The Best Meals Our Editors Ate This Year

From LA to Portland, Maine, we’re sharing our best-bites of 2022.

Whole Branzino from Calliope

Ben Hon

It should come as no surprise that the staff of Food & Wine spends a lot of time eating, drinking, and thinking about eating and drinking. And 2022 was a phenomenal year for doing just that. We celebrated 11 fantastic Food & Wine Best New Chefs, named 11 America's Next Great Food Cities with buzzing culinary scenes, and even named Locust in Nashville, TN as our restaurant of the year

While our team has enjoyed countless fabulous meals throughout the year, there are always a few star-studded restaurants that stand out. As we're celebrating the end of the year, here are some of our best-bites from 2022 that include a savory Lobster-Chicken Pot Pie and Blue Cheese Reshmi Kebabs.

Lobster Pot Pie from Bludorn

Michael Anthony

Lobster-Chicken Pot Pie from Bludorn (Houston, Texas)

“A lobster pot pie already sounds great, but this is so much more than that. Every detail of this savory pie is perfectly executed. It’s filled with huge, fresh lumps of lobster meat (I mean, you’re spooning out meat that’s still in the shape of an entire claw), plus crawfish, an underrated shellfish. Forget peas and carrots, poblano peppers and charred corn add a more complex, smoky flavor to the dish. And the pièce de résistance: your server will cut the giant pot pie (it’s big enough for two but you might not want to share) open tableside and stir a generous spoonful of lime-scented crème fraiche into the filling.” — Merlyn Miller, Social Media Editor

Jimmy Red Grits from Audrey (Nashville, Tennessee)

“Sean Brock’s temple of fine dining is a love letter to Appalachia. His soulful dish of ultra-creamy Jimmy Red grits topped with a sorghum-cured egg yolk gave me goosebumps.” — Hunter Lewis, Editor-in-Chief

Whole Branzino from Calliope

Ben Hon

Whole Branzino from Calliope (Chattanooga, Tennessee)

“In this new restaurant in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee, chef Khaled AlBanna is cooking food that speaks to his Jordanian heritage. "Chef knows where the line is — and every dish goes right up to the line, but doesn't cross it," our server told us. AlBanna's whole branzino, from the mashawi (grilled) section of the menu, made his point. The tender white fish was crisp-skinned and smoky from the grill, and was served with a luscious, creamy-textured smoked tomato tahini, matbucha (a Moroccan condiment consisting of cooked tomatoes and bell peppers), and a zesty, herbaceous chermoula. With every forkful you got a different balance of the juicy, mild-fleshed fish, and big, bright flavors from the sauces and condiments, and every bite would make you want to come back for one more.” — Karen Shimizu, Executive Editor

Kaiseki from Espacio (Honolulu, Hawaii)

“Can the ‘Best-Bite’ of the year be an entire meal? This was the case at Espacio, a luxury boutique hotel located on the iconic surfing beach of Waikiki. They take ‘room service’ a step further. Think multi-course, traditional Japanese Kaiseki dining experience prepared by a private chef in the comfort of your own suite. (Yes, every suite is equipped with a full kitchen.) Nine courses, starting with pristine uni topped soba noodles followed by sweet, barely poached tiger shrimp served with a silky miso-fish liver dipping sauce, buttery and tender abalone, the list goes on. The intentional pacing of the meal, serving the best first and saving the miso soup and rice for last, was an eye-opening, flip-the-script, experience.” — Paige Grandjean, Associate Food Editor

Pain Perdu from Saint John

Randy Schmidt

Pain Perdu, Saint John (New Orleans, Louisiana)

“Though the translation of this dish is ‘Lost Bread’, there is nothing that is lost on this dish. In fact, it puts you exactly where you want to be. It's no surprise that chowing down brunch in New Orleans isn't exactly the lightest fair. After indulging myself in what also happened to be the best Grillades & Grits of my life at Saint John, helmed by beloved New Orleans native chef Eric Cook, the idea of eating dessert was daunting. I can wholeheartedly say that not skipping out on dessert was one of the best decisions I made in 2022. This dish is a 21+ version of french toast with the fluffiest brandy milk- punch custard and dances that fine line of fluffy but substantial. The best way to describe it is if you inflated bread pudding with a bunch of air. I think about this bread at least two times a week.” — Andee McKenzie, Assistant Food Editor

Blue Cheese Reshmi Kebab from Daru (Washington D.C.)

