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Foodies of the world, pay attention: the world’s best restaurants are at your fingertips — provided you can cough up the cash and plan ahead. Laden with awards and accolades, the most sought-after restaurants book months, and sometimes years, in advance. But your fortitude will be rewarded with inventive dishes, elegant dining rooms, and one-of-a-kind experiences — not to mention flavorful fare. Whether you’re making reservations or simply dreaming of delicious food, these fanciest restaurants around the world offer an unparalleled dining experience.
Rose’s Luxury (Washington, D.C.)
Located in a converted townhouse on Capitol Hill, Rose’s Luxury is one of the hottest restaurants in Washington, D.C. — drawing prestigious dinner guests like the Obamas to its narrow corridors. It’s also won a slew of awards, including Best New Restaurant by Bon Appétit magazine, Best Chef by James Beard, and one Michelin star. Rose’s is home to a lovely rooftop garden available for private bookings, and chef/owner Aaron Silverman delivers a one-of-a-kind experience for guests, with a “choose your own adventure” menu.
The number of dishes brought to the table depends on the size of your party, with guests choosing from a variety of tapas-sized courses to share family-style. When combined with the outstanding service and innovative food — including caviar ice cream and pork and lychee salad — Rose’s Luxury provides a unique dining experience that will leave a lasting impression.
Kyoto Kitcho Arashiyama (Kyoto, Japan)
With three Michelin stars under its belt, Kyoto Kitcho Arashiyama provides guests with a flawless experience that defines fine dining in Japan. Nestled beside a bamboo forest with windows overlooking a tranquil Japanese garden, Kitcho Arashiyama is meant to be a sensory dining experience. Guests can expect traditional Japanese hospitality (no shoes are worn inside the restaurant, you must bow as you enter, and guests are seated on the floor), combined with perfect Japanese precision.
Before guests enter the private tea room, they’ll pass an entryway where Samurai once hung their swords — a signal to guests that they should leave the stress at home and enjoy the tranquil experience. The omakase menu (a Japanese tradition of letting the chef choose your order) includes 10 courses that are served slowly, giving guests ample time to explore the unique flavors of Japan.
Frantzén (Stockholm, Sweden)
As the first restaurant in Sweden to earn three Michelin stars, Frantzén is the endeavor of Chef Björn Frantzén. Located in Stockholm, the restaurant lives up to the nation’s aesthetic, with a sleek, modern exterior and wood-laden interior. Lunch and dinner guests aren’t given any choice in their meal, with tasting menus that are pre-conceived with meticulous thought and care. Diners also shouldn’t expect to stay seated throughout the meal — all three floors of the restaurant are utilized for service.
Guests will start their meal on the top floor, where they will be treated to drinks and appetizers, as they watch the working counter where the food is prepared. The full-tasting menu occurs in the main room, which features the likes of sea urchin, lobster, and Frantzén’s famous French toast, an opulent and savory version of the breakfast classic. The first floor of the eatery is dedicated to its extensive wine collection, which is served in tandem with each successive course.
Ultraviolet (Shanghai, China)
Conceived by Chef Paul Pairet, everything about dinner at Ultraviolet is unconventional. The restaurant seats a limit of 10 guests, who are asked to congregate in another Shanghai eatery owned by Pairet. After an amuse-bouche and a cocktail, guests are whisked away in a minivan to the actual location of the restaurant, which is not publicly disclosed. Upon arriving at the secret location, the multi-course meal truly begins, with three servers dedicated to each guest.
The food is as extravagant as the location, with each course served as a theatrical act, timed with audio and visual effects that are meant to enhance the dish. Since the performance often varies, Ultraviolet dinner guests should expect the unexpected. From foie gras that resembles a smoking cigar to the visual effects that accompany each course, the entire meal is designed to be multi-sensory, immersive, and mind-blowing.
Guy Savoy (Paris, France)
Out of its two locations, the flagship Guy Savoy in Paris feels like the fancier of the two, based on the location alone. Situated on the banks of the Seine River, the five-star restaurant offers an upscale dining experience with intimate round tables and large windows that flood the dining rooms with natural light. The eponymous restaurant is run by Guy Savoy himself — the very same chef who trained Gordon Ramsey, and his food is nothing short of flawless.
From the substantial wine list to the fresh-baked bread from the best baker in Paris to the cheese trolley served before dessert, the restaurant is a Parisian dream. Diners can expect a range of dishes, from delicacies such as oyster tartare with chives to surprising delicacies, like seaweed and lemon sorbet. They also can expect superlative service to match the food — in addition to very full tummies when they leave.
