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Top 50 restaurants in the World

I usually don't like 'best' lists but a previous topic about French cuisine got me thinking about its popularity and I still believe it is #1 over other cuisines when people want to dine out for celebrations, romance, vacations and the like.

Here's a link I found today that lists the 50 top restaurants:


Note that it states: "More countries than ever appeared on the list, but it was the French who conquered the globe with 10 restaurants on the list. (It should be noted that an astounding 24 entries out of the top 50 restaurants chosen serve French food.)"

I'm not stating that I don't enjoy Chinese, Japanese, Italian and other cuisines as well but I just believe French cooking techniques, their recipes, including desserts and wines are really supreme and have added to most 'fusion', Mediterrean/California style cuisine as we enjoy it today.

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  1. Interesting list. I noticed that El Bulli is listed as "World's Best." I just saw the Anthony Bourdain show on Chef Ferran Adria, and it made me think, after all the discussion on "world's best cuisine," that we're possibly seeing the creation of a new "cuisine" - one characterized more by scientific techniques than by ingredients and methods of preparation (which currently define the various national cuisines). Ferran Adria, Grant Achatz and Homaru Cantu (and maybe others I don't know about) are breaking such new ground that this new cuisine doesn't even yet have a name - not that I've heard, anyway (if there is one, please let me know!).

    2 Replies
    1. re: Akatonbo

      it's considered as molecular gastronomy, mais non? maybe that's not really a cuisine type but it's the way they describe themselves.

      i find this all an interesting debate... how much does innovation play into the greatness of any food? just because we're comfortable with it, does that make it less enjoyable? alternatively, does nostalgia really pull at our heart strings more to make us unnecessarily fond of a long lost favourite dish?

      1. re: Akatonbo

        I believe this cuisine of scientific techniques does have a name and it's referred to as "molecular gastronomy" and generally attributed to Hungarian physicist Nicholas Kurti who experimented with it years ago.

        Modern chefs that use this technique are renowned chef Ferran Adria of El Bulli, as you mentioned, and also popular New York chef Wylie Duchese of WD-50.

        Here is the link:


      2. Perhaps I missed it in the article, but there seems to be no list of qualifications that would make a restaurant "Best in the World."

        Excellent service? The whitest of tableclothes? Sorbet before the entree? Freshest ingredients? New dishes?

        I am not sure I can automatically buy into the belief that a restaurant is best in the world simply because a panel says so. Seeing the criteria used would help me understand why El Bulli is better than, say, a top restaurant in Los Angeles or Seattle or Pittsburgh or even my hometown of Phoenix.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Seth Chadwick

          It seems to be based more on theater than food. Personally I cosnider a $1.50 taco from an El Tonayense taco truck or a twenty-cent dan bing made by a street vendor in China to be more worthy of eating than the practical jokes created by the likes of Adria, Keller or Achatz.

          1. re: Gary Soup

            Gary, couldn't agree more. People, oftentimes wrongly, equate complicated with better. Therefore, French culinary technique is the best because it's the most complicated, the most time consuming, with the most processes. Completely and utterly wrong.

            There's much to love from all levels of food without having to rate them against each other.

            1. re: dippedberry

              Has either of you been to any of the restaurants on the list? Just curious. (Also love Tonayense.)

              1. re: dippedberry

                I also agree. All this obsession with foams and science and the latest tiny 1 tsp souffle and ice cream made of liver and and and....it's too much like Louis XIV eating ortolans.

                Food and cooking are wonderful and satisfying, but I feel some of it has gotten just too precious.

                1. re: Gary Soup

                  OK - Im not aware of Achatz, and i gather what you are saying about Adria, BUT what kind of "practical jokes" does Keller practice?? Please, would like to know.

              2. This list, as with last year's list and the year before, can't be taken seriously. Restaurant Magazine is based in Britain, polls British/European 'critics' and therefore has a distorted Anglo/Western bent. Honestly, no Far Eastern choices (oh excuse me, an Australian place won for all of Asia -- whoopee!), two from Africa (of course they're both French and in South Africa), one from India (does this count for Britain too?), and only one from Latin America (squeaks by as #50!). It's nice to know that white people can cook, but come on! Try not to give lists of this nature any legitimacy.

                As with the ridiculous "Best Cuisine" thread, to rate in this manner, with no regard to differences in culture, cooking style, personal taste, etc. does no service to an enlightened perspective on food and its vast diversity.

