- The World’s 50 Best Restaurants were announced in Singapore on Tuesday, giving six coveted spots to US restaurants.
- New York City and San Francisco dominated among the honorees.
- Manhattan’s Cosme and Le Bernardin earned spots in the top 50, as did San Francisco’s Atelier Crenn and Benu.
- Cosme earned the highest spot on the list for an American restaurant, placing 23rd. Its head chef Daniela Soto-Innes was also named “Best Female Chef.”
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The World’s 50 Best Restaurants were announced in Singapore on Tuesday, giving six of its coveted – and controversial – spots to US establishments.
Among the American honorees to make the top 50 were longtime favorites like Chicago’s Alinea and New York’s Le Bernardin, as well as newcomers Atelier Crenn and Benu, both in San Francisco.
Chicago, New York, and San Francisco were also the only three American cities represented in the top 50. But what the list lacks in geographic variety, it makes up for in diversity of cuisines. The American restaurants featured offer everything from contemporary Mexican and classic French dishes to an upstate farm-to-table experience and a boundary-pushing restaurant with edible balloons for dessert. And while only five of the world’s top 50 restaurants are run by female chefs, two of them come from American restaurants.
Here’s a breakdown of the six American restaurants that made the 2019 list.
6. Korean and Cantonese cuisines mingle at San Francisco’s Benu, which takes the 47th spot in the world’s best restaurant ranking.
For the last three years, French-American restaurant Saison has been the only San Francisco restaurant to crack the World’s 50 Best. But just weeks after losing one of its three Michelin stars, Saison fell to 70 as fellow SF restaurant Benu made its first appearance in the top 50.
Headed by chef Corey Lee, Benu takes the 47th spot. It just barely missed the cut last year after it was ranked 53rd. “This restaurant has been knocking on the door for some time,” said host Annabel Crabb as she announced its place on the World’s 50 Best.
A three-hour experience at the three-Michelin star establishment costs $310 per person, and a new menu is always served for returning guests. Lee, who moved to the US from South Korea when he was 5, is known to draw inspiration from Korean and Cantonese cuisines for his dishes. Past offerings have included a thousand-year-old quail’s egg, stuffed mussels with glass noodles, and faux shark’s fin soup.
5. Taking the 37th spot is Chicago’s Alinea, which famously created the edible balloon.
- Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images
Alinea, the only Chicago restaurant to have three Michelin stars, also made the list.
Chef Grant Achatz’s wildly creative restaurant – known for serving everything from crystal clear pumpkin pie to an edible, helium-filled balloon – has a long history on the World’s 50 Best list. It’s highest point was in 2011, when it earned the 11th spot. Last year, the restaurant came in at 34. This year it has taken the 37th spot.
Like Atelier Crenn, Alinea was also featured on the second season of “Chef’s Table.” The episode documented Achatz’s battle with Stage 4 tongue cancer, which briefly caused him to lose his sense of taste. Achatz also explained his vision for Alinea, wanting to create an experience that had never been seen before in the fine dining world. “Why do you have to eat with a fork or a spoon and why does it have to be served in a plate or a bowl? Why can’t we come up with something new?” he asked.
Alinea offers a variety of experiences, at various eye-watering prices. The 10-12 course menu, which the website calls a “more approachable experience,” clocks in at $190 t0 $285 per person. The 16-to-18 course menu will set you back $290 to $355. And for the true Achatz devotees is the Kitchen Table experience, which features 22 courses and is completely private except for the guests, chefs, and servers. The price? $390 to $395 per person.
4. Following just behind Atelier Crenn at number 36 is New York City’s iconic French restaurant Le Bernardin.
- Daniel Krieger
In the 36th spot is New York City’s Le Bernardin, an iconic French seafood restaurant that placed 26th in last year’s list.
When it first opened in Paris in 1972, Le Bernardin only served fish. It received three Michelin stars in 1980, and six years later siblings Maguy and Gilbert Le Coze founded a second location in Manhattan. Just three months after it opened, the restaurant broke records and earned four stars from The New York Times.
