Even after two-and-a-half years of pandemic up and downs, excellent restaurants never stopped opening in Philly in 2022, offering everything from delicious celebrations of vegetables to perfectly laminated pastries to richly flavored Ethiopian stews. To celebrate, Eater’s annual Eater Awards are here again this year, with five of our favorite restaurants, bakeries, and pop-ups that made the city such an amazing place to dine in 2022.
Best New Restaurant
Despite Philadelphians’ commitment to eating an excess of rotisserie chickens and more cheesesteaks than one body should be able to handle, this city has always had an excellent vegetarian and vegan food scene. And after opening this fall, Pietramala — an Italian-leaning vegan BYOB in Northern Liberties where vegetables are the real stars — made dining out as an herbivore an unbelievable pleasure. On a recent night, chef Ian Graye’s menu included Old Hickory corn polenta from Green Meadow Farm in Gap, PA topped with fresh, peppery greens dressed in oil and lemon — savory, simple, and fresh. Everything Graye serves highlights the real beauty of produce we grow in Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas, which is why the unofficial tagline of the restaurant is, “We put plants on a pedestal.”
A high standard of excellence permeates everything on the menu at Machine Shop Boulangerie, Emily Riddell’s wholesale bakery turned pandemic pop-up turned permanent location in the Bok Building in South Philly. There is hardly a single pastry on the list that won’t make you feel like you’ve been transported from the old vocational school building to a Parisian patisserie: Kouign-ammans with jam or chocolate hazelnut croissants are laminated to perfection; lemon tarts are tangy and topped with toasted meringue. Don’t sleep on the breads, though — the airy, crispy focaccia will change your life.
Best Pop-up Turned Permanent
Chef Jennifer Zavala has been a part of the Philly restaurant scene for years, but it wasn’t until the end of 2021 that she finally opened a space all her own — a permanent home for her Juana Tamale pop-up right on East Passyunk Avenue. There, diners can enjoy Zavala’s menu of rich birria ramen and tacos, tamales, churros, and specials like pozole verde and nachos, all inside one of the coolest looking restaurants in the city. Within the Lauren McFadden-designed space, it’s a joy to get to see Zavala do what she does best.
Best Destination for Just About Everything
From the minds of chefs Cybille St.Aude-Tate and Omar Tate, Honeysuckle Provisions could never just be a grocery store, just a restaurant, or just a cafe. The multitalented team behind Honeysuckle Provisions on S. 48th Street in West Philly opened Honeysuckle Provisions as a-little-bit-of-everything destination for the first physical location of the chefs’ broader vision for restaurants and provisions shops that celebrate Afrocentric cooking. Looking for groceries? They’ve got fresh produce, freshly baked breads, and pantry staples. Want breakfast, lunch, and dinner to go? Everything from turnip hoagies to breakfast sandwiches to slow-roasted yams are available to take out. Need a snack? Don’t miss the beef patties or the plantain cakes. It would be enough to have all of these things on offer, but the Honeysuckle team is committed to highlighting local producers, Black farmers, and storytelling in their work, which makes everything taste all the better.
Best of the Northwest
While it can be easy to look to only certain Philly neighborhoods when trying new restaurants around town, the Northwest section of the city, which starts in Germantown and ends in Chestnut Hill, has so much to offer. Opened a little over a year ago on Greene Street in Germantown, Salam Cafe — a Middle Eastern and Ethiopian spot — swiftly became one of the best dining destinations in the area. Owned by chef Hayat Ali (who also owns Alif Brew and is a partner in Doro Bet, both in West Philly), Salam Cafe highlights delicious Ethiopian cuisine, like spicy lentil stews and shredded injera fir fir for breakfast.