The Best Dining Experiences Our Editors Had in 2022 | Condé Nast Traveler

As travel editors, we are fortunate to not only travel the globe and call it work, but to also snag reservations at some of the best restaurants in the world—both well known and under-the-radar. We each have an interest in, and a nose for, sniffing out great places during our travels. After all, it comes with the territory.  

After discussing our favorite meals of the year in a very animated meeting, our team agreed it would be a shame to withhold these gems from our readers. That's why this year, our editors (always keen, and sometimes hard-to-impress) decided to share the best meals we ate in 2022 around the globe—in Greece, New Zealand, Peru, and beyond. Each restaurant gave us an unforgettable meal, unmatched service, and a deep longing to return. All of them are worth bookmarking for your future travels; some providing such a unique experience, they're worth planning an entire trip around. Read on for our editor's 20 favorite dining moments of the year.  Felt Cat Bed

The Best Dining Experiences Our Editors Had in 2022 | Condé Nast Traveler

I had time for just one dinner in Auckland during a recent trip to New Zealand, and knew Kingi had to fill it. I had heard about it for a couple years—the smart, sustainable seafood restaurant appropriately inside Britomart, the country's first urban green hotel. I called a friend who was happy to leave her kids for the night and rush on down. We essentially ordered the entire menu, flatbreads and fish burgers as well as pasta with cockles, pairing the lot with grassy local white wines. —Erin Florio, executive editor

Vanilla crème anglaise on a genoise sponge cake at Le Bernardin

The curtained windows of Le Bernardin on West 51st Street have allured, while also protected-from-view, chef Eric Ripert's celebrated fine-dining seafood restaurant for the past 50 years—it was recently named the number one restaurant in the world by La Liste, among countless other accolades. One cold winter evening, I finally snagged a notoriously hard-to-land reservation and stepped behind the portière into the elegant seascape-inspired dining room. The tasting menu unraveled like a symphony, with precise service, lovingly-paired wines, and, of course, technically perfect dishes with elevated-yet-surprising flavors—all meticulously conducted by Ripert. It's one of those special, only-in-New-York dining experiences that is certainly worth traveling for. —Scott Bay, associate editor

You know what's better than sitting on a snow-covered mountainside, lapping up bubbling fondue and swilling crisp Champagne while the sun warms your face? Not much. Understandably, I was devastated to learn how much I'd been missing—at least where après-ski is concerned—when I visited St. Moritz for the first time this past March, where I'd traveled to take my first ski lesson. Badrutt's Palace Hotel, the nearby landmark hotel which lords over Lake Saint Moritz, took over the management of Paradiso in 2021, a move which likely only assured its already-gilded reputation; regardless, the food and service now meets the same high standard as that of the hotel itself. Crisp, freshly baked baguette slices are passed down the picnic bench-style tables, the better to soak up the rich, blended-cheese fondue; buttery lobster rolls neatly coated with spicy mayonnaise suddenly appear out of nowhere, followed by a parade of thinly sliced cold cuts and dense pork terrines. It's all you can do not to spend the whole day there, picking up a sunburn and sloshing your way back down the mountain. —Betsy Blumenthal, features editor

Cow cheeks with purple cabbage, corn, and chilis at Kjolle in Lima, Peru

Pia Leon's Kjolle is, in my mind, the ultimate Lima dining experience these days. The tasting menu, reminiscent of many of the dishes the chef has helped create at Central (just renamed the best restaurant in Latin America by 50 Best), is a journey through Peru's various ecosystems, showcasing bright seafood, rare Amazonian fruits, and Andean tubers that even the Peruvians I was dining with had never heard of. I loved visiting at lunch for the tasting menu—it's impossible to pick a favorite dish, though the scallops were a standout—and the non-alcoholic drink pairing completely blew me away. —Megan Spurrell, senior editor

My favorite place in Cairo is definitely not the tourist-addled pyramids—but my favorite meal in the city is just beside them. Mena House, the historic guesthouse-turned-Marriott hotel situated in the shadow of the Great Pyramid is known for its incredible views, but also has some of the best authentic Egyptian cuisine in greater Cairo, where my husband is from. This year we visited with my own family in tow for their first visit, and knew that after an exhausting August day in the desert, it would be the perfect place to introduce them to the local cuisine, namely molokhia—a traditional, garlic-and-herb soup made from the abundant mallow plants that flower along the banks of the Nile. Here, it's served with perfectly crispy roasted chicken and rice, and we also ordered shareable mixed grills with kofta and veggies for dipping. Sitting around the smoking tabletop grills spooning sticky, sumptuous molokhia over everything (in the blasting AC, of course) is a delicious memory my family will carry forever. —Shannon McMahon, destinations editor

