Eater’s Best New Restaurants 2022

Eater’s Best New Restaurants 2022

Ellen Mary Cronin

Eat here now. Thank us later.

At Eater, we love answering the question: What’s the best place to eat right now?

In 2022, by far the most normal-feeling year in, well, years, chefs and restaurateurs have been chasing passions and opening dream projects. This is the year that a bakery — not a bakery-plus-restaurant, not a bakery with a savory menu too, just a damn good bakery — can feel revolutionary, even when sticking to the classics. Capital-T Trends have had the space to take root as customers crowded into dining rooms and traveled around the country, bringing their excited energy with them to red-sauce Italian joints, vibey supper club-inspired spots, and so many pop-ups turned full-fledged restaurants. And the year’s most thrillingly personal trend sees chefs embracing a subversive interest in what would once have been called “fusion” cooking: At Eater’s Best New Restaurants of the year, bucatini tossed in tom yum sauce and pizza topped with vibrant green chutney aren’t gimmicks — they’re game-changers.

What binds these restaurants together, aside from having all opened between September 1, 2021, and September 30, 2022, and having the full-throated endorsement of our local and national staffers, is how each and every one is utterly original. To celebrate that fact, we’ve highlighted a few examples of what takes a restaurant from great to best; those “tipping points” range from a specific dish to specific people. These 15 restaurants represent the most exciting openings of the year — be sure to try them if you find yourself in these cities and keep an eye out for these names as they shape and influence dining culture in the months and years to come. — Hillary Dixler Canavan


Audrey

Nashville, Tennessee
Two abstract white plates hold two white orbs, which are each cracked open like an egg to reveal a sweet yellow runny center.
Danielle Del Valle

With a big name comes big expectations: Here’s how to exceed them

Audrey is what happens when Sean Brock, a chef with as much name recognition as any, gets to build his dream restaurant — with zero obligation to play the hits. Anyone looking for burgers and fried chicken, Brock’s signature dishes from his years leading essential Charleston-based restaurant Husk, can take a short drive over to Joyland, where the menu is burgers and fried chicken sandwiches. What’s left as Audrey’s purview, then, is the freedom of possibility, both in aesthetics — the walls display some of the most haunting folk art I’ve seen — and content.

The restaurant occupies the ground floor of a mod East Nashville building that’s also home to Brock’s upscale cocktail bar, the Bar, and tasting-menu spot June, where trophy hunters can revel in the Southern-meets-kaiseki courses while peering into the glass-walled test kitchen. From a culinary history buff like Brock, Audrey’s salt-risen bread delights when it’s more indulgence than esoterica; the puffy Appalachian rolls come with an orb of cultured butter that, sliced through, reveals a bright orange spill of sweet carrot jam that will have you calculating how much to slather so you’ll have enough for each bite. Heirloom grits with black truffle puree, bay oil, and a sorghum-cured egg yolk are familiar yet totally unlike any other rendition of the Southern staple. Pastry team Keaton Vasek and Michael Werrell serve lemon and African blue basil cake with sherbet that looks enough like the grocery-store kind to confound and charm when a spoonful tastes like summer-fresh melon. These aren’t B sides, they’re totally new hits. — Hillary Dixler Canavan

A man sits in a green velvet booth in front of a display of colorful artwork, wearing a black baseball cap, a blue apron, and khaki pants.
Danielle Del Valle
A round white ceramic bowl holds a chocolate-coated ball studded with nuts.
Danielle Del Valle
Parted gray curtains reveal an empty dining room of warm woods, dangling light fixtures, and a long wood bench.
Danielle Del Valle
A busy dining room, with nicely dressed women and men seated at tables, many with glasses of wine.
Danielle Del Valle

Causa / Amazonia

Washington, D.C.
An overhead picture of many colorful dishes, including skewered meats, with a white ceviche at the center.
Rey Lopez

Rare Peruvian ingredients and big-night-out energy collide at this two-story hotspot

From a 22-seat room in D.C.’s sceney Blagden Alley, Lima-born chef Carlos Delgado strives to capture Peru’s bounty over six immersive courses. A vibrant coupe of homemade chicha morada and a tableside handwashing service set the stage for a parade of bouncy mashed potato (causa) bites and juicy beef tongue, skewered and flecked with Peruvian panca peppers and fragrant black mint (huacatay). To get macambo from the Amazon, Delgado relies on his own lifelong connections as well as those of chef de cuisine Alex Lazo, who grew up in the region (Lazo “has a guy” who helps wrangle the cacao-like tree pods). Delgado uses the seeds to whip up a creamy, white chocolate-like finale topped with matcha, passionfruit gel, and more toasted macambo seeds. That you might be scraping up the last exquisite bite with your spoon when the bill arrives only adds to the shock of finding your dinner clocked in under $100 per person.

