Welcome to Year in Eater 2022, Eater’s annual ritual of eulogizing the past 12 months through input from the city’s top food writers and New York figures. For 2022’s final week, Eater NY will be posting questions daily about New York City’s restaurant scene in the past year, with answers from those who know it best: Eater editors and friends of Eater. Now: What were your regular go-to destinations in 2022? What newcomer on the scene excited you this year?
Mohamed Attia, managing director, the Street Vendor Project: Our office is located at 40 Rector Street, and we are lucky to have incredible street food options just a few blocks away at Zuccotti Park. Biryani House and Sam’s Falafel have consistently good and unique flavor, healthy, affordable halal food, and they are good people!
Mahira Rivers, food journalist: It seems like every borough is in its “best new restaurant” era, but I went to Quang Nguyen and Dina Fan’s residency at People’s Wine Bar earlier this year and I still think about the grilled lobster with sauce au poivre...so I was very excited to visit Cool World in Greenpoint, where Nguyen is cooking these days. The sauces are still brilliant and the crab chip tostada is 10/10, highly recommend!
Deanna Ting, New York editor, Resy: Going to Ming’s Caffe on Canal Street for Hong Kong-style breakfasts before heading to the office. I wound up at Gage & Tollner for a few celebrations this year, and it was always so much fun. At night, I’d find myself at Double Chicken Please for drinks (I really love that Japanese cold noodle cocktail, and it’s great that you can get a non-alcoholic version of it, too). There were so many great new spots that I loved going to this year, but a few standouts were Dept. of Culture, Wenwen, El Quijote, and 53. The storytelling behind the menu at Dept of Culture made the entire meal for me. At Wenwen, I loved how you could just tell how much fun they were having there. I missed the old El Quijote and was worried it might lose its charm with this reboot, but it didn’t at all. 53 was a pleasant surprise; the food is really exceptional.
Robert Sietsema, senior food critic, Eater NY: I must have gone to Zaab Zaab a half-dozen times, with its combination of heat, unique dishes from the Isan region, organ meats in a cuisine where they’ve rarely been seen here before, and, yes, the casual and joyous vibe of the place.
Korsha Wilson, food journalist: Dept of Culture in Brooklyn is a game changer for sure. The specificity with which chef Ayo Balogun is exploring ingredients and dishes from the region in Nigeria he grew up in is a welcome addition to the city’s African restaurant scene. It’s refreshing to see because so many restaurants lump all of the African Diaspora (Africa, the Caribbean, and South America) together when there are so many regional differences. Otherwise my go-to was Shukette. I could sit at that bar, dipping pita and lafa into whipped, fluffy garlic, listening to ’90s/2000’s hip hop, and drinking sparkling rose, all evening.
Jaeki Cho, host, Righteous Eats: Trinciti Roti Shop in Ozone Park. I go there for the doubles, the bake and shark on weekends (when I have time to wait in line), and I always get my sea moss. In terms of newcomers, Zaab Zaab comes to mind. We don’t normally highlight restaurant openings on Righteous Eats, but Zaab Zaab is on the same block where I grew up, and it’s fascinating to see how Woodside Avenue has changed, and become a destination for Thai food. Zaab Zaab is the first place I tried Isan-style Thai, and had a proper larb. All the accolades coming their way are well-deserved, shouts out to the team over there.
Stephanie Wu, editor-in-chief, Eater: I’m rarely a regular, but the places I’ve been to at least three times each this year — which says a lot! — include Mala House, a new Sichuan restaurant near me that has become my favorite takeout spot; Wenwen, Eric Sze’s new Taiwanese place in Greenpoint, which is now serving brunch; and Jerrell’s Betr Brgr, which serves vegan smash burgers in Soho.
Pat Kiernan, news anchor, NY1: Pastis. It’s consistently excellent. It’s fun. It’s three minutes from my office. And it’s open early for breakfast and lunch. Newcomer: We were really excited to learn that the buzziest addition to Williamsburg this year is only two blocks away from my house. We were less excited to learn that it’s almost impossible to get a reservation. But our one visit to Laser Wolf did not disappoint. We had a spectacular view of the sunset.
