René Redzepi’s three Michelin-starred Noma has again ascended to the top of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, a publication that attracts perennial criticisms for favoring expensive, male-run, Eurocentric tasting menu venues, and which has sent the expensive, tasting-menu only Noma in Copenhagen to the top of the on list four previous occasions.
Noma’s win comes as even as all other previous number one restaurants were disqualified from being on the list this year. But because Noma is actually new Noma — it opened in its current location in February 2018 with a tasting menu that now rotates a few times a year — the wins from 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014 do not count. Now that Noma 2.0 has won, it should actually be off the list next year, unless René Redzepi does another reboot, or unless the 50 Best organization changes its rules again.
The results were announced during a live ceremony in Antwerp, Belgium.
Another pricey Copenhagen tasting menu restaurant, Geranium, took the number two spot.
This is the first World’s 50 Best Restaurants list since the onset of the pandemic. Votes for the 2021 list take into account the votes cast for the 2020 list as well as a March 2021 “refresh” vote, in which voters could issue new votes, but only for restaurants in their own region.
Throughout the 19 editions of the annual list, only European or North American restaurants have occupied the “best” restaurant slot. The top spot has never gone to a South American or Asian restaurant, and there are no current restaurants on the list from anywhere in the Middle East. (The organization plans on launching a regional list covering the Middle East and North Africa in 2022.) The only restaurant from mainland China, the world’s most populous country, is a $900 tasting menu spot run by a French guy, a reality that has held true for over half a decade, though the Chairman, a Cantonese spot in Hong Kong, managed to rise up to No. 10 this year.
There are no restaurants on the list from India, a country of 1.38 billion people. The only restaurant from Africa, a continent of 1.28 billion people, is a South African seafood spot run by chef Kobus van der Merwe.
The list has committed to gender parity among its 1,000-plus judges, though it’s not clear what impact that decision had on the composition of the list. Overall, the top 50 list included just four restaurants helmed by female chefs, one less than last year following the departure of chef Daniela Soto-Innes from Enrique Olvera’s Cosme in New York. A number of venues have co-owners who are women, including SingleThread in Healdsburg, CA, and Atomix in New York City.
Cosme remained the highest ranked U.S. restaurant at No. 22, followed by Benu at No. 28, SingleThread at No. 37, Atomix at No. 43, and Le Bernardin at No. 44, and Atelier Crenn at No. 48. Restaurants in Europe and the United Kingdom made up the bulk of the available slots, while the U.S. occupied the most space for an individual country on the list.
Voters, who are often courted by tourist boards, are still not required to pay for their meals.
The 2021 World’s 50 Best Restaurants List
1. Noma (Copenhagen, Denmark)
2. Geranium (Copenhagen, Denmark)
3. Asador Etxebarri (Atxondo, Spain)
4. Central (Lima, Peru)
5. Disfrutar (Barcelona, Spain)
6. Frantzén (Stockholm, Sweden)
7. Maido (Lima, Peru)
8. Odette (Singapore)
9. Pujol (Mexico City, Mexico)
10. The Chairman (Hong Kong, China)
11. Den (Tokyo, Japan)
12. Steirereck (Vienna, Austria)
13. Don Julio (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
14. Mugaritz (San Sebastian, Spain)
15. Lido 84 (Gardone Riviera, Italy)
16. Elkano (Getaria, Spain)
17. A Casa do Porco (São Paulo, Brazil)
18. Piazza Duomo (Alba, Italy)
19. Narisawa (Tokyo, Japan)
20. Diverxo (Madrid, Spain)
21. Hiša Franko (Kobarid, Slovenia)
22. Cosme (New York City, USA)
23. Arpège (Paris)
24. Septime (Paris, France)
25. White Rabbit (Moscow, Russia)
26. Le Calandre (Rubano, Italy)
27. Quintonil (Mexico City, Mexico)
28. Benu (San Francisco, USA)
29. Reale (Castel di Sangre, Italy)
30. Twins Garden (Moscow, Russia)
31. Restaurant Tim Raue (Berlin, Germany)
32. The Clove Club (London, UK)
33. Lyle’s (London, UK)
34. Burnt Ends (Singapore)
35. Ultraviolet (Shanghai, China)
36. Hof Van Cleve (Belgium)
37. SingleThread (Healdsburg, USA)
38. Borago (Santiago, Chile)
39. Florilège (Tokyo, Japan)
40. Suhring (Bangkok, Thailand)
41. Alléno (Paris, France)
42. Belcanto (Lisbon, Portugal)
43. Atomix (New York City, USA)
44. Le Bernardin (New York City, USA)
45. Nobelhart & Schmutzig (Berlin, Germany)
46. Leo (Bogotá, Colombia)
47. Maaemo (Oslo, Norway)
48. Atelier Crenn (San Francisco, USA)
49. Azurmendi (Larrabetzu, Spain)
50. Wolfgat (Paternoster, South Africa)
Highest Climber Award: The Chairman (Hong Kong, China)
Art of Hospitality Award: Steirereck (Vienna, Austria)
Highest New Entry: Lido 84 (Gardone Riviera, Italy)
Chef’s Choice Award: Victor Arguinzoniz (Axpe, Spain)
Sustainability Award: Borago (Santiago, Chile)
World’s Best Pastry Chef: Will Goldfarb (Ubud, Bali)
World’s Best Female Chef: Pía León (Lima, Peru)
One to Watch: Ikoyi (London, UK)
Icon Award: Dominique Crenn (San Francisco, USA)
Champions of Change: Kurt Evans (Philadelphia, PA), Viviana Varese (Milan, Italy), Deepanker Khosla (Bangkok, Thailand)