Philadelphia's Best New Dishes Of 2022

Presenting our favorite dishes of 2022.
Philadelphia's Best New Dishes Of 2022 image

photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo

We’ve eaten a lot of meals over the past year. So many, in fact, that we’re sure we can rank the best flatware in the city at this point. And while you may measure your year in World Series heartbreak and seeing Black Panther 2, we chose to mark it by the most exceptional dishes we’ve had these past 12 months. Like an uncontrollable crush, these are the dishes we just met, can’t stop thinking about, and find reasons to run into again and again. From an incredible roadside chicken sandwich and sweet-savory Thai meatballs to a white pizza that could land Philly on the Wonders of the World list, here are the nine best dishes of the year.


photo credit: GAB BONGHI

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Fontina, Mozzarella, Roasted Fennel Cream, Garlic, Grana Padano, and Stracciatella Pizza

There are some phrases that immediately fire up the pleasure centers in our minds: “Rihanna,” “three-day weekend,” and “Cowboys lose.” For us, it only takes hearing  “Eeva’s white pizza” to turn our brains into the cloudy opening credits from The Simpsons. The Kensington pizza shop has a menu full of hits, but it’s the fontina, mozzarella, roasted fennel cream, sliced garlic, Grana Padano, and stracciatella pizza that claimed the trophy for our favorite white pie in the city. The crust is perfectly airy and doughy, making each bite a creamy mashup so satisfying that it’s the first thing we think of when anyone says “pizza,” “white,” or “good morning.”

Pomegranate Chicken

Although the menu at this South Philly Mediterranean spot rotates often, it has one mainstay—the pomegranate-glazed chicken with soft leeks and labneh. We’re not sure if that’s because they’re masterfully good at cooking it, or they know we’ll start a riot out front if they ever take it off the menu. Each order comes with three pieces of charred breast and thighs, making it a main large enough for the whole table no matter who you bring. The meat is tender and each bite has an unforgettable blend of smokiness and sweetness. And while we could conjure up lots of reasons to get our friends to come back daily—like our body only functions on the syrupy pomegranate sauce—we’re sure that once they catch its scent, the dish will do the work for us. 

Birria Tacos

In a year where it seems like everyone is doing birria, well, everything, it really means something to be the leader of the pack. After our extensive search across the city’s best Mexican restaurants, there is no question that East Passyunk’s Juana Tamale makes our favorite birria tacos. The house-made tortillas are stuffed with an unforgettable stew of spicy, savory, tender beef and salty Oaxaca cheese. Then, they’re fried until crisp, and served with a velvety consomme of onions, chiles, adobo sauce, and pure magic. It’s a huge bonus that the dining space feels like it was designed by Punk Rock Barbie, but if neon purple graffiti isn’t your thing, the tacos still will be.

Bun Bo Hue and Chicken Wings

Full disclosure: we came here for the pho. And while the pho is very good, it was the deep red bun bo hue dac biet and chicken wings on literally every table that made us realize we didn’t order properly. Thankfully, we copied our neighbors, added to our order, and ended up with a meal we can’t stop thinking about. The bun bo hue is rich and spicy, packed with beef, pork, and chewy vermicelli noodles, and layered with a pungent mix of herby, umami flavor. We took breaks from the soup for bites of the crunchy golden chicken wings, fried crispy but not at all greasy, the perfect complement to pho’s spicy cousin. It’s Vietnamese comfort food at its absolute best.

photo credit: GAB BONGHI



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Heirloom Polenta

There are lots of things that get etched in your memory at Northern Liberties’ Pietramala. The plant-based BYOB has throwbacks by Brandy and Floetry playing through the speakers, a chef’s counter where you can see fresh herbs get sprinkled over a perfectly cooked sweet potato, and an atmosphere so laidback that we think we could move in. But it’s the heirloom polenta that will hold permanent real estate in our hearts. Topped with fresh baby chard and sauteed greens, it’s gorgeously soft, smooth, and has depths of flavor that balances creaminess with a light earthiness. Like everything on the menu, it’s meant to be shared. But when we think of a perfect evening, it includes a few glasses of our favorite rosé and bottomless plates of this dish, all to ourselves.

Crab Fondue

We love the stellar service at South Street’s Rex at the Royal. They’re attentive when offering suggestions from the Low Country-themed menu, filling us in on the live music for the night, and when recommending the best wine to pair with the smoked brisket. We only resort to eyebrow raising when our server tries to clear the crab fondue from the table. After all, we need to finish every bite–the melty mix of provolone, cooper, and gruyère is good enough to have its own headlining showcase on the stage at the back. It’s ultra creamy, and thick with pieces of crab meat and Old Bay flavor swirling in each spoonful. The warm, house-made pretzel nuggets on standby are fluffy, salty, and ensure that we can sop it all up before the server comes. 

Hot Chicken Sandwich

From the years between Sixers championships to our penchant for hazard lights over actual parking, Philadelphians are used to waiting. But unlike those other holdups, the 30-minute wait at Asad’s Hot Chicken in the Northeast will result in a food-inspired trance. The chicken sandwich comes on a brioche bun that serves as an excellent pillow for the thick cut of juicy meat, crisp-fried and covered in a pepper glaze and pickles. It’s a combination of crunchiness, creaminess, and spice that flawlessly melds together so well that even the most impatient person in your group will truly look forward to standing around.

Grandma’s Meatballs

This casual BYO calls itself a Thai tapas restaurant, and every dish here is great for sharing. But the first time we visited Grandma’s we each ate an entire order of these meatballs–and regretted nothing. The pork meatballs are made with a blend of lemongrass, ginger, kaffir lime leaves, garlic, and cilantro, and makes for a brighter, lighter meatball than any other we’ve had this year. The five ‘balls are topped with a slurpable sweet-savory chili sauce and fried shallots, making the whole dish fresh and flavorful while simultaneously crispy and comforting. 

Hellboy Squared

It takes a certain amount of humility for a team of Philadelphia writers to name something from New York the top in its class (especially when we’re talking about pizza). But that’s just how f*cking delicious the Hellboy Squared is. The square, upside-down pie comes loaded with sweet tomato sauce, mozzarella, pecorino romano, piles of Ezzo pepperoni, and hot honey, all on a sesame seed crust that gives it a nutty boost. It’s dense yet airy, making each bite a cheesy, crunchy, sweet and spicy revelation. We like the 80's basement vibe of this Washington Square spot–complete with a tube TV and duck hunt–but it’s the Hellboy that we just can’t quit.

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