                PS. The inclusion of Chez Panisse and Gramercy Tavern among the top 8 in the US should give people an idea of how outdated the opinions of those polled are.

                4 Replies
                1. re: dippedberry

                  I totally agreed with dippedberry's post. Also don't equate countries with the "best" restaurants with having the best food. It is not always the case.

                  1. re: PBSF

                    Actually, my point is that these are not the "best" restaurants. Or they are to only a small segment of British/European food people who subscribe to a British trade magazine. It's like calling the US baseball finals the World Series, even though most of the world doesn't participate, and when they do (as in the recent World Baseball Classic), the US gets their butts handed to them in the opening rounds.

                    This Best Restaurant list worked from a stacked deck.

                  2. re: dippedberry

                    Excellent analysis, dippedberry. I am really beside myself when I read "Best of ... " lists because ultimately, they are meaningless.

                    I am also suspect about the biases of the judges. I doubt they combed the continent of Africa or swept into a small village that rests in the Austrailian Outback.

                    It is evident from the list that unless you are going to drop serious money and are willing to get all giddy over bacon and egg sorbet (that doesn't even sound appetizing to me!), your restaurant choices won't be even considered for Best Restaurant in the World.

                    Can anyone tell me exactly why a place like the French Laundry is automatically a contender for Best while Pepe's Taco Villa in Phoenix is not?

                    Oh, that's right. Pepe's doesn't have snail porridge.

                    1. re: Seth Chadwick

                      No! And they don't even have snail porridge TACOS! How could one consider a place such as this?

                  3. Two Thomas Keller restos on the list? That's room for one less out of 50 in the entire world. Suspect list.

                    1. L'Auberge de L'Ille in Alsace. In addition to the perfect food and impeccable service, you can have your aperitif outside under a weeping willow, watching swans swimming on the river. This gem is worth a long detour. My husband and I have been going back to this restaurant ever since we first ate there twenty-five years ago. Last year we took our two teen-aged children for the first time. Even though they had eaten at some of the top resaurants here in the States, they were over-whelmed. The total experience is bliss.

                      1. Here is another article on this top 50 list that may shed some more light on why these 50 restaurants were picked:


                        I agree these restaurants are not your regular everyday dinner places but they're not meant to be. They're very special and if I had all the money and time available I would jet off to most of them. Forget about tacos and non-fantasy food. I've had enough of that and this Chowhound wants glitz and pampering too!

                        Frankly, I'm surprised by the somewhat negative responses here - this list according to the Inquirer article was put together by professional critics and chefs. Agreed they did leave out Far Eastern restaurants but hey it's their list. The Oscars gets it wrong too.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Flynn1

                          It is certainly an improvement over last year's list, which gave me a big smile. Produced by a British magazine, and British restaurants no one had heard of won in every category. This year, the list is much more balanced. I think if they restricted the list to elegant restaurants in Europe and the US only, that would deal with some of your objections.

                          1. re: Flynn1

                            Flynn, thanks for the link. For me, here is the money quote from that article:

                            "These awards are more about reputations, glamour, high-fliers; an exclusive, rarefied level of dining and connoisseurship for the rich and powerful; not about the reality of every day dining choices."

                            Notice what's missing? Nothing about whether or not the food is actually the best. It is more about men in Armani suits and women in black cocktail dresses with money to burn. We are just to assume that because the rich and powerful and fashionable are hobnobbing with each other over a $50 bowl of soup, the restaurant has to be one of the best.

                            Perhaps it would be more fair to call the list the "Top 50 Restaurants the Rich are Dining at This Year."

                            1. re: Flynn1

                              All "best of" lists are merely the subjective opinions of the list-makers - I would have thought that went without saying. If you really want the list to be taken seriously, you have to be willing and able to state some criteria that could be applied objectively (or at least as objectively as we humans are capable of) no matter what the venue. If we're talking about best restaurant, maybe one criterion, for example, would be "buys and prepares only the freshest ingredients." Or maybe another one would be, "Kitchen staff is extremely skilled in all the cooking techniques used in the cuisine in question."

                              I think a lot of people posting here are confusing two issues: personal enjoyment of one dish or restaurant versus an attempt (futile though it might be) to rank cuisines or restaurants. And why should we want to rank cuisines or restaurants? Well, why not? At the very least, it's an entertaining discussion. I for one had a lot of fun reading all the diatribes my post about "Best Cuisine" set off!

