The Best Openings of 2022: Chefs, Food Writers and Sommeliers From Around the World Share Their Top Picks

“What are the best openings of the year?” Once upon a time, the answers to this question would have favoured the big and the grand: but as far as our contributing experts around the world are concerned, low-key and neighbourhood were the key themes of 2022. From a Polish deli-slash-natural-wine-cafe in Bangkok to a Reykjavik bakery that moonlights as a pizzeria after dark, these newcomers deserve to be on your radar.

Christian F. Puglisi, Copenhagen

“My former head chef Jon Tam is killing it in his new place Jatak on Nørrebro. I have worked with Jon for more than a decade and his palate, creativity and culinary reflections deserve as much success as one can possibly have [a Michelin star in its first year sounds like just the beginning for Jatak]. I am excited just thinking about what he will be able to create in this place.”

Liliana Lopez, Mexico City

“The location of my new favourite restaurant is a lovely second-floor terrace overlooking the treetops of the Condesa neighbourhood. It’s enlivened with music that mixes genres from Spanish rock to alternative hits. The relaxed atmosphere, mezcal from small producers and natural wines create a setting for a great, tasty time. The service is warm and friendly and the menu, which changes with the seasons, gets very creative and will have things such as tostadas de medregal with crispy peas and lemon cream or tetelas (Mexican triangle-shaped corn masa treats) with unusual stuffings like goat’s cheese, date paste and pistachio dressing. Esquina Común is only open from Friday to Sunday and you only get an exact address when you book via their Instagram page.”

Esquina Común, Mexico City

Tom Sarafian, Melbourne

“Ross Magnaye and his team are serving some seriously tasty, soulful Filipino food kissed by a wood fire in a refreshingly fun and exciting new restaurant called Serai in the heart of the CBD. We are very lucky to have chefs like Ross in Melbourne sharing beautiful food cultures and continually expanding the Australian dining scene.”

Maria Markitani, Nicosia

Kuzuba is my new favourite place in Nicosia. It’s in a small, beautiful space with an inviting design, honours Cypriot products and celebrates seasonality. The menu is designed in such a way to be able to try a bit of everything and sharing works perfectly. I was pleasantly surprised by all the things I’ve tried there. The flavours were well thought-out and balanced. There’s a daily specials menu as well as an interesting drinks menu that includes Cypriot zivania (local brandy) and an extensive range of wines and creative cocktails.”

Kuzuba, Nicosia

Anissa Helou, Beirut

“Beirut is a desolate city these days. The economic crisis that deepened following the devastation caused by the massive port explosion two years ago is affecting practically everyone and the scars from the explosion are still visible in places. This said, many buildings – old and new – have been lovingly restored including the stunning Beit Kanz  which has been turned into a remarkable cultural hub for both craftsmanship and gastronomy. It’s a beautiful meeting place where you can eat and buy beautiful objects and impeccably sourced ingredients, all of which benefit people in need throughout the country. The brainchild of Maya Ibrahimchah and an offshoot of the Beit el Baraka charity, Beit Kanz opened its doors a few months ago and is already one of Beirut’s most happening places.”

Sarah Owens, Santa Rosa

“The best way to kick off a weekend in Sonoma County is making a visit to Marla Bakery and Miracle Plum: two businesses that are now conveniently located in the same place. [Marla has a permanent retail presence in natural wine bar and neighbourhood market, Miracle Plum] You are immediately greeted by the buttery aromas of Marla‘s laminated pastries: I can never resist grabbing one to gobble at the counter before ordering an excellent bagel stuffed with house-cured trout and pickles to-go. After a satisfying snack, it’s time to start thinking about making dinner and which natural wines and ciders to serve. Miracle Plum is always stocked with tasty pantry items ready to inspire a meal. Gwen and Sallie have the best recommendations for a wide range of beverage price points, local businesses and international wine labels. It’s a dream collaboration that keeps the belly happy and my guests impressed.”

Faith Willinger, Florence

Chic Nonna is the best new spot in Firenze and features a frescoed room inside a Renaissance palace, elegant service and a gastronomic dinner menu that was speedily awarded a Michelin star. Chef Vito Mollica is adored by Florentines. Also inside the stunning Palazzo Portinari Salviati is the Salotto Portinari: a courtyard bar and bistro that offers all-day dining with Italian classics and a business lunch that’s a real bargain.”

