The list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021, featuring restaurants across 26 countries and territories – including eight new entries and two re-entries – has been announced with Copenhagen’s Noma taking the top spot again.
No.50 Wolfgat, Paternoster, South Africa – NEW ENTRY
With a heavy focus on sustainability, Kobus van der Merwe’s restaurant in beautiful coastal Paternoster serves a seven-course menu built on local indigenous ingredients in dishes inspired by the surrounding landscape. With only 20 diners per sitting, the restaurant has an intimate atmosphere and, more importantly, maintains sustainability by keeping it small.
No.49 Azurmendi, Larrabetzu, Spain
To visit Azurmendi in the Basque Country is to feel that you are entering Eneko Atxa’s home. The Spanish chef and his team take you by the hand to discover each corner of the marvellous space. At the same time, you enjoy a gastronomic experience in which the flavour and the beauty of each preparation are always linked to the landscape and the culture that shaped it.
No.48 Atelier Crenn, San Francisco, USA
Based on the concept of Poetic Culinaria, Dominique Crenn’s tasting menu takes diners through a poetic sequence of stunning dishes that may include a miniature and elegant take on a French onion soup and sustainably sourced abalone with cabbage and smoked mussels. Superb wine pairings and seamless service are led by charming general manager Maxime Larquier, while pastry chef Juan Contreras produces iconic desserts such as the much-photographed Coconut and Pineapple.
No.47 Maaemo, Oslo, Norway – RE-ENTRY
Head chef and co-owner, Esben Holmboe Bang, hails from Denmark but has made Oslo his home for the past 13 years. With a vision to open a restaurant centring around Norwegian produce and organic, clean flavours, Bang opened Maaemo in 2010 and since then, it has become one of the most in-demand destination restaurants in all of Scandinavia.
No.46 Leo, Bogotá, Colombia
At Leo, Dinner is split between an eight- or thirteen-course tasting menu, complete with delicate appetisers such as mussels with coconut and Galerazamba salt, or dried shrimp with snails and ants. The latter, although surprising, are crushed to create a crunchy, nutty garnish on the side of the dish. Standout mains include a duck jelly, served with coquindo oil (a rare seed from the Amazon) and salt from the Manuare Salt Flats.
No.45 Nobelhart & Schmutzig, Berlin, Germany – NEW ENTRY
Describing itself as ‘vocally local’ and ‘Germany’s most political restaurant’, Nobelhart & Schmutzig has been committed to serving only ingredients from the greater Berlin region since it opened in 2015. Owner-sommelier Billy Wagner and chef Micha Schäfer serve up a 10-course dinner with exquisite wine pairing and a side order of fun.
No.44 Le Bernardin, New York, USA
Le Bernardin offers several tasting menu options. The classic four-course menu is split into three sections – Almost Raw, Barely Touched and Lightly Cooked – with dishes marrying French and global influences, especially those from Asia. Think tuna tartare with sea urchin toast and a drizzled jus; and peached lobster with chanterelle mushrooms and baby turnips.
No.43 Atomix, New York, USA – NEW ENTRY
Located in Manhattan’s NoMad neighbourhood, close to Koreatown, Atomix is a 14-seat tasting menu restaurant set around a single U-shaped counter, run by chef Junghyun ‘JP’ Park and his wife Ellia. It excels in fermentation techniques in dishes such as smoked bonito with foie gras, abalone and doenjang, an umami-rich fermented soybean paste.
No.42 Belcanto, Lisbon, Portugal
A legendary Lisbon establishment that opened its doors as a men’s club in 1958, Belcanto took on a new life when chef José Avillez took the helm in 2012. Under his culinary navigation, the restaurant earned its first Michelin star that year; a second followed suit just two years later.
No.41 Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen, Paris, France
The culinary narrative of Pavillon Ledoyen, one of Paris’s most prestigious restaurants, goes back to the 1700s. Yannick Alléno’s arrival at the helm in 2014 marked a new chapter, with his extravagant dishes telling a vibrant tale of modern French cuisine.
No.40 Sühring, Bangkok, Thailand
Twin brothers Mathias and Thomas Sühring meld flavours, techniques and experiences accumulated in their native Germany as well as the Netherlands, Italy and Thailand, under one modish roof. The result is a sophisticated – and at times playful – seasonal haute cuisine menu with strong German identity.
No.39 Florilège, Tokyo, Japan – NEW ENTRY
Consistently ranked in the top 10 of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants and with a flurry of accolades over recent years, Florilège is the hit restaurant from young Japanese chef Hiroyasu Kawate. It’s an intimate experience set around a 22-seat counter where the chefs cook everything right in front of the guest.
