'World's 50 Best Restaurants' in 2012
April 30th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
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Restaurant magazine revealed its annual "World's 50 Best Restaurants" list on Monday at an awards ceremony in London's Guildhall. This year marked the tenth year for the countdown.

Audience members rose to their feet as René Redzepi and his interpretation of Nordic cuisine at Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark, made a culinary hat-trick, staying in the No. 1 spot for three years in a row.

"Being on the list means that you made a mark within gastronomy," Redzepi said.

The much-anticipated list is compiled by the World's 50 Best Restaurants Academy - a panel of more than 800 of the world's gastronomic glitterati, including celebrated chefs, food critics, restaurateurs and other influential leaders in the restaurant industry.

"It's a very good window into what's happening in the world of gastronomy. It's a snapshot of the moment," said chef Heston Blumenthal. Blumenthal operates two restaurants, The Fat Duck (No. 13) and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (the highest new entry at No. 9), on this year's list. The Fat Duck topped the list in 2005.

The Ledbury in London was the highest climber in 2012, moving up 20 spots from 2011.

Thomas Keller, the 2012 S.Pellegrino Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, earned two spots on the list this year with Per Se at No. 6 and The French Laundry at No. 43. Six other restaurants from the United States were also crowned this year: Alinea in Chicago, Illinois; Daniel, Le Bernardin, Momofuku Ssäm Bar and Eleven Madison Park in New York; and Manresa in Los Gatos, California.

These are the world's 50 best restaurants:

1) Noma (Copenhagen, Denmark)

2) El Celler de Can Roca (Girona, Spain)

3) Mugaritz (Errenteria, Spain)

4) D.O.M. (São Paulo, Brazil)

5) Osteria Francescana (Modena, Italy)

6) Per Se (New York)

7) Alinea (Chicago, Illinois)

8) Arzak (San Sebastián, Spain)

9) Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (London, England)

10) Eleven Madison Park (New York)

11) Steirereck (Vienna, Austria)

12) L'Atelier Saint-Germain de Joël Robuchon (Paris, France)

13) The Fat Duck (Bray, England)

14) The Ledbury (London, England)

15) Le Chateaubriand (Paris, France)

16) L'Arpege (Paris, France)

17) Pierre Gagnaire (Paris, France)

18) L'Astrance (Paris, France)

19) Le Bernardin (New York)

20) Frantzén/Lindeberg (Stockholm, Sweden)

21) Oud Sluis (Sluis, Netherlands)

22) Aqua (Wolfsburg, Germany)

23) Vendôme (Bergisch Gladbach, Germany)

24) Mirazur (Menton, France)

25) Daniel (New York)

26) Iggy's (Singapore)

27) Narisawa (Tokyo, Japan)

28) Nihonryori RyuGin (Tokyo, Japan)

29) Quay Restaurant (Sydney, Australia)

30) Schloss Schauenstein (Fürstenau, Switzerland)

31) Asador Etxebarri (Atxondo-Bizkaia, Spain)

32) Le Calandre (Rubano, Italy)

33) De Librije (Zwolle, Netherlands)

34) Fäviken Magasinet (Järpen, Sweden)

35) Astrid y Gastón (Lima, Perú)

36) Pujol (Mexico City, Mexico)

37) Momofuku Ssäm Bar (New York)

38) Biko (Mexico City, Mexico)

39) Waku Ghin (Singapore)

40) Quique Dacosta (Denia, Spain)

41) Mathias Dahlgren (Stockholm, Sweden)

42) Hof van Cleve (Kruishoutem, Belgium)

43) The French Laundry (Yountville, California)

44) Amber (Hong Kong, China)

45) Vila Joya (Albufeira, Portugal)

46) Il Canto (Siena, Italy)

47) Bras (Laguiole, France)

48) Manresa (Los Gatos, California)

49) Geranium (Copenhagen, Denmark)

50) Nahm (Bangkok, Thailand)

soundoff (237 Responses)

    Hii guys ... I m opening an restrorant in india ( rajasthan udaipur ) i want a help grom u all guys that give a good name to my restro ple. support me & come to india in rajasthan ( udaipur ) for enjoying a meal with us thanx

    May 15, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
  2. TheRecipeGirl

    What?? Some of my favorites are not on the list!!! Bummer. Yet still, kudos to these chefs and restos! Hope one day mine would land on this list too!