The night doesn’t have to end there. Head upstairs to Amazonia, the bar whose palm trees and jungle murals are an invigorating contrast to the tasting temple below. Pay special attention to the pisco list; the ambitious collection, curated by co-owner Glendon Hartley (Service Bar), is among the nation’s largest. With a menu of compelling bites like beef heart skewers and glistening ceviche, the city has embraced Amazonia as a nightlife destination in its own right. Together, the two-story tribute to Peru takes diners on an all-inclusive getaway — just pick the itinerary that suits your mood. — Tierney Plumb

A small, busy dining room with people seated at bare tropical wood tables, while lampshades made from natural fibers hang overhead.
Rey Lopez
A hand brushes a bright yellow sauce on some skewers of vegetables and meats cooking on a grill.
Rey Lopez
Two men of similar age talk side by side at the pass-through window of a restaurant kitchen.
Rey Lopez
A table of six diners in a busy dining room all raise a glass in a “cheers” motion.
Rey Lopez

The Tipping Point

The cocktails embody what makes Amazonia so special: its massive pisco collection, the way smoky flavors weave through both food and drink, and how distinctly Peruvian ingredients are the star. Amazonia proves that sitting at the bar of a fine dining destination doesn’t have to be a consolation prize. — Jaya Saxena

A hand grips the coaster beneath a foam-topped cocktail garnished with a dried leaf that’s set aflame.
Rey Lopez

The Chicken Supply

Seattle, Washington
A close up of a golden, crispy, fried chicken wing dusted with red spices, in a white paper container.
Chona Kasinger

When the fried chicken is this good, takeout is a celebration

The Chicken Supply’s genius can be measured on a 10-inch skewer. At the Filipino-style fried chicken joint, a takeout-focused newcomer in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood, co-owners Donald Adams and Paolo Campbell cube white meat into small pieces, threading it onto sticks before frying to maximize the ratio of meat to breading. It’s a winning approach. Never overly dry inside, the flavorful coating is perfectly crackly and light as air. Fried drumsticks and thighs are equally astounding, and it all sings when dipped into fragrant house-made banana ketchup. This is the kind of main-event chicken that you build an entire afternoon around eating.

The Chicken Supply proves that takeout can be truly celebratory in its expression of flavor and history. The concise menu of sides ordains Filipino flavors upon “traditional” American staples. Instead of Southern-style collards, try reimagined Filipino laing: Typically made with taro leaves stewed in coconut milk, the kitchen swaps in collards and drizzles the stew with chile shrimp oil, a twist that’s wonderfully obvious from the first forkful. Not every takeout joint offers, let alone nails, dessert, but here butter mochi cake is an almost-juicy square topped with a delicate coconut cream. Takeout this ambitious — where a meal can come in under $12 — refreshingly proposes that celebration food can and should be accessible, that picking from a cardboard container right in your car or carefully ferrying an overflowing brown bag home can feel like a triumph. — Erin DeJesus

Two young men — one with long black hair and a black baseball cap, the other with short dark hair and a blue sweatshirt — stand in front of a colorfully painted wall.
A takeout container holds a small square of white cake with a dollop of cream and some sliced nuts on top.
Chona Kasinger
Overhead picture of an array of takeout containers filled with various side dishes.
Chona Kasinger
A young man with long dark hair, a baseball cap, and wire-rimmed glasses dips two pieces of chicken into flour.
Chona Kasinger

Con Todo

Austin, Texas
A hand with tattoos on the fingers reaches in and grabs one of three tacos topped with white cheese and avocado.
Sarah Natsumi Moore

Visionary border cooking awaits at Austin’s best new taco truck

In Austin, where there are taco trucks on every corner, none are like Con Todo. First of all, chef Joseph Gomez is committed to the “comida frontera” (border cuisine) he grew up eating as a Texan Mexican native of the Rio Grande Valley, with dishes anchored by centuries of regional Mexican cuisine. That manifests in meat-free cauliflower tacos layered with creamy sikil p’aak, a Mayan dip made from toasted pepitas that makes a pillowy bedding for the charred florets; or mollejas (sweetbreads, a popular South Texas taco filling); or sometimes bistec estilo Matamoros (beef with avocado and queso fresco that has roots in both Brownsville, Texas, and its neighboring city across the border, Matamoros, Tamaulipas).

