101 Best Restaurants in Europe 2012
First came The Daily Meal's 101 Best Restaurants in America, then 101 Best Hotel Restaurants Around the World. Now, The Daily Meal has set its sights on Europe. Perennially on the quest to find the best places to eat and dine in cities large and small, The Daily Meal presents its first list of the most exemplary epicurean endeavors on the European continent.
It would have been easy to name 101 really good restaurants in France alone, or Italy, or Spain, or the U.K. — but we wanted to represent as wide a geographical reach as possible, not just recognizing the best in more familiar places, but discovering lesser-known gems in other corners of the continent. Thus our inaugural list includes restaurants in 26 countries: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland
Restaurants in 70 cities made the list. While capital cities like London, Moscow, Paris, and Tallinn are well represented, more than half of the restaurants (see the full list) are in smaller cities and far-flung locales like Alexander on Muhu Island off Estonia's northeast coast, Die Schwarzwaldstube in Baiersbronn, Germany, and Fäviken Magasinet in Järpen, Sweden. France claims the most spots on the list with 15 restaurants, of which 11 are in Paris.
The Daily Meal’s list of the 101 Best Restaurants in Europe was carefully curated through a seven-month-long nomination process; we consulted the Michelin Guide and other trusted sources and gathered hundreds of recommendations from The Daily Meal’s editors, who have traveled and dined extensively around the world.
Once we compiled a preliminary list of more than 1,450 restaurants, we reached out to a panel of more than 200 knowledgeable judges, comprised of restaurant critics, food and lifestyle writers, and bloggers with wide restaurant-going experience. We curated separate panels by region so only experts on the U.K. voted for U.K. restaurants, Italy experts voted for Italy, and so on.
From there, an esteemed panel of 33 experts, along with The Daily Meal’s editorial staff, evaluated the selection and voted for their favorites region-by-region (meet The Daily Meal's panelists).
Each Wednesday, beginning Oct. 3, 2012, the top 10 to 25 restaurants in a region in Europe were highlighted in the lead-up to the list's debut. A total of 215 restaurants made the final cut and were featured on The Daily Meal this past fall. In case you have missed any:
- 25 Best Restaurants in the England and Scotland
- 10 Best Restaurants in Ireland
- 25 Best Restaurants in France and Monaco
- 25 Best Restaurants in Italy
- 25 Best Restaurants in Spain and Portugal
- 20 Best Restaurants in Germany
- 20 Best Restaurants in Benelux and Switzerland
- 20 Best Restaurants in Central Europe
- 20 Best Restaurants in Scandinavia
- 15 Best Restaurants in Russia and Its Neighbors
- 10 Best Restaurants in the Eastern Mediterranean
To narrow this list down to 101, panelists voted by region in two categories: cuisine and style/décor/service. From innovative menu options to plating and presentation to freshness, quality, and taste, panelists evaluated each restaurant’s cuisine and only voted for the restaurants which they believe are extraordinary. For the second category, panelists evaluated the dining experience, from the restaurant’s interior and dining room ambiance to the service, voting for the restaurants which they believe offer an unrivaled experience. A second round of voting took place to whittle the list down from 215 to 101, allowing each of the finalists to be compared not only among their regional peers but with finalists across the entire continent. Each restaurant had the chance to be voted on twice during the survey. Finally, the percentage scores from each category were averaged to arrive at the final ranking.
The 101 Best Restaurants in Europe List
With dozens of restaurants to choose from, it was a culinary challenge to whittle the list down to a select 101. Restaurants offering a variety of cuisines, from classic French to fusion, were considered. We did not discriminate according to location; no town, island, or enclave was off the table. Price was not considered, though many of these impressive restaurants have equally impressive tabs. Although we took guidance from the Michelin Guide and other reputable restaurant guides in making up our initial list of nominees, we weren't slaves to their rankings, and many excellent Michelin-starred restaurants have been omitted, while a number of places not singled out for recognition by the Michelin Guide have been included.
You will note that our panelists in many cases gave high rankings to traditional restaurants like Mavrikos in Lindos, Rhodes over the new and trendy, perhaps because they felt that these places had proven themselves over the long haul and were more consistent.
While many of the restaurants on our list are gastronomic palaces, there are also a number of more casual places that reflect the local character, ingredients, and culinary traditions.
Ten restaurants from 101 Best Hotel Restaurants Around the World are also honored here, including five in Paris, the city that had the most restaurants on our list in August: Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée at Plaza Athénée Hotel, Epicure at Le Bristol, Le Cinq at the Four Seasons Hotel George V, Le Comptoir at Hôtel Relais Saint-Germain, and Restaurant Le Meurice at Le Meurice Hotel. Rounding out the list of hotel restaurant honorees who also made the cut here are Anne-Sophie Pic at Beau-Rivage Palace in Lausanne; El Motel Restaurant at Hotel Empordà in Figueres, Spain; Le Louis XV at Hôtel de Paris in Monte Carlo; Mathias Dahlgren Matsalen at Grand Hôtel in Stockholm; and Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud at Merrion Hotel in Dublin.
Any list like this one is bound to stir disagreements among discerning diners; even our own staff was divided on which restaurants made the final cut. After checking out The Daily Meal’s 101 Best Restaurants in Europe, share your compliments and critiques in the comments section below — or on Twitter using the hashtag #BestDiningEurope — and let us know what restaurants you think should have been included, or should have been left out.
Which restaurant made it to the top of the list? The answer may just surprise you.
Editorial director Colman Andrews (@Colmanandrews), executive editor Arthur Bovino (@Arthur_Bovino), and junior writers Sean Flynn (@BuffaloFlynn) and Clare Sheehan (@clare_sheehan) contributed to 101 Best Restaurants in Europe. Lauren Mack is the Travel editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @lmack.