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Apr 26, 2010 03:38 PM

The S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2010

Another year, another (silly) list. Noma displaces El Bulli and snags the top slot, Spain dominates as usual, Japan is hilariously underrepresented, but US restaurants show very well overall. The list's methodology remains as inscrutable as ever.

1. Noma
2. El Bulli
3. The Fat Duck
4. El Cellar de Can Roca
5. Mugaritz
6. Osteria Francescana
7. Alinea
8. Daniel
9. Arzak
10. Per Se
11. Le Chateaubriand
12. La Colombe
13. Pierre Gagnaire
14. L'Hotel de Ville - Philippe Rochat
15. Le Bernardin
16. L'Astrance
17. Hof Van Cleve
18. D.O.M.
19. Oud Sluis
20. Le Calendre
26. Momofuku Ssäm Bar (huh?)
32. The French Laundry (lol)

The rest at the link:

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  1. Thanks for posting I've been curious about the results.

    Have not been to Noma, but saw the chef doing a cooking demonstration. Really fascinating to watch.

    1. Why do you think the method is inscrutable? It is published here:

      I personally think it is a little flawed, but if we accept that restaurants should never be ranked in Top 100s and that the list is a pretty good indication of places that are worth visiting then it is useful. IMO it gives a good idea of what is seen by the professionals (chefs, critics, industry insiders) as the go-to restaurants of the year.

      2 Replies
      1. re: PhilD

        I'm extremely skeptical of the breadth of experience represented in their assembled panel. Earlier years were laughably UK-centric and while it's a bit more balanced now, it still remains incredibly skewed. Many critics and (especially) working chefs do not have the luxury of traveling outside their immediate area, and if they do choose to go a restaurant specifically, it's usually one that is already extremely prominent. Many chefs will readily admit they were far too busy to eat in any restaurants abroad. I have no idea how the results are tabulated once the votes are in; are more well-traveled people given extra weight, or is it just the same across the board?

        Also, how many of these panelists have explored Tokyo in depth? Kyoto? Singapore? Hong Kong? All in all, a highly, highly flawed list, though it certainly has some utility. Calling it a "World's Best" list smacks of arrogance as well.

        1. re: hcbk0702

          I agree with you. I also see the voting system as flawed, 3 votes for "home" restaurants, and 2 for "away" restaurants per judge. I suspect that skews the out of region votes towards the "hot" restaurant of the moment. Head to Europe and Noma will be on most people lists, as most visit, it will get more votes. In the same vein the panalists will probably all do Europe once a year, but not Japan every year so it will regionaly skew.

          I don't believe they weight the judges as I assume they all pass the threshold for being highly experienced diners. In my experience lots of chefs do travel, and they like to go on "bus-mans holidays" i.e. eating vacations. But again that will skew the results, a chef is going to want to travel to see the leading edge of cuisine, not travel for the tried and tested, so a skew towards the avant-garde.

          That said, it is simply a list and thus no more or less useful than any other list of personal opinions. If I had he cash and the time it wouldn't be a bad starting point for a culinary journey around the world. Two from the top 100 a week pus a few to fill in time would make it an enjoyable albeit fattening year.

      2. M. Ssam Bar 6 spots ahead of TFL just blew my mind. I say this as a devoted fan of Ssam Bar, and as someone who was disappointed by TFL.

        Does anyone know if any of the other top 50 are as casual/relatively inexpensive as Ssam Bar?

        2 Replies
        1. re: daveena

          Le Chateaubriand (#11) in Paris is hip rather than formal and is €45 for a set five course, which is cheap for the city. St John (#43) isn't that expensive for London and is quite casual/spartan.

          1. re: PhilD

            <Le Chateaubriand (#11) in Paris is hip rather than formal and is €45 for a set five course, which is cheap for the city.>

            Well, yes, and forget getting into that place for the next decade!

        2. Does anyone really believe the voters of this list ate at even a slight fraction of the restaurants on this list, spanning countries and continents? They must be the richest, most well-travelled people in the world.

          1 Reply
          1. re: david t.

            Yes I do. The panels are all regional so they get world coverage, and most serious food professionals travel to assess what is happening it is often as pat of their work/business and as part of side trips when attending conferences and food weeks. This is an interesting insight from Jay Rayner who is a judge and sometime Chowhound (

            "This, it seems, is Noma?s breakthrough year.

            Not quite. In truth, that was actually last year when it leapt up to number 3, though to understand why you have to know a little about the judging system. There are 26 separate regional judging panels ? I chair the UK panel ? each made up of 30 judges, a third of whom are circulated each year. Generally they are chefs, food journalists and restaurateurs. Each one is asked to name their top five restaurants, at least two of which must be from outside their own region. It amounts to nearly 800 people casting nearly 4000 votes. But you can only vote for a restaurant if you have been there in the last 18 months.

            So, last year Noma suddenly broke through. And what happened? Lots of us judges decided we had to eat there. That was certainly what I did, resulting in this piece for OFM. Talking to a gathering of the chairs of all the regional panels on Sunday night, it was clear I wasn?t alone. As a result, when it came to drawing up our lists of five, Noma ? which is fabulous - was in a position to make much more of a showing than it ever did before."

            Here are a couple of interesting video clips that show how chefs view it, it is interesting that their take is that it is a good list to be on and it is indicative of where there is creativity and forward looking cooking: