Who would have thought that a COVID cloud would be hanging over restaurants in 2022? My list of new restaurants I’m looking most forward to comes with the asterisk that a spike in cases may delay some openings or indoor dining in the coming months. But we’ve made it through this before, right? We got this.

My New Year’s resolution is to gobble up so many bagels for breakfast that my jaw gets tired from chewing. For dinner I want a supersized mound of fries every time I order the stir-fry steak lomo saltado in the new Peruvian restaurants this year. For drinks, I envision holding many Champagne flutes because I always have an excuse to raise a toast. Here’s to a better 2022.

Ah, what a year it has been! As 2021’s final hours pass by, take a peek forward at some of our region’s most anticipated events, places and things for 2022, including places we’re looking forward to eating at, exciting things to do and more.

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Here are 10 dining spots high on my list to check out this year.

MariPili Tapas Bar

Grayson Corrales, former pastry chef at JuneBaby, headlines the big opening on Capitol Hill, planned for May in the Café Presse space. Corrales just finished her three-month internship at the two-Michelin-starred restaurant Culler de Pau in Spain and is now trotting around Europe doing research to prep for her tapas and Galician-inspired menu. Her bar will feature Washington and Spanish wines, along with gins and sherries.

A Montlake bagel project from Sea Wolf Bakers

Looks like Seattle is gunning to be the bagel capital west of New York City because 2022 will bring another wave of young guns running pop-ups and bakeries to join this crowded field. The big names that have other bagel makers looking over their shoulders are brothers Jesse and Kit Schumann who bake some of the best breads in the city at their Sea Wolf bakery and are now turning their attention to bagels. Their business license hints that “A Bagel Shoal” will be the name on the banner in front of their new Montlake bakery, but Jesse swears the cafe name has not been picked yet. Besides, bagels will only be part of the menu when they open near Café Lago in the spring. The bros also won over fans with their pizza pop-up during the pandemic, though Jesse is mum on whether that will be offered in their new venture. All will be revealed soon, he said.

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Carnelian Bay 

Slated for this summer on the patio of his Fremont’s Dreamland Bar & Diner, owner Paul Shanrock describes his new Tiki bar as “Legends of the Hidden Temple” meets Indiana Jones … in outer space. Patrons will enter the kitschy bar through thick foliage and past “ruins,” to emerge at something like a five-star intergalactic resort. Will it be epic, or an unfortunate rip in the space-time continuum? Stay tuned!

Señor Carbón

Peruvian restaurants are popping up all over the country and are trickling into Western Washington. El Rey Peruvian Restaurant debuted in Lynnwood a couple of months ago to many thumbs ups. Now comes chef Joe Tuesta and his wife Imelda Diez-Tipa, who both emigrated from Peru eight years ago, and they have saved enough money from their pop-ups to open a restaurant that pays homage to their homeland. Opened in Pioneer Square before Christmas, Señor Carbón offers a good primer on Peruvian cuisine, with all the Lima staples along with Chinese and Japanese influences including stir-fry dishes and sushi.

Limeña

Another highly anticipated Peruvian-inspired restaurant with a pisco bar is scheduled to open sometime this year along the main drag of Columbia City. Some industry insiders see this as the front-runner for Restaurant of the Year. The project comes from owners Linda Di Lello Morton and her partner and celebrated chef Tamara Murphy; both also run Terra Plata on Capitol Hill.

Boca Argentine Bakery and Pizzeria

While we are in South America, let’s talk Argentine pizza. I love those squishy, gooey, stuffed mozzarella Buenos Aires pan pies. Americans may equate an Argentine pie to a Chicago deep dish. Um, say that to any Argentine at your own peril. The owner behind Boca steakhouses on Capitol Hill and in Belltown, hopes to introduce his homeland pizza to Capitol Hill denizens in March. This bakery and pizzeria on Broadway East will serve croissants and other pastries for the morning commute and tapas at night for the bar revelers. Pizza starts rolling out of the oven at 11 a.m. with toppings such as a caramelized onions and sausage combo.

McQueen Champagne Bar

Nine retail spaces on the ground floor of a three-apartment building complex in downtown Woodinville have been set aside to form “Wine Walk Row,” a showcase of tasting rooms, as well as a pending Ethan Stowell pizza spot. But I spy a Champagne bar here, and, well, that makes the Row a one-stop barhop for me. In February, Structure Cellars in Sodo will open a 74-seat lounge with velvet couches for you to sink into while you sip a flute of Blanc de Blancs and munch on truffle potato chips. Drinks are priced from $9 a glass to $340 for a rock star bottle of 2008 Cristal. Choose your own adventure.

Charcoal

The buzz in the North End is that chef Jake Wilson does magic with a rib-eye on the grill at his new, swanky Edmonds bistro. I’ve only had the grilled king salmon and the pan-seared scallops, both composed with a thick, charred crust and with the interior flesh still sweet and succulent. They were two of the best seafood dishes I’ve had in recent months. I can’t wait to high-tail it back to Main Street to dive into the rest of the menu from chef Wilson, formerly of Ray’s Boathouse, Vios Cafe and the Ballard Annex Oyster House in Seattle.

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Jackalope Tex-Mex & Cantina

No one in Seattle knows more about the history of Tex-Mex grub than pit master Jack Timmons, who runs four branches of his namesake Central Texas style barbecue joint in King County. A fifth Jack’s BBQ will debut in Bellingham this year. In mid-December, Timmons, the sneaky devil, did a hush-hush, soft opening of his new Tex-Mex concept that he owns with business partner Graham Ayers in Columbia City. Queso, San Antonio-style puffy tacos and other dishes quickly sold out. I can’t wait till the frenzy dies down to dig into his smoked fatty brisket enchilada and his mesquite-and-cherry-wood smoked beef rib fajitas.

Bar Bacetto

You can’t deep dive into the history of pasta in Seattle without mentioning Mike Easton’s revelatory pasta spot Il Corvo, which closed during the pandemic. Il Corvo is coming back … but in Waitsburg, 20 miles north of Walla Walla. New start, new name, Easton’s Bar Bacetto is scheduled to debut in July. It’s “basically the original Il Corvo with a bar,” the chef said. Easily the biggest restaurant opening in Eastern Washington this year.

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