    Anyway, I'm actually a chef in our local community, and our restaurant just recently branched out. Problem is, I'm having a hard time managing inventories and recipes! Can you guys give me an advice on this? Thank you in advance!

    April 22, 2013 at 4:56 am |
  3. partgypsy

    I think the list is supposed to celebrate those restaurant pushing the envelope, regarding techniques, capturing essence of local flavors, the methods in which flavors are made and perceived. It is not about "food" or being fed. I can appreciate what they are trying to do. If I went to one of those places I would compare it more to an experience of going to a theatre production, or an art show. For being fed, I much prefer maximizing my value by going to local restaurants with dedicated chefs preparing the foods they love in an authentic fashion. I just can't bring myself to spend $100+ pp on a meal, when I know can have all sorts of amazing restaurant experiences in the range of 10-50 a person.

    January 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  4. Candice Anderson

    This could be a helpful if you are having a hard time in choosing a Restaurant where you are going to eat.

    Candice Anderson

    May 14, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  5. Jim in Arlington, VA

    Hmmm...4 U.S. restaurants in the top 50 restaurants in the world and they are all in NY? Hmmm? This is probably and extremely useful and unbiased top 50 list. Yes?

    May 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Nicole

      This is totally biased! I've been to all these countries many many times, and sure, there are great restaurants....but some of the best food I've had in the WORLD was in Greece and in Buenos Aires....how could there be NOTHING from these countries as well? LOL High society....

      May 13, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  6. Free Lol Riot Points

    Pretty great post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wished to mention that I have really loved browsing your weblog posts. After all I'll be subscribing for your feed and I hope you write again soon!

    May 4, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  7. Suzanne

    Not one Canadian restaurant made in to the worlds top 50...........

    Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Nothing........... ............ yikes

    May 2, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Dudley DoRight@Suzanne

      Obviously, the judges have never heard of Canadian Bacon. A true shame on them in the gastronomic World.

      May 2, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  8. R.J.

    The correct title should be "World's 50 expensive restaurants". Seriously, $200+ for dinner? It could feed a family of 4 for 2 months in Third world countries. These restaurants are for 1% and unfortunately not for me :(

    May 2, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  9. C.G.

    Seriously people, these are the restaurants that, if you love gourmet food, you would hope to visit someday. Not your neighborhood restaurant that you go to every week or even every month. These restaurants serve the foods that you would find in the book '1001 Foods You Must Taste Before You Die.'

    May 1, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
  10. Jesse R

    As I peruse through the menus on a select few of these "best" restaurants, I found one common denominator.... WHAT IS THIS STUFF? Seriously, one of the determining factors should be that at least 1/8 of the world's progressive population should be able to recognize the food on the menu.

    May 1, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Rbnlegend101

      Why? Why would a gourmet restaurant be judged on how well or poorly the man on the street would recognize the menu items?

      And, I am checking out some of the menus. I am hitting one or two items per menu I don't know what they are. If you aren't interested in food, why would you care which restaurants are rated as best in the world, by people who know food in detail? If you are interested in food, you should recognise most or all of what is on the menu. Fine dining is not about familiar food done in familiar ways, over and over.

      May 2, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  11. thoughful

    NO SOUTHERN FOODS!!!!!! They've missed a whole way of life, check out Louisiana & Texas, Georgia, S. Carolina......they're missing the really good comforting stuff.....

    May 1, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  12. Jenn

    These restaurants are expensive and for those who can afford it. Obviously, the rich can afford these on a regular basis...for the rest of us, these are special occasion only.

    But don't knock them til you try it....

    May 1, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  13. Hungry guest

    The very best restaurant is the one you like the best. These lists really are meaningless. Most people will NEVER visit these places..

    May 1, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Vicki

      I agree. How do they know these are the best? Did the judges eat in every restaurant in the world?

      May 1, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  14. Sam

    I once ate at a restaurant in Barcelona that was listed as a michelan (sic) 3 star restaurant. Squid in it's own ink for about $55. That was 20 years ago, probably double now. I asked the waiter how do I know it's ink is really it's own? He stared at me like a bullfighter looking at a bull. The food was horrible.

    May 1, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • mauricio

      you are a hospitality nightmare!!
      you haave not idea the kind of s...t you eat in usa restaurants.