No.38 Boragó, Santiago, Chile
Boragó’s menu, named ‘Endémica’, showcases the bounty that Chile has to offer. Rodolfo Guzmán takes diners through the regions with dishes such as pink tomato Mariscal served on a pumpkin, duck aged in beeswax and murra and for dessert, a sea strawberry cake and ice brûlée with plants from the Atacama Desert – the arid plateau on the Pacific Coast. It’s an experience for all the senses, but diners are unlikely to get the same one twice, as the menu changes with the seasons. Boragó is the winner of the Flor de Caña Sustainable Restaurant Award 2021.
No.37 SingleThread, Healdsburg, USA – NEW ENTRY
SingleThread works according to the Japanese concept of going above and beyond to anticipate a guest’s needs, with thoughtful extras such as complimentary charcoal toothbrushes in the hotel rooms, and gold-standard thin-lipped stemware glassware.
No.36 Hof Van Cleve, Kruishoutem, Belgium
A regular presence on the 50 Best list, Hof van Cleve started life as a working farm before Peter Goossens elevated its status to a worldwide gastronomic great. Set in bucolic East Flanders, he has been delighting guests with his refined Belgian cuisine for over 30 years.
No.35 Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, Shanghai, China
The launch of this restaurant took avant-garde French chef Paul Pairet 16 years to bring to fruition and when it opened in 2012, it was well worth the wait. Pairet’s menus aren’t whipped up lightly; each takes years to conceive. When you experience the intricacies that go into the multi-sensory experience you’ll totally understand why. Sure, there are theatrics and high-tech graphics involved, but it’s clear that food always comes first.
No.34 Burnt Ends, Singapore – NEW ENTRY
If you only eat one thing at Burnt Ends, try the Sanger, a brioche bun filled with juicy pulled pork shoulder, coleslaw and chipotle aioli. Also available for takeaway and via delivery platforms.
No.33 Lyle’s, London, UK
Originally built as a factory for Lipton, Lyle’s is housed in trendy Shoreditch’s Blitz-surviving Tea Building. Décor retains a mixture of utilitarianism – think ash and elm tables or reclaimed British oak and walnut given a new lease of life as wine shelves – and brutalist poured concrete floors.
No.32 The Clove Club, London, UK
The Clove Club’s interpretation of ‘modern British’ is refreshing and full of surprises, with fresh produce from all over the UK reinvented in creations that put forward natural flavours and playfully mingle with tradition.
No.31 Restaurant Tim Raue, Berlin, Germany
Tim Raue’s classics include the chef’s interpretation of Peking Duck as well as ikarimi salmon, tomato and star anise. The current menu includes pikeperch sangohachi, green raddish and sake beurre blanc; and suckling pig, yellow pea and dashi. Diners can choose from à la carte or two tasting menu options.
No.30 Twins Garden, Moscow, Russia
Two different degustation options served at the chefs’ table include the vegetable-only Garden menu, and the more varied Twins tasting. Both rely heavily on produce from the restaurant’s own farm and include a journey through its extensive wine room, laboratory and kitchen for different courses.
No.29 Reale, Castel di Sangro – RE-ENTRY
Reale is a truly original restaurant, and not just because it’s housed in a 16th century monastery-with-rooms in the mountains of Abruzzo. Niko Romito’s cooking philosophy is unique, using innovative techniques to enhance the intrinsic flavours of often unfashionable ingredients from the region.
No.28 Benu, San Francisco, USA
Opened in 2010, Benu is the definition of friendly fine dining. A nuanced menu riffs on transnational culinary traditions including Korean and Cantonese, using local produce and western technique. The result epitomises the melting pot of influence intrinsic to modern American cuisine, while the service – convivial and relaxed – is all-out Californian.
No.27 Quintonil, Mexico City, Mexico
Although there’s an à la carte option, those with time should pick the tasting menu for the true Quintonil experience. From braised oxtail in black recado with almond purée and red onion to atocpan-style mole with organic vegetables and sourdough bread, there’s a taste of many of the things that make Mexican cuisine so unique.
No.26 Le Calandre, Rubano, Italy
To dine at Le Calandre is to enter the brothers’ vision of Italian craft and ultra-modern excellence. Over the years, Max and Raf have developed their own line of glassware and tableware, refurbished the dining room to reflect their culinary philosophy, and even launched a series of ingredients from their tried-and-trusted network of producers.
