Put on your loosest pants and prepare your tastebuds. The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy has dropped this year’s list of the finest dining establishments on the planet, and for only the second time in its 15-year history, a restaurant outside of Europe has claimed the top spot.
Think of this as the culinary equivalent of the Oscars. The 2017 ceremony took place on April 5, bringing the world’s foremost chefs, restauranteurs, and other industry big-wigs to Melbourne for the occasion.
You’ll find the top 10 winners below, but fair warning – a wine-paired dinner for two at the number one restaurant will set you back over US$1,000.
#10 Steirereck | Vienna, Austria
The Academy Says: It may, on paper, sound fairly traditional – family owned for generations, with a bias towards Austria’s rural Styrian region – but under the guidance of chef Heinz Reitbauer, Steirereck has become a byword for cutting-edge cooking rooted in the Austrian landscape. Reitbauer’s signature says everything you need to know about his outlook, being equal parts culinary theatre, precise technique and obvious reverence of local ingredients.
#9 Mugaritz | San Sebastian, Spain
The Academy Says: Andoni Luis Aduriz, simply known as Andoni, is considered by many observers to be the natural heir to the title of Spain’s most pioneering chef after Ferran Adrià. A meal takes place over 20 courses – several of them, if the weather is clement, served in the gorgeously appointed gardens around the restaurant. Basque cuisine often combines elements of the mountains and the sea, and so it is at Mugaritz where the menu might roam from oyster and young garlic omelette and pig tails and squid, via a crunchy “sandwich” of local cheese presented in a book, to a loin of lamb smoked over eucalyptus and served with “its cultivated wool”.
#8 Maido | Lima, Peru
The Academy Says: Maido, meaning ‘welcome’ in Japanese, is the flagship restaurant of chef Mitsuharu ‘Micha’ Tsumura, serving an inventive tasting menu of Peruvian-Japanese bites alongside à la carte options and a classic sushi counter. In a stylish room decorated with coloured ropes in the formation of the Japanese flag, it’s a popular setting for business dinners and special occasions, as well as for destination diners looking to sample Lima’s best offerings.
#7 Gaggan | Bangkok, Thailand
The Academy Says: There’s a reason why Gaggan has been named No.1 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants for three consecutive years and it’s all about reinvention and creativity. Chef Gaggan Anand has consistently transformed his tasting menu, developing conversation-starting dishes like the spherified Yoghurt Explosion and creating a dining experience that reflects the warmth of Thai hospitality in Bangkok.
#6 Asador Etxebarri | Axpe, Spain
The Academy Says: A combination of skillful barbecuing techniques, the chef himself, the exquisite rural setting, the deeply unpretentious atmosphere of the restaurant and, of course, the food. Oh, the food… Flavourful in the extreme. Dishes are relatively simple, relying on the quality of the super-fresh ingredients and the masterful grill cooking of chef-owner Victor Arguinzoniz. The simplest plates – home-made chorizo, salted anchovy on toast, giant Palamos prawns, the legendary beef chop – are also the most outstanding.
#5 Central | Lima, Peru
The Academy Says: An exploration of its country’s biodiversity, Central takes diners on a journey through every altitude, from 20 metres below sea level to 4,100 metres above it, in 17+ courses. The tasting menu is a reflection of Martínez and his sister’s research into ingredients in the Andes, the Amazon and the sea. In its three years as The Best Restaurant in Latin America, Central has been, well, central to Lima’s transformation into one of the globe’s must-visit dining destinations, while chef Virgilio Martínez has led a new generation of Peruvian cooks.
#4 Mirazur | Menton, France
The Academy Says: In a stunning location on the French side of the Riviera, just moments from the Italian border, Mirazur is an idyllic spot to enjoy the food of the skilled chef Mauro Colagreco, which takes inspiration from his Argentine-Italian heritage as well as the local French region. Colagreco’s signature of oyster with tapioca, shallot cream and pear is a modern classic in the making.
#3 El Celler de Can Roca | Girona, Spain
The Academy Says: The three brothers who own and run the restaurant are each global leaders in their respective fields – Joan as a chef, Josep as a sommelier and Jordi as a pâtissier – so their combined creativity is a force to behold. Their food is complex, incorporating cutting-edge techniques and multiple ingredients to create highly stylised plates, but dishes are also designed to evoke memories, emotions and the landscape of the region.
#2 Osteria Francescana | Modena, Italy
The Academy Says: Nestled down a cobbled street in peaceful Modena, Osteria Francescana is the gem of Italian gastronomy that rose to the top of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants last year in the hands of talented chef Massimo Bottura. But it could have been very different – in its early days, the restaurant almost closed after conservative locals were resistant to Bottura’s daring approach to cooking. A poet, storyteller and artist as much as a cook, Bottura weaves narratives through his dishes, playing with traditions and experimenting with ingredients from the Emilia-Romagna region from whence he hails.
#1 Eleven Madison Park | New York City, New York, USA
The Academy Says: It’s the perfect partnership of outstanding hospitality and exquisite food in an iconic setting in New York City that makes Eleven Madison Park the No.1 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Co-owners Will Guidara and Daniel Humm have put their lives into breaking down the walls between dining room and kitchen, making sure the customer experience is harmonious from start to finish.
View the full list of winners here.