      May 2, 2012 at 4:51 am |
  15. Bruce Carter

    Nothing in Texas? Well, the rest of the world doesn't know what they are missing!

    May 1, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  16. Don

    The best food is the stuff you make at home. Get some cook books and have some fun. Once you get the swing of it, all restaurants will be bad. The best food I've ever had was made in my kitchen. It took a decade of practice but it was worth it. Anyone can do it.

    May 1, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • JT

      Maybe compared to Applebee's, but you obviously haven't had the pleasure to eat a world renown chef's creation.

      May 1, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
      • Lenny

        Yeah. I looked at the menu of # 1 restaurant. The 10 course meal has raw sliced vegetables. You obviously need to eat there to feel good about yourself.

        May 1, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
        • Rbnlegend101

          You are so right. And most of them serve water. That stuff falls out of the sky, it's not special. Not to mention, bread. I see bread on those menus, and I can get wonder bread right around the corner.

          May 2, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
      • mauricio

        JT is a shame I only have two tums cus i want to give you 10 tums up for your coment, Culinary arts are not for everyone. only for those who get it.

        May 2, 2012 at 4:55 am |
  17. HW7

    Bogus list! Where's T.G.I. Friday's???

    May 1, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • US19

      Same place as Applebee's, Chili's & Rude Tuesday's: different list.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  18. A

    The best place I've ever eaten was on a street corner in Taipei. I'm fully aware that is not everyone's idea of heavenly food. To each their own.

    May 1, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  19. Will

    These lists are just the gastronomic manifestation of the all-too familiar (and hilarious) pseudo-intellectual delusion that is the hallmark of modern-day liberals. But as always, reality sits in direct opposition to liberal fantasy... there are literally tens of thousands of small hole-in-the-wall type restaurants in the small towns of the world, each of which prepares food that is far, far superior to anything concocted by the bastions of pretentious self-glorification that buy their way onto this type of list.

    May 1, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • A

      All the liberals I know prefer to eat at local hole in the walls only. Did someone teach you that "liberal" is a dirty word, so you just use it to put down anyone that offends you?

      May 1, 2012 at 11:51 am |
      • Will

        The consistent and predictable ignorance, stupidity and SELF-DELUSION of American liberals provides all the evidence I would ever need to justify my statements.

        May 1, 2012 at 11:57 am |
        • Save Us Jeebus!

          Oh, the irony of such statements. Physician heal thyself.

          May 1, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
        • Toriam

          Congratulations, you've proved your I.Q to this list.

          May 2, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Scott Wallace

      Jesus was a liberal.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Save Us Jeebus!

      So, Will, you've eaten at all the restaurants on the list and know for a fact that these hole-in-the-wall places are better? That's quite a feat. (On the other hand, if you're just some nutjob conservative looking for any excuse to insult liberals, then you really need a life, dude. Seriously.)

      May 1, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • BobbyGB

      Well I suppose we all have our issues that are worth getting angry for...mine are a bit different.

      May 1, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Sam

      Tastebuds, not one's political preferences usually dominate when picking the best food. Can't you wackos keep you're hatred out of anything?

      May 1, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Rbnlegend101

      Don't forget to leave comments over on the sports stories blaming liberals for the teams that lost. oh, and thunderstorms predicted around here, probably liberals at work there too.

      Most of the conservatives I know like their food cooked well done, on charcoal with the flames high. Their favorite spice is salt, and their favorite vegetable is BBQ sauce. Some of them like taters, but french fries are made from taters, and well, you know, french, so, taters are a guilty pleasure. I do know one or two conservatives with better taste in food, but, guess what they tend to eat in fine dining establishments I can rarely afford, like the ones on this list.

      Get a grip. It's a restaurant article. Put your political obsession aside for a bit and enjoy the food. Or if you are just here to complain that applebees isn't on the list, do that.

      May 2, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  20. Barack O'Romney

    This list is pure bull. I was in Copenhagen and met people coming out of NoNo. The name alone should be your clue!`The number one restaurant serves raw vegetables on a bed of dirt and grass. Cows at least are served grains! The top fancy joints serve pig fat and grease over everything and the snobs lap it up like pigs. Small portions and inflated prices to match the inflated egos! Avoid ANY place on the list and just eat raw cholesterol for the same effect and safe a thousand bucks!

