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World’s Most Thrilling Restaurants – 2020 edition

The world’s most thrilling restaurants list is a more complex endeavor in 2020. Which restaurants have remained open, and which have closed? Which might close permanently?

I’ve chosen not eliminate any thrilling restaurants during this unique time. By next year perhaps who stays open and who doesn’t will sort itself out. But, for now, I’ll assume all of these are either open or coming back.

Here are my top 25 from around the globe.

    1. Noma – Copenhagen, Denmark (Modern Nordic cuisine)
    2. Eleven Madison Park – New York City (Contemporary American)
    3. Mugaritz – Errenteria, Spain (Modern Spanish)
    4. The Ledbury – London, England (Modern British)
    5. Blue Hill at Stone Barns – Pocantico Hills, New York (Modern American)
    6. Asador Etxebarri – Axpe, Spain (Modern Spanish)
    7. Mirazur – Menton, France (French – Italian)
    8. Arpege – Paris, France (French)
    9. Faviken Magasinet – Jamtlans, Sweden (Swedish)
    10. The French Laundry – Yountville, California (French)
    11. Den – Tokyo, Japan (Modern Kaiseki)
    12. Osteria Francescana – Moderna, Italy (Modern Italian)
    13. Le Bernadin – NewYork City (French)
    14. Geranium – Copenhagen, Denmark (Modern Scandinavian)
    15. per se – New York City (Modern American)
    16. Benu – San Francisco, California (Modern Asian – American)
    17. Real – Copenhagen, Denmark (Modern Nordic)
    18. Central – Lima, Peru (Modern Peruvian)
    19. Alinea – Chicago, Illinois (Modern American)
    20. Lyle’s – London, England (British)
    21. Septime – Paris, France (Modern French)
    22. The Inn at Little Washington – Little Washington, Virginia (Modern American)
    23. Addison – Del Mar, California (Contemporary)
    24. Kai – Chandler, Arizona (Native American
    25. Restaurant R’evolution – New Orleans, Louisiana (Cajun)

Nine countries are represented. Copenhagen checks in with the #1, #14, and #17 picks, so if you are looking for that thrilling restaurant extravaganza in one city, I recommend that (plus, it’s a cool place to stay and visit.)

New York City also has three of the top 25, and comes with plenty to see and do. But don’t sleep on Mirazur, which was recently chosen as the #1 restaurant in the world by a reputable rating group. Our experience there was phenomenal. Due to train schedules (we were staying in Nice) they seated us before they opened so we could catch the last train out of Menton, which is right on the French / Italian border on the Mediterranean. You can stay at the hotel there and have a more leisurely time than we did. And the head chef spent considerable time with us. I understand he’s opening a new restaurant in Palm Beach, Florida. I’m expecting big things out of any place he opens.

Noma is another restaurant where we got to interact with the head chef / owner. In fact, he and the entire wait staff greeted us by name at the entrance when we arrived by cab. We also received a wonderful tour of the kitchen and grounds.

Eleven Madison park is the most entertaining of these. The fifteen course meal is accompanied by individual themes, and even features magic tricks performed by the wait staff.

The Inn at Little Washington has exceeded all service expectations both times we’ve dined there. When you ask how big a dish is, they respond, “How big would you like it to be?” Their cheese cart is a cow on wheels that moos. And we also got a tour of the kitchen, hosted by the head chef and owner. The rooms are all top shelf, and the resort is a bucket list sort of place.

Well, I’ve been doing all the talking. What’s your favorite fine dining joint?