The prestigious, influential, and widely criticized World's 50 Best Restaurants list, sponsored by San Pellegrino, announced all the worldwide "winners" of its ranking at a gala event in Singapore today. And San Francisco can claim two spots on this international top 50 — which is saying a lot given that the list contains exactly two restaurants in all of Japan, two in London, and two in New York City.
This year, two SF restaurants, Atelier Crenn and Benu, both vaulted into the coveted top 50, with Atelier Crenn entering the list for the first time at #35, and Benu having spent two years on the so-called "long list" of the bottom 50 of the top 100, landing at #63 in 2017, and at #53 last year. This year Benu ranks at #47.
As Eater National notes, this list has skewed heavily toward Europe and North America in its 18 years of existence, though it is trying to change that. It's not insignificant that the coveted #1 spot has only ever been held by a European or American restaurant — the ones that have become household names, with some help from this list, are The French Laundry, Noma in Copenhagen, and Spain's elBulli, each of which held the title for multiple years.
New this year is a "diversity initiative" of sorts which states that a restaurant can not appear on the list ever again once it has reached the #1 spot. That means that The Fat Duck, El Celler de Can Roca, Eleven Madison Park, and last year's #1 Osteria Francescana have all been moved to a "best of the best" list along with The French Laundry and the now defunct elBulli. Noma is an exception, however, because it closed and reopened in a new location with a new concept, of sorts, in February of last year, and became eligible for inclusion again, landing immediately in the #2 spot behind Mirazur, in Menton, France.
The voting panel has also been made more diverse, as the organizers explain, with 500 female voters (chefs, writers, and other "taste hunters") out of 1,040 total individuals casting votes from across the globe. That demographic fact didn't change the numbers in the top 50 much, with just five female-led restaurants now on the list, the same number as last year — including SF's Dominique Crenn, who famously made some noise after accepting the "Best Female Chef" in 2016, saying "That award won't exist in two years" (it still does); Slovenia's Hiša Franko by Ana Ros; and Bogota's Leo by Leonor Espinosa. (Two other restaurants, Central by Pia León and Virgilio Martínez, and New York's Cosme, run by Daniela Soto-Innes and Enrique Olvera have female co-chefs — and Soto-Innes won the "Best Female Chef" award this year.)
Meanwhile, as Eater SF notes, Saison dropped out of the top 50 to #70 this year, and Healdsburg's Single Thread, which deputed at #91 last year, climbed ahead to #71.