“A combination of flavors you wouldn't expect to harmonize, the blue cheese reshmi kebab at Washington DC's newest buzzy restaurant is truly a standout. The menu is inventive and expansive with Nepalese chef Suresh Sundas delving deep into flavor profiles that speak to his childhood. There's really nothing on the menu worth skipping so be sure to bring your appetite, but the reshmi kebab is unlike anything I've eaten in years and balances a range of strong flavors in a way that melds into the perfect bite.” — Sean Flynn, Senior Editorial Director 

Motoyaki Oyster from Izakaya Minato

Elaine Alden

Motoyaki Oyster from Izakaya Minato (Portland, Maine)

“This broiled Maine oyster with miso custard and ponzu is a triumphant embodiment of a true best bite, one where every one of its flavors and textures is perfectly contained in a single salty, sweet and slippery mouthful. A marriage of briny oyster and wobbly miso custard, the oyster shells are quickly broiled to caramelize the custard, which makes for a sweet, almost brûléed top, while miso and a briny oyster offer a salty contrast. A bright kiss of citrusy ponzu brings it home. Every giddy diner at our table immediately wanted another. Instead, the convivial staff offered us the off-menu Uni Spoon (aka the SPOONI!) of fresh uni, raw quail egg, ponzu, and roe shooter, which immediately became my second best bite of the year.” — Melanie Hansche, Deputy Editor

Leeks a la Wedge at Gus's Chop House (Brooklyn, New York)

“Smart, and super delicious.” — Ray Isle, Executive Wine Editor

Iraqi Kubbeh Halab from Galit

Sandy Noto

Iraqi Kubbeh Halab from Galit (Chicago, Illinois)

“It's pretty much impossible to not give in to the urge to stuff yourself on the puffy, just-baked pita at Galit, especially when you swoosh it through the brisket-topped hummus. But if you know, you know — to save room for the Iraqi Kubbeh Halab. They look pretty simple, just a few fried rice patties shaped like footballs. But when you bite through the golden crust and taste the floral saffron notes of the rice and the braised lamb and harissa in the center, it's heaven. They are served with a sauce made from almonds and golden raisins, a tangy, sweet partner to one of the best bites in Chicago.” — Chandra Ram, Associate Editorial Director, Food

Paper Masala Dosa from Woodlands Indian Vegetarian Cuisine (Nashville, Tennessee)

“This was a year I wanted comfort food, pretty much around the clock, and no place delivered as powerfully as Woodlands Indian Vegetarian Cuisine, an exceptional restaurant located on the first floor of an unassuming condo building. My in-the-know Nashville friends drove me here and every dish I ate, from the gobi manchurian (a sweet-sour Indo Chinese appetizer of fried cauliflower) to the fiery, tomato-based rasam soup, was immaculately executed. But the shatteringly crispy, massive paper dosa, served with spiced potatoes and coconut chutney, is the exact dish of my dreams.” — Maria Yagoda, Senior Editor

Summer Squash with Seaweed from Claud

Karissa Ong

Summer Squash with Seaweed from Claud (New York, New York)

“The simple name belies the truly complex flavors and textures of the exceptional Summer Squash with Seaweed served during late summer at Claud in NYC. Smoke from the grill, nuttiness from brown butter, and a welcome minerality and fresh salinity from seaweed season a beautifully layered plate of thin shaved raw squash overtop chunkier round cuts of tender, juicy grilled bites underneath. The dish was more than I expected in the very best way, and I couldn't stop going back for more bites.” — Kelsey Youngman, Food Editor

Vinegar Chicken from Bernie's (New York, New York)

“I have multiple bottles of vinegar stashed in different locations of the office for acid-related lunch emergencies. I am a total fiend for a punch of sour to balance out meaty richness and the vinegar chicken at Bernie's in Brooklyn nails it every time. Pieces of perfectly roasted bone-in chicken are dressed with crushed olives and green peppers. Served on. a platter for sharing, the dish is a comforting combination of salty, savory, and sour.” — Lucy Simon, Editorial Assistant

Confit Chicken from Arnold's Country Kitchen (Nashville, Tennessee) 

“I'd never been to a meat and three before Arnold's Country Kitchen. As I walked through the cafeteria-style line, I let the owner, Kahlil Arnold, take the lead. I blinked and my tray was filled with more like meat and seven — styrofoam bowls filled with mac and cheese, teriyaki brussels sprouts, corn pudding, and brisket. I sat down and challenged myself to eat as much of the spread as possible (which was easier than you'd think, considering everything was outrageously delicious). When I was nearing the end, Kahlil dropped one more plate: a fried, confit chicken, smothered in Alabama white sauce, a mild, orange hot sauce, and some of its own braising liquid. That impossibly juicy chicken with its crispy, crunchy outside may have tipped my fullness scale over the edge, but it was somehow just as good (if not, better?) reheated on day two, the saucy coating marinating itself into the meat. Southern hospitality is real, y'all!” — Amelia Schwartz, Associate Editor

