No.1 Best Restaurant in the World in 2023 Breaks All the Rules

by Natalia Rudakova
38 minutes read

In a surprising twist, the coveted title of the best restaurant in the world in 2023 has been awarded to Central, a husband-and-wife establishment nestled in Lima, Peru. This (un)expected win solidifies Peru’s capital as a gastronomic hub, showcasing its prowess on the global culinary stage. The announcement was made during the prestigious World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 ceremony held in Valencia, Spain. This highly anticipated event featured restaurants from 24 territories across five continents, with 12 newcomers making their debut on the esteemed list.

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Breaking all conventional expectations

Central’s rise to the pinnacle of the culinary world being the best restaurant in the world in 2023, defies the stereotypes associated with fine-dining temples in Paris, Tokyo, or the game-changers in Catalonia and Copenhagen. Instead, this groundbreaking triumph comes from a restaurant located in Peru, a country renowned for its rich gastronomic heritage. The organizers of the awards describe Central as a remarkable establishment that unswervingly focuses on the biodiversity of its region, utilizing indigenous fruits from the Amazon, root vegetables from the Andes, and seafood sourced from the Pacific Ocean. However, it is the unparalleled dining experience that truly sets Central apart, capturing the hearts and palates of food enthusiasts worldwide. 

A South American Jewel Ascends

Central’s ascent to the number one spot of the best restaurant in the world in 2023 signifies the first time that a South American restaurant has claimed this prestigious accolade, often dubbed the “Oscars of gastronomy.” Led by the visionary chefs Virgilio Martínez and Pía León, Central has dethroned Geranium in Copenhagen, the 2022 winner. Previously ranked second on the list, Central pays homage to Peru through a menu that celebrates the country’s unique biodiversity, indigenous ingredients, and cultural heritage while championing sustainability.

The inception of Central dates back to 2008 when Virgilio Martínez embarked on a mission to create a fine dining experience deeply rooted in Peruvian ingredients and culinary techniques. The audacious vision caught the attention of Pía León, who joined the restaurant in 2009 as a chef and eventually became Martínez’s wife, bringing their shared passion for the Peruvian pantry to life. Together with Martínez’s sister, Malena, who heads Mater Iniciativa, the restaurant’s research arm, the trio explores Peru’s vast landscape, meeting local producers, discovering rare ingredients, and reimagining ways to showcase them on the plate.

A Gastronomic Journey Across Peru

Over the years, Central‘s concept has evolved, resulting in a meticulously curated menu that takes diners on an extraordinary culinary expedition through 15 distinct Peruvian ecosystems. Categorized by altitude, the menu spans from the depths of the Pacific Ocean to the peaks of the Andes, exemplifying the diverse origins of each ingredient. Guests savor the essence of the Dry Valley with dishes like shrimp, loche squash, and avocado, or indulge in the flavors of the Amazonian Water, featuring pacu fish, watermelon, and coca leaf. Each meticulously crafted dish embodies the spirit of its origin, showcasing the profound connection between Central’s culinary creations and Peru’s remarkable landscapes.

Central’s crowning achievement contributes to Lima’s growing culinary eminence. Alongside Central, the Peruvian capital boasts a strong presence on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, surpassing any other city in terms of representation. Maido secures the sixth position, while Mayta impressively secures the forty-seventh spot, adding to Lima’s gastronomic triumph. Notably, Lima welcomes two new additions to the top 50: Kjolle, ranked twenty-eighth and the solo venture of Chef Pía León, and El Chato, securing the thirty-third spot in Bogotá, Colombia, further highlighting South America’s culinary prowess.

A Global Influence of The Best Restaurant in The World in 2023

Virgilio Martínez and Pía León have emerged as global ambassadors of Peruvian flavors, igniting a culinary revolution that transcends borders. Their pursuit of culinary excellence has seen the birth of several remarkable ventures around the world. Mil, perched high in the mountains near Cusco, captured the essence of the Andes. Olluco in Moscow and Maz in Tokyo showcased the marriage of Peruvian ingredients with local nuances. The latest addition, Estero in Riviera Maya, Mexico, continues this legacy of blending Peruvian and regional produce to create extraordinary dining experiences.

While Central claimed the top spot of the best restaurant in the world in 2023, the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list showcases a diverse array of culinary destinations from around the world. Spain emerges as a gastronomic powerhouse, boasting six entries in the top 50. Disfrutar in Barcelona secures second place and also claims the title of the Best Restaurant in Europe for 2023. Madrid’s Diverxo impressively ranks third, while Asador Etxebarri in Atxondo, located in the Basque region, secures the fourth position. Italy and France make their mark with five and four restaurants respectively, while London proudly claims three spots.

Asia, a vibrant culinary hub, shines with seven restaurants securing positions on the list. Singapore’s Odette secures the fourteenth spot, earning the distinction of being the Best Restaurant in Asia, while Julian Roger, the chef at Odette, receives the coveted Chef’s Choice award. Bangkok demonstrates its culinary prowess with Le Du ranking fifteenth and Gaggan Anand securing the seventeenth spot. Tokyo proudly showcases three restaurants on the list: Den at twenty-first, Florilège at twenty-seventh, and Sézanne at thirty-seventh. Hong Kong’s The Chairman gracefully concludes the list at number fifty.

An Unforgettable Evening in Valencia

The highly anticipated awards ceremony unfolded on June 20th in Valencia, Spain, against the backdrop of the City of Arts and Sciences. This architectural marvel, designed by Santiago Calatrava, provided an awe-inspiring setting for this momentous occasion. The event not only celebrated the remarkable achievements of Central but also honored exceptional talents and culinary institutions from around the globe.

The rules of the competition stipulate that a restaurant can claim the top prize only once, after which it joins an exclusive “Best of the Best” category. Geranium and Noma in Copenhagen, Eleven Madison Park in New York, The Fat Duck near London, Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, and Mirazur in Menton, France, belong to this elite group of extraordinary establishments. The organizers encourage enthusiasts to explore the new list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, which showcases exceptional dining destinations worldwide.

The Future of Gastronomy

 

As Central reigns as the number one restaurant in the world for 2023, the culinary landscape continues to evolve, driven by visionaries like Virgilio Martínez and Pía León. Their relentless pursuit of perfection, profound respect for indigenous ingredients, and commitment to sustainability have redefined the possibilities of fine dining. With Central leading the way, the world eagerly awaits the next chapter in culinary excellence, where tradition, innovation, and gastronomic exploration converge to create unforgettable dining experiences.

The World's 50 Best Restaurants (full list)

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