The. Whole. World.
August 20, 2019 7:10 PM   Subscribe

Amid ongoing criticism of high-end restaurant guides like the Michelin Guide [The New Yorker] and the Worlds 50 Best Restaurants [Eater] list, Food & Wine and Travel + Leisure have teamed up to release their own, one that aims to celebrate different cultures and cuisines found across the world.

The list, along with commentary on each restaurant, is split between articles for North America, South America and Africa/Middle East [Food & Wine] and Asia/Australia and Europe [Travel + Leisure].

Besha Rodell [Twitter] writes about the how they came up with the list [Travel + Leisure]:
What this list celebrates is cuisine and culture, not rankings and numbers. To have the globe reduced to one expensive tasting menu after another is to miss out on a true taste of the world. What I want when I travel is a meal that teaches me something about a region’s people and their tastes and lives. That’s what this list is about.
The full list, by region, is below with links to restaurant websites where available.

Africa & Middle East

4Roomed The Restaurant, Cape Town, South Africa
El Soussi, Beirut, Lebanon
Le Wine Chambre, Johannesburg, South Africa
The Ruined Garden, Fez, Morocco

Asia & Australia

Attica, Melbourne
Burnt Ends, Singapore
Fuunji, Tokyo
Sushi Yoshitake, Tokyo
Masque, Mumbai
Shree Thaker Bhojanalay, Mumbai
Nang Loeng Market, Bangkok
Samcheongdong Sujebi, Seoul
VEA, Hong Kong


Antichi Sapori, Montegrosso, Italy
Sorbillo, Naples, Italy
Ganbara, San Sebastián, Spain
Hiša Franko, Kobarid, Slovenia
Noma, Copenhagen
Saturne, Paris
St. John, London

North America

Alfonsina, Oaxaca, Mexico
Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Tarrytown NY, USA
Jose Enrique, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Mariscos Ruben, Tijuana, Mexico
N/Naka, Los Angeles, California, USA
Swan Oyster Depot, San Francisco, California, USA
The Grey, Savannah, Georgia, USA

South America

Mil, Moray, Peru
La Mar, Lima, Peru
Mani, São Paulo, Brazil

The Nominating Panel (links to various bios/profiles/news articles/social media accounts):

Alex Atala, chef-owner, D.O.M., São Paulo, Brazil
Nyesha Arrington, chef, Los Angeles
Gabriela Cámara, chef-owner, Contramar, Mexico City; Cala, San Francisco
May Chow, chef-owner, Happy Paradise and Little Bao, Hong Kong
Chad Colby, chef-owner, Antico, Los Angeles
Nina Compton, chef-owner, Compère Lapin, New Orleans
Bill Esparza, cookbook author and food writer
Romy Gill, MBE, chef-owner, Romy’s Kitchen, Thornbury, England
Skye Gyngell, chef-owner, Spring, London
Soleil Ho, restaurant critic, San Francisco Chronicle
Federico de Cesare Viola & Laura Lazzaroni, editors, Food & Wine Italia
Howie Kahn, food writer
John Kessler, restaurant critic
Dieuveil Malonga, chef, Meza Malonga, Kigali, Rwanda
Angie Mar, chef-owner, Beatrice Inn, New York City
Luvo Ntezo, head sommelier, One&Only Cape Town
Enrique Olvera, chef-owner, Pujol, Mexico City; Cosme, New York City
Anne-Sophie Pic, chef-owner, Maison Pic, Valence, France
Rose Previte, owner, Maydan and Compass Rose, Washington, D.C.
David Prior, food and travel writer; director, Prior
Ruth Reichl, food writer
Marcus Samuelsson, co-owner and chef, Red Rooster, New York City
Gail Simmons, Top Chef judge; contributor, Food & Wine
Pierre Thiam, chef-owner, Nok by Alara, Lagos, Nigeria
Jiyun Jennifer Yoo, co-founder, Gotham Grove
posted by noneuclidean (16 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Michelin Guide is a scam. In order to sell more tires they have to give better stars to restaurants that are farther away.
posted by aubilenon at 7:32 PM on August 20, 2019 [11 favorites]

I want to eat all the foods
posted by growabrain at 7:54 PM on August 20, 2019

Interesting list, but I'm a bit surprised there's nothing in Africa between Morocco and South Africa. I mean, that's most of the continent...

... I have never been to Swan Oyster Depot, and now I won't be able to.
posted by suelac at 8:30 PM on August 20, 2019

Just yesterday I was talking to a Japanese friend who was curious about what Japanese cuisines are known around the world, and I ventured that everyone knows sushi and ramen, but there's far less awareness of other cuisines and dishes. So it was no surprise that the Japan representatives on this list serve ramen and sushi. Specifically, there's a ramen shop with a 90-minute line outside and a seven-seat sushi counter with astronomical prices where it's impossible to get a reservation. Both are in central Tokyo.

