Not a fan of these kinds of lists. At a very basic level, these rankings have a heavy bias towards restaurants and chefs with international fame. Not that those recognized aren’t deserving of recognition (all of these restaurants are great in some capacity), but there are quite a few restaurants that are missing or relatively misplaced, from what I could gather (some epistemic reliance here, of course, since I haven’t been to every restaurant I’ve wanted to in the world). The differential between some otherwise comparable restaurants is also a bit extreme in some cases, but that’s what happens when you have to give a numerical pecking order and undoubtedly want to factor in the diversity of not only the type of cuisine but also the country being represented. It’s hard to pit certain cuisines against each other and compare them directly - how do you compare the ostensibly best sushi restaurant vs steak restaurant vs classic French restaurant vs Nordic tasting menu restaurant vs a place that’s trying to reinvent cuisines or challenge their traditions?
LISTS in general - when trying to rank different types of restaurants in a numerical order of “best” aren’t a bad starting point, but they’re fundamentally and fatally flawed, in my opinion. They are hugely important for business, but I think they can otherwise be taken with a grain of salt from the diner’s point of view.
I agree with all of your points. I also think that the World’s 50 Best suffers from more biases than a typical list. Their judges are given free meals by competing restaurants, and some tourism bureaus even comp flights, hotels, etc from what I understand.
That explains how Peru has two top places in the top EIGHT, and while I am certain both of these restaurants are extraordinary, I doubt that without the pull of the Peruvian tourist board, they would be listed nearly this high. It does seem impossible though that Peru has more places in the top 50 than Japan…
I would argue the list has some utility in judging the best contemporary restaurants in Europe. When it steps beyond that, it seems to falter.
Though the process has evolved much since (though it’s dubious that it’s for the better), the whole “50 Best” list started out as a bunch of pink-shirted London-based hedgies simply looking to outspend his mates at the office for nothing else other than bragging rights at the office water cooler come Monday (when the alpha male question of “So where did you jet off to this weekend?” inevitably pops up).
I mean, there wasn’t even an attempt to objectively or reasonably compare and contrast similar competing eateries in the same vein. This list has always felt to me more like “The 50 Best Dining Stories Spence from Mergers & Acquisitions Could Recall”…
Yeah, this whole undertaking to enumerate the “best restaurants” in the world, specifically 1 through 50, is kind of doomed from the beginning. With that said, it’s quite clear that this is very much a revolving PR machine. Just a wild guess: chef who does the most exclusive collaboration dinners worldwide next year skyrockets up.
Some are ranked too high, some are ranked too low, some are missing altogether.
(That is different than saying that these restaurants are not good or do not deserve recognition; on the contrary, substantially all are probably quite good, some world class. It’s their specific relative worldwide ranking that is fundamentally difficult to determine, yet that is the very raison d’etre of this NUMERICAL LIST.)
Some restaurants with a very specific cuisine cannot be compared on a universal scale by any reliable metric.
It would be better if they called it, “Our Take on the 50 Most Relevant Restaurants of the Year,” but that doesn’t create as much MEDIA BUZZ, does it?
Nope, everyone has to sound authoritative.
And, people like lists. Debate and surprise keep lists like these in the news, so I don’t think they mind some controversy every year.
I await Perrier and Nestle’s attempts next year with bated breath…
I think the list when first introduced was viewed as a rebel that shook the establishment (Michelin). Featuring restaurants that did not fall into the traditional template necessary to garner the vaunted 3*. However, with each passing year, this list continues to slide down the credibility pit.
Gaggan, Bangkok (Thailand) – BEST RESTAURANT IN ASIA.
Not intended as a knock on Gaggan, which I’m sure is excellent. But THE absolute BEST restaurant in a continent that includes Japan, China, India, Hong Kong, Korea… etc. I find it quite a stretch for the list to make this bold proclamation.
It shouldn’t surprise me that a single Los Angeles restaurant has yet to make the list since Spago in the early days. The city seems to be constantly put on a handicap. At the same time, I don’t know if I want the LA tourism board to start comp-ing hotel/flights/meals that other cities seem to be doing and voluntarily feeding itself into this PR silliness.
I think LA’s a great food city with a lot of good eats, but there’s not a single restaurant in LA that jumps out at me as a contender for the type of restaurant that this list ostensibly is aiming for. Which is totally fine by me. I enjoy LA’s restaurants, even if it doesn’t have anything that would be considered world-class high end. I think this List is next to worthless, but at the same time, I don’t think there’s a big omission here from LA - what do you think it would be?
For me it has to do more with the unexceptional restaurants that are in the top 50, though the more I read about this list, the sillier I think it is.
LA admittedly does not yet have a EMP equal, but it certainly has a Cosme or a Septime equal.
And to not have anything in even the top 100 is even more galling. If we compare only to the mid-range NYC and Paris restaurants, LA has probably ten to fifteen places equal to or better than the likes of Cosme, Le Chateaubriand, and Estela.
Currently, LA’s dining zeitgeist is veering away from this type of “50Best” craziness. Free of the Michelin burden and the yoke imposed by displaying ever-finer linens and more polished silverware, Los Angeles is off on a wonderful food divergence all its own. May our restaurant scene continue to evolve, free of those conformist influences.
If Cosme is on the list, then off the top of my head Providence, Orsa & Winston, N/Naka, Mori, Shunji, Shibumi, Bestia, Sotto, Republique, Ink, Animal, AOC, Felix (despite literally just opening lol), Gjelina, The Tasting Kitchen, Lukshon, Taco Maria, Spago, Cassia, Trois Mec, Rustic Canyon, Alimento, Alma, Le Comptoir, Odys + Penelope, LSXO, Baco Mercat, Hatchet Hall…
Just to vent a bit more of how LA keeps getting shafted, I also remember when Nobu in London(!) made the list, but not Matsuhisa, the original restaurant in Beverly Hills. So LA was doing great sushi for decades, while taking sneers from the rest of the western world from the 70’s onward for eating raw fish, and then London gets the entry when Nobu expands there.
Same thing for Masa in Beverly Hills which at the time was the best sushi restaurant in the US. He did eventually make the list…after moving to NYC.