The 12 Best Restaurants in the World

“The List” is out, and the greatest chefs in the world have voted for their favorite restaurants

6) Mugaritz, San Sebastián, Spain
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The Fiscal Times
May 2, 2014

If you’re a gourmet globetrotter or know one, you’ll want to know where to find the best place to eat anywhere in the world.

Though a Danish restaurant topped a new list of the world’s 50 best restaurants, the U.S., which had 7 establishments included in the rankings, came out a winner as the most represented country overall. The list is from Restaurant Magazine, a highly regarded British publication whose ratings for the past 10 years have been giving Michelin a little heartburn.

SLIDESHOW: THE 12 BEST RESTAURANTS IN THE WORLD

The fact that 7 American fine dining establishments were chosen is good news for sure for the $683.4 billion U.S. restaurant industry, which employs some 10 percent of the total workforce. The repercussions are huge. More people will want to try these restaurants, as well as other restaurants from the winning chefs or owners. Then there’s the spillover benefit for other restaurants as well, which end up seeing additional reservations when patrons can’t get their first choice. 

In terms of America’s gastronomic image, the most important takeaway is that the U.S. did better than France, which has traditionally been known as the culinary country of excellence.

There are no French restaurants in the top 10, while there are 2 American establishments. There are only 5 French establishments in the top 50, down from 15 a decade ago. The U.S. had 8 restaurants on the list 10 years ago.

The Restaurant list is based on the opinions and experiences of more than 900 international industry experts, according to its manifesto.

Voters are split among 26 regions, with France being one of them. The U.S. and Canada are split into 3 regions: east, mid and west. Panelists from these 26 regions must vote for 7 restaurants, with at least 3 of them outside their region.

As you might expect, the rankings have already rattled a lot of sabers in France, the only country that complains loudly about it, Andrea Petrini, who runs the list in that region, told several French newspapers.

The methodology used to compile the list puts geographical regions that have many quality establishments at a disadvantage, complains a French food critic who was a voter this year. “The result is that some foreign restaurants are crawling under votes, while renowned French restaurants are lost in the mass,” he wrote. He also promised he “won’t be fooled twice into judging the world’s best restaurants.”

Related: 10 Restaurants That Made the “Dirty List”

The main driver of the popularity of a restaurant, of course, is buzz. There are no other set criteria related to the quality of food and service, which works against traditional French restaurants. The list also doesn’t take into account that some restaurants, including the Danish winner, were recently hit with health safety problems.

“What the list does is provide a snapshot of the establishments that are in favor with restaurant-business insiders who dine out regularly,” Richard Vines, a food critic and another voter, wrote in Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

Instead of complaining about the list, France should just realize that the playing field is changing and the tradition of French gastronomy may currently be out of fashion as The New York Times recently debated, wondering whether French food can be saved.

Many people, including chefs, food critics and other foodies, are tired of the stuffiness and pretentiousness of French food and French restaurants. Even the French themselves have increasingly become global in terms of the types of food they eat and enjoy, including American food.

Hamburgers, for example, have become very trendy in Paris.

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Marine Cole has been covering finance and business for a decade and has written for publications that include The Wall Street Journal, Crain's New York Business, and AdvertisingAge.