No.25 White Rabbit, Moscow, Russia
With a spectacular 360-degree view of Moscow from its 16th-floor dining room, White Rabbit is the best place in the capital for dining with a view. But it is also the place to come for Vladimir Mukhin’s inventive cuisine using Russian ingredients – think swan liver pâté with torched marshmallow or baked cabbage with caviar.
No.24 Septime, Paris, France
Septime is a super-cool place on a cool street run by cool people, frequented by cool customers. The food is relaxed, packed with flavour and served without pretention. Hyper-sustainable Septime was also the winner of the Sustainable Restaurant Award in 2017.
No.23 Arpège, Paris, France
Despite his ever-changing menu, Alain Passard has managed to amass a number of signature dishes over the years, some so famous that diners book months in advance for the first taste of the autumnal ravioli trio with amber consommé and the vegetable sushi flavoured with bay leaves.
No.22 Cosme, New York, USA
Enrique Olvera opened Cosme in 2014 with a vision to showcase the flavours and textures of Mexican cuisine. Former World’s Best Female Chef Daniela Soto-Innes led the kitchen for nearly seven years, but most recently Gustavo Garnica has taken the reins after rising from sous-chef to chef de cuisine, driving his focus on locally available produce.
No.21 Hiša Franko, Kobarid, Slovenia
Hiša Franko is actually a big house in the countryside where Ana Roš and Walter Kramar live with their two children, Svit and Eva Klara. In addition to making the Tolmin cheese on the premises, sommelier Kramar also serves the wine from his extensive collection.
No.20 Diverxo, Madrid, Spain – NEW ENTRY
With twists and surprises at every turn, having a meal at Diverxo is like stepping inside Dabiz Muñoz’s limitless imagination. The 12-course tasting menu takes diners through innovative, Asian-inspired dishes such as Iberian pork dumpling filled with Spanish broth and Korean gochujang with grilled cuttlefish and yellow pepper pil-pil.
No.19 Narisawa, Tokyo, Japan
Yoshihiro Narisawa defines his food as “innovative Satoyama,” the word “Satoyama” representing a border zone between mountain foothills and flat land where people live sustainably with nature. Diners fall under the spell of the season and sample fleeting flavours from provinces around the country.
No.18 Piazza Duomo, Alba, Italy
Piazza Duomo offers a taste of Piedmont, one of the finest food and wine regions of the world, as seen through the sharply focused culinary lens of Enrico Crippa, now firmly established among Italy’s most creative chefs. Diners can choose from different tasting menus: in 2021, one pays homage to Barolo and the culinary traditions of Piedmont through modernist eyes, while another – called ‘the journey menu Crippa XXI’ – is the most personal outlet of the chef’s own creativity.
No.17 A Casa do Porco, São Paulo, Brazil
Guests can go for pork-based à la carte or bitesize plates such as pork chin sushi, pork tartar and Rueda’s interpretation of Virado à Paulista. Those who wait in line for this no-reservations restaurant should order the O Porco É (Pork is…) degustation, which includes Rueda’s signature pork tartare and crispy pancetta crackling with guava jam.
No.16 Elkano, Getaria, Spain
Aitor Arregui’s father Pedro used to say that to buy the best fish, you have to look the animal in the eyes and see that it still retains the brightness that means it is fresh. Today, his son and family run the most prestigious grill in the Basque Country.
No.15 Lido 84, Gardone Riviera, Italy – HIGHEST NEW ENTRY
With one classic and one innovative and creative tasting menu, Lido 84’s dishes showcase the produce of Lake Garda and the region’s verdant pastures. Highlights include the Torta di Rose, a light-as-air cake featuring Garda lemons, and the 400-degree aubergine parmigiana. Lido 84 wins the Highest New Entry Award 2021, sponsored by Aspire Lifestyles.
No.14 Mugaritz, San Sebastian, Spain
Mugaritz is playful, avant garde and highly innovative. It’s a creative dining experience developed by chef Andoni Luis Aduriz aimed to open minds; Aduriz freely admits that not all of his plates are designed to be enjoyed by diners – a gelatinous pork tendon arriving mid-way through the experience is a case in point.
No.13 Don Julio, Buenos Aires, Argentina
All the beef at Don Julio is from grass-fed Aberdeen Angus and Hereford cattle, raised in the countryside outside Buenos Aires. It is stored in a climate-controlled refrigerator for at least 21 days to reach optimum maturity.