Masa (New York, New York)
If you’re in the mood for sushi and have $650 burning a hole in your pocket, then Masa should be on your bucket list. Lauded as one of the “premier dining experiences of the world” by Travel + Leisure, don’t expect to order a spicy tuna roll here. Instead, Chef Masayoshi Takayama will provide you with a meticulously prepared multi-course sushi tasting that has been designed for that particular day, with the freshest ingredients available.
The restaurant is also entirely devoid of menus — the omakase will surprise you as each course is brought to the table in succession. When you make the pilgrimage to Masa, don’t expect overwrought sushi rolls or an abundance of contrasting flavors. The food prepared by Takayama is masterful, clean, and pure — elegance and simplicity personified on a plate.
Sublimotion (Ibiza, Spain)
Combining food with futurism, Sublimotion is located inside a space that is referred to as a “capsule.” Combining modern theater, food, and technology, the avant-garde restaurant has space for 12 guests, and dinners take at least three hours to complete. In tandem with world-famous directors and composers, Chef Paco Roncero creates a food experience that transports diners to a different world, with music that is timed to meal service and films projected onto the capsule’s blank walls.
Donning virtual reality headsets between courses, guests experience fantastical flourishes throughout the meal, such as dishes dropping out of the sky. Meanwhile, an emcee narrates the dinner, creating a magical experience that effortlessly merges fine dining with performance art.
Alinea (Chicago, Illinois)
Widely recognized as one of the best restaurants in the world, Alinea has been at the forefront of molecular gastronomy for over a decade. Owned and operated by Chef Grant Achatz, the renowned Chicago restaurant has won countless awards for its food and service, including the highest-ranking provided by Michelin — three stars. Achatz is renowned for his ability to transform food using a scientific approach.
The result is an unforgettable dining experience that employs scented vapors, visual tricks, and tableside preparations that force diners to use all of their senses. The menu is always changing, but one constant remains the same — the food is innovative, creative, and delicious. Guests can expect to have their minds blown by a green apple helium-filled balloon, a translucent piece of pumpkin pie, or a deconstructed grape that tastes like peanut butter and jelly.
Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville (Crissier, Switzerland)
With three Michelin stars and an abundance of prestigious awards (including Best Restaurant in the World by Elite 100), Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville is truly a gourmet dining experience. The world-famous restaurant serves exquisite food envisioned by Head Chef Franck Giovannini and prepared with the help of 25 chefs. The exceptional cuisine is matched by five-star service, with every course choreographed to perfection by the professional waitstaff.
Drawing an elite crowd, Restaurant de l’Hotel de Ville is designed to be warm, inviting, and relaxing — with the décor best resembling an upscale maison (house). Meanwhile, the multi-course tasting menu is ever-evolving, with French food — such as delicate apple tarts and perfectly poached eggs — that resembles art on the plate and tastes like heaven in your mouth.
Ithaa Undersea (The Maldives)
When it comes to unique restaurant experiences, Ithaa Undersea blows the competition out of the water. The underwater restaurant is located off Rangali Island in the Maldives, with guests descending a spiral staircase to dine 16 feet below sea level. With a mere 14 seats available for dinner guests, the dining room is situated in an acrylic dome that offers panoramic views of the deep blue sea, replete with schools of fish, live coral, and the occasional shark.
The interior, with its polished hardwood floors and matching tables, is sleek and simple, allowing the marine environment to take center stage. In addition to lunch and dinner service, Ithaa (which translates to “mother of pearl”) is open for mid-morning cocktails and serves contemporary Maldivian cuisine with a Western twist.
The French Laundry (Yountville, California)
As one of the most preeminent restaurants in the U.S., the French Laundry has amassed countless James Beard awards, from Outstanding Chef to Outstanding Restaurant to Outstanding Service. Headed by Chef Thomas Keller, the restaurant creates French-inspired dishes using the freshest ingredients available in California. Located in the heart of Napa’s wine country, each dish is masterfully prepared with delicacy, precision, and thought.
Served with the finest of wines, the restaurant’s nine-course tasting menu is truly an event — lasting four to five hours from start to finish. Despite its prestige and three Michelin star status, the French Laundry somehow manages to be charming, without the usual stuffiness found in fancy French bistros. Located in an old stone farmhouse laden with ivy, guests can still expect five-star service, fresh truffles, and an amuse-bouche to start off the meal.