Secondly, they discourage substitutions. Orders come “con todo” (with everything); here that means cilantro, onions, and dynamite salsas. Then there’s the tortillas: The intoxicating scent of corn tortillas made daily invites visitors to post up at the picnic tables with pitchers of beer from Con Todo’s brewery host, Celis. When fried, they serve as the base for standout chori-papa tostadas, with precisely spiced chorizo, homey diced potatoes, and melted Oaxacan quesillo cheese. Lastly, there’s dessert: Gomez shows off his pastry-chef past by drizzling chunky salsa macha and sprinkling Mexican cinnamon over a vanilla paleta for a sweet-and-savory finale. Arrive hungry; try everything. — Nadia Chaudhury

A man wearing wire-rimmed glasses with a tattooed forearm scoops sauced ingredients out of a bowl and spoons them over a tortilla.
Sarah Natsumi Moore
A stack of yellow tortillas sit in a reddish, ochre-colored bowl with a cup of dark red salsa beside it.
Sarah Natsumi Moore
Two young men dressed in black aprons and black shirts stand in front of a pink food truck laughing and smiling, with a sign reading “Tacos Tacos Tacos” nearby.
Sarah Natsumi Moore
An arm reaches in and flips a tortilla onto a flattop.
Sarah Natsumi Moore

The Tipping Point

Tiny cups of salsa are ubiquitous at Texas taquerias, but none are like Con Todo’s. A testament to Joseph Gomez’s unapologetic approach, the fiery salsa roja and bright salsa verde are deliciously assertive. Chiles, fresh tomatillos, and herbs alchemize into a potent expression of his cocina frontera. Add liberally, and embrace the heat. — Amy McCarthy

A pair of hands pours an orangey salsa over one of three tacos sitting on a plate, with a plastic cup of beer beside it.
Sarah Natsumi Moore

Dept of Culture

Brooklyn, New York
A rich orangey-red stew sits in a large-rimmed white bowl.
Alex Staniloff

Sometimes the boldest thing a restaurant can be is a dinner party

Some restaurants take time to reveal what makes them special. Chef Ayo Balogun’s first bite is an uncompromising introduction: a Nigerian pepper and fish soup with an herbal flavor so distilled that you accept the sweat on your nose if it means you can go in for another spoonful. It’s easy to see the faces around you warm with life too, as there are just 15 diners, mostly clustered around one large table. Balogun’s a consummate host, introducing ingredients and courses like pleasingly funky iru (fermented locust bean paste) and a cluster of mushrooms rubbed with suya spice with an ode to his grandmothers or a reference to Game of Thrones. With family pictures on the walls, old records spinning lively beats, and BYO bottles in the fridge, Dept of Culture feels more like a home than one of Brooklyn’s hottest restaurants.

As with any dinner party, you put your trust in the host’s hands; the menu changes often and you likely won’t know what’s on it until you get there. Balogun opened the restaurant to highlight the specificity of north-central Nigerian cuisine; for all New York’s dining merits, its Nigerian offerings often fall underneath the overly broad African umbrella. He makes good on that duty with a recent inclusion of amala ati ewedu. The pounded yam with verdant jute leaf stew is the kind of deep-cut homestyle cooking he felt might have been too unfamiliar when the restaurant first opened. Almost a year in, Balogun is comfortable; when you visit, you will be too. — Bettina Makalintal

Two pieces of white fish sit in a clear broth inside a large white bowl.
Alex Staniloff
A Black man wearing a black shirt and clear glasses uses tweezers to place a piece of food onto one of several plates lined up on a table.
Alex Staniloff
The arms of three men raise glasses of beer in a “cheers” motion at a large wooden table of diners. Large-rimmed white plates of food sit in front of them.
Alex Staniloff
Two hands place a record on a record player.
Alex Staniloff
Groups of young people are seated and talking at a large table.
Alex Staniloff

Espiritu

Mesa, Arizona
A robust, colorful spread of food, garnished with orange flowers, includes ceviche, grilled lemons, and fish.
Jarod Opperman

In the Phoenix suburbs, a Sonoran sleeper hit in the making

As a cocktail bar, Espiritu exudes easygoing pride in its Mexican roots. Agave-focused drinks tempt with ingredients like charred-pineapple and chiltepin-infused bacanora, while harder-to-find Mexican spirits like raicilla and sotol line the backbar. The location, shoehorned between a bakery and a taco shop in a sprawling Phoenix suburb, belies the jewel box of gilded mirrors and flickering candlelight inside. But it’s the menu, offering some of the most thrilling Sonoran cooking in a region that’s home to some of America’s finest, that makes it clear Espiritu isn’t just a bar with great food, but a great restaurant.