No.12 Steirereck, Vienna, Austria
In the centre of Vienna, but seemingly surrounded by nature, the esteemed Steirereck is located riverside in the city’s Stadtpark. The original building hails from 1904 but an uber-contemporary monolithic extension includes mirrored glass walls that magically disappear into the ground in summertime, to make for near al fresco dining. This year, Steirereck picks up the Gin Mare Art of Hospitality Award.
No.11 Den, Tokyo, Japan
Rather than sticking to the elegant, refined but often impersonal traditions of high-end kaiseki cuisine, Zaiyu Hasegawa offers an elevated, deeply personal take on Japanese home cooking. He draws on diverse influences, both home-grown and gleaned on overseas trips, but always based around prime ingredients from ocean, pasture and forest.
No.10 The Chairman, Hong Kong, China
While an à la carte option is on offer, it’s best to put your faith in the superb choices of head chef Kwok Keung Tung and opt for the tasting menu. Thought, precision and time are given to each dish, such as the razor clams steamed with mixed herbs and lemons aged for over 10 years. The Chairman earns the Highest Climber Award 2021, sponsored by Alaska Seafood.
No.9 Pujol, Mexico City, Mexico
Pujol’s offering boasts a varied seven-course tasting menu that packs an incredible punch. While the selection changes seasonally, the signature Mole Madre, Mole Nuevo – two concentric rings of the traditional Mexican preparation, one of which is aged for 2,500 days – is a stable feature, alongside a steamy dish of baby corn with chicatana ant mayonnaise.
No.8 Odette, Singapore
Maukyo uni with prawn tartare, mussel cloud and Kristal caviar sets the unashamedly luxurious tone. While French gastronomy remains at the core of Julien Royer’s cooking, his decade or more in Asia has rubbed off in both ingredients and influences: kampot pepper pigeon with confit leg, liver parfait and black garlic providing a delicious example.
No.7 Maido, Lima, Peru
The fusion of Latin American and Eastern cuisines leads to an exciting and unusual menu. The 12-course ‘Nikkei Experience’ degustation is predominantly fish-focussed: dishes such as Paracas scallops with green butter beans and miso feature alongside crab dishi and tapiocas. The beef cheek is also not to be missed, served with tsukemono and a cloud of jora corn.
No.6 Frantzén, Stockholm, Sweden
Frantzén was one of the first global restaurants to create a genuinely immersive setting. Guests arrive in one room and take a tour of the beautiful property being served seriously futuristic and delicious dishes as they meander their way around the multi-storey townhouse.
No.5 Disfrutar, Barcelona, Spain
Contemporary techniques, daring combinations and the drive to surprise diners are among the features that Oriol Castro, Mateu Casañas and Eduard Xatruch embrace at Disfrutar. Dishes such as panchino (a fluffy bun) stuffed with caviar and sour cream, or multi-spherical pesto with tender pistachios and eel, are designed to ‘please, surprise and excite’.
No.4 Central, Lima, Peru
After years of exploration, guided by Mater Iniciativa – the arm that researches Peruvian ingredients, spearheaded by Virgilio Martínez and Pía Leon with sister Malena – Central’s plates are groaning with incredible biodiversity.
No.3 Asador Etxebarri, Atxondo, Spain
In the lush foothills of the Spanish Basque Country, Asador Etxebarri has been housed in the same rustic stone building since the 1990s. With sprawling views of mountains and grazing cattle from its terrace (where the welcome snacks are served), the restaurant can claim to be at one with history and nature. Victor Arguinzoniz is recognised with the Estrella Damm Chefs’ Choice Award 2021.
No.2 Geranium, Copenhagen, Denmark
Many restaurants align their menu to the changing seasons, but Geranium takes it to the next level. The latest Autumn Universe selection is a case in point, beginning with rich pickings such as Jerusalem artichoke leaves and pickled walnut, and following through into a series of fish and seafood courses, which speak to Chef Rasmus Kofoed’s love for sea-foraging.
No.1 Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark
No trip to Noma is ever the same, with René Redzepi and team constantly foraging for unexpected ingredients and turning them into beautiful plates. Highlights from previous seasons include a groundbreaking vegetarian celeriac shawarma, a duck dish of leg, brain and heart served with claw, feather and beak, and sweet crab meat served on a flatbread cut into the shape of a crab. It is the new iteration of Noma, opened in 2018, that takes home the trophy for The World’s Best Restaurant 2021, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna.
The list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, was announced on October 5, 2021 in Antwerp, Flanders.