Chic Nonna, Florence

Matylda Grzelak, Bangkok

“Picture a breakfast café with a full-on artisanal bakery, a charcuterie fridge, Polish dishes and quirky natural wine on rotation. Now sprinkle the Polish spirit of two full-grown, tattooed and bearded fellows hailing from fine-dining backgrounds and pack it all into a big, depot-style villa in a buzzy soi of Phrom Phong, the land of dubious karaoke. Larder is a different kind of Johnny-come-lately that’s taking Bangkok by storm.”

Olivier Jacobs, Ghent

“Tom Pauwelyn, the former sous chef of Jason Blanckaert (from Aroy Aroy) and Kobe Desramaults (from De Superette), recently opened his own place outside the city centre and named it Elders, which in Ghent dialect means ‘somewhere else’. He’s a very promising young chef. The restaurant is on a little square in a little neighbourhood. It’s very seasonal, local food that nicely highlights the products. It serves really nice meats and local charcuterie and sommelier Romy Deconinck does a really great job with the wine menu. You can go there just for drinks and a nibble or to eat a la carte, or you can reserve ahead to have the set menu.”

Restaurant Elders, Gent ©WIT / Luum

Kristjan Peaske, Tallinn

38 Restaurant is as fresh of an opening as it gets. Bread arrives on the table with a candle, which you soon discover is actually the butter for this delicious sourdough. Talented chef Joonas Koppel pushes boundaries for both his guests and himself. It’s the most fun and engaging experience in Tallinn right now. Open your mind and fasten your seatbelt. The tasting menu is definitely what you should go for and includes signature bites like a set of plump lips hiding a concoction of chicken pâté and raspberries.”

Steve Dolinsky, Chicago

“Our best openings this year were actually two bakeries from local baking veterans. The staff is hard at work well before the sun rises at Mindy’s Bakery, mixing dough, cutting it, pressing it into moulds and tempering tons of chocolate. This is Mindy Segal’s domain and with decades under her belt as a pastry chef, she’s going back to her roots with her namesake bakery in Bucktown, but she’s also whipping up some impressive new creations. The line never ceases to let up on the weekends. They come for raspberry crumble bars and narrow brownies, bagels and rugelach. Segal is just as interested in savoury treats. The ‘brisket fat pastry’ houses – not surprisingly – brisket. The other contains a humble knob of pork belly, plus a macaroni and cheese sauce with corn, and then tiny knobs of roasted pork belly kissed with Parmesan cheese. Segal is also a big fan of combining laminated pastry and Michigan fruit. She’ll use nectarines that have been soaking for days in a blueberry liquid that she used when blueberries were in season. A swoosh of lemon cream adds tartness and a graham cracker streusel provides a crumbly base. There’s also challah, laminated with brown butter, in order to make a hot fudge babka. But her most popular item is a cinnamon roll made with the scraps from her delicate croissants. Chicago has seen a ridiculous amount of average Italian restaurants open over the past year, but the smart ones will have set up accounts with Publican Quality Bread. The bakery is part of the One Off Hospitality group, owners of The Publican and Publican Quality Meats. It is the brainchild of Greg Wade, a James Beard Award-winning baker and author of the new book Bread Head. Wade deals in long fermentation and high hydration doughs, creating loaves with enviable open crumb structure. The bakery moved to much larger digs in 2022, with some seating outside on the compact patio. The loaves here have crisp, hardened crusts with soft, pliable interiors and lots of open crumb structure. The rhythm of the bakery is what sets it apart. At 7am, they’re selling pastries. At 9am, it’s fresh bread out of the oven. At 10am, they start putting up savoury items like tartines and The Big Sandwich. Big is an understatement. You tell them how much to cut and you pay by the ounce. On the day I visited, bread was schmeared with oregano mayo, layered with pickled green tomato, roasted summer squash, smoked turkey and chipotle kumquat sauce, with some Cotija cheese (aged Mexican cheese) and arugula. Lighter appetites should come later in the day, around 1pm, when they start doing jambon beurre sandwiches – ham, butter and cheese on a minutes-old baguette.”

Mindy’s Bakery, Chicago

Marek Bartos, Prague

Automat Matuška is a new addition to Prague and a place that I have to recommend. I’ve been drinking Matuška’s beer since he started brewing it at the Strahov Monastery Brewery. There weren’t many places that served his beer, so it’s great that he has finally opened his first pub. It’s a nice-looking, minimal taproom that hosts DJs sometimes. It’s the kind of place I want to go to with friends and try a few small-batch brews on tap and have good barbecued food with it.”