As good for a low-key and spontaneous night as it is for a celebration of any sort, I had my best-yet meal at Chez Ma Tante with my parents and brother while celebrating the latter’s graduation. It was very simple—whereas previous excursions had seen me arrive merely peckish, content to eat a light kedgereee or falafel dish, this time we were each of us starving and in the mood to order extravagantly. We’re talking pig's head terrine and chilled mussels shrouded in dill and stracciatella with anchovies and Calabrian chili all on the table at once. My entrée? The pork shoulder, pepper-crusted and charred and simply very good. —Charlie Hobbs, editorial assistant

A Maine-style lobster roll served cold with mayonnaise—and a dash of Old Bay—at High Roller in Portland, Maine

I go to Maine every summer, and yes, I know, that the state has so much more to offer dining-wise than lobster rolls. But they're a regular part of my diet when I'm cruising along the coast mid-July. The best lobster roll I've found (and I've tried many) is at High Roller in Portland, Maine. It's a newer spot with an edgy personality—which requires a real leap of faith from those who have grown up on institutions like Red's and the Lobster Shack at Two Lights—but the have-it-your-way rolls are packed with generous servings of meat and great flavor at a fair price. Go simple to start: Maine style, cold, with mayo and Old Bay, or get it nice and warm with the meat tossed in ghee and a squeeze of lemon. I dream about this lobster roll all year round. —M.S

Formerly Racines, Chambers is the new iteration of this French eatery brought back in a revamped space helmed by chef Jonathan Karis. In the heart of Tribeca, Karis dishes out seasonal tapas-style dishes that are always a hit. Make sure you get an order of the sweetbreads, or two. If you're a local, this really is the place where everybody knows your name. And if you're not, it won't be long before you feel the sentiment as well. For wine nerds, there might not be a better place in NYC, all thanks to Pascaline Lepeltier, the sommelier who has curated an insane bottle list from the common to the obscure. That said, being a regular I don't bother ordering as she plies me with glass after glass (or bottle) of wine that I may have never heard of, or wouldn't normally gravitate to but always hits the spot. —Eugene Shevertalov, senior entertainment editor

This is a bit of a trek from Reykjavík, located in southwest Iceland at the Grindavik Harbor, about an hour’s drive away from the city. But exploration is a necessity when visiting Iceland. After you’ve picked your jaw off the ground from experiencing the other-worldly landscape, you’ll need fuel (and a place to warm up). At the incredibly cozy Café Bryggjan, I devoured the most delicious bowl of lobster soup I’ve ever had. It’s self-serve, and you get a free refill along with a hearty piece of freshly baked bread to soak up every last creamy bite. As winter closes in on us in New York, I find my mind drifting back to this little fisherman’s cafe time and again. —Mercedes Bleth, global associate director of social

It is well known that chilaquiles are an essential meal in Mexico City (especially after a night out) and the best I’ve had were at Chilpa, the morning after my wedding. Their chilaquiles bowls are “build your own” where you can select everything from the style of totopos to the spice level of your salsa. But beyond the lifesaving meal, the staff at Chilpa kindly took care of our whole group, adding on table after table as more wedding guests trickled through, nailing each custom order and keeping the fresh juice (chido is my favorite: carrot, orange, ginger) and micheladas flowing. They even sent us home with a gift of their housemade chili crisp salsa, which we throw on our chilaquiles at home to transport us back to this lovely morning. —M.B.

Selma's pickled herring with brown butter smørrebrød

Smørrebrød stole my heart on a summer trip to Copenhagen—and quickly became my favorite dish there. Before having lunch at Selma, which came highly recommended for its smorgasbord of smørrebrød (say that five times, fast), I had made the mistake of assuming it was akin to the more basic open-faced sandwiches I was accustomed to, save that it would be built on dense rye bread. Instead I found myself faced with what felt like pure art: The magic of a smørrebrød lies in the arrangement of toppings—a unifying balance of texture and contrast. There’s also an etiquette around the consumption of it, from which smørrebrød you begin and end with—always start with the herring—and how you eat it. As I discovered, picking it up with your hands and biting into it only results in all the toppings falling off. Messy plates aside, that perfect June afternoon in Selma has stayed with me, where, book in hand and wine glass for company, I ordered smørrebrød after smørrebrød: Danish potatoes with chives and dried lovage; plump Danish tomatoes, before finally—in another example of reckless rule-breaking—finishing off with pickled herring with brown butter, which the server brought over, hot off the flame, in a saucepan ready to pour. All I’ll say is, I took my time saying, “that's plenty.” —Arati Menon, global digital director

