Eater Critic Ryan Sutton’s 17 Best Dishes of 2022

Eater Critic Ryan Sutton’s 17 Best Dishes of 2022

Earlier this week I shared my picks for the best restaurants of the year. Today, here’s my pick of the best New York dishes of 2022, some of which come from places I didn’t get to review.

Fish tacos at Ensenada

While Manhattan’s $400 omakase parlors keep popping up, a more compelling movement is taking hold: New York continues to experience a small boom in ambitious Mexican restaurants, whether traditional or contemporary, affordable or expensive. Ensenada’s seafood tacos are particularly notable; Chef Luis Herrera recreates the Al Pastor experience on Branzino by layering an expertly prepared fish — the flesh is as tender as a toasted marshmallow — with a pile of pineapple chutney. Then spread pineapple butter, as rich as cheesecake, on tortillas to add to the luxury. Ensenada is at 168 Borinquen Place, South Second Street, Williamsburg

Tamales at Evelias

Evelia Coyotzi, a saleswoman who’s been carting around Jackson Heights for over twenty years, finally has a permanent establishment in East Elmhurst, and the tamales are as spectacular as ever. The coarse, gently corn-scented masa delivers calibrated doses of bold flavors. Adobo Pork Pops with warming spices. Chicharron oozes with slippery skin and spicy salsa verde. And Mole tastes like the cooling embers of a magical fire of chocolate and nuts. 96-09 Northern Boulevard, near 96th Street, East Elmhurst

A selection of rainbow tamales from Evelia's Tamales in Queens.

Evelias Tamales.
Ryan Sutton/Esser NY

Cacio e pepe at Bonnie’s: At a time when Cacio e Pepe feels like he has a celebrity publicist — an agent who wants it everywhere — Bonnie’s version is the one that feels truly unique. Chef Calvin Eng tosses his bucatini into a scorching hot wok and slathers the cheesy noodles with a dose of MSG and fermented bean paste. The result is a pasta dish that not only has a peppery spiciness, but also a mild note reminiscent of a good dry-aged steak. 398 Manhattan Avenue, near Frost Street, Williamsburg

Kuih at Lady Wong: Every day, co-owners Seleste Tan and Mogan Anthony create glossy, square cakes that look like they belong in a sculpture garden at the Met. Fat slices of pandan and caramel pudding sit in display cases – a modernist, Rothko-esque study in green and brown. When you take a bite, they jiggle, releasing bright notes of sugar, salt, grass and coconut. Coconut rainbow cakes jiggle with even more enthusiasm. I would collect and store them like baccarat if they weren’t so damn tasty. 332 East Ninth Street, off First Avenue, East Village

A fish with butterflies is served on a white plate with a brown rim, filled with red sauce and garnished with green herbs.

Al Pastor Branzino in Ensenada.
Adam Friedlander/Ensenada

Welsh Rarebit at Lord’s: I honestly never enjoyed this British pub staple until I started eating at Lord’s. Chef Ed Szymanski doesn’t so much garnish the bread with cheese sauce as he turns a disk of sourdough into a flow-through mechanism for a dense, savory pudding. The concoction of cheddar, mustard, marmite, and Guinness looks as pretty as a mudslide, except this treat is packed with all sorts of umami. Squirt some Worcestershire on top to tame the pungent cheese with a sweet maltiness, then let the anchovy shock you with brine on top. 506 LaGuardia Place, off Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village

Curried Oxtail Pizza at Cuts & Slices: New York slice pizza generally exists within a tight bond of creativity. Toppings tend to lean in Italian and American directions. At Cuts & Slices, however, Randy Mclaren goes all the way to the Caribbean and sends out spicy jerk chicken and jerk shrimp slices. His curried oxtail pies are particularly masterful: a canopy of spices turns the white slice forest green, while the gelatinous beef provides a gooey bite. 93 Howard Avenue, near Halsey Street, Bed Stuy

White pizza at Fini: A typical pizzeria in the tri-state area makes a white pie with ricotta and mozzarella. But Sean Feeney and pizzaiolo Will Unseld do something very different here, slathering each slice with parmesan fontina — essentially white nacho sauce. Lemon zest freshens up the cheesy funk, and while the $5.25 slice is rich, the pizza never feels heavy. 305 Bedford Avenue, near South Second Street, Williamsburg

Three rainbow colored rectangular cubes of lapis sagu arranged on a banana leaf.

