Sometimes I will travel for food — even more so when my destination is host to one of the best restaurants in the world. In the brand new book Where Chefs Eat, top chefs share their favorite places to dine in every part of the world. Nestled among the local favorites and bargain bites are ten restaurants the chefs say are always worth traveling for, no matter the distance.
Highlighting more than 600 of the world’s best chefs, Where Chefs Eat is a guide for the traveler who plans their travel itinerary around eating. Below, I’ve selected ten chefs—from recognized heavyweights such as Ferran Adrià to revolutionary upstarts such as David Chang—and looked at the restaurants they say would make them pack their bags, buy a ticket and head out on a culinary adventure.
Attica — Melbourne, Australia
Recommended by René Redzepi, of Noma in Copenhagen.
Attica is perhaps the best restaurant in Australia: San Pellegrino’s “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” list calls the experience “simultaneously sophisticated and deeply grounded.” New Zealand native Ben Shewry took over the restaurant in 2005 and creates dishes that blend Asian influence with regional ingredients. The dishes are both traditional and innovative—potatoes are served cooked in the soil from which they were pulled; fish is cooked in smoking paper bark and topped with meat-infused butter. Shewry’s dishes have won the respect of chefs such as David Chang and René Redzepi in Where Chefs Eat—where he says Attica is one of the restaurants he would travel any distance to visit.
Attica’s popularity, combined with its size (only 60 seats) can make it a difficult reservation to snag: bookings are available three months in advance, and they fill quickly. If you’re looking to get a table, try for a Tuesday evening, when the kitchen offers a test menu for a fraction of the price of a normal dinner service.
Overture — Stellenbosch, South Africa
Recommended by Peter Tempelhoff, a Cape Town native who oversees six restaurants within the Relais & Chateaux hotel group.
Peter Tempelhoff oversees six restaurants in Cape Town, so he knows a thing or two about dining in South Africa. When he says that he would travel any distance to eat at Overture, it’s a sincere praise. “A well-run establishment,” Tempelhoff says of Overture in Where Chefs Eat, “which serves perfectly prepared plates and has outstanding service.”
Overture opened in 2007, with chef Bertus Basson and business partner Craig Cormack at the helm. Situated in one of South Africa’s famous wine regions, the restaurant’s expansive deck offers customers a sweeping view of the Hidden Valley Estate’s vineyards below. The menu is seasonal and influenced by the ingredients of the region, from a steak tartare with slaphakskeentjies (a traditional South African salad) to local fish with sweet corn. The kitchen’s blend of culinary delicacy and flavours seems to be paying off: for six years, Overture has been named one of South Africa’s top ten restaurants.
Karavalli — Bangalore, India
Recommended by Manoj Goel, who heads up the kitchen at one of India’s most famous restaurants, Varq, in New Delhi.
Karavalli, in Bangalore’s Gateway Hotel, prides itself on its authenticity; its menu draws inspiration from the coastal flavors of southwest India and leans heavily on seafood. The restaurant even features a fresh grill counter, where the day’s best seafood can be grilled to order in front of you.
Executive chef Naren Thimmaiah has spent decades researching the area’s culinary history, and the restaurant’s menu pays homage to the many cultures that have influenced the region’s food. Thimmaiah is “a true spice master, skillfully balancing subtle fragrances and fiery heat with tropical fruits and ultra-fresh seafood,” according to the 2015 San Pellegrino list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. Manoj Goel, of Varq, says that Karavalli is a “beautifully designed restaurant with a great variety of seafood,” and worth the trip no matter how far.
Iggy’s — Singapore
Recommended by Elena Arzak and Juan Mari, the father-daughter duo behind the triple-Michelin-starred restaurant Arzak, in San Sebastián, Spain.
In 2004 restaurateur and sommelier Ignatius Chan opened what has long been known as one of the best restaurants in Asia and around the world. What the restaurant lacks in seating space it easily makes up in its fabulous dishes. The menu takes inspiration from its owner and namesake’s travels around the world, blending tastes and techniques from Asia, Europe and Australia.
Mugaritz — Errenteria, Spain
Recommended by Anatoly Komm, one of Russia’s most celebrated chefs. Today, he is the chef and owner of Varvary, Moscow’s premiere destination for molecular gastronomy.