The ceviche mixto, a stack of shrimp, snapper, and octopus in an ochre pool of chiltepin-spiked broth, is a riot of texture, and the aguachile verde balances tartness and heat across a cilantro-dusted mosaic of shrimp, radish, and cucumber. Chef Roberto Centeno’s live-fire skills shine on his menu of smoky specials like hamachi collar sticky with sweet-and-sour ponzu sauce and piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar) or a mammoth bone-in lamb chop. It’s impossible not to get caught up in the casual spontaneity of Espiritu — for $20 the bar staff will light any drink on fire; on some nights they pull a grill out into the street for a homey cookout — but don’t let the frivolity deceive. A restaurant this bold demands serious attention. — Lauren Saria

A man wearing a brown cap and black shirt sticks a pair of tongs into a large flame from a grill.
Jarod Opperman
A bartender makes a drink at a crowded bar station with various jars of fresh fruit, garnishes, and tinctures.
Jarod Opperman
Two cocktails, one with an artistic ice cube, sit between three colorful dishes including a ceviche and a fried fish.
Jarod Opperman
A male bartender stands behind a bar mixing a drink, with several men seated on stools in the foreground.
Jarod Opperman

Gigi’s Italian Kitchen and Restaurant

Atlanta, Georgia
Multiple dishes sit on a red and white checkered tablecloth, including a tiramisu and a dark tube-shaped pasta.
Sydney A. Foster

For immaculate red-sauce vibes, consider… Atlanta

On a Friday evening at Gigi’s, diners traversed the black-and-white-checked floors to find gingham-draped tables nestled near thick red curtains. At a glance, this could be any one of the buzzy red-sauce joints that opened this year, the ones that seemingly aim to capture some of the success of now-iconic examples of the genre like Carbone. But think of Gigi’s as the anti-Carbone. The former pop-up eschews excess fanfare: Chef-founders Eric Brooks and Jacob Armando don’t take reservations and they invite other up-and-comers to use the space as an incubator. Where other trattorias might have a photo gallery of celebrity guests, a closer look at the Gigi’s photo wall reveals the black-and-white portraits are fellow Atlanta chefs and other friends of the team, as if to say, “When you’re a part of this community, you’re family.”

The concise menu plays with Italian American classics, so along with beef carpaccio with rice crackers and brown butter pork Milanese, there’s always a pasta dish. It changes with the chefs’ whims, but it likely will highlight Georgia produce, as in a brilliant fresh rigatoni with okra in a creamy onion soubise so pleasingly light that finishing the bowl is quick work. Perfect tiramisu is another constant, a grounding note to end a meal of surprises. With its whole-hearted embrace of the local dining culture, Gigi’s isn’t so much bringing another red-sauce restaurant to Atlanta as it’s bringing Atlanta to the red-sauce conversation, with entirely unique and extremely satisfying results. — Monica Burton

A tattooed server wearing a white shirt opens a bottle of wine at a table.
Sydney A. Foster
Two young restaurant workers wearing matching shirts and hats stand side by side with one’s arm around the other’s waist, just outside the restaurant.
Sydney A. Foster
Rainbow lights illuminate a crowded dining room with black and white checkered floors and full barstools.
Sydney A. Foster
A white plate holds two rectangular, roe-topped appetizers on a red and white checkered tablecloth.
Sydney A. Foster

The Tipping Point

Paying it forward is part of the history of the Gigi’s restaurant space. Eric Brooks and Jacob Armando are continuing that legacy by keeping the pop-up incubator going. On Thursday evenings, they open up the kitchen where they themselves got their start to other emerging chefs on the Atlanta food scene. — Beth McKibben

Restaurant hours are painted on a window, through which you can see diners eating inside.
Sydney A. Foster

Kann

Portland, Oregon
A hand grips a golden spoon sitting in a blue bowl of a colorful shaved ice dish.
Dina Ávila

Portland’s hottest table is its most sophisticated — and its most personal

Gregory Gourdet — Top Chef finalist, James Beard Award winner, industry longtimer — is probably Portland’s most famous working chef, and now, he finally has his own restaurant. At Kann, he explores his culinary background with meticulously executed, genre-bending Haitian fare. Longtime fans will recognize the juicy Pekin duck from holiday dinners at Departure, where Gourdet led the kitchen for nearly a decade. But at Kann it comes lacquered with cane syrup, pineapple, and tamarind, bringing the Haitian flavors of his childhood to his experience with Southeast Asian cooking. The cocktail menu is stacked with impressive, multifaceted nonalcoholic drinks, fitting of Gourdet’s impassioned activism around sobriety and recovery in the restaurant industry. There’s eye candy, too; a surprisingly savory salad of berries, cherries, and young coconut is a striking new vegan dish in a city that’s seen its fair share of vegan trailblazers.

