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The Best Destination Restaurants in the World Right Now

the best destination restaurants worth traveling for

As top foodie tourism destinations boom all over the world, how about planning your next luxury vacation around a visit to a remote destination restaurant? But which restaurants are actually worth traveling for, and which are over-hyped? If you’re planning a vacation to a destination gourmet restaurant, our correspondent Jillian Tangen has some suggestions for how to find food joy in a distant place. Here’s our list of the best destination restaurants in the world right now.

why plan an entire vacation around a meal at one restaurant?

If you asked me what my favorite thing about travelling was, I would without hesitation say it’s trying new foods.  To me, a vacation is a chance to taste local and authentic cuisine, try iconic dining spots and to create plenty of unforgettable memories in the process.

Of course, I love shopping and exploring local attractions, too. But I find that some of my best travel experiences have been at the dining table. How about you?

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Although food often plays a major role in exploring new cultures, it’s sometimes overlooked when planning your vacations. You book where you want to go, then figure out where you should eat.  But what about the places where the dining experience is worth planning your entire vacation around? 

With foodie-inspired tourism on the rise, you will find that there are plenty of places to travel to to enjoy good food. We’ve shared our top picks of great fine dining establishments in museums, luxury retail stores, and even prisons. Many of those are on the beaten path, and you can visit them while you’re in town and doing lots of other things (we’re looking at you, Noma).

However, there are a select number of restaurants that are truly out of this world and actually worth traveling around the world just to experience. Our criteria for inclusion on the list include a unique setting, a ground-breaking chef, unusual local ingredients, and a luxury hotel within reach so one can spend the night in 5-star comfort.

The Best Destination Restaurants in the World Right Now

From Sweden to Peru and Slovenia to Australia, we’ve found 10 restaurants that go above and beyond, and in some cases even down below, creating dining experiences that are actually worth travelling out of your way forlike way out of the way. 

Get your culinary bucket list out. El Bullí may be gone, but here’s where to head on your next culinary adventure.

1. The Willows Inn, Lummi Island, Washington

Two hours north of Seattle, just below the Canadian border on a small 9-mile island in Puget Sound that’s accessible only by boat, you’ll find The Willows Inn.

Chef Blaine Wetzel took over operations in 2010, after working as a chef de partie at Noma for three years. At The Willows Inn, Wetzel utilizes a hyper-local approach, cooking with vegetables from nearby farms, foraged herbs and wild game of which more than 50% is from the small island itself. 

best destination restaurants in the world

The best destination restaurants in the world right now: The Willows Inn. Courtesy Photo.

The result are dishes that are deceptively simple, yet artfully crafted. And which have nabbed Wetzel  the James Beard Award for best chef in the Northwest and a spot on the world’s 50 best restaurants list.  The inn’s overnight guests get first priority for dinner reservations, so keep that in mind if you are planning on visiting for dinner only.  If you plan to stay, expect to make reservations at least a couple of months in advance for both dinner and lodging. The dinner seating has room for only 26 diners, and everyone starts at the same time.

restaurants worth traveling for

Restaurants worth traveling for: The Willows Inn. Courtesy Photo.

Dinner is $195 per person, with an additional $90 per person for a wine pairing and $40 per person for a juice pairing.

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2. Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, New York

Set in the lush hills of the Hudson Valley just one hour north of New York City is Chef Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns. The complex is a combination year-round working farm and farm-to-table restaurant. 

best destination restaurants in the world right now

The best destination restaurants in the world right now: Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Courtesy Photo.

Barber is one of the country’s most vocal advocates for sustainability in restaurants. His obsession with connecting diners to the ingredients on their plates works in tandem with his exceptional skill as a chef.  Many have described dining at Blue Hill as something of a spiritual experience of sorts, featuring dishes that go from light to more substantial while showcasing the best of what comes out of the farm and educational center attached to the restaurant. 

When we dined there in late spring, the menu was vegetable-forward, with lots of unusual vegetarian preparations, fresh-baked bread, and just one small serving of meat. The kitchen staff presents each course and proudly explains what they’ve made for you. And they’ll basically keep bringing out courses until you tell them to stop. The farm’s bounty is plentiful.

restaurants worth traveling for

Restaurants worth traveling for: Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Courtesy Photo.

While there are no overnight accommodations onsite, the 5-star Ritz Carlton in White Plains, New York is only a 15-minute drive away from Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Dinner starts at $278 per person for the tasting menu with an optional wine pairing for an additional $178 per person.

3. Mil, Moray, Peru

Way up in Peru’s mountains, approximately 11,500 feet above sea level, is the newest restaurant from Chef Virgilio Martínez, Mil.  Overlooking the ancient Inca ruin of Moray, the combination restaurant and “food lab” takes diners through eight altitude-climbing courses called “moments.” Each “moment” re-creates an ecosystem in the Andes, where there are intense freezing winds, blistering sun and soil-drenching rain

top foodie tourism spots

Top foodie tourism destination: Mil in Peru. Courtesy Photo.

