Our Restaurant Editor Shares the Best Bites She Ate in 2022

The best things Restaurant Editor Khushbu Shah ate in a year of coast-to-coast scouting.

Flash-Fried Artichoke Hearts
Photo: Eric Wolfinger

Dessert of the Year

Banana Pudding Tiramisu
Liam Brown / Cento

Banana Pudding Tiramisu, Cento, Los Angeles

The best moments in life are when you realize you don't have to choose between two things you love, and this banana pudding tiramisu is exactly one of those moments. The dessert is a dramatic one: It arrives encased in a sleeve of acetate. When the sleeve is removed, a cascade of whipped banana pudding dusted with cocoa powder flows down the sides of the tiramisu, drenching the layers of Kahlúa-soaked Nilla Wafers. You'll want to have your camera at the ready when it arrives.

Best Whole Fish

Whole Striped Bass with Fish Paste
Adam Friedlander

Whole Striped Bass with Fish Paste, Wenwen, Brooklyn

Whole fish are having a moment on restaurant menus these days. Chef Eric Sze's take arrives gilded with cilantro and floating in a sauce that is simultaneously funky, sweet, punchy, and sharp in every good way, thanks to red vinegar, fish paste, lard, and black sugar.

The Ultimate Salad

Ginger Salad
Paprika Studios

Ginger Salad , Mister Mao, New Orleans

This salad is a celebration of bold flavors—thanks to the prodigious use of julienned raw ginger and a tangy tamarind dressing—and the joys of lots of texture, with toppings like fried chickpeas and red lentils, roasted peanuts, and other "crunchy bits."

Most Super Bowl

Cincinnati Chili Ramen
Courtesy of Cafe Mochik

Cincinnati Chili Ramen, Cafe Mochiko, Cincinnati

It's hard to rework a city's most iconic dish without it feeling kitschy, but with springy housemade ramen noodles, a deeply savory chili broth, and a fistful of thinly shredded cheddar, this riff makes you think maybe Cincinnati chili should have been a bowl of ramen all along.

Mash-Up of the Year

Congee Pot Pie
Shawn Pham Jr.

Congee Pot Pie , Yangban Society, Los Angeles

One of my life theories is that the best dishes combine carbs with more carbs. This creamy congee topped with a disk of buttery biscuit dough, from 2019 F&W Best New Chef Katianna Hong, is all the proof I need.

Dumplings with the Most Moxie

Bison Momo
Calvin Kim

Bison Momo , Daru, Washington, D.C.

There's a lot to love at Daru, the new restaurant from Nepalese chef Suresh Sundas, but few things rival the momos, which are expertly folded dumplings bursting with tender bison meat that's amped up with sesame, Szechuan peppercorns, and plenty of scallion.

Most Joyful Bakery Surprise

Slice of cake
Kyle Johnson

Slice of Cake, Deep Sea Sugar & Salt, Seattle

You know it's going to be good when you can smell the bakery from blocks away. They specialize in giant slices of layer cakes, and, somehow, every flavor manages to have the most tender crumb and correct cake-to-frosting ratio.

Best Bread Order in the Country

Courtesy of Canje

Roti, Canje, Austin

We often wax poetic about croissants, but 2021 F&W Best New Chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph's roti is one of the most buttery, flaky breads in existence. The Guyanese-style flatbread is perfect for sopping up anything on the menu, but it's also spectacular on its own.

Shellfish to Be Selfish About

Clams in Chile Butter
Amanda Eats It All

Clams in Chile Butter, Dame, New York City

All the seafood dishes are brilliant at Dame, but the platter of garlicky clams steamed in orange wine and then drenched in a mixture of good butter, housemade yuzu kosho, and Calabrian chile paste is so very satisfying, you should order extra—you won't want to share.

Our Favorite Plate of Veggies this Year

Flash-Fried Artichoke Hearts
Eric Wolfinger

Flash-Fried Artichoke Hearts Mother Wolf, Los Angeles

The crisp artichoke hearts arrive stacked neatly on the plate, like a perfect, gently fried bouquet sent by a loved one. The dish is lightly dressed with salsa di acciughe (a simple anchovy sauce), a generous squeeze of lemon, and a few mint springs for freshness.

Sleeper Food Cities of the Year

There were more best bites in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul than anywhere else our restaurant editor ate this year.

Most Memorable Hors d'Oeuvre

Stuffed Piquillo Peppers, Petite León

It's easy to eat a snack dinner when the snacks are perfect piquillo peppers that are generously stuffed with goat cheese and are sweet, salty, and tender all at once.

Most Boundary-Pushing Noodles

Bucatini Talay, Khâluna

The word "fusion" gets a bad rap, but this Laotian-Italian mash-up of bucatini tossed in a funky, velvety ragù crafted from tom yum paste and Thai basil proves that genius often lives at the inter-section of cultures.

Most Soul-Satisfying Pie

Apple Pie , Myriel

The mind-blowing apple pie at Myriel has an extra-tender lard-flecked crust enclosing a jammy, and not overly chunky, apple filling.

Tacos of the Year

Mushroom Birria Tacos , Sooki & Mimi

The filling of confit hen-of-the-woods mushrooms and the side of vegetable consommé for dunking are packed with so much flavor, I'd argue this meatless take on birria tacos is better than the original.

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