World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards are coming to Spain

ICONIC: Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum

AFTER 13 years in London, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants embarked on a global tour that started in New York with the 2016 awards ceremony and moved to Melbourne for the 2017 event. Now the Oscars of the food world returns to Europe for its 2018 edition.

Spain’s Basque Country has long been known as one of the most gastronomically blessed regions of the world, with the highest concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants per capita and a strong and enduring representation of restaurants in the 50 Best list.

With everything from fine dining to abundant pintxos, it’s the ideal next location for the biggest culinary party on the planet.

With the support of the Government of Biscay, the 2018 awards programme will include the Chefs’ Feast, an intimate celebration exclusively for the cooks of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants; the awards ceremony, where the list itself is announced; and a special #50BestTalks live event featuring top chef speakers.

The awards night will take place next June in Bilbao, the capital of the Biscay province in northern Spain, famous for its food culture, while other events will take place in nearby San Sebastian, which is home to the Basque Culinary Center.

The Basque region of Spain is home to four of the restaurants on this year’s 50 Best list, with Victor Arguinzoniz’s Asador Etxebarri in Axpe at No.6, Mugaritz and Arzak in San Sebastian at No.9 and No.30, respectively, and Azurmendi in Larrabetzu, near Bilbao, at No.38. Nerua, located inside Bilbao’s iconic Guggenheim Museum, sits just outside the main list at No.56, and there are a further five Spanish restaurants within the top 100, the highest being El Celler de Can Roca in Girona at No.3.

Discover more about the Spanish restaurants on the 2017 list:

1. No.3 El Celler de Can Roca, Girona

Cuttlefish with sake lees and black rice

Twice ranked No.1 in the world, El Celler de Can Roca is located in the medieval city of Girona in Catalunya, northern Spain. A decade ago, the Roca family moved the restaurant just up the road from its original location to its current site – an airy, purpose-built contemporary space complete with a huge kitchen led by Joan Roca, with his brother Jordi the pastry chef and Josep as sommelier.

Calle Can Sunyer 48, 17007 Girona
+34 972 222 157

2. No.6 Asador Etxebarri, Axpe

Beef chop 

The draw of Asador Etxebarri is a combination of skilful barbecuing techniques, the talent of chef Victor Arguinzoniz, the exquisite rural setting, the deeply unpretentious atmosphere of the restaurant and, of course, the food. Oh, the food…

Plaza de San Juan 1, 48291 Atxondo, Bizkaia
+34 946 58 30 42

3. No.9 Mugaritz, San Sebastian

From bitter to sweet

Andoni Luis Aduriz, simply known as Andoni, is considered by many observers to be the natural heir to the title of Spain’s most pioneering chef after Ferran Adrià.

Aldura Aldea, 20, 20100 Errenteria, Gipuzkoa
+34 943 522 455

4. No.25 Tickets, Barcelona

One of Albert Adrià’s colourful creations

There’s no other tapas bar in the world quite like Tickets. In standard Adrià fashion, the eccentric 90-seat restaurant is converted into a culinary amusement park where Albert Adrià takes tapas to the cutting edge. Five small-plates bars and open kitchens surround the perimeter of the restaurant, each specialising in different preparation methods.

Avinguda Paral·lel 164, Barcelona 08015
+34 932 92 42 53

5. No.30 Arzak, San Sebastian

Pistol of chocolate (image: Jose Lopez)

The restaurant situated at the top of a hill in San Sebastian has been in the Arzak family for generations, but it was charismatic Juan Mari who revived the menu to make it what it is today. The venerable chef still oversees the kitchen while his talented daughter Elena runs daily operations.

Av Alcalde Elósegui, 273, 20015 San Donostia-San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa
+34 943 278 465

6. No.38 Azurmendi, Larrabetzu

Oyster, tartare and seaweed traces 

Far from the straightforward sit-down restaurant experience, at chef Eneko Atxa’s Azurmendi the journey starts in the rooftop vegetable garden where guests inspect the home-grown produce before continuing via the kitchen to an indoor greenhouse for a selection of ‘snacks’. Diners are eventually seated in a section of the dining room, flanked by temporary fabric walls projecting different scenes for different courses.

Corredor del Txorierri Salida 25, Larrabetzu, Bizkaia
+34 944 558 866