7 Top Countries for Food Lovers

14 September 2017

After last month’s look at (sometimes excessive) drinking across the globe, everyone could do with getting some food, but how about something a bit more high-class than the average late-night burger? In fact, let’s forget everything but the very best food on offer, everything but the world’s 50 best restaurants. We searched through the online archives of Restaurant Magazine’s ‘The World’s 50 Best’ from the past 16 years to give you the ultimate guide to the best expat destinations for foodies.


Europe Dominates the Top 50

Since it began in 2002 one continent has dominated The World’s 50 Best lists each year; Europe. Although Restaurant Magazine, based in the UK, has been criticised for being too Euro-centric, it is hard to deny that the region has some of the most well-known, influential, and pervasive cuisines in the world. In fact, the only time that European restaurants have made up less than 50% of the top 50 list was in 2002, the first year of the awards, whereas European eateries have averaged 63% of the list over the past 16 years.




When looking at the total number of entries since the awards began, France just beats the United States to the first spot, with 122 accolades from the top 50, compared to America’s 121. However, when you compare their relative size, France’s epic culinary history shows its hand.


The Spanish Know Their Food

Over the past 16 years, Spain has dominated the top of the list, with the home of the now ubiquitous molecular gastronomy, El Bulli, holding the top spot for six years, five of them consecutive, until its closing in 2011. In fact, the year that El Bulli closed and was not included in the awards, two other Spanish restaurants shot up to take second and third place, El Celler De Can Roca and Mugaritz, respectively. Although France has more entries into the top 50 over the years, of Spain’s 84 places, 41 have been in the top 10, cementing their status as a home for culinary genius.



Another great expat destination that has to be mentioned in the context of food is Denmark, home of the now world-famous Noma. Noma comes second for the total number of top spots held, with three placings in 2011, 2012 and 2014. Using a variety of local and foraged ingredients, chef René Redzepi has put the often-maligned Nordic cuisine back on the map and made Denmark into a must-visit destination for food lovers from all around the world. Other consistently achieving countries include The United Kingdom, with The Fat Duck holding the first and second spots for seven years running; the United States, with 29 entries into the top 10 since the awards began; and France, with 24.


The Lion City has a Big Appetite

When we look at the top 50 entries in 2017, we can see that the number of people per restaurant varies widely across the countries fortunate enough to be included in the list. Interestingly, we see Asian countries at both ends of the spectrum, both of which only have one restaurant on the list but with hugely different population sizes, Singapore and China. It is certainly surprising that a country of around 1.4 billion people is only represented once in the top 50, even with the previously mentioned criticisms of the Euro-centric nature of the awards.



In comparison to China, the small city-state of Singapore has managed to make the list even with its relatively tiny population of around 5.6 million people. When we take a look through the awards for places 51 – 100 from The World’s 50 Best, Singapore features twice more, which would bring its total people per restaurant down to 1.87 million. The country is rapidly becoming a premier destination for food lovers, as alongside accolades from The World’s 50 Best and other culinary heavyweights, the word is spreading about its extensive and varied hawkers (street-food markets), offering all manner of delectable, and cheap, treats. It is no wonder that the Lion City is one of the premier expat destinations, that is only getting more popular for all the right reasons.


 All data was taken from The Worlds 50 Best