                            2. Years ago I read a piece by a woman who had eaten at a 3 star restaurant in Paris. It was perfect, she said, and I cried. Much later I ate at Jean-Georges and there were tears of joy in my eyes. Any restaurant on this list should yield a swirling wave of exaltation and wonder, the same eerie joy you feel when you see a great painting or watch a great film or play. If it doesn't, that doesn't mean that the idea of having a list is a bad idea. It means that that restaurant shouldn't be on the list. And yes, you can have that feeling when you eat the perfect churro from a street stall. But that's the difference between the perfect chord and the perfect symphony.

                              And yes this list is shamefully ethnocentric.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Brian S

                                It's easy not to appreciate fully the food at a restaurant because it emerges, like a deus ex machina, from the sealed world of the kitchen. Someone should do an article about just one dish at a top restaurant. That article would chronicle the years of training and food devotion of the chef that created the recipe, the weeks of tinkering and experimentation necessary to create and perfect it, the years of training of the line chef who cooked it (which, in New York, might have begun by watching his mother cook in a small village in Ecuador), the hours, maybe days, of skilled labor needed to prep each ingrediant, and the final triumphant rush in which all is assembled and the dish is borne to your table.

                                1. re: Brian S

                                  Brian, I couldn't have said it better. It may be that the food critics and chefs who voted for these 50 top restaurants did indeed feel "a swirling wave of exaltation and wonder, the same eerie joy you feel when you see a great painting or watch a great film or play."

                                  Like the Oscars awards, best lists really don't include descriptions - it's up to to the viewer or consumer to read about the product on the market. There is plenty written on all these 50 restaurants which are highly acclaimed and in my opinion are not just a rich man's folly. There is talent in these restaurants. Yes the rich are different and can afford to dine more frequently but so can Mr. and Mrs. John Smith if they want that special occasion restaurant or while on vacation (i.e., The French Laundry).

                                  Most of us can appreciate the traditional fine arts: painting, photography and sculpture, literature, music, dance, theater and cinema. How about the Living Arts: architecture and interior design, fashion and GASTRONOMY. Yes, gastronomy, not just a chowhound's love of a perfect hot dog or a slice of pizza. I'm talking about a perfect meal that you'll remember always by a chef who is as talented as any actor, musician or painter. I believe that's what these 50 restaurants are about. I'd love to try most of them and I was fortunate to try a few so I concur with the critics.

                                  I know some of us who came over on the Mayflower wouldn't dream of plucking down $500+ for an exquisite meal and that's their choice. I wouldn't spend a certain amount on kitchen tiles or a gas guzzler car. We all make choices. Chowhounds come in all shapes and sizes.

                                  1. re: Seconds Please

                                    You like it? You don't like it? It should have been on the list? What are you getting at? :)

                                      1. re: Seconds Please

                                        Perhaps it would be better to start a new thread your/our favorite restaurants. This thread seems more focused on the worldpress.org list.

                                        1. re: Darren72


                                          They forgot to include La Fourchette in Avivgnon in the list.

                                          Further... the U.S. list is limited in scope. America has so many fusion, ethnic and unique chow... it is sad to see them precluded. No New Mexican, no Cal-Mexican, no Q.

                                          French Laundry, Yountville, California - Best Restaurant in the Americas (screaming with out of town tourists, the food suffers)
                                          * Per Se, New York, New York
                                          * Jean Georges, New York, New York
                                          * Daniel, New York, New York
                                          * Chez Panisse, Berkeley, California (good, but really old school in its own way, seems more like a token to SF)

                                          * Charlie Trotter's, Chicago, Illinois
                                          * Le Bernardin, New York, New York
                                          * Gramercy Tavern, New York, New York (screaming with out of town tourists, the food suffers)

                                          The list is lacking vision.

                                          How about that... more on topic for ya?

                                          1. re: Darren72

                                            Sorry if my last post pissed you off. I didn't want to have the thread devolve into everyone listing their own favorite restaurants, which would be a different discussion.

                                            It seems strange to complain about "out of town tourists" at the French Laundry. Yountville is a very small town, nestled within a heavily tourist area (the Napa Valley). In some sense, they entirely cater to tourists.

                                            I agree that "New Mexican," such as Topolombapo, would be on my list. But Mexican isn't nearly as familiar to Europeans as it is to Americans.

