The 7 Best Foods We've Tasted This Year, So Far

Halfway through 2022, we check in on the year's greatest culinary successes.

Somehow we have made it to the halfway point of the year, and it seems like roughly 14 years' worth of culinary innovations have been shoved into the first six months of 2022. Remember when Taco Bell released chicken wings? Doesn't that seem like a decade ago?

Now that every fast food joint's spin on the chicken sandwich has rolled out (and in some cases, come and gone) and the hard seltzer market has begun to cool ever so slightly, food and beverage brands have found some unique and delightful ways to fill the void. Here are the best products we've tasted so far this year, seven items that keep us excited for everything on the horizon.

Taco Bell Mexican Pizza

Yeah, yeah, we know. This isn't strictly a "new" item that joined the Taco Bell roster in 2022, but the Mexican Pizza nevertheless arrived with distinction—never has the return of an already beloved fast food item been met with such fanfare. In fact, some devotees were so ready to taste those Tex-Mex flavors again that once they sank their teeth into it, they were worried the formula had somehow changed. We tasted the prodigal pizza and determined that it's the same crispy golden gem it always has been; if customers detect any alteration to the recipe, it's likely that those are changes that were actually implemented years prior to the Mexican Pizza's 2020 discontinuation. Any way you slice it, this thing is awesome. Read our full review here.

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Starbucks Chocolate Cream Cold Brew

The prominence of "chocolate" on Starbucks' 2022 summer drink menu left us wondering: Could this drink strike a balance between perfectly satisfying and perplexingly sugary? The beverage, which contains Starbucks signature cold brew, one pump of vanilla syrup, and a chocolate cream cold-foam topping that is, according to a press release, "inspired by nostalgic summer moments," surprised us with its nearly perfect execution.

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The secret ingredient is in the cream, which contains chocolate malt powder. That flavor profile ups the nostalgia factor without walloping you with sweetness, and damn it all, it really does manage to evoke memories of summers past. You win this round, Starbucks. Read our full review here.

Popeyes Buffalo Ranch Chicken Sandwich

We are loath to describe this sandwich as "new," because that's exactly what Popeyes wants. The Louisiana chain has slapped some fresh condiments on its famous/infamous chicken sandwich and created the Buffalo Ranch chicken sandwich, containing "an all-new sauce, featuring a creamy herb buttermilk ranch, kicked up with a zesty and buttery buffalo sauce." It's the fast food equivalent of a fake-mustache-and-spectacles disguise. Which is why it's so annoying that the sandwich is so good.

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Everything that makes this sandwich delicious was already present before the new sauces came along, but those new hints of flavor certainly don't make the thing any worse. And so, we have to admit we fell for this promotion hook, line, and sinker. Regardless of its cynical context, the Popeyes Buffalo Ranch Chicken Sandwich is pretty awesome. Read our full review here.

MTN DEW Purple Thunder

This beverage is only available at Circle K stores in partnership with MTN DEW—but if you live anywhere near one of those, it's worth the trip. Purple Thunder is described by the DEW brand as featuring ""the mouth-watering flavors of blackberry and plum for the ultimate berry combination." It looks like a straightforward grape soda, but as the press release promises, it tastes way better than that, with the juicy sweet blackberry notes contrasting with the tart plum. Or rather, the artificial equivalent blackberry contrasts with the tart artificial equivalent of plum. Nothing about this drink involves fresh produce, and that's fine. That's great. That's what we expect when we do the DEW. Read the full review here.

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Arby’s Wagyu Steakhouse Burger

Arby's slogan is "We Have The Meats," but there was one meat that, until now, was noticeably missing from the menu: ground beef. As in, hamburgers. The chain famous for its roast beef had never before released a burger, and in 2022 someone at the top decided that that had to change.

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This limited-time offering features an "American Wagyu blended patty" along with American cheese, shredded lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion, some sort of special sauce, and a brioche bun. While the cook on this burger isn't quite pink in the center as promised, it is still juicy and flavorful, made all the more so by its tangy sauce. It's a bit more expensive than most other items on the menu, but it'll fill you up accordingly. You can still grab one until July 31. Read our full review here.

Chipotle Pollo Asado

It's always a good day when Chipotle introduces a new protein to the menu. Pollo Asado is a natural choice for the brand that prides itself on high-quality meat and poultry. The brand described its offering as "tumbled in a spice blend before being seared on the plancha" and then "brought to life with a bright marinade, fresh squeezed lime, and cilantro." It was confirmed to The Takeout that garlic and guajillo peppers are involved, whether in the marinade or the spice blend. But suffice it to say, this chicken is never dry and never bland. It's got flavor—not a ton of zing, but distinctly present—and doesn't just feel like burrito bowl filler. Read our full review here. 

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Arby’s Diablo Dare Crispy Chicken Sandwich

We're downright shaken by the realization that two of our top-ranking taste tests this year were for Arby's sandwiches. And neither has anything to do with sliced roast beef! The Arby's Diablo Dare sandwiches, sadly already gone from the menu, is a pair of offerings; you can opt for a chicken sandwich or a brisket sandwich, both of which come doused in five layers of spice—the sauce, seasoning, cheese, jalapeños, and even the chipotle-pepper-flake-dotted bun all bring a formidable level of heat.

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The chicken sandwich is the clear victor of the two, though both sandwiches impressed us with just how many vignettes of flavor experience they contained. The bitter bite of roasted jalapeño, the sweet spicy sauce, the acidity of the pickles, the cooling contrast of the lettuce and the mayo. And yes, it offers a kick that will satisfy heat seekers, even if it doesn't knock them backward. Read the full review here.

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