Restaurants of the Year: Editors' Choice 2022

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When we review restaurants, we follow the same protocols as when we evaluate hotels: We always dine anonymously and pay full price for our meals. In 2021, circumstances restricted our culinary explorations to North America and Europe, but we were fortunate to experience numerous superlative meals in a variety of beautiful settings. Some of our favorites were in unexpected locations that aren’t necessarily associated with fine dining.

Porto

Chicago, Illinois


One of Chicago’s newest Michelin stars, this jewel box of a restaurant is well worth the short cab ride from downtown. I loved its maximalist décor, combining rich textures, saturated colors and lively patterns, but the superb northern Spanish and Portuguese cuisine is the real draw. It’s rare to find restaurants in the United States that focus on these seafood-heavy culinary traditions, and I suspect few do it better or more creatively than Porto. In particular, the fatty dry-aged Galician turbot with fermented tomato, monkfish liver sauce, favas and dashi foam was a special treat, since the fish appears infrequently on American menus, and the presa Ibérica pork with a cabbage-vermouth purée, fermented mustard and smoked pork jus was a savory sensation. Our waitress made excellent outside-the-box wine recommendations, such as a light and zesty red from the Canary Islands. The cocktail list, too, was unique. My gin-based “Crepúsculo” was black with squid ink, for example, and the old-fashioned-like “Humo y Sal” came with a puff of cherrywood smoke. Porto breaks new culinary ground in Chicago and does it with great style. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Porto
1600 West Chicago Avenue. Tel. (312) 600-6336

Buccan

Palm Beach, Florida


Centrally located in Palm Beach, on the corner of South County Road and Australian Avenue, Buccan now offers some of the area’s most imaginative and innovative cuisine. Chef Clay Conley made his name at Azul in the Mandarin Oriental, Miami. His menu features creative American dishes, served as small plates but intended to deliver outsize flavors. I tried the tempura soft-shell crab with hoisin aioli, hamachi tiradito with Peruvian chiles and lotus root, confit duck leg with a sourdough-scallion pancake and a golden-raisin glaze, and wood-grilled octopus with vadouvan sauce, confit potato and lentil salad. All were exquisitely presented, and the crab was probably the most memorable iteration of the dish that I have ever eaten. The restaurant occupies a contemporary space with plain white walls, hardwood floors and copper-topped tables. This décor can make it rather noisy, and perhaps as a result, Buccan tends to appeal to a younger clientele that appreciates the lively cocktail bar and celebratory atmosphere.

Buccan
350 South County Road. Tel. (561) 833-3450

Pierre’s Restaurant

Islamorada, Florida


The Florida Keys are blessed with an abundance of superlatively fresh seafood, but restaurants, while not inexpensive, tend to be quite casual. Outside Key West, fine dining options are even more limited — divey fish shacks are more the norm — which is why our dinner at Pierre’s was such a welcome change of pace. This relatively formal restaurant occupies a plantation-style mansion facing the water, and from our linen-draped table on the second-floor veranda, we had a magnificent view of the sunset. The food kept pace with the setting. I started with a fine crispy-skinned duck confit, accompanied by pickled red cabbage, fried gigante beans and a Bing cherry-brandy jus. A grapefruity but refined glass of Le Petit Silex Sancerre stood up nicely to a flawless local lobster tail in a mildly spicy Thai curry sauce with baby bok choy and sweet purple rice. Pierre’s proved to be my favorite restaurant in all of the Keys, Key West included. The atmosphere was wonderfully romantic, the service was gracious, and the food was uniformly delicious and well presented.

Pierre’s Restaurant
81600 Overseas Highway. Tel. (305) 664-3225

Hestia

Austin, Texas

Named after the Greek goddess of the hearth, Hestia offers a menu centered on live-fire cooking. Upon entering, the first thing we spotted was the 20-foot-long woodburning grill, which is the only source of heat in the kitchen. Acclaimed Argentine chef Francis Mallmann achieved global acclaim for his distinctive open-fire cooking style, and chef Kevin Fink hopped on this increasingly popular trend and opened Hestia at the end of 2019. Everything on Fink’s menu has been “touched by fire or smoke” in some way. Here, the descriptions of dishes are provided directly by the chefs, who work front-of-house. We loved that we were able to ask detailed questions about the provenance of ingredients and the method of preparation. The exceptional grilled scallops, served thinly sliced, soaking in smoked beef tallow and topped with yuzu-infused diced pear, were beautifully presented on the half shell. The fare at Hestia is unlike anything else in Austin. Closed Monday.

