40 Legendary Restaurants Across the World
There are a few restaurants throughout the world that offer an experience like no other. Food is a powerful sensory tool, evoking a chef’s life, childhood, and country’s background.
These restaurants offer once-in-a-lifetime experiences through the art of food. Some offer classical cookery, whilst others have pioneered and revolutionized the way we think about food. Let’s get into some of the legendary restaurants across the world:
1. El Bulli, Catalonia, Spain
When chef Ferran Adrià announced El Bulli would be closing in 2011, it sent shockwaves throughout the culinary world. The restaurant held 3 Michelin stars and was voted the world’s best restaurant for a record five times.
The pioneering restaurant established the influential culinary trend known as molecular gastronomy, creating revolutionary cooking skills such as foams and spherification. El Bulli became a driving force in the culinary scene in Spain, and influenced an entire generation of chefs.
2. Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark
Noma, led by founder René Redzepi, is known for creating New Nordic Cuisine. They have revolutionized and pioneered a new way of cookery that focuses on sustainability, locality, and respect for the natural world.
The use of never used before ingredients such as various insects and flowers has led to more innovative cookery. In its 16 years since opening, it has been at the top of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list four times, in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014. It then closed and relocated in 2018, then won the award again in 2021.
3. El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain
This 3 Michelin Star restaurant, located in Girona, Spain, has combined food with molecular gastronomy. El Celler de Can Roca, a project formed by the Roca brothers, has been described as a “fusion of traditional dishes, mixed with surreal artistry”.
From olives served on a bonsai tree to perfumed dishes, this restaurant is truly once-in-a-lifetime. Focusing on traditional Catalonian food, the chefs use unique techniques to create stunning dishes that evoke childhood memories but also bites reminiscent of flavors from all over the globe.
Website: El Celler de Can Roca
4. Mugaritz, San Sebastian, Spain
Mugaritz is known for its creativity, challenging the way we present and eat food. It challenges the perceptions of taste, texture, and presentation, which, Chef Andoni Luis Adruiz freely admits, means not all of the plates are designed to be enjoyed by diners. Courses can range from 20-30 dishes, all with emotive names such as “How Long a Kiss Lasts”.
The unique and challenging food juxtaposes the traditional Basque country house. Furthermore, Chef Adruiz focuses on local Basque produce to challenge the conception of people’s view on the Basque country.
Mugaritz has long been regarded as one of the best restaurants in the world. It holds 2 Michelin stars and was voted the 7th best restaurant in the world in 2021.
5. Eleven Madison Park, New York, United States
Located in the heart of New York City, Eleven Madison Park, led by legendary chef and restaurant owner – Chef Daniel Humm – topped The World’s Best 50 Restaurants in 2017. Before they temporarily shut down in 2020, they served a seasonal tasting course, using inspiration from local culture, history and ingredients.
In May 2021, they announced the elimination of all animal-based products on their menu, much to the shock and surprise of the world. However, the philosophy of Eleven Madison Park is ever-present. Innovating and creating whilst keeping up with global issues is what makes Eleven Maddison Park a must-go-to restaurant.
Website: Eleven Madison Park
6. Arzak, San Sebastian, Spain
Originally built as a family house in 1897, the building passed down multiple generations before becoming the world-renowned Arzak.
Daughter and father partnership, Elena and Juan Mari Arzak, are the driving force behind the New Basque Cuisine produced in Arzak. Whilst the restaurant has been praised for its innovativeness, they have kept to a strict principle of traditional Basque (Spanish and French) cookery, whilst being exquisitely plated.
“To be modern, you need to cook with the times,” says chef Elena. The two defining chefs use their culinary skills to turn values from the past and present into the food they produce.
7. Tetsuya’s, Sydney, Australia
When it opened in 1989, Tetsuya shook the culinary scene of Sydney. Tetsuya Wakuda became a globally recognized chef and is one the most influential of his generation. The combination of Australian, French, and Japanese cuisine was unheard of at the time. Producing stunningly beautiful dishes with flavors from across the globe has made Tetsuya’s a timeless classic.
8. Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy
Taking childhood memories and turning them into thought-provoking dishes is no easy feat. However, Massimo Bottura has turned his edible storytelling art into one of the world’s most renowned restaurants. Receiving the number 1 spot in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2016 and 2018, Bottura is a chef willing to bend the rules of traditional cookery, and is hailed in Italy and across the world.