    May 1, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  21. grossedout

    The majority of the components in these menus in these so called "top 50" made me vomit. Pig cheek, goose liver, duck powder, goats curd, black pudding (aka blood), calf tail?? When cleaning the animal, those are the things you throw out, just nasty.

    May 1, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Barack O'Romney

      Amen. We met people coming out of NoNo and they were laughing at the crap they were served and mad at the $300 bucks a head they spent. This is pure snob appeal and lack of reality. ie Why are the Kardashians a tv hit? the dumb obedient public let others decide hat is popular!

      May 1, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  22. Greg Malor

    Recipe for getting on this list:

    1. "Repurpose" some old, brick warehouse in a shady part of town using materials from demolished 18th century New England churches.

    2. Hire a hip, young chef, preferably with lots of tattitude (attitude + tattoos).

    3. Serve miniscule portions containing samples of foam infused with something pretentious and a good amount of locally sourced nonsense and foraged field greens (i.e. weeds).

    4. Overprice everthing.

    May 1, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • hipster


      Hilarious. But you forgot one of the most important ingredients.

      You need a name so ridiculously pretentious that it's hard to tell whether it's a restaurant. Something like: "Fork + Plate" or "Barley Swine"

      May 1, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Rbnlegend101

      I wonder how much it costs to have old church bricks shipped from the US to spain? And why would they use new bricks from the US when they can get much older ones locally? In europe, an 18th century church is considered fairly new. Go visit spain and you can stay in a hotel where the restrooms haven't been cleaned since the 18th century.

      May 2, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  23. DVPops

    I don't see any restaurants from mainland China or India on the list. Isn't it amazing that according to this list about 3 billion of the world's population cannot have a restaurant deserving to be on this list. I have been to India. That country has some of the best hospitality in the world. I have not been to China, but I am sure culinary skills perfected over thousands of years of history, probably produce the best food and hospitality in both countries. The title of this list should be "Worlds 50 best restaurants where we got to eat for free."

    May 1, 2012 at 11:08 am |
  24. maggotfist

    You would be surprised to find out how these "best of" lists are concocted, I've been to a few of them and they they are truly excellent. However, the judges are unable to visit every restaurant in the world so the list is arbitrary.

    In order to be listed as a "Best" restaurant, an owner must submit a request to be in the running for a fee to Restaurant magazine, once the restaurant is "awarded" a position in teh best of they are encouraged to "take out an ad" in Restaurant magzine to "let everyone know" how "good" they are.
    It's half scam, half reality.

    May 1, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • Lydia

      Total scam. I have been to the two in NY, as I lived there for 33 years. Not even close to my own top 20. This is all about restaurant snobbery, and not about what actualy tastes good.

      May 1, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Vicki

      Doesn't surprise me. This list should be called the 50 most pretentious restaurants in the world.

      May 1, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  25. Andrew Flynn

    Obviously, you folks have never heard of the Double-Down.....

    May 1, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Kat Kinsman

      In Vegas? Heck yeah! A tankard of your finest Ass Juice, good sir.

      May 1, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  26. Snacklefish

    OMG! My favorite local restaurant is not on this list! Why did they not call me and ask MY opinion!!! My day, and by extension my life are now forever ruined!

    May 1, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Shi Thead

      Here. Calm yourself with a nice Filet-o-Fish sandwich.

      May 1, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • worldly wise

      why didn't olive garden make the list???? mystery to me.

      May 1, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  27. ken m

    no mention of China ... nothing about Chile and Argentina ... The criteria for selection must be narrowed to north European cultural taste.

    May 1, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • cee

      China is on the list.

      May 1, 2012 at 10:41 am |
      • chrismur23

        Chile and Argentina? Been to both and none of their food really stands out. Brazil (#4 in the list) has better meats and specialty dishes. Peru (#35) has some of the richest varieties of food in the world. Mexico (#36 & #38) is a world-wide staple. These people live and breath food and rate it as such.

        May 1, 2012 at 10:57 am |
        • Branko

          Peruvian cuisine is overrated and if you missed the way these lists are concocted look it up, it's smoke and mirrors my friend

          May 1, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • EpitomeOfFacncy

      Uhm. . . China is on the list -_-

      May 1, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Mike Goldscheitter

      As are Japan, Singapore, and Thailand.