Moonlynn Tsai, co-founder, Heart of Dinner: More than likely you’ll find me over at Wu’s Wonton for a bowl of the tri-colored wontons with a side of roast duck, and then as a mid-day treat, Yin and I love taking a walk to Lady Wong, which has been our favorite new eateries to have opened last year for their delicious kuihs, before making it over to La Cabra for an afternoon cortado, and another pastry from Librae Bakery!
Scott Lynch, contributor, Hell Gate and Brooklyn Magazine: Yellow Rose, Golden Diner, Mama’s Too, and Malai ice cream always make me happy. During the summer I either go for a Rockaway Bakery — Tacoway Beach twofer, or hit the peerless Brothers concession stand at Beach 106. If I lived a different life, newcomers like Syko, Oma Grassa, Zaab Zaab, Cruz de Sur, Baby Blues Luncheonette, Fish With You, and Rodo Foods would definitely be in the regular rotation.
Nicolas Heller, New York Nico: Go to: Anthony and Son’s Panini Shop, La Bonbonniere, Casa Adela, Punjabi Deli, the Tyger, Thai Diner, Greenberg’s Bagels, Cuts & Slices, Saigon Social, Veselka, Lemon Ice King of Corona. Newcomer: Ensenada, Nura, and S&P.
Mike Diago, writer, the Bittman Project: I live in the Hudson Valley, but whenever I head to the city, I try somewhere new to me and then head to Little Spain, usually to Spanish Diner or La Barra for tapas and claras, the beer and lemon soda mix that’s served in a porron.
Carina Kaufman-Gutierrez, deputy director, the Street Vendor Project: Chalupas Poblanas El Tlecuile, run by Cleotilde Juarez and her family, opened out of necessity in the height of the pandemic, and this year her business really took off thanks, in large part, to Righteous Eats highlighting her, now gaining a reputation in Corona and beyond. A must-visit at 37-47 Junction Boulevard on weekend evenings.
Sara, Madison, and Carly Shapiro, Sister Snacking: We have been really into neighborhood spots and staying close to home while finding places we can come back to that are not fussy. Madison lives in the West Village and loves Malatesta for its pink sauce ravioli and grilled calamari. Claud was truly spectacular — we will dream about their escargot croquettes. and Lord’s from the team behind Dame. Lord’s is where we want to spend every cold night this winter. Nura also really impressed us with its brunch and dinner.
Caroline Shin, contributor, Eater NY: I visit my lovely neighborhood spots the most often: Aliada (seafood set for two), Kondo (fried squid legs and daily handwritten specials), any of the Brazilian “kilo” places like Point Brazil, Copacabana, Villa Brazil (salt-crusted short ribs and collard greens salad), Los Parceros (massive Colombian yuca bread), Meet Fresh (Taiwanese grass jelly shaved ices), and my milk tea joints like Moge Tee, Teazzi, and Gongcha. I was super excited about Seoul Ttukbaegi, a small, no-frills spot filled with Korean locals, particularly seniors. I’m so into bubbling vats of soups and stews.
Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, photographer: Playground in Jackson Heights. This place is always my go-to destination for Thai food whether only for myself or with friends.
Christopher Robbins, editor, Hell Gate: B&H Dairy for weekend lunches, Málà Project for weeknight dinners, Streecha for stuffed cabbage and donuts, C&B for veggie sandwiches. Eastwood for the best crispy chicken sandwich and fries in NYC.
Ryan Sutton, chief food critic, Eater NY: Pastis for an easygoing dinner after the Whitney, Guantanamera for a mojito after teaching at CUNY for three hours, Cosme for an occasional splurge, Spanish Diner for an all-purpose “we need to eat somewhere really good and not too expensive,” and Urban Hawker will soon be on that list as well, for Lady Wong sweets after spending a few hours at my “satellite office” at MoMA. Newcomer: Ensenada. Chef Luis Herrera has some serious talent and I think the Williamsburg restaurant’s skate wing mole tacos with XO sauce and branzino al pastor are two of the sleeper hits of the year.