                                    1. Help me. How do out of town tourists ruin the food at a world-class restaurant?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: monday

                                        Having grown up in Sonoma I've notice throughout the years that food, and context, environment, etc, do change when you cater to folks from out of town... I'm not saying in a bad way, always... but sometimes and it can be noticed... also I've had conversations with staff at FL about the texture it has put on them, the place... they cater to the tourist before the food...

                                        Same with Olives in Boston, etc and so on... it happens everywhere...

                                        but I like your questions... it is fair... i always said that I love living in places where people visit... I love tourists, I am a tourist... there is a reason people travel...

                                        i guess my opinion is more historical... Sonoma and especially Napa are a lot different, especially when it comes to food, than 15, 10 even 5 years ago...ok, so times and places change...

                                        I had this same conversation about gourmet olive oil and the valley. The fancy, over priced oil is good, yes... but why was it created? For tourists. Merchandising. A bit less genuine, no?

                                      2. Regardless of whether this list worthless or otherwise, it certainly generates business.

                                        Heston Blumenthal said that it increased his turnover at the Fat Duck more than getting 3 Michelin Stars, and it is referenced quite prominently on his website.


                                        Personally, I think its unfair to the restaurants who are left off the list. It probably doesn't matter to the beneficiaries that the award system is uneven, but it does matter that those not getting recognition might not be getting it because the organizers can't be bothered to do things properly.

                                        1. that's almost a good list actually.

                                          Gramercy Tavern and Chez Panisse certainly don't belong on it. ditto for Le Bernardin. and where is the best restaurant in America -- Alinea? (though I'm told the Mansion in Vegas may be even better)

                                          but there are some awfully sound choices on there. nice to see the list reflects the fact that today Spain is the greatest food country on the planet.

                                          1. El Bulli was the most astounding meal I've ever had - and the service is incredible. We left still a bit hungry after 29 courses - it's not real food (my husband swears it was all of 2 oz. of actual food), but it's exciting & you'll never forget it. Would go back in a heartbeat.

                                            1. just looked at this thread I saw the list that was posted and someone asked if anyone had been. Much to my surprise I have been to 9 of them.
                                              El Bulli - #1, I was surprised - not my personal favorite
                                              Pierre Gagnaire - I liked it, wouldn't have made my top 10
                                              French Laundry - might give them that one, amazing food
                                              Per Se - I was there last week, pretty amazing
                                              L'Atelier - yes, I would put it up there somewhere in the top
                                              Charlie Trotters - I like it, don't LLLLLOVE it
                                              La Gavroche - my very first foray 10 years ago in Michelin star dining. I didn't order well and it wasn't a success for me, the bill was more than I paid for my car, but it makes for a good story
                                              Le Bernadin - beautiful room, beautiful service, I never seem to like what I order, I am always a little embarassed, that I don't like it more.
                                              Grammercy Tavern - for some reason, I am not a wild enthusiast about this one either.

                                              So while I have only been to 9 out of 50, not, I believe, a statistically accurate sample, I might question the list. I would also agree with one of the other posts. Who got left off? (I can think of a few who should be there.)

                                              1. they should really not use the word "world's". it's slightly offensive it's really not the "world's" list but rather a list by certain anglo-european people.

                                                but then again i guess other magazines etc are guilty of overexaggeration also. for example, i think several years ago (or maybe more), i read an article that said a dumpling restaurant in LA, din tai fun, was allegedly "voted" the best restaurant in the world.. by whom.. yeah, exactly..

                                                (on the other hand, i've been to din tai fun and it does have the best soup dumplings i've ever eaten in north america. but how does one make claims like "world's" best restaurants etc without surveying enough restaurants in every country? at least the US World Report's college rankings try to survey most of the colleges in the US (however cursorily). unless you tell me that the people behind this particular list at least went to korea, japan and china and tried at least 20-30 restaurants in each country, i find this list to be crap. excuse my language.)

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: koreankorean

                                                  Funny, I went to a place called the "Dumpling King" in Melbourne, Australia. It was touted as the best dumplings in the world - so and so, the King of such and such flies there every year for dumplings, etc., etc.

                                                  It was, however, a very plain restaurant without much fanfare. It was amazingly good. Since then, I have seen writings that say it's no longer (or never was) the greatest dumpling place in the world.

                                                  I think much of the "best" ______________ in the world" mostly ends up the same way.