Chef Martínez is no stranger to “ancestral cuisines,” given he also runs the sixth best restaurant in the world, Central, which is located in Lima.  The difference at Mil, however, is that everything is sourced from the immediate surroundings or grown on site

restaurants worth traveling for

Restaurants worth traveling for: Mil in Peru. Courtesy Photos.

Since the ocean is too far away, fish are sourced from nearby high altitude lakes. Other high altitude finds – like coffee, cacao, root vegetables, various meats and legumes and Andean grains like quinoa – are used throughout the menu. 

luxury vacation to a restaurant

Why not take a luxury vacation to a destination restaurant? Mil in Peru. Photo Credit: The New York Times.

For nearby accommodations, consider the Belmond Hotel Rio Sagrado or Sol y Luna – Relais & Châteaux, both about 45 minutes away. Lunch for two, without drinks and tip, is 947 soles (about $290) for the eight-course tasting menu.

4. Deplar Farm, Troll Peninsula, Iceland

Deplar Farm is located in Iceland’s northern Troll Peninsula in an area that feels like the top of the world. The 13-suite hotel and accompanying restaurant is completely off the grid, housed in a converted sheep farm. But getting there is relatively simple – just take a quick 45 flight from Reykjavik and then an hour drive through Iceland’s rugged countryside and you are there. 

top foodie tourist destination

Top foodie tourism destination: Deplar Farm, Iceland. Courtesy Photo.

For many guests, the main draw is the resort’s bespoke adventures, which range from surfing to snow mountain biking to heli skiing to whale watching. However, at the end of the day at the communal table, real magic happens. 

restaurants worth traveling for

Restaurants worth traveling for: Deplar Farms, Iceland. Courtesy Photo.

Regardless of the season, the food at Deplar is lovingly prepared and beautifully presented by Iceland’s Chef of the year, Garoar Garoarsson. Local farmers and fishermen stock the pantry with lamb, beef, salmon and char. The wine cellar is filled with an extensive selection and wine pairings are offered at each meal.

5. Under, Lindesnes, Norway

Dramatic inside and out, whatever the weather, Under is reminiscent of a whale resting its head on the rocky shore.  Under is Europe’s first underwater restaurant, taking diners 5.5 meters below sea level on the southern Norwegian coastline with views of the ocean depths. 

top foodie tourism destination

Top foodie tourism destination: Restaurant Under. Courtesy Photo.

You might think that with such a dramatic setting, the experience would be all about the view, and that the food would be after-thought. Happily, head chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard is fully focused on fine dining and locally sourced produce from the surrounding waters and farms, with an emphasis on sustainable capture of wildlife.

top foodie tourism destination

Top foodie tourism destination: Restaurant Under. Courtesy Photo.

There is one set menu – called the immersion menu – for $266 (with the wine pairing its $430).  Note that bookings often fill up 6 months in advance.  Stay at the nearby Lindesnes Havhotell for even more coastal goodness.

6. Faviken Magasinet, Åre, Sweden

If you are a fan of the Netflix series Chef’s Table, then you are familiar with Chef Magnus Nilsson and his restaurant Faviken tucked deep within Sweden’s ski country. 

restaurants worth traveling for

During its 11 years of operation, the restaurant has won rave reviews for its 30-course tasting menu featuring local produce and wildlife. In the past, Faviken has only opened for short windows, reflecting the traditional cycle of seasonal produce and harvest. However, this year marks the restaurant’s final season of operation until it closes permanently on December 14th for Magnus to explore other endeavors. 

restaurants worth traveling for

So if you’ve ever hankered for a trip through the northern parts of Sweden in the fall or early winter, this might be your best and last chance to experience the place where arguably the destination restaurant trend was born. To do it in style, stay at Copperhill Mountain Lodge.

7. Hiša Franko, Kobarid, Slovenia

Back in 2000, Ana Roš and her husband inherited her father-in-law’s restaurant and inn in Slovenia’s Soca Valley. As a result, Roš turned down a job as a diplomat in Brussels. While she hadn’t been to culinary school, Roš set out to re-imagine and elevate the cuisine of her native Slovenia at Hiša Franko

restaurants worth traveling for

Restaurants worth traveling for: Hisa Franko in Soca Valley, Slovenia.

Two hours outside of Ljubljana, Hiša Franko champions a hyper-local approach to cuisine.  The Roš family lives above the restaurant and gets ingredients from their garden, the forest or from nearby farmers.

restaurants worth traveling for

Hiša Franko Chef

They serve a 5- or 9-course tasting menu that features dishes like pasta with sheep cheese and langoustines, and squid stuffed with lamb sweetbreads and garlic.

restaurants worth traveling for

Restaurants worth traveling for: Hiša Franko in Slovenia.

And the world has taken notice, giving the restaurant a place on the top 50 restaurants in the world two years in a row.  Be sure to try to snag one of the restaurant’s rooms if you can for overnight accommodations.