When I visit my hometown, I always make it a goal to visit a favorite restaurant or watering hole (HSL , Nona, and Water Witch, I'm looking at you), as well as try a new spot. Which is never hard to find given the rate at which Salt Lake City is growing, with a dedicated creative community eager to fill the new architecture with boutiques, new social clubs, and of course, restaurants. This summer, I tried SLC Eatery, after seeing that chefs Logen Crew and Paul Chamberlain were nominated for a James Beard Award. Their menu is a fresh addition to the city, and a thrill for a Utah-native. Crew and Chamerlain take familiar Utah dishes and turn them on their head with incredible technique and locally-sourced product—all with a bit of whimsy. The appetizer cart items, like a smoked cheddar scone and buttermilk bleu cheese arancini, are a standout, and now I have to add the restaurant to my mustn't-miss-while-visiting-home list.  —S.B.

New York City Restaurant Week happens twice a year, and ahead of both windows, I exhaustively pore through NYCGo, looking at menus of restaurants I haven’t yet tried and prioritizing which ones I can’t miss. This year, Archer and Goat was on my list, and it did not disappoint. A family-owned and -operated restaurant and bar in Harlem, the family’s Ecuadorian, Puerto Rican, and Bangladeshi roots shine through in the menu, which riffs on classic American, Latin, and South Asian dishes. The space itself is tucked into the ground level of a townhouse with outdoor seating out front and on a back patio. The three-course meal started with a generous portion of crispy Brussels sprouts tossed in cilantro chimichurri with pickled chilis. For the main course, I chose chicken vindaloo arepas with a layer of cucumber raita underneath the flavorful meat and a sprinkle of cotija on top. For desert, tres leches panna cotta made with rose water and candied pistachios—all accompanied by a few martinis. I highly recommend a visit—just note that it is open Thursday through Sunday, with dinner service only on Thursday and Friday. —Madison Flager, senior commerce editor

A spread at Kann of legim (vegetables) with plantain brioche, octopus with beans and avocado, fried cauliflower, and rice

Recently named the Best New Restaraunt in America by Esquire, Kann ("cane" in Haitian Creole) is the brainchild of James Beard Award winning chef Gregory Gourdet. Opened in August, this live-fire restaurant is where Haitian cuisine meets the Pacific Northwest. Gourdet honors his heritage and culture while honing in on seasonal and local ingredients. Standout dishes like legim (vegetables in Haitian), plantain brioche, and a grilled pineapple upside down cake bring together the flavors of the Caribbean. The entire menu is gluten-and dairy-free and reservations are hard to come by. Inside the restaurant, everything is utilized from the firewood that makes up the decorations on the walls to the shared table to create a family-style eatery. Gourdet mines his own memories of growing up a first- generation Haitian American in Queens and turns it into a delicious, bright, and flavorful restaurant in the heart of Portland. —Kayla Brock, associate social media manager

Going to Greece on my honeymoon this year, I had two priorities: beaches and tavernas. The island of Paros ended up having the best of both of those things, and some of the most delicious traditional Greek food we had on our trip. And that surprised us—after spending a lot of money on ritzy Caldera-front spots on Santorini and cave-nestled splurges in Mykonos, the best food of the 10-day getaway was at Mira, a casual taverna-style spot in the port area of Parikia (although trendy Naoussa nearby had some incredible runner-up mezze bars, too). It can be surprisingly hard to find a good sit-down taverna in the overcrowded Cyclades during high season, but at Mira we walked up sans reservation and lingered for hours at our oceanfront table for hearty moussaka and slow-roasted lamb, tangy tzatziki and olives with pillowy pita, a succulent octopus & cous-cous salad, and the pièce de résistance: a perfectly crispy saganaki of warm phyllo-wrapped feta with a thyme-infused honey. It was the most perfect, unpretentious, romantic end to a long day exploring the island. —S.M.

