I have a fascination with lists and none fascinate me than lists of the world’s best restaurants. The three lists I know about are, in no particular order, The World’s 50 Best, perhaps the most well known of the three, the list published by EliteTraveler.com and finally, the list prepared by Laliste.com.
These lists differ considerably in not only the rankings of various restaurants, but even on which restaurants should be included at all. Altogether, the three lists contain 192 unique restaurants. All of the restaurants listed are excellent, no doubt, but the with the many differences between lists, this can hardly be called a consensus of opinion. It is not surprising that there is a lack of consensus in an area as subjective as judging restaurants. Perhaps the surprise is that the lists have as much overlap as they do.
Another reason for differences between the lists, besides personal subjectivity, is the approach the three different organizations take to selecting and ranking restaurants. For example, The World’s 50 Best uses Tastemakers and (I assume) other young and enthusiastic foodies as well as industry professionals to compile their list. I have no idea about the details of this process, but the net result is (and this is just my own subjective opinion) a list that is younger in feel and trendier and hipper than the other lists.
The list at Laliste.com is produced using an entirely different method. They employ a computer program to analyze thousands of restaurant reviews in travel guides and blogs (gee, maybe some of mine?) and reduce these reviews to a numerical ranking. They then touch base with knowledgeable industry professionals to do a “reality check” of the rankings. To the extent that guide books and blogs focus on restaurants that have been around long enough to establish a reputation, this list is probably a little more conservative than The 50 Best list. (I am using “conservative” in the sense of favoring older, more well established restaurants over new up-and-comers.)
One advantage to the digital approach is lower cost. Expensive meals and costly plane tickets needed to get there are avoided since others provide the information used to make the rankings. This may explain some of the geographical differences between Laliste.com and The 50 Best list.
I cannot say much about the EliteTraveler.com list for the simple reason that I have no idea how it is prepared. The web site bills itself as “the private jet lifestyle magazine”. It seems reasonable to suppose that writing for the “upper crust” informs their choice of restaurants. I therefore imagine that their list is probably the most conservative of the three, at least in terms of favoring long-established restaurants, but, again, I’m guessing.
None of this is meant to suggest that one list is better than the other two. It would be hard to make such a claim given the subjectivity involved. Different approaches yield different lists and I leave it at that. Any attempt to judge which list is the best would only reveal my own personnal subjectivity.
So what’s the point? Well, I thought it would be fun to combine the lists into a single one that “averaged out”, if you will, the different aspects of each list. The idea was that the strong points of each restaurant would be additive and act together to produce a single average ranking that was less influenced by the particular methods used to generate each individual list. This seems to be what happened. Restaurants that were highly ranked on all three lists tended to move higher on my list. Restaurants that were only highly rated on one list tended to move toward the middle of the rankings.
The method I used was simply to average the relative rankings from each of the three lists. (The 2017 versions of each list were used.) With this method, the lower a restaurant’s average, the higher in the final list it would be. Only restaurants that were on at least one of the three original lists were included. I did not try to add in any personal favorites.
There are many restaurants that are on only one or two of the lists. If a restaurant was not on a particular list, I assumed (rather charitably, I think) that it had just missed the cut and assigned it a value of 101. (The list from Laliste.com contains more than 100 restaurants. I only used the top 100 to avoid giving undue influence to those ranking less than 100.)
Take Central restaurant in Lima Peru as an example. The 2017 The 50 Best list ranks Central as #5 in the world while Laliste.com rates it at 45 and the Elite Traveler list does not include it at all. So the average is (5+45+101)/3 = 50.3.
50.3 is not the final ranking on the list, but is a relative number. When compared to the averages calculated for all the other restaurants, it determines Central’s relative ranking. Again, the lower the calculated value, the higher the final ranking will be. The average value of 50.3 gives Central a relative position on my list of 31, that is, the 31st best restaurant in the world. Central just edges out Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in London, which took 32nd position with an average of 50.7.
So what is the number one restaurant in the world for 2017 by this method? Osteria Francescana (Modena Italy). It was not number one on any of the individual lists, but it ranked very highly on each one. Its rankings on the three individual lists were 2, 7 and 7. This gave a final average of 5.33, the lowest average on the list and therefore the number one ranking.
Below are my picks for the 100 best restaurants in the world, 2017 version. Hope you enjoy!
Top 100 Restaurants #1-20
Top 100 Restaurants #21-40
Top 100 Restaurants #41-60
Top 100 Restaurants #61-80
Top 100 Restaurants #81-100