Rainbow Lapis by Lady Wong.
Dan Ahn/Esser NY

Foie Gras at the Corner Bar: I don’t eat foie gras more than a few times a year, but I’m glad that the foie gras ban ensures that New Yorkers can continue to enjoy fatty duck livers across the city — and especially at the Corner Bar. Imagine imagine this version as a deconstructed sandwich. The bouncy head cheese is the meat; The foie stands for the mayo, and there’s a nice brioche on the side to whip it all together. 60 Canal Street, near Allen Street, Lower East Side

Mushroom skewers at Eyval: Trumpet mushrooms as browned as a roast chicken sit above pickled beachwood mushrooms and lentils with coconut cream. What follows are enough meaty, tart and tropical flavors to cement this live Iranian firepoint as one of the best newcomers in town. 25 Bogart St, in Varet, Bushwick

Mignardises in Le Rock: Let me name just a few of the things you might encounter on pastry chef Mariah Neston’s three-story slab: jellies, puffs, caneles, marshmallow sandwich cookies, the best apple pie I’ve eaten in a while, and an epic frozen one Casserole with bergamot sorbet. With so many other restaurants offering a meager, limited dessert menu, the Le Rock team is full of Eloise. 45 Rockefeller Plaza, off Fifth Avenue, Midtown

Various slices, some of them half eaten, lie on paper in a pizza box

Cuts & Slices pizza.
Ryan Sutton/Esser NY

Ramyun at Mari: Chef Sungchul Shim’s $135 tasting specializes in a mix of Japanese temaki and Korean kimbap, but one of Mari’s sleeper hits is a noodle soup that wraps up the hearty part of the meal. Shim forges a gugsku from slow-simmering chicken, beef, and veal stock. The broth exudes a hint of poultry spice, followed by a gentle roundness. A tangle of wheat noodles bounces and stretches as you pull them out of the golden broth, tinged red with gochujang. 679 Ninth Avenue, near West 47th Street, Hell’s Kitchen

Fried Chicken at Pecking House: Chef Eric Huang has attracted a 10,000-person waiting list for his pandemic-era pop-up restaurant, but at his permanent outpost, Pecking House, you can sample some of the city’s best fried birds with almost no waiting. Expect chicken as juicy as a bubbly candy, with the rugged, chili-stained exterior giving the best impression of chilling lava. A hint of sugar takes the edge off, but make no mistake, this is spicy. 44 Flatbush Avenue, near St. Marks Avenue, Park Slope

Vada pao at Rowdy Rooster: Yes, this is technically an excellent new fried chicken shack, but Rowdy Rooster is also a rare fast-food spot that pays as much attention to its vegetarian offerings as it does to its carnivores. For the Vada Pao, Roni Mazumdar fries a potato patty that’s as silky and buttery as mashed potatoes, stuffs it into a fluffy pao roll, and then smothers it in a tongue-burning chilli rub. It’s a very luxurious pain. 49 First Avenue, near East Ninth Street, East Village

Pork slices sit on a cloudy bone broth;  Noodles are visible, as is chili oil staining the broth

Guksu at Mari.
Erik Bernstein/Eater NY

Celtuce near Wenwen: Celtuce is a key ingredient in Taiwanese cuisine, but this concoction leans more toward Sichuan. Chef Eric Sze slices the thick lettuce into spaghetti-like strands, marinates it in soy, and then presents it for slurping. The result is a cooling high followed by a mild peppercorn hit. Pair it with hot fried tofu for a fine chaud-froid pairing. 1025 Manhattan Avenue, near Green Street, Greenpoint

The dip plate at Zou Zou: Chic brasseries like to put expensive shellfish on platters. Zou Zou’s instead serves a whole array of expensive dips on a platter. $35 gets fluffy whipped ricotta with saffron apricots; green tahini with cilantro-laced aquafaba; roasted kabocha squash with brown butter; chickpea with black garlic; and eggplants roasted in embers. 385 Ninth Avenue, Suite 85, in Manhattan West Plaza, Midtown

A chef dips fried chicken in a brown chili sauce and places the fowl in a cardboard serving dish

Fried chicken at Pecking House.
Hacking house

Corn brioche at the Lysee: Colombian, Mexican, and other Latin American panaderias have long used corn in baked goods, but the grain isn’t making its way into fancy bakeries with Gallic leanings. Eunji Lee helps change this equation to Flatiron in Franco-Korean Lysee. The chef fills squishy, ​​donut-like brioche with corn cremeaux and tops it with dehydrated corn crumble (with a deeper, sun-baked corn flavor). Pair it with a cold bottle of Toasted Brown Rice Milk for a sweet, savory breakfast. 44 East 21st Street, near Park Avenue, Flatiron

Chicken Rice at Hainan Jones: A growing contingent of local eateries are offering this southern Chinese dish, a street vendor classic popular across Singapore and Southeast Asia. What makes the Jones version stand out is its $17 price—high even by Manhattan standards—and its downright deliciousness. Jones poaches the fowl so tender it’s so juicy it almost seems undercooked; It has an intense chicken flavor, while the soft rice, scented with bold notes of ginger and coriander, soaks up any greasy drips. 135 West 50th Street, in the Urban Hawker Market, off Seventh Avenue, Midtown

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