Kalaya's fiery, fresh plates, including the chef's trademark violet-blue sakoo sai hed, tapioca dumplings stuffed with shiitake mushroom and peanuts

I was late to the game on Kalaya, a fact my Philly-based friends won't let me forget. But better late than never—especially when it comes to chef Nok Suntaranon's faultless Thai food. My husband and I were lucky enough to dine at the original outpost of her restaurant in South Philly before Suntaranon closed the spot in September, ahead of its relocation to a larger space in neighboring Fishtown. The cozy, brick-walled boite felt like the platonic ideal of a reliably delicious restaurant where you'd want to become a regular—comfortable, warm, and unassuming—with food so good it shocks the hell out of you. We dug into an endless buffet of fiery, fresh plates, including the chef's trademark violet-blue sakoo sai hed, tapioca dumplings stuffed with shiitake mushroom and peanuts, and exquisite kang poo pak tai, a rich, fragrant crabmeat curry. The apex of the meal, though, was undoubtedly the tom yum: a metal cauldron of bubbling-hot liquid, in which two prawns—each the size of a small lobster—luxuriated. All I can say is, thank God for Fishtown. —B.B. 

The food doesn't need to be good for a meal to be memorable when the restaurant is inside a cave, jutting over the sea, with a platform next to the tables that lets you dive into the water after you pay your bill. But at Sa Nacra, a deceptively simple-looking seaside lunch spot where shoes aren't required but bookings are a must, the signature fish stew called caldereta was one of the tastiest pots of food I have had in ages. Huge, fresh chunks of langoustine, still in the shell, and other seafood are bubbling together in a tomato-y broth, and the servers ladel it into bowls for you. Simple, delicious, and a deserving last lunch for my trip to Menorca; my last day there was the only time we could bag a table. —E.F.

For New Yorkers in need of a breath of fresh air and restorative eating and drinking, I highly recommend a visit to Macari Vineyards on Long Island's North Fork. At an industry event held there this past fall, I ate one of my favorite meals of the year. I visited in late September on a cool and drizzly day and began by touring the misty 500-acre, biodynamic vineyard, which touches the sea and is roamed by cows. The blue-grey clouds made the green and gold fall colors of the vines all the more vivid. Afterwards, we warmed up by traveling into the dim candle-lit cellar for a multi-course, hyper-local-seasonal dinner and wine tasting, in celebration of the harvest. The food program we previewed is set to open in April 2023 at Mavericks Montauk, and will be helmed by chef Jeremy Blutstein. It began with Amagansett kimchi and sesame oil dressed oysters passed around the long wooden tables. Next came my favorite dish of all, a salad of Sagaporack-grown beets of every color, tossed in an addictive fermented black tahini labneh and dusted with pistachio crumble—I could not restrain myself when it came to mopping up the labneh throughout the entirety of the dinner. For the mains, they served black vinegar-lacqured beef and entire roasted Montauk flukes, whose ribs we dug into communally with our forks. Vegetables were the stars of the show here though, with two other terrific sides in addition to the salad: Sagaporack carrots with preserved lemon and Amagansett creamed spinach with roasted bone marrow. Dessert concluded with a Sicilian pistachio praline chocolate mouse. And don't get me started on the wine! —Alex Erdekian, travel bookings commerce editor

Outdoor cooking at Aldea Xbatun, an interactive cooking experience near Mérida, Mexico

The food that I ate during my time in Mérida was relentlessly fabulous. However, nothing topped what I found on a day trip some three hours outside of the city. At Aldea Xbatun, you make a day out of eating. When you’re not devouring the tasty food, you’re cooking, or watching someone more skilled than you cook, or trying to cook something before said more skillful person intervenes for everyone’s sake. This is a campground run by a family at their ancestral Mayan hacienda—when you arrive, they wrap a deep pan of chicken, onions, and more in banana leaves and bury it to cook underground, you can see the smoke wafting up through the soil, and two hours later you have the very finest meal you may ever eat. In the meantime, enjoy a beer brewed onsite and make your own tamales, or simply watch in wonder as your hosts crack eggs into homemade tortillas for their own take on an arepa. —C.H

When the Chelsea Market outpost of chef Michael Solomonov's hummusiya Dizengoff shuttered in 2018, I mourned—and then I began driving to Philadelphia, the nucleus of the restaurateur's culinary empire, what felt like every other weekend to get my fix of first-rate Israeli food. So I was thrilled when he opened a new second outpost of Laser Wolf, his shipudiya, or skewer house, at the top of the Hoxton Hotel in Williamsburg this past summer. Served family-style, the dishes are at once hardy and sophisticated: silky, tahini-rich hummus, fresh-from-the-brick-oven pita bread, inventive vegetable salatim—like cabbage brightened with fennel and schug or tangy Yemenite pickles—and of course, hunks of grilled lamb merguez and tender chicken shishlik (and let's not forget the divine French fries, served with tahina ketchup, or the brown sugar soft-serve). The endlessly attentive service, well-balanced cocktails, and expansive views of the Manhattan skyline aren't bad, either. —B.B.

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