You’d think that after practically living in new restaurants while putting this list together, the last place the BA staff would want to be right now is another restaurant. But as we crisscrossed the country in search of the 50 best new restaurants of 2022, we were overwhelmed by how thrilling restaurant culture is at this moment. We’d text each other with near-maniacal glee that we’d just experienced a transcendent bagel with marshmallow fluff and warm banana tahini jam (yes, seriously, take it up with Korshak Bagels in Philly), or a few wonderfully gelatinous dumplings and a plate of crab dip at a curtained speakeasy above a pho restaurant (Phởcific Standard Time, Seattle).
The industry has been through a lot in the last few years, but these new restaurants point to a hopeful next chapter. Dishes and foodways that were previously hard to find in a lot of US cities are taking center stage, which means more Guyanese and South Indian and Palestinian and Indigenous Mexican food for all of us. After the pandemic made plain exactly how thankless restaurant work can be, some of the places on this list are challenging industry norms and putting their staff first in ways that feel new and refreshing. And even as the influence of platforms like TikTok grows and reshapes restaurant culture (whether we like it or not), a handful of new restaurants have decided to hell with fleeting trends.
I hope this list, divided by region and filled with our thoughts on what to order and what to know, acts as an invitation to shake off any skepticism as to whether going out is “worth it” these days. If you’re spending money to eat out, nothing is more worthwhile than a trip to one of these 50 restaurants. —Elazar Sontag, restaurant editor
Check back on 9/14, when we’ll announce our final list of America’s 10 best new restaurants.
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The Northeast & Mid-Atlantic
818 Franklin Ave., Brooklyn, NY
Sitting in a snug corner of this breakfast, lunch, and dinner spot in Brooklyn, you’ll be inclined to feel like you’re being cared for by your very culinarily talented Jewish grandmother. The menu, influenced heavily by Eastern European traditions, allows you to have both a glass of cold borscht and some truly excellent Hungarian baked goods, like fluffy knots of dough called Ferdinand buns. At night a generous pour of natural wine leads into unfussy plates of chicken liver mousse, spaetzle mac and cheese, and a hefty slice of New York–style cheesecake that will remind you you’re still in Brooklyn.
What to order:
For weekday breakfast and lunch: Confit Tuna Melt ($17); Glass of Cold Pink Borscht ($9); assorted pastries ($5–$10). For summer dinner, menu changes seasonally: Chicken Liver Mousse ($12); Dill Spaetzle Mac ($20); Cod Croquettes ($28); New York Style Cheesecake ($13).
398 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn, NY
Is there anything more New York than a restaurant so highly anticipated that it’s a rare day you can walk right in and get a table? Maybe there is: a restaurant that gets almost as much love for its cool bathroom (think lots of neon lights) as for its food. That’s Bonnie’s, the Cantonese American restaurant chef Calvin Eng opened to rave reviews and a waitlist to prove it. No matter the night, the small restaurant is buzzing with energy from excited diners and a friendly staff, all ready to point out their favorite dishes and drinks. Sure, you may be drawn in by the Cha Siu McRib, a glossy hunk of a sandwich inspired by one fast food behemoth, or the stunner of a whole stuffed fish. But unless you’re dining with a large group, stick with the smaller plates so you can try more of the menu—and definitely save room for a sundae.
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