The most memorable dining experiences might start with warm service and inviting ambiance, but the defining element may always be exquisite food, served beautifully. The best kitchens must balance not only flavor, but also temperature, texture, proportion, contrast, and aesthetics – the kind of excellence you can expect at the best Michelin three-star restaurants in the world.
But France’s estimable Guide Michelin isn’t the only publication that rates great dining venues. To determine, according to a different source, the 25 best restaurants in the world, 24/7 Tempo sourced a list from the 2022 edition of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, released this July by William Reed Ltd., a British-based media company. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the awards, which are determined by a panel of 1,080 international culinary experts.
Eight restaurants that have formerly held the No. 1 spot on the list are retired from competition and listed separately as “The Best of the Best,” so are not included in the list for 2022. These are El Bulli (Roses, Spain; no longer operating as a restaurant), The French Laundry (Yountville, California), The Fat Duck (Bray, England), El Celler de Can Roca (Girona, Spain), Osteria Francescans (Modena, Italy), Eleven Madison Park (New York City), Mirazur (Menton, France), and Noma (Copenhagen, Denmark).
Among the rest, the best restaurants in the world are ones that have managed to incorporate innovative cuisine with inspiring surroundings and seamless service that feels both intimate and attentive. World-class wine lists are the norm at these establishments, as are prix fixe tasting menus and – with a few exceptions – hefty price tags. (If money is no object, here are the world’s 20 most expensive restaurants.)
All the restaurants on this list have received Michelin stars, except those in countries that the Michelin Guide does not cover. There are no representatives from the U.S., Africa, or Australia in the top 25, though there are some from all three places further down World’s Greatest list (including its 51-100 extension). Instead, the top 25 leans heavily toward Europe, with Spain and Italy boasting more listed restaurants than any other country. Latin America is also well represented, with establishments in Peru, Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico, and there are two Asian entries.
Some of these restaurants offer not just mere dining, but a concept-based theater or gallery-like experience. While most serve omnivorous fare, a few also cater to plant-based or pescatarian diets. Note that most will require reservations weeks or months in advance. As many serve set tasting menus, certain dietary restrictions may not be accommodated. Be sure to check websites or call ahead for reservations and for dietary concerns.
> Location: Stockholm
> Chef: Björn Frantzén
This experiential concept restaurant melds setting with taste as guests are guided through the rooms of a chic three-story townhouse, dining at each turn on dishes from a ten-course menu of futuristic Nordic fare with Asian highlights. A wood fire in the kitchen adds a bold and primal depth of flavor to the rich cuisine.
24. The Chairman
> Location: Hong Kong
> Chef: Kwok Keung Tung
Melding traditional Cantonese flavors with modern technique, The Chairman utilizes seasonal, organic ingredients from small suppliers to invent contemporary dishes that hint at classical luxury. Twenty-year-fermented lemon peels, sugar-roasted chrysanthemums, and other long-forgotten local flavors accent each dish.
23. The Jane
> Location: Antwerp, Belgium
> Chef: Nick Bril
Set in a towering repurposed chapel with a glassed-in kitchen, the Jane serves a fixed menu of haute cuisine with mind-blowing flavors and presentation. The dishes are centered around fish and shellfish, with bold accents like salsify, nasturtium, and caviar, and each feast includes two desserts.
> Location: Paris
> Chef: Bertrand Grébaut
This hip and unpretentious neo-bistro serves a surprisingly affordable plant-forward tasting menu of understated but flavor-packed cuisine. The quality of the fresh vegetables and sustainably sourced meats speaks for itself, and the kitchen masterfully coaxes the prime flavor and texture out of each ingredient.
> Location: San Sebastián, Spain
> Chef: Andoni Luis Aduriz
Not for the faint of heart, Mugaritz is an avant-garde experience in a rustic Basque country house that features anywhere from 20 to 30 uncustomary dishes. Think aged mole and bone marrow shaped into leaves of a book, ceviche snails crawling over a clump of moss-like frozen teff, or raw pork heart plated on musical dishware, creating an orchestra of imbibing guests.
