ube halaya croissant or the Thai tea snickerdoodle. —Urmila Ramakrishnan, associate director of social media


2009 Sansom St., Philadelphia

My night at Wilder was marked not by just the phenomenal food but also the comforting feeling of normalcy that surrounded it. Nobody was sick at home, not even a sniffle. We didn’t struggle to find a babysitter. We walked through the glowing lights of Rittenhouse Square as close to worry-free as we get and into Wilder’s vibrant interior. The bar hummed all night, and the dress code ranged from Eagles game jerseys to full cocktail party attire. Surprises awaited in every dish: Calabrian chile and blood-orange-laced crudo, the best Parker House rolls I have ever had, served with olive butter and pastas that felt like an event in themselves, and bowls of bucatini and malfadini so generous I thought we might have stumbled into a red-sauce joint. The pizza was another revelation. They could have devoted the entire kitchen to making their crisp sourdough pies and I wouldn’t have thought less of the place. The best thing of all is that everyone there looked like they were having a great time. A normal, great, delicious time. —Chris Morocco, test kitchen director 

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1914 E. 6th St., Ste. C, Austin

There’s a reason Canje has topped many best new restaurant lists, including our own. My partner and I celebrated our five-year anniversary there this year, and, reader, it did not disappoint. The food was amazing, the vibes were more party than restaurant, and it was clear that every staff member we talked to was passionate about the menu. We started our meal with the smoked avocado escabeche and a dish of pink pineapple mixed with guava, passion fruit, and basil, both of which had a balance of creamy, fruity, and savory. They were so surprising, I felt like Remy trying strawberry and cheese together for the first time. It was no surprise that the mains were all excellent as well, but the wild boar pepper pot and striped bass with rum butter sauce were true standouts. The coconut tres leches and plantain cake were a great way to top off the meal. I also have to give a shoutout to the Love Drug, a smoky mezcal-based take on an old-fashioned, which I couldn’t help but reorder a few times through the night. —Olivia Quintana, associate social media manager

Genesis Le Bleu Waters

6005 Center Station Court, Ste. H, Ravenel, SC

I wasn't prepared to have such an emotional experience when I walked into Genesis Le Bleu Waters, a small seafood restaurant in a Ravenel, South Carolina, strip mall. The space was aptly water-themed, with fish painted on the sea blue walls, and a boy’s bike—adorned with little shells—hanging near the counter. That bike, I learned as I ordered, belonged to Genesis, the son of owner Jennifer Holmes. Every element of this restaurant is a tribute to her son, who drowned in a swimming accident in 2014. Since then Holmes has dedicated herself to building this restaurant into a water-themed altar of sorts to her child. Outside of this restaurant, Holmes championed the creation of her community’s first public pool and advocates for water safety and swimming skills. Inside these walls, Holmes displays a deep and profound respect for the sea: a generous mound of seafood rice decorated with big chunks of shrimp and diced pepper, tasting more deeply of the ocean than seemed possible. Crab cakes packing so much meat they barely held their shape. Delicate fillets of white fish dusted in flour and fried, and briny oysters dipped in batter and dropped in the hot oil. A restaurant doesn’t have to tell a profound story to be this good. But when it does, it’s impossible to forget. —Elazar Sontag, restaurant editor

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