Maitake Mushrooms with Horseradish and Seaweed Butter from OStudio at Night

Courtesy of OStudio at Night

Maitake Mushrooms with Horseradish and Seaweed Butter from OStudio at Night (Brooklyn, New York)

“I love a creatively executed vegetarian main, and OStudio at Night chef Omri Silberstein's magical mushrooms (no, not that kind of mushrooms) blew me away. The horseradish added a perfect amount of bite and spice to umami mushrooms made even creamier and earthier thanks to seaweed butter. I'd eat three of these in a single meal alongside a glass of Beaujolais and be absolutely thrilled about it; and OStudio at Night is such a cozy, inviting space that it's not like anyone needs another reason to linger!” — Oset Babür-Winter, Senior Drinks Editor

Tasting Menu from Ikoyi (London, United Kingdom)

“In June, a funeral brought me back to London after a mere eight months, and I admit that I booked a second reservation at Ikoyi ⁠before flights or accommodations. If you have the privilege of fine dining's luster fading, this is one of those rare places that rekindles your sense of wonder over a seven-course tasting. Each bite is a whole new experience, from beautifully creative presentation on artful dishware to likely unfamiliar West African flavors and awe-inspiring textures. From the canapés to the petit fours, every course is unexpected and unforgettable, but those first bites were my favorite on both visits. Singular servings of bright ike jime trout, rich octopus entertwined with wild rice, and thick coins of asparagus stacked between a soft biscuit and crunchy sesame begin the soul-satisfying surprise and delight. Jeremy Chan is a legend: He introduced me to jollof rice, moin moin, and plantain prepared unlike anywhere else, and instilled belief that there are always new flavor combinations to experience.” — Ashley Day, Updates Editor

Japanese Wagyu Sando from Zuma

Ben Hon & JFOODO

Japanese Wagyu Sando with Japanese Milk Bread from Zuma (New York, New York)

“I think about Japanese milk bread quite a lot. With an almost whimsical pillowy-soft texture, this delicacy melts into lovely little pieces as you bite into it. Now topped with wagyu beef and white truffle, it’s the stuff that’s made of dreams and a luxurious bite that I can’t, and won’t stop thinking about.” — Alexandra Domrongchai, Editorial Fellow

Chuti hoppers and Entire Brunch Menu from Tuk Tuk Sri Lankan Bites (Brooklyn, New York)

“The only reason Sam Fore's chuti hoppers from the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen don't top my list of best bites is because this absolute force of nature served a full menu of her Sri Lankan specialties during a pop-up at Emma's Torch in Brooklyn this November, and I ate it all. Coconut curry deviled eggs, spiced cashews, fried chicken and grits, vadai with sweet chili sauce, beef curry, jackfruit curry, all mopped and sopped with pol roti in which I would so blissfully be mummified if given my druthers. Have you ever eaten something so good you want to punch a wall because the joy within you has built up to an unmanageable level? That was this meal and lucky Kentucky, Fore is busting out of the confines of the 10-by-10 tent in which she started her Tuk Tuk pop-up and her upcoming snack shop will have actual brick-and-mortar walls on which to bruise knuckles in Lexington in 2023.” — Kat Kinsman, Executive Features Editor

Tasting Menu at Sixty Three Clinton, But Especially the Breakfast Taco (New York, New York)

"I booked a dinner at Sixty Three Clinton on a random night as part of my effort to get out of the house more post-pandemic and was looking forward to it until the night of when an overwhelming migraine had me offering my table to anyone who wanted it. Lucky for me, none of my co-workers took me up on that offer and I got to experience what was a fabulous dinner that may or may not have cured my day-long head woes. Everything at Sixty Three Clinton was perfect; the ambiance was upscale without being stuffy, the staff was wonderful and so understanding of our late arrival (the traffic on the bridge between Brooklyn and Manhattan is no joke!), the martinis were filthy, and of course, the food was delightful. From congee to a Japanese sweet potato and ham and a hand roll full of caviar, each bite was better than the next—but what really set the tone for the entire meal was the very first one which consisted of a humble breakfast taco. Well, perhaps not so humble if you consider the trout roe, ajitama, and salsa verde, but a surprising stand-out amongst such strong dishes in a tasting menu nonetheless. The menu might change often at Sixty Three Clinton but as long as the breakfast taco is there, so will I." — Sam Gutierrez

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