When Gilbert suddenly died from a heart attack in 1994, his close friend Eric Ripert took over as head chef. He was just 29 years old when, a year later, the restaurant earned yet another four-star review. It has not dropped since, and is the only restaurant to maintain its four-star rating from The New York Times for 25 years straight.
The chef’s tasting menu at Le Bernardin is $225 per person, featuring everything from caviar tartare and black bass to glazed Maine lobster and ultra-rare smoked sea trout. Also on offer is a $187 tasting menu and a $160 four-course prix fixe menu.
3. Atelier Crenn, a lauded French restaurant in San Francisco, has made its first appearance on the list at 35th.
- Jordan Wise Photography
Making its very first appearance in the World’s 50 Best is Atelier Crenn, a lauded French restaurant that has taken the 35th spot. It is one of two San Francisco establishments to make this year’s list.
Many might recognize head chef Dominique Crenn from the second season of “Chef’s Table,” when she gave viewers a peek into her very personal restaurant.
The unique tasting menu – which costs $335 per person – is written as a poem. Each dish that comes out of the kitchen interprets a different verse. It is an intimate dining experience, with only eight tables in the restaurant and two rotations a night. “I’m not serving a menu, I’m serving a story,” Crenn said during the “Chef’s Table” episode. “I’m serving my soul.”
Crenn was the first female chef in the US to achieve two Michelin stars, an honor she received in 2012. Last year, she earned three. In 2016, Crenn was dubbed “World’s Best Female Chef”, an award she called “stupid.”
“You can promote women in a different way,” she said. “A chef is a chef.”
After her restaurant was honored on Tuesday, Crenn – who is currently undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer – praised the group for bringing equality to the 1,000-member voting panel (which is now 50% female and 50% male) while noting there was “still more work to be done.”
“I recognize that these things take time,” she wrote on an Instagram post. “Equality and transparency are two of the most important qualities we can hope to see in any organization – in the world as a whole.”
2. Nestled in upstate New York is Blue Hill at Stone Barns, which takes the 28th spot on this year’s list.
- Rebecca Harrington/Business Insider
Nestled in Pocantico Hills, a small community 30 miles north of Manhattan, is Blue Hill at Stone Barns, which takes the 28th spot on this year’s World’s 50 Best List.
Opened in 2004, Blue Hill at Stone Barns is located on an 80-acre four-season farm that is also home to the nonprofit educational space Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. This year saw a major dip in ranking for the restaurant, which took the 12th spot in 2018.
Head chef Dan Barber has created a space that is devoted to creating incredible food while being kind to the environment and reducing waste. His 30-course feast is the true epitome of the farm-to-table experience, with much of the produce being pulled from the farm just hours beforehand.
There is no menu to be found at the tables of Blue Hill, and you won’t find any on its website either. But Barber, who won last year’s Chef’s Choice Award, does reveal what he is harvesting each month. Among the ingredients that have been used in June were Berkshire pigs, zucchini flowers, purple basil, baby lambs, and Russian kale.
1. Taking the 23rd spot — the highest of any US restaurant — is contemporary Manhattan Mexican spot Cosme.
- Sara Beth
Taking the 23rd spot – the highest of any US restaurant – is contemporary Mexican establishment Cosme, located in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. In just two years, Cosme has jumped an incredible 17 spots, debuting on the list at 40 in 2017 and then nabbing the 25th spot last year.
Opened in 2014 by celebrity chef Enrique Olvera (who is also behind Mexico City restaurant Pujol, 13th on this year’s list), the Cosme kitchen has been led ever since by Daniela Soto-Innes, who was also named this year’s “Best Female Chef.”
While the award has been controversial for years (there is no “Best Male Chef” award), Soto-Innes herself has been a staunch supporter of diversity in a fine-dining world still predominately run by white men. Her kitchen is 50% female and 50% male, and is known for having a relaxed vibe complete with music and dancing.
Like most restaurants on the World’s 50 Best list, a night at Cosme doesn’t come cheap. Just the signature duck carnitas tacos (which serves two) will cost you $98, and a four-course meal for two can cost upwards of $300. Other notable dishes include Mole Negro, Eucalyptus Cheesecake, and Lamb Belly Tacos.