Osteria Francescana (Modena, Italy)
Located on a quiet cobblestone street, Osteria Francescana has long been heralded with international acclaim. The three Michelin star eatery is owned and operated by Chef Massimo Bottura. Long considered a superstar in the food world, Bottura may look familiar thanks to his appearance on Netflix’s The Chef’s Table. The fine-dining restaurant seems to thrive on juxtaposition, like how the bubblegum-pink exterior contrasts with the simple, dark interior.
One of the restaurant’s most famous dishes, “Sardine not sardine” features cream of eel disguised as a sardine. It’s the perfect example of Bottura’s creative sense of humor. In fact, many of his signature dishes masquerade as something else, from lentils that are served in a box of caviar to raw lamb impersonating oyster on the half shell. The cleverly disguised offerings make Osteria Francescana one of the most surprising food experiences.
The Fat Duck (Bray, United Kingdom)
Located in the tiny village of Bray, the Fat Duck has a big reputation. Founded and operated by Heston Blumenthal, a celebrity chef from Britain, eating at the Fat Duck is akin to the performances put on at Cirque du Soleil. Upon entry into the restaurant, diners are asked to go on a multi-course journey, with each dish presented as a story.
In lieu of a menu, guests receive a map and an itinerary for the journey — turning the meal into an interactive experience. Despite the gimmicks and tricks used to enhance the experience, the Fat Duck’s food is special all on its own. With three Michelin stars under its belt, guests are guaranteed delicious food paired with wild experiences — such as the re-enacted coronation feast of King James II and Queen Mary — making the Fat Duck a journey worth taking.
Noma (Copenhagen, Denmark)
When it reopened in 2018, Noma was the talk of the food world. The year prior, Chef René Redzepi had closed the restaurant’s doors and moved his team to Mexico to run a pop-up eatery in Tulum. Apparently, the hiatus invigorated the chef and his team, as Noma 2.0 was met with worldwide acclaim.
Today, the Copenhagen restaurant is one of the most renowned and sought-after food experiences in the world, with an ever-changing menu that focuses on seafood, vegetables, and game. Using the local terrain as constant inspiration, Redzepi is the creator of “New Nordic” cuisine, which combines localism with sustainability and science. Above all else, Redzepi attempts to use the local foodshed, with foraged ingredients such as sea snails, seaweed, and gooseberries as highly-prized ingredients in his artfully crafted dishes.
Steirereck (Vienna, Austria)
Steirereck is a chic, modern restaurant that sets the standard for gourmet Austrian food. Situated in a beautiful park in Vienna, the restaurant is enclosed inside a sleek, futuristic building made of mirrored glass. The juxtaposition between the tranquil scenery and the modern building sets the tone for how the restaurant effortlessly combines high-end, modern food with the traditional ingredients of Austria.
Although Steirereck’s high-end dishes include traditional proteins such as sturgeon, quail, and venison, there is nothing conventional about the food or its artful presentation. Special touches throughout the meal include a canapé (small appetizer) course, followed by bountiful bread and cheese trolleys, which make Steirereck a magical dining experience in the heart of Austria.
Quintonil (Mexico City, Mexico)
The brainchild of chef Jorge Vallejo and his wife Alejandra Flores, Quintonil is located in an unassuming storefront in a chic neighborhood of Mexico City. Inside, the restaurant’s airy dining room is accented with skylights, blonde wood, and live plants — giving Quintonil an earthy, laid-back vibe. But don’t let its lack of pretension fool you — the eatery serves the haute cuisine of Mexico.
After sourcing local produce, Vallejo whips up some of the most innovative contemporary dishes in the country, producing plates that amaze and astound guests. Vallejo is also known for using unusual delicacies such as escamoles (ant larvae) in his dishes — and most diners can agree — if you’ve never tried insect caviar, Quintonil will make you a believer.
The Polo Bar (New York, New York)
As an entrepreneurial endeavor of Ralph Lauren, The Polo Bar lives up to the peerless aesthetic of the famous American designer. Situated in Midtown East, the high-end Manhattan restaurant harkens back to a time when fine dining was about luxury and exclusivity. Outfitted to resemble a swanky clubhouse, the Polo Bar features leather booths, wood-inlaid ceilings, white tablecloths, and equestrian artwork.
The menu features distinctly American fare — think crab cakes, steaks, and high-end sandwiches — with the beef hailing from Lauren’s cattle ranch in Colorado whenever possible. The restaurant somehow manages to be opulent yet cozy at the same time. Once you find yourself parked in one of the snug leather booths, you’ll never want to leave.