Website: Osteria Francescana
9. Dinner, London, England
Heston Blumenthal and head chef Ashley Palmer-Watts turn back time and create historical dishes from the 14th to 19th centuries. Dinner is one of the world’s most celebrated restaurants for bringing back classic, historical dishes and reinventing them in a unique and surprising twist.
10. D.O.M. Saõ Paulo, Brazil
D.O.M. is a Brazilian cuisine restaurant in São Paulo run by Brazilian chef Alex Atala. Chef Atala’s view of food being a “viable dream” inspires him to create and innovate, whilst being rooted in the classics of his Brazilian background. Now, using ingredients spanning the Amazon, this establishment is established as one of the best restaurants in South America.
11. Alinea, Chicago, Illinois
Being the only restaurant in Chicago to retain its 3 Michelin Stars, Alinea has dishes full of emotion, pulling on strings of nostalgia. Run by chef and owner Grant Achatz, the menu is full of childhood dishes from peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to pheasant served with smoldering oak leaves, which he calls Aromas of Fall.
In October 2016, TripAdvisor named it the number one fine dining restaurant in the United States, and one of the 10 best restaurants in the world.
12. Delmonico’s, New York City, United States
Delmonico’s has undergone several changes and been handed down through the generations. However, one of the most famous iterations was run by the Delmonico family at 56 Beaver Street in Lower Manhattan during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was considered one of the pinnacle restaurants, changing the New York dining scene forever.
13. Central, Lima, Peru
Chef Virgilio Martinez and Pía León’s flagship restaurant, Central, breathes the life and culture of Peru. The food entails an impressive range of biodiversity, using the finest food from both land and sea, all of which are locally sourced in Peru. Furthermore, recycling, composting, and reducing food waste are all part of the ethos of Central, which shows no signs of slowing down. In 2021, Central received The Best Restaurant in South America award.
14. Pujol, Mexico City, Mexico
Chef Enrique Olvera founded Pujol in 2000 with an aim to spread the beautiful ingredients and ideas of Mexican gastronomy.
The seasonal seven course menu offers eye-opening flavors, combing traditional gastronomy with some ingredients not usually associated with Mexican cuisine, such as their tostada with kimchi and Kampachi taco served with avocado and seaweed.
15. Asador Etxebarri, Atxondo, Spain
Chef Victor Arguinzoniz established his chef’s title by grilling nearly every ingredient he could get his hands on. He created an adjustable, charcoal, grill that can raise and lower the grills’ height to control the amount of heat.
The locally sourced ingredients are kissed by the flames of the charcoal, adding a delicious barbecue flavor and teasing out delicious flavors from even the simplest of ingredients.
Website: Asador Etxebarri
16. Jose Enrique, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Opened in 2007, Jose Enrique epitomizes everything about Puerto Rico through the food he produces. It has since become one of the most lauded restaurants in Puerto Rico. The modest exterior and simple interior are also complimented by a simple looking menu, with dishes such as “beef stew” and “pork chops”.
However, as you would expect, they are much more than their title. Chef Jose Enrique is an emissary for the hearty, mingled foods of his fertile homeland. 75% of his ingredients come from local producers, with the menu changing depending on the produce available on the day.
Website: Jose Enrique
17. Spago, Los Angeles
Located in the heart of Beverly Hills, Spago is chef Wolfgang Puck’s worldwide flagship. Known for serving Californian cuisine, Spago is the driving force behind the gourmet-style pizza. Their famous pizza with smoked salmon and caviar became a staple of their menu.
18. Michel Bras, Laguiole, France
Bras is one of the most iconic restaurants of France, set up by Michel Bras in 1992. He was pivotal in reinventing the way we cook and look at food. Most famously, he invented the now-ubiquitous molten chocolate cake.
His pure style of cooking uses complex techniques to enhance the flavors of simple and humble ingredients. His use of vegetables throughout dishes changed the way they are used, with steaks of purée artistically painted across his plates.
Website: Michel Bras
19. Attica, Melbourne
Attica is a regular in The World’s 50 Best list, as well as topping the restaurant ranks in Australia. Chef Ben Shewry draws on local myths and past memories to inspire his food. Utilising his garden and native ingredients, Chef Shewry promotes the beauty of local Australian produce, which is often unknown. As of recent times, Attica has turned to takeaway but with much higher quality than you would expect.