Hestia
607 West Third Street. Tel. (512) 333-0737

Addison

San Diego, California


The only Michelin-starred restaurant in the San Diego area, Addison is located on the sprawling grounds of the Fairmont Grand Del Mar, a 249-room Mediterranean-style hotel surrounded by 400 acres of coastal canyonland. From our table, in a lovely corner of the rooftop terrace, we enjoyed chef William Bradley’s fresh take on California cuisine via his five-course tasting menu (now expanded to nine courses). The first presentation alone consisted of five mouthwatering bites: a pillow-shaped puff pastry with stinging nettle, topped with garden greens; iced Kumamoto oysters dressed with gooseberry and ponzu; a sashimi cube in an escabeche marinade; crunchy squid ink “toast” with finger lime and salmon roe; and a mini-rosemary rösti with Iberian ham and sherry. One- and two-bite plates appeared and disappeared just as quickly. These ranged from chawanmushi (Japanese egg custard) with sea scallops and caramelized cod and a mid-dinner sourdough bread course to the final savory dish of barbecued squab served with a squab liver mousse. Dinner was exceptional, and service was attentive and informative without any pretension whatsoever. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Addison
5200 Grand Del Mar Way. Tel. (858) 314-1900

Miro Kaimuki

Honolulu, Hawaii


In Honolulu’s Kaimuki, a pedestrian-friendly and untouristy neighborhood, this stylishly spare new restaurant draws a local crowd with its well-priced “French-inspired” prix fixe menus. Highlights of our meal included Kauai prawns with almond cream, crunchy papaya and tarragon; charred local sweet peppers stuffed with vadouvan-spiked yogurt and drizzled with curry leaf oil; and fork-tender beef cheek with puréed sunchoke and crunchy sunflower seeds, shoots and petals. Each of these carefully presented dishes burst with flavor. We also ordered the surprisingly inexpensive wine pairing, and I was likewise impressed with selections such as a zippy Gunderloch Riesling, a fruity and savory Roche de Bellene Pinot Noir from Burgundy and (for an extra charge) a sublime 2013 Château Suduiraut Sauternes with dessert. Value isn’t always easy to find in Hawaii, but Miro Kaimuki proves that it’s there for those who know where to look. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Miro Kaimuki
3446 Waialae Avenue. Tel. (808) 379-0124

Assa

Blois, France


Assa means “morning” in Japanese, the native language of chef Fumiko Maubert. She cooks with her French husband, Anthony, at this ryokan-like restaurant on the edge of Blois, just across the street from the Loire River. Many of the leading Loire Valley winemakers invite their guests to this Michelin one-star table, because the fresh and inventive Franco-Japanese dishes make such perfect foils for their wines. The tasting menu we sampled was not only the best meal we ate during our recent trip to the Loire, but one of the most delicious we’ve ever had in France outside of Paris. The Mauberts cook in an open kitchen overlooking the mezzanine dining room, and service from young waiters in canvas aprons is friendly but precise and professional. The menu changes regularly, but highlights of our lunch included foie gras with finely sliced raw mushrooms; goat cheese with tofu; and whiting with vegetable tempura, flowers and herbs. Closed Monday, Thursday and Sunday.

Assa
189 Quai Ulysse Besnard. Tel. (33) 2-54-78-09-01

Arnolfo

Colle di Val d’Elsa, Italy


When in Tuscany, I feel most excited to eat classic dishes; more high-concept presentations don’t tend to raise my pulse. Nevertheless, I decided to give this Michelin two-star restaurant a try, and I was thrilled I did. Located in the heart of Colle di Val d’Elsa’s historic ridge-top Colle Alta neighborhood, Arnolfo has a number of small, exquisite dining rooms, making a dinner here feel unusually exclusive. The food presentations could not be described as unfussy, but they had ample flavor to back up the visuals. I especially enjoyed the mild and almost creamy Tuscan prawn tartare with sea asparagus pesto and finger lime gelée, the delicate guinea fowl agnolotti with sweet-savory tomato sauces and a guinea fowl croquette, and the superbly tender Simone Fracassi Chianina beef steak and tongue with tarragon mayonnaise and a prism of paper-thin potato slices. Elegant waiters in flawlessly tailored suits glided to and fro, but their service was good humored, not aloof. Too often, Italian restaurants with multiple Michelin stars leave me pining for a simple plate of pappardelle with wild boar ragu. I left Arnolfo with no such craving, feeling instead that the expensive dinner was worth every euro cent. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

Arnolfo
Via XX Settembre 50. Tel. (39) 057-792-0549

Pedro dos Leitões

Mealhada, Portugal


In the same way travelers to Maine look forward to a lobster roll at their favorite shack, the Portuguese crave the crispy-skinned spit-roasted suckling pigs (leitões, in Portuguese) served by a dozen or so restaurants in the central Portuguese town of Mealhada. Famous nationwide, they are the goal of many a weekend outing from Porto and Lisbon. Our favorite place for this feast was founded in 1941 by Álvaro Pedro, after he had come home from working as a railroad dining-car chef in South America. Initially, he began by selling roast suckling pig sandwiches to travelers on Portugal’s main north-south road, but the demand became so great, he eventually opened a sit-down restaurant. The piglets are marinated in salt, garlic, pepper and lard before being cooked on a rotisserie, and they’re served with fried potatoes and salad.

Pedro dos Leitões
Rua Álvaro Pedro 1, Apartado 8. Tel. (351) 232-209-950

By Andrew Harper Editors Andrew Harper editors travel the world anonymously to give you the unvarnished truth about luxury hotels. Hotels have no idea who the editors are, so they are treated exactly as you might be.
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