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Spanish restaurant is named the world's best

April 29, 2013 at 4:40 PM ET

Head chef Joan Roca, left, accompanied by his brothers Jordi Roca, center, and Josep Roca, right,  pose for the photographers with their trophies afte...
Lefteris Pitarakis / AP
Head chef Joan Roca, left, accompanied by his brothers Jordi Roca, center, and Josep Roca, right, pose for the photographers with their trophies after their restaurant El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, won the Best Restaurant award during the World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards in London, Monday, April 29, 2013.

Think of it like the Oscars of the international food world—the World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards, announced Monday evening, are voted on by more than 900 dining experts from around the globe.

This year, to add suspense, the ceremony, organized by Restaurant magazine, was live-streamed online, with the winners released in batches.

And indeed, the suspense built to a big upset: Spain’s El Cellar de Can Roca knocked Denmark’s renowned Noma out of first place.

If you’ve never been to the world’s new No. 1 restaurant, we can tell you it serves up creative Catalonian fare, the wine cellar has 60,000 bottles and you can order a 17-course lunch with mind-bending dishes, like caramelized olives that come to the table on bonsai trees.

People often compare it to now-defunct elBulli, the modernist Spanish restaurant that ruled the No. 1 spot for years before Noma nabbed the first-place ranking and brought Scandinavian cooking to the forefront of the food world.

Modernist spots took most of the top honors, including Osteria Francescana, in Modena, Italy, just north of Bologna (No. 3), where you can try things like mortadella foam with pistachio crumble and Mugaritz in Errenteria, Spain (No. 4), a tranquil spot with lush grounds where you can try items like tempered white asparagus stalks dusted with fragrant chrysanthemum petals. Rounding out the top of the list was the highest-ranked place in the U.S., New York City’s Eleven Madison Park (No. 5), an avant-garde French restaurant where the always-surprising tasting menu will set you back $195.

As for American restaurants, the usual suspects made the list: Napa Valley’s The French Laundry (and its notoriously long waiting list for a reservation) stayed alive at No. 47 on the list, and New York City’s iconic French spots Daniel, Le Bernardin and Per Se came in at No. 29, 19 and 11, respectively. Chicago’s modernist spot Alinea nabbed No. 15 and a chef’s choice nod.

For the full list of 50 spots, click here.


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