I don't know about other cities around the world, but ever since the Michelin guide came to town (here in Tokyo), there's been an emergence of a sort of parallel, underground restaurant scene of several dozen places (maybe a bit more) that seem to be populated almost entirely by foreign tourists. All the gourmet bloggers, travel writers and foodie tourists seem to start with a similar list, based on previous travel articles and food blogs, and they work with their concierges and fixers months in advance to try to secure reservations.

Given the committee nature of the process of assembling this list, I guess it was inevitable that the two Japan representatives in this group of the "world's best restaurants" should be part of this Tokyo-for-tourists world. Although the list aims to "reflect the most vibrant aspects of each location it represents, capturing dining experiences that fully express the culture," the most obvious dining experience captured seems to be expending maximum effort to get into a tiny restaurant that's full of foreign tourists.
posted by Umami Dearest at 8:59 PM on August 20, 2019 [8 favorites]

Why does the Attica website have a picture of the Tote on it? Just serious wtf? "Our menu is $295/pp" - ah, right, very much like that generally enjoyed by the denizens of Collingwood....
posted by pompomtom at 9:33 PM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also, the link given for Swan Oyster Depot doesn't work.
posted by suelac at 9:45 PM on August 20, 2019

Given the distribution of population, I'm surprised there isn't a single pick located in mainland China... (a common problem I've seen with these lists)

To have the globe reduced to one expensive tasting menu after another is to miss out on a true taste of the world.

Yeah, that totally does not sound like a $1680 HKD (+10% service charge) Chinese/French tasting menu.

What I want when I travel is a meal that teaches me something about a region’s people and their tastes and lives.

Then what you want in HK is dim sum late Sunday morning with at least 15 of your relatives

Yes, Western-influenced fine dining is also a huge part of HK's food scene, and a common fallacy is that Asian food must be cheap to be authentic, and so on, but this is a real ??? pick given the stated goal of this list, especially when you look at the pick for Seoul, a casual soup dumpling place.
posted by airmail at 9:48 PM on August 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

Soleil Ho recently wrote a controversial negative review of Chez Panisse, which is indicative of the problematics of a nominating panel being mostly media savvy people deciding on elitist politics such as a ridiculously short shortlist of world's best restaurants.

What I want when I travel is a meal that teaches me something about a region’s people and their tastes and lives.

I don't think I got up the wrong side of the bed when I say this attitude is just vulgar consumerism repackaged for the creative and largely white classes. As a minority from one of those regions, this is just offensive.
posted by polymodus at 10:51 PM on August 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

Huh, now I know why I can never find a park on Glen Eira Road: Attica

It's a mediocre shopping strip. I'm pretty amazed that it has a world-class restaurant. But they can keep their black ant lamingtons, no offense.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:59 PM on August 20, 2019

Attica - I ate there once and it was fantastic.
posted by awfurby at 12:51 AM on August 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

But yeah - restaurant lists suck and they encourage the kind of pokemon-eating behaviour that makes it hard for people to just go and enjoy the restaurant.
posted by awfurby at 12:53 AM on August 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

There's a place round here with a Michelin bib gourmand. It's not objectively any better than most of the other South Asian restaurants locally (of which there are many), but the management of that particular restaurant decided to focus on going for awards as their marketing strategy. It costs a little bit more than other local places and it's a fine restaurant, but it's not spectacular. Going for awards and lists is a valid method for marketing but doesn't tell you a lot about a restaurant other than "they've focused on awards".

I could name quite a few restaurants that I rate pretty highly, but they aren't in central London so would never have made this list in a million years. To the kind of people who compile these lists, central London is the whole country.
posted by winterhill at 2:06 AM on August 21, 2019

After a while I just end up wondering g what the strategy is for a particular list. Are they recognizing creativity or preferring preservation of a regional or local cuisine? I guess they have done their job - a couple of new places are on the radar. It’s not like it’s a science.
posted by grimjeer at 4:18 AM on August 21, 2019

I can see how it’s easy to miss out when you start with a list of 81 (which I’m guessing was suggested by the larger panel?) and only pick the winners from that. That being said, the pizza at Sorbillo is awesome!’s definitely not the best or second-best restaurant in Italy.
posted by sallybrown at 5:24 AM on August 21, 2019

Meh. The restaurant experience as a whole is overrated and overvalued.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 7:57 AM on August 21, 2019

All you need to do in order to realize just how terrible the Michelin Guide is, is to eat at an Indian restaurant that they recommend in Chicago.
posted by srboisvert at 11:06 AM on August 21, 2019

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