Yet as Gourdet reveals more of himself than ever before, he’s also sharing his spotlight with the larger team it takes to run one of the country’s best new restaurants. Pastry chef Gabby Borlabi’s nondairy ice creams impress, as in a silky rum raisin paired with Gourdet’s grilled upside-down cake. Chef de cuisine Varanya Geyoonsawat is responsible for one of Kann’s easiest hits, a torch-kissed butterfish with piquant shaved ice. General manager Damont Nelson warmly delivers plates to the tables, sharing a bit of context or a meaningful anecdote as he goes. Together, they’ve created something near-impossible: genuine hospitality that shrugs off the trappings of celebrity. — Brooke Jackson-Glidden

A blue napkin is folded beside blue and white plates with floral decorations; each plate holds a golden, sticky round dessert and two espresso martinis.
Dina Ávila
A smiling, diverse kitchen team stands in front of the kitchen, wearing blue aprons and surrounding the chef, who wears a floral shirt.
Dina Ávila
A large round crank controls a large grill set over a wood fire.
Dina Ávila
The exterior of the restaurant, with a trio of potted palms by the black glass door.
Dina Ávila
Order receipts lined up at a restaurant pass.
Dina Ávila

Khâluna

Minneapolis, Minnesota
A whole fried fish curls upward, garnished with crispy bits, flower petals, and herbs, surrounded by an array of other dishes and sauces.
Caroline Yang

One of 2022’s most beautiful restaurants dazzles with transportive Laotian cooking

The first thing you notice about Khâluna is its beauty. The colors are soft and beachy, with accents of gold and greenery that make a Minneapolis fall evening radiate warmth. No matter where you look there’s something to ogle, like the massive wooden lamps, the delicate curves of the ivory banquettes, or the kaleidoscopic plate of rainbow rice at the next table over. You’d be forgiven for thinking Khâluna is merely pretty. But the moment the food comes — again, almost too lovely to disturb — you realize the feast for the eyes is just the appetizer. Everything tastes stunning, too.

This marriage of style and flavor reveals a confidence that could only come from a chef who, with two other successful restaurants under her belt, has come into her own. With Khâluna, chef-owner Ann Ahmed is cooking precise and imaginative Laotian cuisine, exploring tradition without limiting herself to it. She subs in peanuts, pistachios, and mushrooms for the more typical pork in her sakoo, creating luxurious, umami-laden texture in the traditional street food, topping it off with edible flowers and zinging flakes of Thai red chili. Cocktails come spritzed with macadamia oil that’s perfume-like in its fragrance. And nearly every table has an order of bucatini talay, a tangle of pasta with shrimp, scallops, squid, and a rich “tom yum ragout” of breadcrumbs, tomato, and fish sauce. The dish is inventive and yet also comforting, affirming Khâluna’s forward-thinking attitude. And yes, it is beautiful. — Jaya Saxena

A plate of pasta swirled into a pile, topped with shrimp.
Caroline Yang
A group of smiling restaurant staff stand and sit together.
Caroline Yang
A woman bartender wearing white strains a drink into a glass.
Caroline Yang
Arms pass a plate across a table completely full with plates of food.
Caroline Yang

The Tipping Point

Khâluna’s dreamy aesthetic extends to its next-door shop. Browse deftly curated wares from Ann Ahmed’s travels throughout Southeast Asia like teak strainer spoons and indigo-dyed textiles, as well as ceramics from local potters. She also teaches cooking classes at the shop, so you can bring a bit of knowledge home, too. — Justine Jones

Diners sit at a table located in a small room lined with shelves holding various items for purchase.
Caroline Yang
Wooden shelves hold various pieces of rustic flatware and other houseware items for sale.
Caroline Yang

Khmai Fine Dining

Chicago, Illinois
A basket holds an array of chopped vegetables and a small dark bowl with a rich stewy dish inside.
Melissa Blackmon

The Cambodian destination that’s a testament to one family’s tenacity

Buoyed by trays of her mother’s egg rolls, industry vet Mona Sang opened Khmai Fine Dining this summer. Making egg rolls for her church community sustained Sang’s mother, Sarom Sieng, while raising her children on Chicago’s North Side, having arrived in the early ’80s after fleeing the Khmer Rouge. Filled with ground chicken and taro, the crispy egg rolls are fulfilling, and, in the unassuming Rogers Park dining room, ubiquitous: Orders fly out of the kitchen all night. As a starter, Mai’s — Mom’s — egg rolls are only the beginning of what Sang has to share when it comes to Cambodian cooking.

