In what has become an annual celebration of the global food and beverage industry, the 2021 edition of the 50 World’s Best Restaurants awarded Lima’s Central top honors as Best Restaurant in Latin America, and brainchild of the gastronomy duo chefs Virgilio Martínez and Pía León.
As leading exponents of Peru’s culinary culture and biodiversity, second place went to another Lima restaurant, Maido and its pioneering chef Mitsuharu Tsumura. From Tsumura’s eclectic synthesis of Peruvian flavour and precise Japanese technique, to D.O.M in Sao Paulo (No.3) with its jaw-dropping “Maximus” 12-course tasting menu, the top 10 was dominated by restaurateurs spanning the width and breadth of Latin America, including two Mexico City stalwarts Pujol and Quintonil.
Given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants, pivoted from its annual ranking to create a one-off list of the 100 greatest restaurants since the awards’ inception in 2013. The retrospective ranking includes entries from 12 countries and adds 21 new restaurants, broadening its spotlight on the sector.
Colombia was well represented in Latin America’s 50 Best with chef Leo Espinosa’s iconic namesake Leo ranked 14. Located in Bogotá’s vibrant and eclectic Chapinero neighborhood, Espinosa’s champions little-known Colombian ingredients and supports remote rural communities to revive indigenous gastronomic tradition.
Below, a breakdown of Colombia’s other representatives in Latam’s 50 Best, as well as innovative chefs that made the extended 51 to 100 list.
18. Harry Sasson (Bogotá). Housed in a 19th Century mansion with a stunning bar clad in glass and girders, this restaurant is a magnet for Colombia’s famous and influential. But it also manages to retain an inclusive feel thanks to warm service and simple, delicious food.
25. El Chato (Bogotá). El Chato and its chef/proprietor chef Álvaro Clavijo offer a relaxed space with wooden tables, open kitchen and view of the spice library from the light-filled first-floor lounge. As a renegade of Colombia’s food scene, Clavijo’s style is refined, unpretentious and tributes a larger manifesto: Bogotá is deserving of an international culinary scene.
Read our 2017 review of El Chato:
42. Criterión. (Bogotá). The signature venue of chef Jorge Rausch and pastry chef Mark Rausch, Criterión takes diners through innovative dishes like smoked aubergine with guava hoisin sauce and foie gras tartelette with chocolate and tamarind.
55. Andrés Carne de Res (Chía).
This legendary and much-reviewed restaurant-turned-nightclub-turned-party wonderland, Andrés Carne de Res has been a prime destination for diners, drinkers andl late night revellers since swinging opening its wooden doors in The food is classic Colombian, with prime cuts of beef the showstopper. But the show at Andrés never stops.
74. El Cielo (Bogotá). Known for its unique foam-infused tasting menus, El Cielo elevates the sensory experience of food. Chef Juan Manuel Barrientos taste-centric dishes are rooted in sustainable practices and produce.
76. Carmen (Medellín). Plating up contemporary cuisine inspired by Colombia’s regional biodiversity, Colombian-American duo Carmen Angel and Rob Pevitts have spearheaded a growing gastronomic surge in Medellín.
84. Salvo Patria (Bogotá). Founded in 2011 by Juan Manuel Ortiz, who returned to Bogotá after time spent in Australia, Salvo Patria was originally an artisanal coffee business and later became a restaurant inspired by the diversity of Colombian produce. Dish of choice: ossobuco.
91.Celele. (Cartagena). Colombia Chefs Jaime Rodríguez and Sebastián Pinzón spent years exploring the Caribbean coast, meeting indigenous peoples, discovering new flavours and ingredients and documenting recipes that were in danger of being lost. In 2021, Celele earned the Gin Mare Art of Hospitality Award
99. Mesa Franca. (Bogotá). Leading the pack of hip restaurateurs establishing creative food portfolios in renovated Chapinero houses, chef Iván Cadena serves small plates of farm-to-table bistro cuisine. Clients can watch Cadena work his magic from an open kitchen facing the main floor dining room.
After naming the 2021 World’s 50 Best Restaurants, organizers S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna are set to announce on December 7, the World’s 50 Best Bars during a ceremony at London’s Camden Roundhouse. Following the example set by restaurateurs across the globe, among the World’s 100 Best Bars that have made the extended list are a host of new entries, among them, Cartagena’s Alquímico (No.53). And a must visit venue when in the colonial Old City. As its name suggests, Alquímico’s cocktails are pure alchemy.