Best Restaurants in the World 2008

Chef Ferran Adrià poses in the kitchen of El Bulli restaurant, at Roses, in northern Spain. (Photo: Lluis Gene / AFP-Getty Images)

Restaurant Magazine recently announced the list of The S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants for 2008. For the third straight year, Chef Ferran Adrià and El Bulli have topped the worldwide poll of restaurant industry experts. The Fat Duck, with Heston Blumenthal, again came in second place, with Pierre Gagnaire coming in third.

A restaurant's ranking in the 50 Best Restaurants list is decided purely on the votes of a large panel of well-respected international judges collectively called The Nespresso World's 50 Best Restaurants Academy. The Academy comprises just fewer than 700 chefs, restauranteurs, food writers, and restaurant critics, 200 of whom were voting for the first time.

Chef's Choice Mugaritz took the fourth position, its highest yet. The restaurant first charted in the 2006 list at number ten, moving three spots in the next year. Its 36-year old chef Andoni Luis Aduriz is clearly gaining in reputation, and is now nipping at the heels of the culinary legends ahead of him.

Another young chef on the rise is Grant Achatz of Alinea, who at 33 was not only the highest new entry last year, but has risen 15 places to the 21st position.

A new, hallowed restaurant in Spain, Asador Etxebarri, is owned by chef Victor Arguinzoinz. In complete contrast to the high-tech, gadget-loving maestros that dominate the top of the charts, the self-taught chef has elevated cooking over an open flame to new heights. He calls it "primitive cooking."

Perennially popular (it has appeared on the past six lists) Fergus Henderson's St John is this year's highest climber. The restaurant tipped to break through into the Top 50 in 2009 is the Parisian neo-bistro Le Chataeubriand, owned by young Basque chef Inaki Aizpitarte.

World's best restaurants 2008 winners list:

1. El Bulli, Roses, Catalonia, Spain (Best in Europe)
2. The Fat Duck, Bray-on-Thames, UK
3. Pierre Gagnaire, Paris, France
4. Mugaritz, San Sebastián, Spain (Chef's Choice)
5. The French Laundry, California, USA (Best in the Americas)
6. Per Se, New York, USA
7. Bras, Laguiole, France
8. Arzak, San Sebastián, Spain
9. Tetsuya's, Sydney, Australia (Best in Australasia)
10. Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark
11. L'Astrance, Paris, France
12. Gambero Rosso, San Vincenzo, Italy
13. Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, London, UK
14. L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Paris, France
15. Restaurant Le Louis XV, Monaco
16. St John, London, UK (Highest Climber)
17. Jean-Georges, New York, USA
18. Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, Paris, France
19. Hakkasan, London, UK
20. Le Bernardin, New York, USA
21. Alinea, Chicago, USA
22. Le Gavroche, London, UK
23. Dal Pescatore, Canneto sull'Oglio (Mantova), Italy
24. Le Cinq, Paris, France
25. Troisgros, Roanne, France
26. El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain
27. + L'Hotel de Ville - Philippe Rochat, Crissier, Switzerland
28. Hof van Cleve, Kruishoutem, Belgium
29. Martin Berasategui, San Sebastián, Spain
30. Nobu London, London, UK
31. Can Fabes, Sant Celoni, Catalonia, Spain
32. Enoteca Pinchiorri, Florence, Italy
33. + Le Meurice, Paris, France
34. * Vendome, Bergisch Gladbach, Germany
35. + Die Schwarzwaldstube, Baiersbronn im Schwarzwald, Germany
36. Le Calandre, Padua, Italy
37. Chez Panisse, Berkeley, California, USA
38. Charlie Trotter's, Chicago, USA
39. Chez Dominique, Helsinki, Finland
40. DOM, São Paulo, Brazil (Best in Latin America)
41. Daniel, New York, USA
42. Oud Sluis, Sluis, Netherlands
43. Ristorante Cracco, Milan, Italy
44. + Asador Etxebarri, Atxondo, Biscay, Spain
45. Les Ambassadeurs, Paris, France
46. L'Arpège, Paris, France
47. + Tantris, Munich, Germany
48. Oaxen Skärgårdskrog, Oaxen, Sweden
49. Rockpool, Sydney, Australia
50. Le Quartier Français, Franschhoek, South Africa (Best in Mid East & Africa)

Note: * New Entry, + Re-entry

Readers' Choice: L'enclume, UK

Breakthrough Restaurant: Le Chateaubriand, France

Lifetime Achievement Award: Gualtiero Marchesi

Best in Asia: Bukhara