Tucked away in the hills of the Spanish countryside is an old farmhouse which houses on of Spains most important restaurants. Mugaritz opened in 1998 and its chef, Andoni Luis Aduriz, has done an incredible job at creating a restaurant that’s based around the concept of surprise. Mugaritz lives up to that concept by offering its patrons playful takes on texture, taste and aroma with each meticulously crafted bite. Attention to detail is one of Mugaritz best attributes. Even before food hits tastebud, from the initial smell of barbecue to a stark white table set around the centerpiece of a broken plate. There is no menu, no set order of plates—instead, the eater is given a personalized meal of some 20 dishes. It’s this lovely chaos that have helped Mugaritz earn the moniker of the “most adventurous restaurant in the world.”
Caffè al Bicerin — Turin, Italy
Recommended by Kamal Mouzawak, founder of Beirut’s first farmer’s market.
When Caffè al Bicerin opened its doors in 1763, Italy as a country didn’t even exist—it. Even as a country formed around it, little about Caffè al Bicerin has changed—a tiny neighborhood spot, it still serves perhaps the most famous version of Piedmont’s regional drink, the bicerin, made of coffee, chocolate and whipped cream. “My favorite café in the world,” says chef Kamal Mouzawak in Where Chefs Eat. “It’s a tiny place with two red velvet benches and white marble tables. Unchanged for the last 250 years.” Over the years, the café has hosted a number of famous patrons, from Puccini to Nietzsche. Beyond the bicerin, it offers a full range of homemade cakes and pastries.
La Grenouillère — La Madelaine-sous-Montreuil, France
Recommended by Yves Camdeborde, chef at Paris dining hotspot Le Comptoir.
Originally opened as a restaurant and inn in 1920, La Grenouillère specialized in frog-related food items for the better part of a century before. However, in 2003, when chef Alexandre Gauthier took the reins from his father, he decided to look beyond frogs in the hopes of regaining the Michelin star the restaurant had lost in 2001. Today, his kitchen turns out “radical cuisine,” such as a beautiful lobster from Norway presented on a bed of still-smoldering juniper twigs, or morel mushrooms stuffed with sweetbreads and topped with a cone of raw turnip.
“Alexandra Gauthier has created a world of his own,” explains chef Yves Camdeborde in Where Chefs Eat, “a place unique to him. When you go there, you get sucked into his universe. The table setting, the decor in the bedrooms, the crockery, the general attitude … If you spend two days there it infuses your whole being. He creates a convincingly authentic atmosphere devoid of commercialism. He achieves this because he loves it and you really sense that.”
Le Suquet — Laguiole, France
Recommended by Ferran Adrià, who founded the now-closed El Bulli, a restaurant in Spain’s Catalonia that was once considered the most influential restaurant in the world.
Seven years after its opening in 1992, Le Suquet had three Michelin stars. Since 2009, this restaurant has crafted meals deeply inspired by the surrounding land. Le Suquet’s menu draws from the traditions around the Aubrac Mountains, and is rooted in the region’s local plants and vegetables—expect meat to play only a supporting role on the menu.
Michel Bras’ restaurant, Le Suquet, isn’t in the capital of Paris, but perched on a hill overlooking the small village of Laguiole, nearly hidden away in the mountains of south-central France. Getting to Bras requires a ten-hour train ride from Paris, followed by another hour in a car weaving through the Aubrac Mountains, and reservations are filled months in advance.
Noma — Copenhagen, Denmark
Recommended by Meyjitte Boughenout, chef and owner at Absynthe, a French-inspired restaurant located in Surfers Paradise, Australia.
Copenhagen has been added to the list of must-visit culinary locales, largely thanks to the enormous influence of Noma and René Redzepi. The attitude at Noma is one of cultural pride—Redzepi believes that Nordic cuisine, prepared with the right blend of innovation and local tradition, can compete with any cuisine worldwide. The menu is dictated by what can be found or foraged locally and seasonally: fried reindeer moss with mushroom powder, or radishes served in “soil” made from malted flour.
Since its opening in 2003, the restaurant has been housed in a harbor-side warehouse that was once used to store goods shipped into Copenhagen from Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands.
Benu — San Francisco
Recommended by David Chang, executive chef and founder of the Momofuku restaurant group.
After Benu opened in August 2010, The San Francisco Chronicle’s food critic Michael Bauer awarded the restaurant three and a half stars; a year later, it was awarded the full four. In January 2011, The New York Times placed the newborn restaurant on a list of ten places worth a plane ride.
Lee studied under culinary powerhouse Thomas Keller, serving as Keller’s chef de cuisine at French Laundry before branching out to Benu. With Benu, Lee sought to break new ground, infusing New American cuisine with Asian influences—a soup of dumplings stuffed with foie gras, for instance, or rice cakes meant to evoke the delicate appearance of Italian gnocchi.