Michelin and more: the world’s best restaurants

While food has become as much a part of travel as a suntan, some dining destinations alone are worth crossing continents for. Introducing five world-renowned restaurants that should go straight on your bucket list

Central, Lima, Peru 

South American gastronomy has exploded in recent years, and leading the way is young experimental chef Virgilio Martínez Véliz. The Peruvian native has a Michelin-starred restaurant in London, but his flagship venture is the cool, chic Central in Lima, the Highest Climber in 2014’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Along with his wife, head chef Pía León, Virgilio has created a tasting menu that spans the different altitudes of Peru, with foraged ingredients sourced from the ocean to the high Andes. Start your meal with a Pisco sour cocktail infused with coca leaves, moving on to the 17-course Mater Elevations tasting menu – an adventure of textures, flavours and wild combinations.

Maaemo, Oslo, Norway 

Anyone dining at this two-Michelin-starred restaurant in Norway’s capital should allow plenty of time. Much more than a meal, the seasonal tasting menu is a theatrical performance, with some dishes bearing closer resemblance to a chemistry experiment than your typical plateful. Using organic and biodynamic produce, Maaemo aims to provide a journey through the Norwegian landscape where even the serving materials – like the breadboards formed of old millstone – have local significance. A standout dish is the langoustine nestled on a bed of spruce branches, collected from nearby forests. Arriving at the table in a cloud of liquid nitrogen, it makes the whole room smell like Christmas. Though minimalist in décor, there’s nothing understated about the food.

The Fat Duck, Bray, UK 

With no fewer than three Michelin stars to its name, Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck offers a food ‘experience’ that’s second to none. The tasting menu (wine is extra) takes at least four and a half hours to get through and contains a sublime mixture of moments of madness (bacon and egg ice cream, ‘cooked’ in front of you at your table), genius (nitro poached aperitifs, which seem to simultaneously explode and melt in your mouth) and sheer indulgence (think take home pick ‘n’ mix).

Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark

After more than a decade spent wowing the world with fine, unfussy dishes, where attention to detail is paramount, René Redzepi is still top of his game, having reclaimed the number one spot in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. Serving only food from soil and sea, he attempts to connect people to the Nordic terroir, and his simple but sometimes shocking approach has been a hit with diners: a live shrimp covered in ants caused a particular stir at Noma’s 2015 Tokyo pop-up, for example. Housed in an austere-looking dockside warehouse, the décor reflects Redzepi’s direct approach to food – an approach that’s earned Noma two Michelin stars. Diners start with ten snacks like caramelised milk and monkfish liver, and continue with ten more courses, where the likes of radish and yeast proves a surprising highlight.

The Sugar Club, Auckland, New Zealand 

This iconic restaurant first opened in Wellington almost 30 years ago, before translocating across the globe to London. Now, Peter Gordon has returned home and set up on the 53rd floor of Auckland’s Sky Tower. Sparkling with brass fittings, the low-lit space follows an Art Deco theme, with chic but casual diners providing a constant hum of lively conversation. Small tapas-style dishes focus on locally sourced ingredients (such as lamb, scallops and macadamia nuts) but the menu is heavily influenced by international, particularly Asian, cuisine. With a wall of windows wrapping the circular space, everyone gets to enjoy the sparkling view of the city.

For more of the world’s finest dining experiences see our experts’ picks of the best local restaurants then explore exclusive restaurant offers through the American Express Taste program.

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