When a server warns that kapi — a fermented shrimp paste nestled into a basket stuffed with rice and vegetables, also known as kapeek pow — is “really spicy and pungent,” claiming the restaurant doesn’t do refunds, Sang must know no one’s sending it back. The dip glows with deliciously complex notes of galangal and sweet shrimp. From there, expertly rendered Khmer dishes like somlor machu kreoung (short ribs in a sour broth); prahok ktiss, the minced-pork spread laced with coconut milk and fish paste; and a parade of shredded salads and noodle dishes thrill the room. The restaurant cements Sang’s command of the Chicago dining scene, building on the success of the catering company she launched during the pandemic, out of the same church where her mother made those egg rolls. Khmai offers a thorough and passionate representation of Cambodian cuisine not just to Chicago, but to the country — each of which is lucky to have Sang, Sieng, and Khmai. — Rachel P. Kreiter

A smiling Cambodian woman wearing a black shirt and apron has her hands folded at the side of her face.
Melissa Blackmon
A dark plate holds four crispy spring rolls sitting on a green leaf.
Melissa Blackmon
Skewers of cooked beef sit on a pile of white rice garnished with herbs and other vegetables.
Melissa Blackmon
A pair of hands dish out a bright orange curry from a bowl sitting in a woven basket.
Melissa Blackmon
A gloved hand spoons a bright curry from a large pot on a kitchen stove.
Melissa Blackmon

Mabel’s Gone Fishing

San Diego, California
Two modern crudo-style fish preparations sit on a table beside colorful cocktails.
Kimberly Motos

Come for the gin and tonics, stay for on-point seafood and kitsch-free nautical details

Not far from the famous zoo and a world away from the expensive restaurants of the Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego’s North Park has everything a sceney enclave needs: eclectic boutiques, music venues, and now, thanks to Mabel’s Gone Fishing, a destination restaurant that attracts the trendy and beautiful from all corners of the city, converts locals into regulars, and impresses out-of-towners, too.

With a natural wine bar already under their belt, owners Chelsea Coleman and Rae Gurne have created a vibrant gintonería, inspired by a kooky origin story about a fish-loving sea dog, named for Coleman’s own pup, getting caught in a Mediterranean maelstrom. (Anyone trying to score a reservation will get the full, fanciful tale online.) Accordingly, wooden folding chairs evoke a sailboat’s deck, the selfie-worthy bathroom has a dolphin faucet and sea-life wallpaper, and a mermaid drapes her barnacled tail over the emerald-clad bar. The food pulls flavors from the Iberian coast — and no backstory is needed to sell a dish as satisfying as the clams and ham, a mountain of steamers floating in a pool of savory ’nduja-laced broth with plenty of grilled sourdough to sop it all up. Hype-chasers can head to the bar for stellar Spanish-style gin and tonics plus snacky bites of crudo, while return visitors will want to linger over locally caught entrees and luscious slices of Basque cheesecake before hitting the attached wine-and-gin shop on the way out. Miraculously, despite the theming, there isn’t a trace of nautical-pub kitsch or tourist trap cliche. Mabel’s is chic enough to pull it all off. — Hillary Dixler Canavan

A trio of cocktails, including a gin and tonic garnished with lemon and sage, sits near a bouquet of orange flowers.
Kimberly Motos
A pair of hands reaches into a pile of unshucked oysters on ice.
Kimberly Motos
A colorful bathroom sink includes a silver dolphin-shaped faucet.
Kimberly Motos
Three people sit at a delightfully food-covered table, smiling as a server delivers a glass of wine from a tray.
Kimberly Motos
The exterior of Mabel’s Gone Fishing, complete with large windows, painted signage, and outdoor tables. 
Kimberly Motos

The Tipping Point

Chelsea Coleman and Rae Gurne are San Diego’s secret weapon. Over the past decade, they’ve scrappily built a portfolio of businesses that meet previously unrecognized gaps in the city’s food scene: natural wine bar and boutique bottle shop the Rose; sourdough bakery Secret Sister; and now, Mabel’s and its neighboring wine-and-gin shop, Bodega Rosette. San Diego wouldn’t be as cool without them. — Candice Woo

A racially and gender-diverse group wears aprons and smiles together inside the restaurant.
Kimberly Motos

Machine Shop

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
An array of pastries studded with seeds and other sweet and savory ingredients sit on a paper-lined tray.
Gab Bonghi

Why go to France for pastry when you could go to South Philly?

One of the country’s best French bakeries — where the croissants are light and buttery-rich, the focaccia is airy and chewy, and the tangy lemon cream tarts fill the case in tidy rows — occupies an industrial, ground-floor space of a former vocational school in South Philly. Twist. Originally a wholesale operation then a pandemic pop-up, Machine Shop’s retail space opened this year, finally connecting customers with pastry chef Emily Riddell’s spiced morning buns and jam-dotted kouign amann in a permanent home. There is hardly a pastry technique that Riddell has not mastered — her supreme talent is in lamination, her personal favorite technique is chocolate, but her pate sucre tarts, house-made jams, and ice creams are all as good as you can get this side of the Atlantic.