      May 1, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  28. Rick

    Hard to believe a bottle of domestic microbrew at Per Se costs more than the 6-pack itself. 0_0 Twelve friggin' dollars!

    May 1, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Cass

      Is it actually hard to believe though at such a place? Even several local "normal" restaurants regularly charge $7-$9 for a craft beer that isn't particularly special or high ABV.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Rbnlegend101

      That is the case at many restaurants. Doesn't matter how expensive they are, the markup on beverages is amazing. Five cents worth of soda sells for $2. A bottle of liquor that costs $35 for a fifth sells for $15 a shot. And you often pay the price of a six pack for a single beer. At those prices the drinks are pretty reasonable, compared to the food. Pay the same thing for a beer as you would at any local steakhouse, but the actual food costs 3-10 times as much.

      May 2, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  29. Jazzy Jeff

    No Red Lobster or Ruby Tuesday???

    May 1, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      No McDonald's, either. What a list.

      May 1, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  30. Sara

    This is one of those meaningless lists.. more like Miss World contestants and we know that they do not represent most beautiful or the best among us.. like politics all food is local and cultural.. take that list and shove it...

    May 1, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • World traveller

      Take your laptop and shove it!

      May 1, 2012 at 9:59 am |
      • Sara

        ...and you call yourself a world traveler... I bet you did not leave your farm house..

        May 1, 2012 at 10:42 am |
        • A

          Way to stereotype farmers.

          May 1, 2012 at 11:42 am |
        • Barack O'Romney

          And you madam must be a true heifer. Size 50 I bet? Go back to your pot of mac and cheese!

          May 1, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  31. BobbyGB

    I have only been to a few high end restaurants in my life, usually at the expense of someone else. At first I was impressed at the quality and uniqueness of the food and how the service treated you like royalty, and I'm sure that many people have come to enjoy this and expect it out of every place they attend, and I'm cool with that, to each his own. After a more visits, I couldn't get over just how much of a production the meal is. It seemed like I was in a theater being entertained I once had breakfast at a small Kansas cafe where the husband and wife ran the entire place by themselves. They had pictures of their kids displayed and photographs of local schools they support and sponsor. They were genuinely friendly people and weren't putting on a show for my entertainment. They simply took pride in the food they made (which was delicious) and enjoyed getting to know me. Best restaurant meal I've ever had. I know it sounds backwards and simplistic, but I think we overlook the smallest and simplest things in life.

    May 1, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Old Fashion

      I agree with you all the way, simplicity is beauty. Humble, clean and down to earth type of a restaurant, food is good, eating like you're in your own dining table sorrounded with your love ones. It's great. I had been to so many fancy restaurant but the atmosphere is different than the Mom Pop's. Let's just support our humble reliable family restaurant.

      May 1, 2012 at 10:20 am |
      • Bageldog

        I'm genuinely bewildered by these types of comments. I mean, I love the mom & pop greasy spoon as much as anybody. But, to use an analogy, sometimes youtube isn't enough and I want the Hollywood blockbuster.

        May 1, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • GA Queen

      Hey Bobby, Can you mention the name of the Kansas Cafe. I am just curious!

      May 1, 2012 at 10:28 am |
      • BobbyGB

        It was a good ten years ago (at least), but I'm pretty sure it was called Neighbor's Cafe in McPherson.

        May 1, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • A

      Not that I've ever been anywhere high end, I choose not to bother, but I'd venture to guess that I'd take the local diner over that snobbery any day.

      May 1, 2012 at 11:44 am |
      • Rbnlegend101

        I don't have to taste the grapes to know that they are probably sour.

        Why take the time to knock it, when you haven't tried it?

        May 2, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  32. World traveller

    Congratulations Noma! Great to see a restaurant getting ahead using local produce and cultural spices.

    May 1, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Toriam

      Speaking of Outstanding, humble restaurants using only local products grown without chemicals or hormones. If your in Springfield Mo. Drop by the Farmer's Gastropub. All the veggies, meats, breads, and even the wines and liqueurs are 100% natural. As far as international honor's The London telegraph somehow discovered the Farmer's gastropub hidden in Downtown Springfield Mo. and voted it #2 in the world. If you've spent 50.00 in this restaurant / bar, You've had a very good time. No, I don't work there or own it. It's just really good.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
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