> Location: Tokyo
> Chef: Zaiyu Hasegawa
With a light-hearted take on Japanese home cooking, Den serves dishes that are satisfying, often times whimsical, and always innovative, in a warm, welcoming atmosphere. The signature 20-ingredient salad includes a live ant, the “Dentucky” fried chicken wings may be the best wings in the world, and the donabe gohan (clay pot rice) with wagyu beef is comfort food at its finest.
19. Piazza Duomo
> Location: Alba, Italy
> Chef: Enrico Crippa
With herbs, vegetables, and flowers grown on the restaurant’s own biodynamic farm, the plant-forward cuisine of Piazza Duomo celebrates the flavors of the Piedmont region with a distinctly Japanese aesthetic. Choose between two tasting menus – one that exalts the traditions of the surrounding land, and one that explores the frontiers of creativity with international influences.
> Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
> Chef: Rasmus Munk
An otherworldly dining experience in an industrial building that includes a planetarium-like dome, dinner at Alchemist is an edible exhibit of 50 micro courses divided into five acts. Exemplary ingredients and technique provide the foundation for the delicacies served here, but dig deeper into the imagery and you’ll find social commentary and a call to action.
17. Nobelhart & Schmutzig
> Location: Berlin
> Chef: Micha Schäfer
The commitment to economic sustainability at this local-food restaurant prohibits any ingredients that aren’t produced in the surrounding region, including citrus, chocolate, and tuna. Instead the 10-course dinner features such pairings as lamb and sorrel, kohlrabi in buttermilk, and apple with spruce buds. The wine and cider lists are well worth exploring.
> Location: Getaria, Spain
> Chef: Aitor Arregui
Family-run for generations, this Basque restaurant specializes in traditional methods of grilling fish, caught fresh in the nearby Bay of Biscayne. The whole grilled turbot is Elkano’s claim to fame, while the cod throats in three textures, marinated lobster, and sea bass are some of the best you may ever have.
> Location: Castel di Sangro, Italy
> Chef: Niko Romito
Housed in a 16th-century former monastery, with tasting labs dedicated to fermentation, baking, and pressure cooking, Reale is a modern restaurant that utilizes both antiquated and innovative techniques to create minimalistic dishes with expertly synthesized flavors. Imagine celeriac with hazelnut and cardamom, or liquorice with vinegar and white chocolate.
14. Don Julio
> Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
> Chef: Guido Tassi
The top steakhouse in Argentina, Don Julio serves perfectly aged, local, grass-fed beef, grilled in the traditional style over hardwood coals. House specialties include the chorizo, blood sausage, and corn and pumpkin empanadas. Owner Pablo Rivero is also a respected sommelier, and the selection of Argentinian wines is extensive.
> Location: Vienna
> Chef: Heinz Reitbauer
This chic establishment boasts mirrored glass walls that disappear into the surrounding greenery. Steirereck’s exquisite dishes showcase traditional flavors and heirloom vegetables with flair, in combinations like veal kidney with watercress and sea buckthorn and sturgeon with cornelian cherries, red chicory, and artichoke. Don’t skip the bread – there are over 25 varieties.
> Location: Senigallia, Italy
> Chef: Mauro Uliassi
This family-run restaurant on the Marche seaside elevates the regional tradition of combining marine flavors with game and land-based meats for an unforgettable savory synthesis. Choose a selection from the à la carte and crudo menu, or a prix fixe menu which includes dishes like marinara marrowbone with cod tripe and celery seed and tagliatelle with sea snail ragout and roe deer.
> Location: Lima, Peru
> Chef: Mitsuhara Tsumara
With a sushi bar, à la carte menu, and tasting menu, the seafood-forward cuisine at Maido combines Peruvian flavors and Japanese culinary techniques in a unique fusion known as Nikkei. Expect decadent ceviches and tempuras, lamb dumplings with chicha (corn beer) sauce, and cilantro fried rice with duck and sansho pepper – and don’t miss the 50-hour spoon-tender beef short ribs.
