An annual list of the world's 50 best restaurants is back — and for the first time, one city dominated the top two spots.
Two restaurants in Copenhagen, Denmark — Noma and Geranium — ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively, at "The World's 50 Best Restaurants" awards ceremony held Tuesday in Antwerp, Belgium.
This marks Noma's fifth time to top the list since 2010.
Since the list's inception in 2002, European — and occasionally American — restaurants have produced the world's top restaurant. This year keeps that streak intact.
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The annual ranking, which is organized by the U.K.-based William Reed Media, wasn't published last year due to the pandemic.
Noma — the world's 'best restaurant' — again
Helmed by Chef Rene Redzepi, Noma is known for its "new Nordic cuisine" that relies on foraged and fermented foods.
Redzepi produces three menus every year — there's the ocean season, the vegetable season, and the game and forest season — the latter which is currently being served for 2,800 Danish krones ($436) per person. Wine pairing is an additional $280, and each menu includes around 20 courses.
The menus within each "season" change, and no two experiences at the restaurant are said to be the same.
"In 2010, when we stood at this stage and the words from the speaker blasted out that Noma was No. 1, it was truly a shock to my system — to everybody's system — and certainly a shock to our reservation system...our website crashed multiple times," said Redzepi at yesterday's awards ceremony. "Suddenly everyone was asking: 'What's going on in Denmark?'"
After the same restaurants dominated the top rankings for more than a decade, the 50 Best organization announced in 2019 that No. 1 winners could not be voted onto subsequent years' lists. Noma closed in 2016 and reopened in a new location in 2018, making it eligible to compete again.
Previous No. 1 winners are called "The Best of the Best." Noma will soon join the seven restaurants on that list, which include El Bulli in Spain, The Fat Duck in the United Kingdom and The French Laundry in the United States, as well as "Noma (original location)," as it is written on the list.
The full list
The complete list is:
1. Noma (Copenhagen, Denmark)
2. Geranium (Copenhagen, Denmark)
3. Asador Etxebarri (Atxondo, Spain)
4. Central (Lima, Peru)
5. Disfrutar (Barcelona, Spain)
6. Frantzen (Stockholm, Sweden)
7. Maido (Lima, Peru)
8. Odette (Singapore)
9. Pujol (Mexico City, Mexico)
10. The Chairman (Hong Kong, China)
11. Den (Tokyo, Japan)
12. Steirereck (Vienna, Austria)
13. Don Julio (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
14. Mugaritz (San Sebastian, Spain)
15. Lido 84 (Gardone Riviera, Italy)
16. Elkano (Getaria, Spain)
17. A Casa do Porco (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
18. Piazza Duomo (Alba, Italy)
19. Narisawa (Tokyo, Japan)
20. Diverxo (Madrid, Spain)
21. Hisa Franko (Kobarid, Slovenia)
22. Cosme (New York City, USA)
23. Arpege (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, USA)
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)
35. Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet (Shanghai, China)
36. Hof Van Cleve (Kruishoutem, Belgium)
37. SingleThread (Healdsburg, California, USA)
38. Borago (Santiago, Chile)
39. Florilege (Tokyo, Japan)
40. Suhring (Bangkok, Thailand)
41. Alleno Paris au Pavillion Ledoyen (Paris, France)
42. Belcanto (Lisbon, Portugal)
43. Atomix (New York City, USA)
44. Le Bernardin (New York City, USA)
45. Nobelhart & Schmutzig (Berlin, Germany)
46. Leo (Bogotá, Colombia)
47. Maaemo (Oslo, Norway)
48. Atelier Crenn (San Francisco, USA)
49. Azurmendi (Larrabetzu, Spain)
50. Wolfgat (Paternoster, South Africa)
Europe dominated this year's list, with more than half of the ranked restaurants located there. Asia took eight slots, with Singapore's Odette (No. 8) awarded the highest position on the continent.
Eight restaurants in North America made the cut, with Mexico's Pujol named the "Best Restaurant in North America." South America took six slots, with two — Central and Maido, both in Peru — named to the prestigious top 10 list.
Africa edged onto the list, with South Africa's Wolfgat, taking the 50th slot.
Spain left the awards with six restaurants etched onto the list — the most of any country. More than half are located in the Basque Country, an autonomous region and renowned culinary powerhouse near the French border.
How the list is made
This is how voting works, according to the 50 Best's website.
Establishments are chosen by some 1,040 industry insiders referred to as "the academy." They are food writers, critics, chefs and restaurateurs from 26 geographical regions around the globe. At least 25% of the academy members in each region change every year.
Each member chooses 10 restaurants. There are no set requirements, and restaurants are chosen at the discretion of the members, said William Drew, director of content for The World's 50 Best Restaurants.
"For one person, the food may be everything; for another the wine list or the atmosphere may play a more important role," he told CNBC. "There is no set criteria — we don't believe there is, or should be, a type of restaurant that features in the 50 Best lists."
Academy members must vote for at least four restaurants outside of their regions. To accommodate restricted travel and dining opportunities caused by the global pandemic, the 2021 list consisted of votes cast in January 2020 — which were never published — as well as updated regional choices, said Drew.
Despite its name, the 50 Best organization last month released the list of restaurants that ranked from 51 to 100. The organization published its first expanded list in June — for its list of Asia's 50 Best Bars — to recognize a greater number of deserving establishments, Mark Sansom, the list's content editor told CNBC.
The academy also announced individual awards this week.
Peruvian chef Pia Leon claimed the World's Best Female Chef award for her work at Lima's Central restaurant — ranked No. 4 — as well as her first solo venture, the nature-inspired Kjolle restaurant, also in Lima, Peru.
Italy's Lido 84 — which debuted at No.15 — received the Highest New Entry award, which is given to the restaurant that ranks the highest out of all new entrants on the list.
The 50 Best organization publishes several top 50 lists to highlight excellence in the food industry, including The World's Best Bars and regional listings such as The 50 Best Restaurants in Asia and The 50 Best Restaurants in Latin America.