In keeping with Eater tradition, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, and bloggers. To kick it off in the Carolinas, Eater asked the group eight questions, ranging from the restaurants they frequented for takeout to the saddest surprises of the year. Responses are in no particular order, and readers are encouraged to leave answers in the comments.
Q. What was your best restaurant meal of 2022?
Hanna Raskin, editor and publisher of The Food Section
Tempted to say Front Porch in Richburg, North Carolina, since that’s where I ate my last fried chicken, rice, cabbage, and cornbread before leaving the region for a whole month, but going with Supperland (1212 The Plaza, Charlotte), since it served one of the most impressive and (crucially) replicable restaurant meals I’ve had since the pandemic.
Eric Ginsburg, Eater Carolinas contributor, covering NC
Choosing feels criminal, but I’ll narrow it to Vidrio (500 Glenwood Avenue) and Bendito (now closed) in Raleigh, Leah & Louise (301 Camp Road) in Charlotte, Machete (600 C Battleground Avenue) and Radici (now closed) in Greensboro, and Kipos (1800 East Franklin Street) in Chapel Hill.
Stephanie Burt, writer and host of The Southern Fork
Beyond Vern’s (see previous answer), I was really impressed by almost every bite I had at Goodyear House (3032 North Davidson Street) in Charlotte. First, I love the rambling nature of the space, the different experiences depending on the bar or the patio or the dining rooms, and it still fits with the nature of the neighborhood. And second, it was anchored in Southern recipes but not pinned in by it. The devilish toast of egg salad topped with North Carolina trout caviar might be my favorite appetizer of the year.
Mike Ledford, photographer and Eater Carolinas contributor
It’s a tossup between the small plates Sean Clinton serves up at the Tippling House (221 Coming Street, Charleston) and any meal that Ryan Wunder concocts at Funky Wunders in Local 616 (616 Meeting Street, Charleston).
Kay West, Eater Carolinas contributor, covering Asheville
The dishes and complexities of Eric Morris’s seven-course tasting meal in the finally re-opened Cultura (147 Coxe Avenue, Asheville) were clearly the result of months of work but presented simply and unpretentiously in one of Asheville’s most gorgeous dining rooms.
Erin Perkins, editor Eater Carolinas
The first time I visited natural wine spot Bar Rollins (194 Jackson Street, Charleston) was for Vilda Gonzalez’s pop-up, and it was perfect in its simplicity. She served local persimmons tossed in olive oil with hand-pulled mozzarella braids, delicate lamb skewers with fresh oregano, and a flaky sourdough flatbread. It was the right amount of food to pair with a few glasses of new-to-me wines. And the servers were just so spritely and ethereal that evening, I could swear it was all a dream.
Matthew Lardie, Eater Carolinas contributor, covering NC
I’d have to say Neng, Jr.’s. (701 Haywood Road, Asheville) From start to finish, every aspect of the meal was a triumph. Who knew a simple plate of fruit could taste so good!?
Stephanie Burnette, Eater Carolinas contributor
I think 2022 was the year of exceptional counter service menus; for me, it’s a toss-up between the blackened fish sandwich with slaw and hush-honeys at Saltbox Seafood Joint (2637 Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard) in Durham or the shrimp tacos with broth and pickled veg at Birrieria 101 (2301 Wade Hampton Boulevard) in Greenville
Marion Sullivan, food editor Charleston Magazine
I’d have to give that to Vern’s (41 Bogard Street, Charleston). Incredible tartare, flounder with mixed mushrooms, and apple tart with lime meringue — delicious memories
Sam Slaughter, Eater Carolinas contributor
Easy. Tastee Diner (575 Haywood Road) in Asheville. I went for the first time after a trip up to a couple of breweries, and it was like walking into a restaurant made for me. The worst thing for me was trying to figure out what I wanted (read: I wanted it all). Not only are you getting amazing sandwiches that are thoughtfully crafted to ensure that each one has layers that express themselves throughout your meal, but where else can you get beef cheek and a forty?
Cele and Lynn Seldon, Seldon Ink
• The lush new River House at Montage Palmetto Bluff (1 Village Park Square, Bluffton)
• The newly renovated Quarterdeck at Sea Pines (160 Lighthouse Road) in Hilton Head
• South African cuisine at the Bush Farmhouse (151 South Ridgeway Avenue) in Black Mountain, North Carolina
Barbara Skidmore, Eater Carolinas contributor, covering SC and Savannah
This was a toss-up between three for me:
• The new tasting menu at Wild Common which included a caviar “eggs Benedict.” Chef Orlando Pagán, Charleston, South Carolina.
• The half chicken from Common Thread beats all other chicken dishes. I usually stay away from ordering chicken, but this half Chicken introduces chicken back to the main stage. Chef Brandon Carter, Savannah, Georgia.
• The Fin and Belly dish from Urban Wren paired grilled tuna with red pork belly and farm-fresh greens creating a unique option for traditionally stand-alone dishes. Chef Taylor Montgomery, Greenville, South Carolina.