20. WD-50, New York
WD-50, located in Manhattan New York, has become one of the most influential restaurants in the world. Chef Dufresne is also behind the gastronomic pub Alder, a small tavern with a unique twist on traditional pub food.
However, at WD-50, he took a step further, breaking the boundaries of what we know as classical cookery. Scrambled egg ravioli and foamed foie gras were just a few of the inspiring dishes thought up by chef Dufresne. Sadly, WD-50 closed in 2014, due to real estate issues but will be forever remembered in the culinary world.
21. Sushi Yoshitake, Tokyo
Masahiro Yoshitake trained rigorously for three decades as a sushi chef to become the legend he is now today. In 2004 he opened his own restaurant, Sushi Yoshitake.
Taking the upmost care for each process, he has created sushi that was awarded 3 Michelin Stars. From the water used to steam the rice to the carefully crafted pots, every element of his work ethic is tuned to perfection, creating some of the best sushi on the planet.
22. Sorbillo, Naples, Italy
The lines of customers waiting outside Sorbillo give you an idea of just how delicious their pizza is. Naples is renowned for having some of the best pizza in the world, and at the heart of that is Sorbillo.
Whilst the peculiar low blue tint lighting may be questionable, the only real thing that matters is the pizza.
23. Restaurant Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, Paris, France
Best known for his classic French cookery, chef Alain Ducasse’s name resonates with every chef around the world. His restaurant at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée prioritizes sustainability, health, and wellness-focused plates based on vegetables, fish, and cereals.
24. Pierre Gagnaire, Rue Balzac, Paris, France
The 3 Michelin starred Pierre Gagnaire is a long-standing restaurant located in the heart of Paris. Whilst chef Gagnaire has many restaurants, his flagship is located in Rue Balzac Hotel. Whilst appreciating classic French cookery, chef Gagnaire is not afraid to show his innovativeness with his adventures into other cuisines.
Website: Pierre Gagnaire
25. Gramercy Tavern, New York
Gramercy has become a beloved restaurant throughout America, with unrivalled contemporary American cuisine and warm hospitality and service. Chef Michael Anthony’s rustic yet refined approach to America’s classic dishes has become a hit with the locals. Gramercy Tavern is the crown jewel of the Danny Meyer restaurant empire.
Website: Gramercy Tavern
26. La Mère Brazier, Lyon, France
Eugénie Brazier (1895-1977) founded La Mère Brazier in 1921 and is considered the mother of modern Lyonnaise cuisine. This iconic restaurant is a window into life in 1930’s France.
When chef Mathieu Viannay took over, he gave the menu a modern interpretation, whilst keeping with Chef Brazier’s original philosophies. Eugénie Brazier was the first woman to win 3 Michelin stars and the first chef to earn 6 stars simultaneously.
Website: La Mère Brazier
27. L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges (also known as Paul Bocuse), Lyon, France
Paul Bocuse was a vital figure in Lyon, drawing on local classics. His food transcended borders and symbolized France’s prestigious culinary history. Although chef Bocuse died in 2018 at the age of 91, his philosophies and style of cooking forever live on.
Website: L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges
28. The Fat Duck, Bray, UK
Run by celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, the world-renowned The Fat Duck is based on innovative British food. His focus on the science behind food led to innovations that were unknown of at the time.
The Fat Duck encompasses all the human senses and chef Blumenthal refers to the role that hearing, smell, sight, and touch all play in people’s enjoyment of eating. The Fat Duck is ever more influential throughout the world, despite it being open for 25 years.
Website: The Fat Duck
29. The French Laundry, Yountville, United States
The French Laundry was called “the best restaurant in the world, period” in 2005 by the late Anthony Bourdain. Run by Thomas Keller, a master of both modern and classic cooking, this restaurant helped revolutionize and modernize classical French cooking in America. To add to his accolades, The French Laundry was awarded the title The World’s Best Restaurant in 2003 and 2004.
Website: The French Laundry
30. Mirazur, Menton, France
Topping the ranks of the best restaurant in the world in 2019, Mirazur is run by chef Mauro Colagreco. Combining his Argentian background with his classical culinary French training, chef Colagreco uses the mountains, the sea, and the ingredients grown in their own garden as inspiration for his food.