Analiese Gregory, Tasmania

“The year’s most impressive opening was the Waterloo Inn in Swansea [a town on Tasmania’s east coast that’s around a two-hour drive north of Hobart]. Husband-and-wife team Alex Sumner (front-of-house) and Zac Green (chef) took over an old brick motel dining room complete with a vintage menu board, hideous curtains and furniture I think I remember from a 1980s function. In this space they’ve built one of the best natural wine lists in Tassie and are cooking consistently delicious, surprising food drawing on small farmers from all over the island.”

Anna Norström, Stockholm

Ett Hem is a privately owned luxury hotel in Stockholm that’s been an industry secret for years, known for its very good food and homely vibes. It’s a gem so hidden that you have to ring a doorbell to get in. Before, the restaurant at Ett Hem – which means ‘a home’ in Swedish – would only accept external guests if there were spots left, but as of this Autumn the hotel has expanded to 22 rooms and an extra restaurant that’s open for everyone. Sit at the counter by the open kitchen and enjoy a daily five-course menu made with the best seasonal produce which they display in front of you and cook in a rustic yet elegant manner. There’s often a steak tartare, a vegetarian dish such as deep-fried artichokes, a handmade pasta, a main of fish or meat and a dessert. The extensive wine list can make any wine lover shed a tear.”

Ett Hem, Stockholm

Allison Van Rassel, Quebec City

“What if the apéro went on all evening long? Melba makes it happen with great elegance and style in a very French-forward dining experience orchestrated by chefs Alexandra Roy and Charles Provencher-Proulx, partners in life and in business. After a few years of travelling the world and working in Michelin-starred establishments in Europe, they’ve returned home to team up with their long time friend, renowned chef Guillaume St-Pierre (of Battuto, Best New Restaurant in Canada, EnRoute Magazine 2018). Melba is located in the vibrant, foodie-friendly Saint-Sauveur neighbourhood and is only open on weeknights. Reservations are highly recommended.”

Luciana Squadrilli, Rome

“My favourite newcomer is a bakery, a specialty coffee bar, a pastry shop and a peculiar decor workshop where vintage pieces find a new life and where everything can be purchased. I may be a little biassed since one of the founders is a friend and former colleague, but Tulipane really is a small gem in the heart of Rome. It’s a creature of love and passion where the gorgeous loaves, the delicious tarts and croissants and the lovely filled focaccia are not to be missed.”

Tulipane, Rome

Max Veenhuyzen, Perth

“Curiously, a lot of big venues have opened in Perth this year, but the most interesting newcomers have been the smaller, family-run places. If that sounds predictable, the upshot is that the best of these newcomers have been wonderfully unpredictable in their own ways. Take, for instance, Hunter Bread, a great neighbourhood bakery that’s opened in an unlikely suburban shopping centre location. On Saturdays and Sundays, owners Shannon Malone and Hunter Carlberg turn out excellent croissants, pain au chocolat and other Viennoiseries that make perfect weekend snacking. Then there’s Alberta’s, a store and kitchen in Busselton from Ben Ing and Kirsty Marchant: two former high-ranking officers at Noma – he was head chef, she was the head gardener – that decamped to Australia’s southwest to do something a little more human-scale and, dare we say it, sustainable. (You have read Kirsty’s excellent essay for The Local Tongue on slowing down, right?). Kirsty and Ben have just switched from a breakfast and brunch vibe to lunch and dinner and the signs suggest Alberta’s, despite its casual bent, is going to be a key venue in Western Australia’s hospitality landscape. But for me, the best newcomer in 2022 is Falafel Omisi, a low-key cafe next to a soccer pitch slinging terrific fried-to-order falafels, hummus, shakshukah, Sabich sandwiches and other deliciousness from the Arab and Jewish worlds.”

Billy Wagner, Berlin

“Pars chocolatier opened a beautiful neighbourhood restaurant, Pars. The design of the place is clean and minimal but you get a really warm feeling when you walk in. It has a very local identity and high-quality chocolate. It’s located in a neighbourhood that normally does things very differently: more classic, more steak, more pinot grigio. But here there’s a focus on natural wine, it’s practically an all-women team and they use local ingredients and amazing, well-sourced chocolate in all the stages of cooking. During the day, the restaurant offers small bites and very good coffee.”

