Cover photo: the interior of The Jane in Antwerp Belgium. Credit: Pieter D’Hoop
Everyone has a favorite restaurant or restaurants. Yours might be a local barbecue joint, while your partner’s might be a family-owned Greek restaurant, while your colleague’s might be a fine-dining, French-Asian fusion restaurant at the top of a skyscraper. There seem to be as many types of restaurants as there are types of people in the world and little consensus about the quality and desirability of those establishments. One man’s sushi is another man’s bait, as they say. So how would anyone go about determining (with any degree of objectivity) which restaurants are “the best”? The answer to that question is the focus of this article. Read on to learn more.
Perhaps the most coveted and recognizable distinction in the restaurant world is the Michelin Star. Since 1900, the French tire company Michelin has published the Michelin Guide, which awards the Stars on an annual basis. Anonymous “inspectors” – former restaurant and hospitality professionals – employed by Michelin make the decision as to whether a restaurant’s cuisine merits recognition.
Notably, the only factor that the Michelin Guide considers in conferring its designations is a restaurant’s food. Ambience, service, decor, location, size – all of these elements are irrelevant. A prominent example of a no-frills Michelin restaurant is Sukiyabashi Jiro, the famed Sushi restaurant featured in the 2015 documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.”
A restaurant can receive from 1 to 3 stars, as described below:
- One MICHELIN Star is awarded to restaurants using top quality ingredients, where dishes with distinct flavours are prepared to a consistently high standard.
- Two MICHELIN Stars are awarded when the personality and talent of the chef are evident in their expertly crafted dishes; their food is refined and inspired.
- Three MICHELIN Stars is given for the superlative cooking of chefs at the peak of their profession; their cooking is elevated to an art form and some of their dishes are destined to become classics.
Earning a Michelin Star, of course, is a blessing for a restaurant as the designation may significantly increase its popularity. On the flip side, the loss of a Star – which can happen in any given year – can have a devastating impact on business.
The World’s 50 Best Restaurants
Since 2002, the UK media company William Reed has been assembling an annual list known as The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. The members of the list are determined by a poll of over 1,000 experts in the restaurant business from around the world. Those restaurants that place first on the list (e.g. Noma, El Bulli, The French Laundry) are honored in the organization’s hall of fame – the Best of the Best – and are no longer eligible for the 50 Best list. Unlike the Michelin inspectors, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ judges take into account not just the food, but the overall dining experience.
The top 10 restaurants on the 2022 World’s 50 Best Resturants list are the following:
- Geranium – Copenhagen, Denmark (see more info below)
- Central – Lima, Peru
- Disfrutar – Barcelona, Spain
- DiverXO – Madrid, Spain (see more info below)
- Pujol – Mexico City, Mexico
- Asador Etxebarri – Atxondo, Spain
- A Casa Do Porco – São Paulo, Brazil
- Lido 84 – Gardone Riviera, Italy
- Quintonil – Mexico City, Mexico
- Le Clandre – Rubano, Italy
Four of the Best
The Jane – Antwerp, Belgium
Opened in 2014, The Jane offers “a unique combination of top-notch gastronomy made accessible for a broad audience.” The restaurant occupies the former chapel of the Military Hospital in Antwerp. It possesses two Michelin Stars, placed number 23 on the 50 Best list, and won the award for most beautiful restaurant in the world at the Restaurant and Bar Design Awards in London. The Founder and Chef is Nick Bril.
Photo credits: Pieter D’Hoop
Entertaining and pleasing people is in my nature. I want to share a little piece of myself with others.Nick Bril
Hiša Franko – Kobarid, Slovenia
Coming in at number 34 in the world, the 2-Michelin-Star Hiša Franko endeavors to achieve synergy with its envrionmental and cultural surroundings in the beautiful Soča Valley. The area is abundant with trout, deer, goats, fruits and wild plants, which are incorporated into the menu. Chef Ana Roš was awarded world’s best female chef in 2017 by Restaurant magazine. Hiša Franko also has a Michelin Green Star for gastronomy and sustainability.
Our philosophy is zero kilometers. We only buy from local producers and we follow the seasons. Our wine list is highly sustainable, featuring mostly natural bio-dynamic wines. We manage our daily menu and reservations to totally avoid any waste.Ana Roš
Geranium – Copenhagen, Denmark
Number 1 on the 2022 World’s 50 Best Restaurants list was Copenhagen’s Geranium. Overlooking Fælledparken with views of downtown and the coast, the “light, lucid, and dynamic” restaurant seeks to create meals that appeal to all of the human senses. It has possessed 3 Michelin Stars since 2016 and has won the Wine Spectator Grand Award since 2016. Head Chef Rasmus Kofoed and Søren Ledet cofounded the restaurant.
Photo credits: Claes Bech-Poulsen
DiverXO – Madrid, Spain
Founded by forward-thinking chef Dabiz Muñoz in 2007, DiverXO was number 4 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list of 2022. Muñoz was the second-youngest chef to ever win a Michelin Star, and the restaurant currently has 3 of them. Known for its wild and irreverent style, DiverXO offers a 12-course tasting menu, featuring avant-garde, Asian-inspired dishes.
Frantzén – Stockholm, Sweden
Set in a townhome in central Stockholm, Frantzén presents an elevated gastronomical experience blending Nordic and Japanese cuisine. Reservations are hard to come by in this elegant but laidback restaurant, which earned its third Michelin Star in 2018 and placed 25th on the World’s Best List in 2022. Chef/founder Björn Frantzén presents an exquisite fixed menu for around $450 per guest.
Belcanto – Lisbon, Portugal
Having established Belcanto in the Bairro Alto neighborhood of Lisbon, chef José Avillez places an emphasis on the creative expression of history and culture in his dishes. The two-Michelin-Star restaurant – #46 on the List – offers two set menus and à la carte options. Tempting culinary selections include suckling pig, smoked and cured horse mackerel, “bacon from heaven”, and scarlet shrimp curry.
The search for the perfect balance between creativity, the new, the unique and the unknown, with the classic, the ingredient, the raw material in its most natural state…José Avillez