As with many other businesses in this city’s tight-knit food scene, Riddell’s extraordinary boulangerie is a community effort, with furniture made by friends and branding by her favorite tattoo studio. It’s not uncommon to see people at Machine Shop working on laptops while munching apple danishes, as well as parents with their kids covered in croissant flakes. The true thrill in visiting Machine Shop, though, is in not limiting your order — walk down the line of pristine pastries, pointing at and choosing every one, and watch with joy as your to-go box fills up. French patisserie can come with a side of exclusivity but not here; Machine Shop embodies high standards of excellence without any of the pretension. It’s just how we do things in Philly. — Dayna Evans

See Also
lineup of carbon steel skillets on a white surface

A blonde woman wearing a blue apron smiles in front of a butcher block counter.
Gab Bonghi
A customer orders from the light wood counter at Machine Shop bakery.
Gab Bonghi
A tray full of meringue-topped tarts.
Gab Bonghi
A woman’s hands lifts a glistening chocolatey treat onto a round chocolate cookie on a baking mat.
Gab Bonghi
A gloved hand arranges a stack of seed-studded baguettes.
Gab Bonghi

Nami Kaze

Honolulu, Hawaiʻi
An array of dishes, including fried popcorn chicken, a rich orange dish topped with salmon roe and herbs, and a cucumber seaweed salad.
Steve Czerniak

Tapping into what makes Honolulu such a vital dining destination, one mashup at a time

Now that so many more of us reach for kimchi and chile crisp as easily as ketchup and Parmesan, once-unfamiliar flavor combinations can feel overplayed. But with his breakout debut Nami Kaze, chef Jason Peel shows us that there is still infinite possibility — even here in Honolulu, where the most iconic dishes reflect generations of multicultural mashups. At the restaurant’s buzzy brunch, honey walnut shrimp and waffles go so well together the dish feels instantly familiar — and instantly essential.

Born and raised in Hawaiʻi, Peel was the right-hand man for some of the biggest names in Honolulu, as well as a culinary instructor and chef wrangler for the star-studded Hawaiʻi Food and Wine Festival. His background is like many raised here, grounded in the Islands and exposed to the world. His omelets are actually silky chawanmushi, topped with everything from mentaiko cream and ikura to mushrooms and mornay. At the izakaya-inspired dinner service, local abalone becomes a clever play on oysters Rockefeller, flooded with butter and snowed with garlicky kale and a local Tomme. And Peel transforms ‘ulu (breadfruit), a culturally significant but notoriously dense and starchy staple, into impossibly airy fried puffs that, when served with a sweetly tangy barbecue sauce, somehow taste Italian. It’s appropriate that Nami Kaze opened after the pandemic forced Hawaiʻi to turn inward; Peel has long cooked for his community first, with their ingredients, in their language. And in continuing to do so at Nami Kaze, he has created a restaurant that anyone, local or not, can appreciate. — Martha Cheng

A rectangular dish holds a lineup of small round fritters.
Steve Czerniak
A chef wearing a mask and a black shirt plates a dish with greens.
Steve Czerniak
A stack of waffles on a blue plate is topped with fried walnut shrimp.
Steve Czerniak
A dining room is packed with a crowd of casually dressed diners.
Steve Czerniak

Pijja Palace

Los Angeles, California
A pizza smeared with a green chutney sits on a metal pizza pan beside a bowl of onion rings, a plate of pasta, and an Oreo-topped dessert.
Wonho Frank Lee

The sports bar where wings and pizza are anything but expected

Don’t bother trying to make sense of Pijja Palace. Owner Avish Naran’s vision of a sports bar is one where TV screens glow against minimalist decor and the kebab-seasoned lamb sliders ooze with Amul cheese. The crowd, which runs the gamut from fashionably scruffy locals to multigenerational families, especially from the South Asian community, sits tightly packed in the pastel-smacked dining room, formerly a foot clinic nestled in a still-operational Comfort Inn motel. Naran and chef Miles Shorey have captured LA’s sensibility with their oddball setup and their flavor-packed American cooking, where Indian spices, bar food, and Italian American classics all collide with imaginative charm.