Restaurant Pars, Berlin

Ragnar Eiriksson, Reykjavik

Bakabaka was definitely my favourite place to open this year. It’s a bakery by day that serves great sourdough and rye bread, croissants, doughnuts, sandwiches and coffee from the early morning inside a cosy 19th century building. In the evening, it switches gears to a pizzeria that serves the best Neapolitan pizza and pasta dishes in downtown Reykjavik. You get to wash it down with a great selection of natural wines too.”

Jade George, Athens

Linou Soubasis Kai Sia soft-launched in the central Psyri neighbourhood at the tail end of 2021 but still deserves a mention. So much about Linou is a standout which makes it one of the most exciting restaurants in Athens right now. The high-ceilinged, capacious space is reminiscent of offices in the late 80s and early 90s and allows an ample amount of natural light through its high, aluminium windows in the daytime. Aluminium is everywhere: the chairs, the tables, the glassware cabinet and the door to the wine room hiding some of the best and most obscure Greek natural wines. It might sound cold against a floor of white terrazzo, except there’s something about the play of light and service that makes the experience anything but. In the evening, the flames of the beeswax, church-like candles do the trick. They’re available to purchase in all sizes – small enough for a birthday cake, tall enough to light up a night march, and everything in between – from a retail display facing the open kitchen and extends across nearly an entire wall of the restaurant on one of two sides from which you can enter and exit. You can also buy candle-holders which are made of, yes, aluminium. Produce is clearly conducting the menu: a whole rooster, half a rabbit, a massive plate of pork ribs for two. But it’s not all about meat. You’ll also have a whole plate of nothing but lettuce that’s perfectly seasoned; large bowls of soup served with a ladle to allow for sharing, legume stews and plenty of options for the lovers of the sea. There’s something for everyone, all of which celebrates the products and food culture of Greece from its islands to its mountain villages.”

Jatak, Copenhagen © Per-Anders Jörgensen

What We Did In 2022: A Round-Up of Openings From Members of The Local Tongue Family

Busy doesn’t even begin to describe 2022. That certainly seems to be the case when we reflect on the number of venues opened throughout the year by members of the extended The Local Tongue family.

For many of our contributors, 2022 will be remembered as the year that they expanded internationally: Mirazur’s Mauro Colagreco opened Italian restaurant Fiamma at Capella Resort in Singapore, while Frank Camorra opened an outpost of his tapas bar MoVida in Auckland, New Zealand. For Bangkok-based Indian chef Gaggan Anand, the past 12 months have been especially hectic. Not only did he introduce Singapore to his vision of Indian-Mexican cooking via Ms Maria & Mr Singh, he also teamed up with Japanese chef Takeshi “Goh” Fukuyama to open the charmingly named GohGan in Fukuoka in November.

But generally speaking, the majority of contributors kept things close to home. Norwegian author Per Risnes and his friends opened Juret, a permanent 30-seat wine bar bringing together live jazz and ‘nduja sandwiches. In London, Robin Gill threw open the doors to Maria G’s – a restaurant – and Bottle & Rye, a wine bar in the heart of Brixton Village that takes its cues from Parisian bistro culture. In Copenhagen, Juju sees chef Kristian Baumann dig deeper into his Korean heritage; Slovenia’s first lady of food Ana Roš has spread her wings to Ljubljana where she’s opened Perkarna Ana to share her passion for sourdough and pastries with fellow Slovenians; while Jan Hartwig ventured into the eponymous Jan, a Munich restaurant serving tightly focussed snacks and set-course menus.

Over in Portugal, Jose Avillez debuted Encanto, a tasting menu restaurant that serves an entirely vegetarian menu, while Vasco Coelha Santos goes hard on Portuguese flavours and memories at Seixo. In the Basque Country, Andoni Luis Aduriz explores the possibilities of open-fire cooking and local ingredients at Muka.

On the other side of the world, former Basque Country chef Lennox Hastie – a one-time head chef at Etxebarri – of Firedoor has opened Gildas, a wine bar that leans hard into Basque pintxos culture. Fellow Sydney chef and Australian dining stalwart Neil Perry introduced us all to Margaret, a neighbourhood restaurant named after his late mother that brings big-night-out dining and wining to the well-heeled Sydney suburb of Double Bay.

Out in regional New South Wales, Matt Stone has relocated to the Byron region where, together with his partners from the Mosey On Inn group, he’s opened the easygoing corner pub You Beauty. Jo Barrett, Stone’s former co head-chef in Joost Bakker’s revolutionary Future Food System pop-up at Fed Square, has moved to Lorne in Victoria’s Great Ocean Road where she’s serving thoughtful dishes that respect both provenance and old-school Australiana at Little Picket.

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