10. Le Calandre
> Location: Rubano, Italy
> Chef: Massimiliano Alajmo
This family-run restaurant serves as a culinary gallery displaying the flawless works of chef Max Alajmo. The colorful murrina cappuccino is a masterpiece, while the saffron and licorice risotto has a cult following. Choose between three themed tasting menus including the classics menu, which combines all of the restaurant’s greatest hits.
> Location: Mexico City
> Chef: Jorge Vallejo
Showcasing the best of Mexico’s flavors, this farm to fork restaurant offers a 10-course seasonal tasting menu that brings indigenous and traditional ingredients to a modern audience. Dishes include grasshopper mole, cured striped bass, charred avocado with ant larvae and wild mushrooms, smoked cactus paddle salad, and mamey panna cotta.
8. Lido 84
> Location: Gardone Riviera, Italy
> Chef: Riccardo Camanini
This destination restaurant with a lakeside patio and stunning views utilizes an array of local meats, produce, and cheeses to turn out beloved Italian specialties and delicate, ephemeral desserts. The eggplant parmigiana, rabbit kidney tartare, and oxtail agnolotti entice, while the star of the dining room is the cacio e pepe en vessie – pecorino rigatoni cooked inside a pig bladder and served with a flourish.
7. A Casa do Porco
> Location: São Paulo
> Chef: Jefferson Rueda
Utilizing every part of the pig (and offering a new vegetarian menu that is just as mouthwatering), this quirky bar, restaurant, and market specializes in whole spit-roasted hogs. The tasting menu ushers guests through a journey of pork jowl sushi, pancetta cracklings, blood sausages, and wood-fired pork belly. Committed to accessibility, A Casa do Porco keeps its menu items unbelievably affordable.
6. Asador Etxebarri
> Location: Atxondo, Spain
> Chef: Victor Arguinzoniz
In a rustic stone building surrounded by the mountains of Basque Country, this asador (grill) serves hardwood coal-fired seafood, meats, and even desserts that are kissed by smoke. Everything is grilled; the smoked peas that pop like caviar, the smoked milk quenelle in beet juice, the famous Palamós prawns from the Catalan coast, and of course the tender steaks, served with a light brush of smoked butter.
> Location: Mexico City
> Chef: Enrique Olvera with Jesús Durón
Mexico City’s premiere restaurant features a seven-course tasting menu and a “taco omakase” menu of bar snacks, both of which showcase the country’s culinary roots and include a taste of Pujol’s famous aged mole madre. The elote features tender baby corn with chile and chicatana ant mayo, the huitlacoche (corn fungus) is served with black truffle, and the unforgettable mole madre is served only with a dollop of fresh mole nuevo and tortillas.
> Location: Madrid
> Chef: Dabiz Muñoz
From one of the world’s most creative cooks, this avant-garde hedonists’ paradise in an ultra-modern setting leads diners through 12 mind-bending courses that fuse Spanish cuisine with Asian flavors, defying divisions between sweet and savory – and managing to look quite magnificent in the process.
> Location: Barcelona
> Chef: Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch and Mateu Casañas
Molecular gastronomy guides the daring hands of the three chefs at Disfrutar – former stars of the kitchen at the legendary elBulli – leading to textural pairings that astound the senses. The tasting menus are akin to performance art, featuring fire, ice, smoke, and surprising flavors. Fluffy buns ooze beluga caviar and cream, crispy egg yolks balance on mushroom gelatin, and spheres of pesto reveal tender pistachios and eel.
> Location: Lima, Peru
> Chef: Virgilio Martínez and Pía León
Reflecting the remarkable biodiversity of Peru, the tasting menu at Central guides guests through the country’s altitudes and bioregions, with staple ingredients like purple corn and heirloom potatoes, as well as rarities like piranha, cushuro (caviar-like river algae), cactus milk, palm fruit, and coca leaves. The presentation of each course is as captivating as the exquisite cuisine.
> Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
> Chef: Rasmus Kofoed
Scandinavian aesthetics and seasonality permeate the decor and the plant- and seafood-based dishes at Geranium. The world class wine pairings and surprising non-alcoholic beverage pairing underscore the deep, layered flavors of the 16-course menu, which features sylvan elements like pickled pine needles, and traditional Danish ingredients including salted herring, rye bread, and dill aquavit.