Thick dosa-battered onion rings with sweet mango chutney and Insta-famous rigatoni in malai tomato sauce are so freaking delicious that trying to figure out whether labels like “fusion” suit them is a waste of time. Better to just dig into the Green Chutney Pijja pie, a pizza topped with punchy green chile chutney. It’s a combo that dovetails with such ease and elegance that it’s not hard to imagine the likes of Domino’s taking it mainstream. Charred “red wings,” heady with the scent of garam masala and Kashmiri red chile, are equally genius, and the zing of achaari Buffalo tenders is wonderfully tempered by curry leaf ranch dip or Stilton-tinted yogurt. For Angelenos, Pijja Palace’s playful, no-holds-barred cooking tastes just right; for the rest of the country, it might just taste like the future. — Matthew Kang

A pair of sliders comes topped with red onions and cheese.
Wonho Frank Lee
A dining room is full of young diners seated on banquettes and at small tables, with TV screens showing sports in the background.
Wonho Frank Lee
Charred chicken wings dusted with spices and garnished with cilantro.
Wonho Frank Lee
A diverse group of young diners sits on plush bar stools, facing a row of TV screens displaying a baseball game.
Wonho Frank Lee

The Tipping Point

Any memorable restaurant has an element of surprise; Pijja Palace has a secret menu. Say “Debbie Slater” for a chance to try a totally off-script cocktail. It’s a bit easier to score the hush-hush banoffee pie, a banana-filled, whip-topped nod to Avish Naran and Miles Shorey’s shared British roots. — Cathy Chaplin

Two men stand at a restaurant pass-through window, talking intensely.
Wonho Frank Lee

San Ho Won

San Francisco, California
Two hands with tattoos use chopsticks to fill a large green leaf with bits of grilled meat and garnishes from a small tabletop grill.
Ellen Mary Cronin

A compelling case for what’s next in modern Korean dining

San Ho Won pushes Korean barbecue. Grilling takes place in a custom-built central grill, the cuts finished by a practiced hand rather than at a smoky tabletop setup. While it would be a mistake to visit the San Francisco restaurant and not get a charcoal-kissed slab of meat — the center-cut beef tongue was savory and tender — the rest of the menu is just as vital. Chef Corey Lee, whose groundbreaking restaurant Benu jump-started Korean cuisine’s influence on American fine dining, and his co-chef, Jeong-In Hwang, are taking Korean food in America in a new direction, one whose simplicity might just obscure its daring. “We’re not trying to recreate the best version of these dishes we’ve ever tasted,” says Lee, “but the best version in our imaginations.”

Lee and Hwang’s galbi mandu transforms the dumplings from half-moons to long rectangular packages, maximizing the amount of surface area to crisp; they boast an almost profligate skirt. The herbaceous, slightly sweet flavor of locally grown perilla leaves is revelatory as kimchi. The chefs ground their fantasy with an emphasis on context; servers stand ready to chat about the North Korean origins of a white kimchi stew special and diners can peruse an extensive glossary, too. By presenting Korean cuisine with the same detail-oriented passion usually reserved for Italian and French cooking in the States, Lee has once again blazed a path for where Korean food in America will go next. — Meghan McCarron

Four large steaks sizzle and smoke on a grill. 
Ellen Mary Cronin
A lacy skirt of cooked batter surrounds a plate of long, pan-seared dumplings.
Ellen Mary Cronin
A hand squeezes citrus over a piece of fish cooking on a tabletop grill.
Ellen Mary Cronin
A Korean man in a green apron stands with his hands behind his back, in front of a mural of historical Korean figures.
Ellen Mary Cronin
A rich cream drips down two cobs of grilled corn sitting side by side on a plate.
Ellen Mary Cronin


Credits

Editorial lead

Hillary Dixler Canavan

Creative director

Nat Belkov

Writers

Monica Burton, Cathy Chaplin, Nadia Chaudhury, Martha Cheng, Erin DeJesus, Hillary Dixler Canavan, Dayna Evans, Brooke Jackson-Glidden, Justine Jones, Matthew Kang, Rachel P. Kreiter, Bettina Makalintal, Meghan McCarron, Amy McCarthy, Beth McKibben, Tierney Plumb, Lauren Saria, Jaya Saxena, Candice Woo

Photographers

Dina Ávila, Melissa Blackmon, Gab Bonghi, Ellen Mary Cronin, Steve Czerniak, Danielle Del Valle, Sydney A. Foster, Chona Kasinger, Wonho Frank Lee, Rey Lopez, Sarah Natsumi Moore, Kimberly Motos, Jarod Opperman, Alex Staniloff, Caroline Yang

Editors

Erin DeJesus, Lesley Suter

Copy editors

Nadia Q. Ahmad, Rachel P. Kreiter

Fact checker

Kelsey Lannin

Engagement editors

Kaitlin Bray, Terri Ciccone, Avery Dalal, Frances Dumlao, Kristen Kornbluth, Mira Milla

Project manager

Lesley Suter

Special thanks to

Nicole Adlman, Lille Allen, Missy Frederick, Brenna Houck, Ellie Krupnick, Dane McMillan, Lauren Starke, Stephanie Wu, and the entire Eater cities network of editors and reporters

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