The list includes Afghan, Japanese, and Honduran restaurants.
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Last year on my birthday — in the midst of the pandemic's winter surge — I decided to treat myself by going all out for the ultimate takeout meal. So I picked a spot off of Yelp's Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S. list that I hadn't been to: Kim's Sushi in West Orange, New Jersey.

When I arrived, I was surprised to find a modest, standalone shop flanked by strip malls. Initially doubtful that this could be home to one of the nation's best meals, I was converted as soon as I took a bite of their spicy crispy crunch special roll. This was a sushi roll like no other: the uber fresh spicy tuna roll base was topped with so much crab meat, masago, special sauce, and crunch that it could have been a double order — and the tasty mix of flavor and textures was a culinary adventure of its own. On top of that, they had included an extra order and marked on the box "Seared Tuna on Kim's" with a smiley face. On every subsequent visit, I've gotten more delicious freebies — ranging from avocado sushi to mochi ice cream — and its curbside-only (for now) service is always presented by the most gracious servers.

It's exactly the kind of place that you'd only know about from the locals who frequent it — and that's what separates Yelp's annual list from other best-eats lists. It's aggregated from the user community, fine-tuned by the company's data science team, and then double-downed on by their community managers around the country.

This morning, Yelp released the ninth annual edition of the Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S. in 2022 list. Not only does almost every one of this year's picks offer meals for $30 or less, but it also captures a wide variety of cuisines, including Afghan, French, Honduran, and Japanese.

Lunch from Cocina Madrigal
Credit: Karishma K./Courtesy of Yelp

At the top of the list is Latinx father and son-owned Mexican restaurant Cocina Madrigal in Phoenix, best known for its chicken enchiladas, Oaxaca fundido, and beef birria enchiladas. It's followed by Afghan gourmet chophouse Aracosia in McLean, VA, and health-conscious Fermentation Farm in Costa Mesa, CA. The top 10 are rounded out by Oriole in Chicago; Bird Bird Biscuit in Austin; Jackrabbit Filly in North Charleston, SC; Junkyard Bistro in Salmon, ID; The Goodwich in Las Vegas; OSH Restaurant & Grill in Nashville; and The Riv in The Dalles, OR.

A sandwich from Bird Bird Biscuit
Credit: Emily P./Courtesy of Yelp

And I personally was thrilled to find another of my local favorites on this year's list, chef Dan Richer's Razza Pizza Artigianale in Jersey City, NJ, which was nearly impossible to get a table at pre-pandemic, but has pivoted to a takeout model during the pandemic, making their coveted pizzas so much more accessible. (The burrata pizza is a must.)

For every food-motivated traveler, find the complete listing of Yelp's Top 100 Places to Eat in 2022 here.