The World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards—an event considered the Oscars of the fine dining world—was forced to take a hiatus last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but it’s finally back, and the two eateries at the top of the list are both in Copenhagen.
The No.1 spot this year goes to what is perhaps the best known name in gastronomy: Noma. Danish chef René Redzepi’s three-Michelin star restaurant first opened in Copenhagen’s Christianshavn neighborhood in 2003 and first took the top slot in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards back in 2010.
A new rule introduced at the 2019 awards rendered previous winners of the top title ineligible for the list, but Noma was able to make the cut as it closed in 2016 then reopened in a new Copenhagen location two years later.
This fundamental change in the rules excludes New York’s Eleven Madison Park, The Fat Duck near London, Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, and the 2019 winner, Mirazur in Menton, France. These restaurants are now entered into a separate “Best of the Best” program, of which Noma is the newest member.
The Peruvian capital of Lima has two restaurants in the top 10: chefs Virgilio Martínez and Pía León’s Central, which climbed two spots to fourth place, and Maido at No.7, whose deal is Japanese-Peruvian fusion, with a highlight being the lucuma ice cream, topped with soy sauce and macambo foam.
Central’s Pía León not only celebrated holding onto the award for Best Restaurant in South America, but was also named World’s Best Female Chef. It’s an honor that attracts some controversy as critics see it as reinforcing the inequality that the event’s organizers say it helps address.
French-born Dominique Crenn, co-owner and chef of San Francisco’s Atelier Crenn (No. 48 on the list), won the Icon Award.
The Art of Hospitality Award went to Vienna’s Steirereck, at No. 12, where highlights might include sunflower and Jerusalem artichoke with lamb sweetbreads, or the signature char fish cooked tableside in beeswax with yellow carrot “pollen” and sour cream.
Boragó, in Santiago, Chile—No. 38 on the list—won the Sustainable Restaurant Award. It has its own biodynamic farm and a focus on hyper-local, “zero-kilometer”cooking.
The world’s 50 best restaurants
1. Noma (Copenhagen, Denmark)
2. Geranium (Copenhagen, Denmark)
3. Asador Etxebarri (Axpe, Spain)
4. Central (Lima, Peru) *Best Restaurant in South America*
5. Disfrutar (Barcelona, Spain)
6. Frantzén (Stockholm, Sweden)
7. Maido (Lima, Peru) (up three places)
8. Odette (Singapore) *Best Restaurant in Asia*
9. Pujol (Mexico City, Mexico) *Best Restaurant in North America*
10. The Chairman (Hong Kong) *Highest Climber Award*
11. Den (Tokyo, Japan)
12. Steirereck (Vienna, Austria) *Art of Hospitality Award*
13. Don Julio (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
14. Mugaritz (San Sebastian, Spain)
15. Lido 84 (Gardone Riviera, Italy) *Highest New Entry Award*
16. Elkano (Getaria, Spain)
17. A Casa do Porco (São Paulo, Brazil)
18. Piazza Duomo (Alba, Italy)
19. Narisawa (Tokyo, Japan)
20. DiverXO (Madrid, Spain)
21. Hiša Franko (Kobarid, Slovenia)
22. Cosme (New York City)
23. Arpège (Paris, France)
24. Septime (Paris, France)
25. White Rabbit (Moscow, Russia)
26. Le Calandre (Rubano, Italy)
27. Quintonil (Mexico City, Mexico)
28. Benu (San Francisco, California)
29. Reale (Castel di Sangro, Italy)
30. Twins Garden (Moscow, Russia)
31. Restaurant Tim Raue (Berlin, Germany)
32. The Clove Club (London, UK)
33. Lyle’s (London, UK)
34. Burnt Ends (Singapore) *New entry*
35. Ultraviolet (Shanghai, China)
36. Hof van Cleve (Kruishoutem, Belgium)
37. SingleThread (Healdsburg, California)
38. Boragó (Santiago, Chile) *Sustainable Restaurant Award*
39. Florilege (Tokyo, Japan) *New entry*
40. Sühring (Bangkok, Thailand)
41. Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen (Paris, France)
42. Belcanto (Lisbon, Portugal)
43. Atomix (New York City) *New entry*
44. Le Bernardin (New York City)
45. Nobelhart & Schmutzig (Berlin, Germany) *New entry*
46. Leo (Bogotá, Colombia)
47. Maaemo (Oslo, Norway)
48. Atelier Crenn (San Francisco, California)
49. Azurmendi (Larrabetzu, Spain)
50. Wolfgat (Paternoster, South Africa) *Best restaurant in Africa*