For better or worse, the idea for The World’s 50 Best Restaurant list was born in a barroom. The goal was to create an annual list that reflected the diversity of the world’s culinary landscape in a way that was unique and revered. Two decades and many iterations later, it has evolved into one of the most reputable awards ceremonies in the culinary world, backed by high-end sponsors like S.Pellegrino and celebrated for promoting the hard work and dedication of chefs around the world. Thanks to its panel of more than 1,000 culinary experts, the list of the world’s finest restaurants provides a snapshot of some of the best destinations for exclusive experiences, in addition to being a barometer for global gastronomic trends.

“Believe me, it’s not easy to get on this list,” said Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana, the three-Michelin starred restaurant based in Modena, Italy that placed first this year. “It takes years of passion, hard work, dedication. And a little bit of insanity as you must devote your life to your craft, your team, and your cuisine.”

This year’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards included past winners Osteria Francescana (#1 Italy) and El Celler de Can Roca (#2 Spain), as well as less established newbie’s like Attica (#20 Australia), Disfrutar (#18 Spain), and Odette (#28 Singapore). “The end result each year is a sort of culinary traveler’s dream, a bucket list of the most sought-after dining experiences all over the globe,” writes an Eater contributor. It even motivates some people to dine at all of the winners in a single year.

Here’s a quick rundown on how the awards are determined and why you might want to plan your next trip with these restaurants in mind.

How do restaurant’s get nominated?

The voting process is strictly anonymous and restaurants can’t apply to get on the list—so technically any place is eligible to be nominated. The annual list begins with the selection of 26 regional chairs who are appointed for their culinary expertise and knowledge, who then select 40 independently curated voters in each of their 26 regions. These might be restaurateurs, food critics, chefs, or world-travel gourmands, each of whom votes for 10 restaurants (four of which must be outside their home region). Their choices are then submitted in order of preference and voting takes place in January of each year.

“It’s important to understand that this is not a random list from 1000 voters,” said William Drew, group editor of World’s 50 Best Restaurants. “This is vetted and voted upon by some of the most influential names in food. It is a genuinely global, positive force and it gives people a platform to speak about the food world.”

What does it mean to win?

Commensurate with the mounting popularity of the 50 Best Award among culinary travelers and restauranteurs is the potentially massive impact it can have on a restaurant’s business—i.e. “The 50 Best Effect.” Award winners gain a global appreciation that typically translates to increased revenue. As a Bloomberg columnist put it, “the day after Noma captured the #1 slot, in 2010, 100,000 people tried to book a table. Three years later, when El Celler de Can Roca, in Girona, Spain outranked Noma for the first time, its website received 2.5 million hits in 24 hours. The waiting list ballooned to a year.”

2018 marks the first year the list has been published since the onset of the #MeToo movement, which has involved accusations of sexual harassment against some of the highest-profile U.S. chefs and restaurateurs. The World’s 50 Best organization has so far remained silent on the issue, but their credibility as a carefully vetted restaurant selection body seems to be intact.

Voting for 2019 is just around the corner, but here’s the 2018 list for reference.

The 2018 World’s 50 Best Restaurant List

  1. Osteria Francescana (Modena, Italy)
    Chef: Massimo Bottura
    Last year’s rank: 2
  2. El Celler de Can Roca (Girona, Spain)
    Chef: Joan Roca
    Last year’s rank: 3
  3. Mirazur (Menton, France)
    Chef: Mauro Colagreco
    Last year’s rank: 4
  4. Eleven Madison Park (New York City)
    Chef: Daniel Humm
    Last year’s rank: 1
  5. Gaggan (Bangkok, Thailand)
    Chef: Gaggan Anand
    Last year’s rank: 7
  6. Central (Lima, Peru)
  7. Maido (Lima, Peru)
  8. L’Arpege (Paris, France)
  9. Mugaritz (Errenteria, Spain)
  10. Asador Etxebarri (Axpe, Spain)
  11. Quintonil (Mexico City, Mexico)
  12. Blue Hill at Stone Barns (Pocantico Hills, New York, USA)
  13. Pujol (Mexico City, Mexico)
  14. Steirereck (Vienna, Austria)
  15. White Rabbit (Moscow, Russia)
  16. Piazza Duomo (Alba, Italy)
  17. Den (Tokyo, Japan)
  18. Disfrutar (Barcelona, Spain)
  19. Geranium (Copenhagen, Denmark)
  20. Attica (Melbourne, Australia)
  21. Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée (Paris, France)
  22. Narisawa (Tokyo, Japan)
  23. Le Calandre (Rubano, Italy)
  24. Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet (Shanghai, China)
  25. Cosme (New York City, USA)
  26. Le Bernardin (New York City, USA)
  27. Boragó (Santiago, Chile)
  28. Odette (Singapore)
  29. Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen (Paris, France)
  30. D.O.M. (São Paulo, Brazil)
  31. Arzak (San Sebastian, Spain)
  32. Tickets (Barcelona, Spain)
  33. The Clove Club (London, UK)
  34. Alinea (Chicago, USA)
  35. Maaemo (Oslo, Norway)
  36. Reale (Castel Di Sangro, Italy)
  37. Restaurant Tim Raue (Berlin, Germany)
  38. Lyle’s (London, UK)
  39. Astrid y Gastón (Lima, Peru)
  40. Septime (Paris, France)
  41. Nihonryori RyuGin (Tokyo, Japan)
  42. The Ledbury (London, UK)
  43. Azurmendi (Larrabetzu, Spain)
  44. Mikla (Istanbul, Turkey)
  45. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (London, UK)
  46. Saison (San Francisco, USA)
  47. Schloss Schauenstein (Fürstenau, Switzerland)
  48. Hiša Franko (Kobarid, Slovenia)
  49. Nahm (Bangkok, Thailand)
  50. The Test Kitchen (Cape Town, South Africa)
By: Nico Picciuto