Editor’s Note: The six-part Discovery+ series “José Andrés and Family in Spain” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CNN beginning September 24.
You wouldn’t be far off if you guessed that Italy or France would be the country with more of this year’s World’s 50 Best restaurants than any other.
But no, that award goes to Spain, where six restaurants were recognized on the 2023 list this summer. (Italy had five and France had four, as did Peru, where the capital Lima took first place).
Spain has a deep, rich culinary heritage and a decades-long history with the distinction of “Best in the World”. Famous restaurant El Bulli, which closed in 2011, has achieved first place five times, starting with its debut in 2002.
Several of the chefs from the Spanish restaurants honored with this year’s awards – Spain took places 2, 3 and 4, as well as three others in the top 50 – trained at El Bulli under Ferran Adrià, a pioneer of molecular gastronomy (or cocina). de vanguardia, as Adrià prefers to call it).
Adrià’s education and influence extend far beyond the borders of Spain.
Chef José Andrés, who was instrumental in introducing Spanish cuisine to American diners, trained at El Bulli for three years before a misunderstanding with Adrià led him to move to New York in 1991 and eventually settle in Washington , to settle in DC. where he founded his own group of restaurants, including the two-Michelin-starred Minibar.
Andrés recently returned to Spain with his three American-born daughters – Carlota, Inés and Lucía – for the six-part Discovery+ series “José Andrés and Family in Spain,” airing Sundays on CNN starting September 24.
In the series, Andrés visits what is now the El Bulli Museum in Roses with his mentor and friend, and he and two of his daughters dine at Disfrutar in Barcelona, ranked number 2 on the list of the 50 best restaurants in the world and voted the best restaurant Europe was chosen in Spain.
Here you can find out more about all six restaurants in Spain that are among the top 50 in the world. Tables are in high demand, so plan ahead if you’re planning a visit.
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The two Michelin star Disfrutar offers two tasting menus created by three chefs trained at the famous El Bulli restaurant.
(No. 2 among the 50 best restaurants in the world and the best restaurant in Europe)
Disfrutar, which means “enjoy,” is run by three chefs who met and trained at El Bulli: Mateu Casañas, Oriol Castro and Eduard Xatruch.
“These three guys here are like the Three Musketeers. They are one for all and all for one. And I tell you, the collaboration of these three brains should be illegal,” Andrés joked to his daughters. (Watch the start of their meal in the video above.)
Tasting menus, featuring dishes that the restaurant says have a “distinctly Mediterranean identity,” currently start at 255 euros (about $270), excluding drinks. Two tasting menus are available – one with creations that have become classics of the restaurant – such as multi-ball pesto with pistachios and eel – and a “festival” menu with dishes created for the current season. Disfrutar has two Michelin stars.
There is a very special “living” table, the table that Andrés and his daughters enjoyed. It features a series of hidden compartments that guests can open to reveal a series of magical dishes. For Andrés, there was an array of sweet treats on the table – from rose petals with raspberry marshmallows to almond meringues with tart Japanese yuzu paste – complete with blooming cotton candy flowers and bubbling smoke. “Ecstasy,” said Andrés.
Chef Dabiz Muñoz, pictured in March 2019, is the driving force behind DiverXO in Madrid.
(3rd place among the 50 best in the world)
“A journey through the hedonistic, greedy and creative world of Dabiz Muñoz.” That’s how DiverXO calculates what diners will find at this Madrid restaurant, where the “Flying Pigs” tasting menu costs 365 euros (about $390), drinks not included .
The menu title is a nod to something Muñoz’s father said about his restaurant dreams, according to World’s 50 Best. There are flying pigs throughout the restaurant.
The daring Muñoz boasts three Michelin stars for DiverXO, which offers Asian-influenced dishes like Galician lobster that “wakes up on the beaches of Goa.”
agefotostock/Alamy Stock Photo
In the Spanish Basque Country, Asador Etxebarri takes grilled dishes to a new level.
(4th place among the 50 best in the world)
The specialty of Etxebarri is the preparation from the flame grill. The restaurant is housed in a rustic stone and wood building in the foothills of Spain’s Basque Country. The multi-course tasting menu includes grilled ingredients like chorizo and salted anchovies.
The cuisine of Etxebarri owner and chef Bittor Arginzoniz “focuses on top-quality grilled dishes using different types of wood (holm oak, vines, oak from old barrels, etc.), utensils of his own invention and an unusual pulley system that allows him to control “The cooking process,” says Michelin, which awarded Etxebarri one star.
Saffron and cold razor clam fideuá are one of the dishes on Quique Dacosta’s tasting menu.
(20th place among the 50 best in the world)
Chef Quique Dacosta creates theatrical, avant-garde Valencian cuisine at his eponymous three-Michelin-star restaurant. His latest menu, titled “For the Love of Art,” according to World’s 50 Best, consists of four acts: “One is dedicated to its region, one is dedicated to the sea, one is dedicated to tradition and the last is dedicated to ‘sweet beauty.’ “’”
Dishes include an elegant fideuà (Valencian pasta dish) with saffron, razor clams and brined roe. The menu starts at 275 euros per person (about $295), excluding drinks.
Elkano specializes in local seafood and is “without a doubt one of the culinary temples of wood-fire cooking,” says Michelin.
(22nd place among the 50 best in the world)
Founded in 1964 by the late Pedro Arregui, Elkano began with a grilled whole fish in the coastal town of Getaria in the Basque Country. According to World’s 50 Best, Elkano has set new standards in grilling. Under Pedro’s son Aitor Arregui, the restaurant received a Michelin star for the first time in 2014.
“This is undoubtedly one of the culinary temples of wood-fire cooking, where there is little need to overwork textures or flavors. “The control over the grilling process is complete, as is the choice of ingredients,” says Michelin, adding that the turbot is “an absolute must.”
The restaurant values the freshest, seasonal seafood and places great emphasis on local and sustainable produce. The restaurant offers à la carte dining and a multi-course prix fixe menu for 200 euros (approximately $215) excluding drinks.
Jose Luis Lopez de Zubiria//Courtesy of Mugaritz
This dish on the Mugaritz tasting menu is called “Technique: Beef Contrasts.”
(31st place among the 50 best in the world)
Andoni Luis Aduriz, another El Bulli graduate, is celebrating the 25th anniversary of his restaurant Mugaritz, located on the border – or “Muga” in Basque – between two towns in the Basque Country. A 200-year-old oak tree – or “Haritza” – gives the restaurant the rest of its name.
Mugaritz remains closed for four months every year to offer guests a new experience. The current episode, which ends in October, revolves around the mind-blowing concept of “Memories of the Future.”
World’s 50 Best describes the dining experience as “a three-hour journey into a world that may be sometimes uncomfortable, often emotional and sometimes downright strange, but you won’t be left unaffected.”
The menu features offerings with descriptions like “Technique: Beef Contrasts” and “Sweets: Gluten Ball.” The tasting menu costs 253 euros (about $270), drinks not included.