France finally claims the No. 1 restaurant in the world. At least officially, that is.
Mirazur, a three-Michelin star restaurant in the French Riviera, took the top spot in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, which took place earlier today in Singapore. This year marks the 18th edition of the 50 Best list, and it’s the first time that France claimed the No. 1 spot. That said, Mirazur chef Mauro Colagreco hails from Argentina and serves more diverse Mediterranean-style cuisine (images above and below) despite training under legendary French chefs like Alain Ducasse, Bernard Loiseau and Alain Passard.
Passard, coincidentally, won the peer-voted Chef’s Choice award and held down the No. 8 spot for a second straight year with Arpège.
Several rule changes took effect for the 2019 voting. Most notably, all No. 1 restaurants are moved to a Best of the Best list, preventing repeats. Before the rule change, only seven restaurants claimed the top spot, representing just five countries (Spain, Denmark, U.K., U.S. and Italy). Noma (four years), Osteria Francescana (two years), El Celler de Can Roca (two years) and Eleven Madison Park (one year) made up the previous Nos. 1 this decade. Fat Duck and French Laundry topped the list in the early 2000s, but neither made the 50 Best or the extended Top 120 for 2019.
Noma took top honors in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014, but the Copenhagen-based restaurant left its original location in 2016 and reopened in a new farm-centric setting last year. For this reason, Noma 2.0 (as they’re calling it) remains eligible, but René Redzepi’s famed food shrine finished at No. 2. An affiliated restaurant, 108, occupies the former Noma space and made the extended list at No. 89.
Spain’s elBulli, which closed in 2011, holds the record for the most No. 1s with five, and one of the two brothers who ran the restaurant continues to dominate. Albert Adría scored his highest post-elBulli position this year with Tickets (image below right) at No. 20, while Enigma continues to climb the extended list, up 13 spots to No. 82. Enigma is arguably the best representation of the elBulli spirit, and a 50 Best berth appears certain in the near future.
Spain, which lost perennial Top 5 restaurant El Celler de Can Roca to the former No. 1s list, still claimed the most Top 10 entries with Asador Etxebarri at No. 3, Mugaritz at No. 7 and Disfrutar at No. 9. France, Denmark (with Geranium at No. 5) and Peru (Central at No. 6 and Maido at No. 10) scored two entries a piece, while Bangkok-based Gaggan rounded out the Top 10 at No. 4.
Spain also scored the most entries overall with seven, followed by the U.S. with six. France and Japan, which claim the most Michelin stars in the world, finished with five and two entries, respectively. Tokyo-based Den was the top Japanese restaurant at No. 11, up six spots from last year. In total, 26 countries were represented on the 50 Best list, up from 23 in 2018.
Another rule change involved the voters themselves. This year, the international panel of 1,040 chefs, journalists and industry professionals was evenly divided between men and women. This did not, however, translate into more female-led restaurants among the 50 Best. Like 2018, the new list featured four entries led by women.
Cosme finished as the top female-led restaurant at No. 23. Enrique Olvera (currently at No. 12 with Mexico City’s Pujol) opened the NYC-based Mexican restaurant with Daniela Soto-Innes in 2014, but the new World’s Best Female Chef has been the face of Cosme in recent years. The previous World’s Best winner, Dominique Crenn, finally cracked the 50 Best with her San Francisco-based Atelier Crenn at No. 35. Chef’s Table alum Ana Roš, the 2017 winner, finished at No. 38 with Hiša Franko in Slovenia.
Leonor Espinosa (image below right), the fourth and final female chef on the list, made history as Bogotá-based Leo became Colombia’s first-ever 50 Best entry at No. 49. In turn, it also marked the first time that five different South American countries were represented on the same list. Leo, Maido and Central are joined this year by Chile’s Boragó (No. 26), Argentina’s Don Julio (No. 34) and Brazil’s A Casa do Porco (No. 39).
The Test Kitchen, which put Africa back on the Best 50 last year, continues it ascent. The Cape Town-based restaurant moved up six spots to No. 44.
The 2019 Highest Climber award went to Spain’s Azurmendi, which moved up 29 spots to No. 43. Several top restaurants experienced significant drops, however, including Melbourne’s Attica (from No. 20 last year to 84), São Paulo’s D.O.M. (No. 30 to 54), San Sebastian’s Arzak (No. 31 to 53), Oslo’s Maemo (No. 35 to 55), Lima’s Astrid y Gastón (No. 39 to 67), Tokyo’s Nihonryori Ryugin (No. 41 to 62), London’s The Ledbury (No. 42 to 64) and San Francisco’s Saison (No. 46 to 70).
Italy’s Lido 84 earned the One to Watch award for 2019, though PRØHBTD suggests keeping your eyes on DiverXO in Madrid. The world’s most bad-ass restaurant climbed 21 spots to No. 75 after cracking the extended list last year at No. 96.
Epitomizing the ascension of the Los Angeles food scene, the Michelin Guide returned to the City of Angels in 2019, but the city has yet to land any restaurant on either the main or extended 50 Best lists despite worthy contenders like Jordan Kahn’s Vespertine, Ricardo Zarate’s Rosaliné, José Andrés’ Somni and Niki Nakayama’s n/naka.
California was not completely shut out, however, as San Francisco matched New York City with two restaurants. Both were new entries, Benu at No. 47 and the aforementioned Atelier Crenn at No. 35.
David Jenison (email@example.com) is Editor-in-Chief at PRØHBTD. Photos courtesy of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.