Since the pandemic, Colagreco has overhauled his menu to a “Lunar Menu” based on the cycle of nature.
31. Gaggan, Thailand
Voted No.1 in Asia’s 50 best restaurants for four years in a row (2014-2018), Gaggan is the epitome of evolving innovation and creativity. At Gaggan, you can enjoy a menu with over 25 small bite dishes, many of which are eaten by hand. Chef Gaggan Anand uses his Indian heritage with his world experiences to create a global cuisine which is admired across the world.
32. Geranium, Denmark
Whilst many restaurants use the changing of seasons to inspire their dishes, Geranium takes this one step further. Chef Rasmus Kofoed creates stunning plates of food full of color, empty space, and a precise volume of ingredients; the result, a harmony of flavors that have been awarded 3 Michelin stars. In 2021, Geranium was voted second on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
33. Arpège, Paris, France
Alain Passard has been at the top of global fine dining for decades. At Arpège, chef Passard’s vegetables, all coming from his own farms, take center stage. He has held on to 3 Michelin stars for more than two decades, which is a testament to the exquisite food on show at Arpège.
34. Disfrutar, Barcelona, Spain
Matev Casana, Oriol Castro, and Edvard Xatruch opened Disfrutar in Barcelona’s Eixample neighborhood in 2014. These three pioneering chefs trained together at the world famous El Bulli. The respect for the history and legacy of the Mediterranean can be found throughout the restaurant and in their food. The mind-blowing gastronomic experience they produce has made this one of the leading avant-garde restaurants in Spain.
35. Maido, Lima, Peru
Chef Mitsuharu Tsumura combines his Japanese background with Peruvian flavors, creating one of the most exciting and unusual menus in the world. The predominantly fish-based menu, featuring dishes such as Paracas scallops with green butter beans and miso, feature alongside crab dishi and tapiocas.
A pioneer of this new type of cuisine, called Nikkei, Maido was crowed Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurant for three consecutive years from 2017 to 2019.
36. Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, London, UK
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s flagship store is located in the heart of Chelsea, London. Achieving its 3rd Michelin star in 2001, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay is just one of a few in the UK to retain such recognition. The classical French cookery, with Chef de Patron Matt Abé at the helm, is one of the top dining experiences in the UK.
Website: Restaurant Gordon Ramsay
37. Sobrino de Botin, Madrid, Spain
Casa Botín, now known as Sobrino de Botin, was founded in 1725. It is the oldest restaurant in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records. After the passing of founder Jean Botin, his nephew (Sobrino in Spanish) took over the restaurant, hence the change of name.
The restaurant has become a landmark and a movement within Madrid’s cuisine with its two specialties, the delicious suckling pig and lamb roasted in Castilian style.
Website: Sobrino de Botin
38. La Tour d’Argent, Paris, France
La Tour d’Argent (The Silver Tower in English) is a historic restaurant in Paris, France. Dating back to its origins in 1582, the restaurant has always been at the forefront of classic French cuisine. Furthermore, they have an astonishing array of wines, with their wine cellar said to contain almost 320,000 bottles. The restaurant inspired scenes in the 2007 Pixar movie Ratatouille, from which it received an “unexpected boost”.
39. Charlie Trotter’s, Chicago
Charlie Trotter opened his most famous restaurant in 1987. It helped elevate Americano cuisine and introduced Stateside fine dining, helping make Chicago a culinary destination. Charlie Trotter was awarded 2 Michelin stars in 2010 and 2011, but with the desire to pursue different ambitions, he closed the restaurant in 2012. His 1994 became a food bible for many aspiring young cooks, helping grow the American food industry.
40. Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, Alabama
For nine straight years, Highlands Bar & Grill was nominated America’s most outstanding restaurant before winning in 2018. Highlands opened in 1982 and paved the way for Southern-style cooking.
Frank Stitt has become a household name after being dubbed the “Godfather of Southern Cuisine.” His first cookbook, “Frank Stitt’s Southern Table” became a best-seller and was named “Best Cookbook” for 2005 by the Southern Booksellers Association.
Website: Highlands Bar & Grill
Featured photo by Wally Gobetz;