8. At.mosphere, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

If achieving new heights is your thing, At.mosphere is the restaurant for you. Sitting on the 122nd floor of the world’s tallest building in Dubai, At.mosphere is the world’s highest restaurant. And yes, we know that Dubai isn’t “off the beaten path,” but we think 122 stories up in the sky counts as remote.

top foodie tourism destination

Top foodie tourism destination: At.mosphere in Dubai.

The menu is a mix of international fare, with a focus on seafood.  There are options for either a la carte dining, or for 6- or 7-course tasting menus (with or without a wine pairing). As far as accommodations, you can’t go wrong at the Armani Hotel Dubai which is conveniently housed in the same building as the restaurant.

top foodie tourism destination

Top foodie tourism destination: At.mosphere in Dubai.

9. Ithaa, Rangali Island, Maldives

More than 600 miles off the coast of Sri Lanka, Maldives is a destination that takes more than a little effort to get to. So once you’ve traveled all that way, it only makes sense to travel just a little bit further below sea level to dine at Ithaa

top foodie tourism destination

Top foodie tourism destination: Ithaa Restaurant in the Maldives.

Ithaa, which means mother of pearl in Dhivehi, is an undersea restaurant located 5 meters below sea level at the Conrad Maldives.  The novelty of the all-glass setting is undeniably Ithaa’s main draw, but the food is equally worthy of attention. 

top foodie tourism destination

Top foodie tourism destination: restaurant Ithaa in the Maldives.

The four-course lunch and six-course dinner menu are largely contemporary European in style. The menus are filled with locally-caught fish and imported items like Australian Wagyu beef, French chocolate and Caspian Sea caviar. It costs $325 per person for dinner in this elegant bubble and $195 for lunch. Both meals come with a complimentary glass of champagne.

10. Sounds of Silence, Ayers Rock, Australia

Most people who head to Australia make a bee-line to the coast. But for an outdoors experience you won’t find anywhere else, head in-land to the outback of Ayers Rock. For approximately $150 per person, you can enjoy a four-hour dining experience at Sounds of Silence at Ayers Rock Resort.

top foodie tourism destination

Top foodie tourism destinations: Sounds of Silence at Ayers Rock, Australia.

It begins with canapés and chilled sparkling wine served on a viewing platform overlooking the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

luxury vacation destination restaurant

The best luxury vacation destination restaurant: Sounds of Silence at Ayers Rock, Australia.

As dinner progresses, and the sun sets, guests can enjoy a “bush tucker”-inspired buffet filled with items like kangaroo and lamb. While listening to the sound of a didgeridoo, and a guided tour of the night sky. It all makes for an alfresco dining experience unlike any other.

11. Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville, Crissier Switzerland

This year, a survey of private jet travelers named Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville in Crissier Switzerland the best restaurant in the world. We figure that means it’s probably worth the trip, even for those flying commercial. 

luxury vacation destination restaurant

The luxury vacation destination restaurant: Restaurant de l’Hotel de Ville in Crissier Switzerland.

Franck Giovannini took over as head chef of the restaurant, which has three Michelin stars, in 2016. His tenure of 24 years working in the eatery’s kitchen reinforces the feeling of being in a private home for a splendid meal.

luxury vacation destination restaurant

The best luxury vacation destination restaurant: Restaurant de l’Hotel de Ville.

Together with a team of 60, including 25 chefs, Giovannini changes the restaurant’s menu five times each year. The restaurant, which has three Michelin stars, offers an 11-course tasting menu for $392 (390 CHF) per person and a discovery menu starting at $317 (315 CHF) per person. To keep the grandeur going, stay the night at the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace in Vevey.

12. Inver, Barnacarry, Scotland

This intimate restaurant on the banks of Loch Fyne on Scotland’s west coast has four luxury “bothies” (standalone cabins) for guests to stay in overnight, each featuring spectacular views and interior design elements by local artisans.

luxury vacation destination restaurant

The best luxury vacation destination restaurant: Restaurant Inver, Scotland.

They’re nearly impossible to book, but getting one is a guaranteed happy experience. Otherwise, Glasgow is an hour and a half away; Edinburgh is two and a half hours away by car.

luxury vacation destination restaurant

The best luxury vacation destination restaurant: Restaurant Inver, Scotland.

Even if you don’t stay over, you can still have a wonderful meal here. Nestled near the ruin of Lachlan Castle, Inver Restaurant is the brainchild of chef Pamela Brunton and co-owner Rob Latimer. Brunton is an alumnus of Noma and Faviken, and she brings the same attention to produce, innovative technique and foraging that those restaurants are known for.

The Best Destination Restaurants in the World

There you have it, our top twelve destination restaurants that are definitely worth traveling to.  Fingers crossed you’ve got enough miles saved up to hit them all. Which one is at the top of your list?

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For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier newsletter here. And see luxury in a new light.

Jillian Tangen is the Head of Research at Dandelion Chandelier. Formerly, she was a Senior Research Analyst at McKinsey & Co and Analyst at Shearman & Sterling. She is an avid fan of Nordic design, having owned an independent lifestyle store and sales agency focused on emerging Scandinavian design. Jillian lives in NYC and is married with three young children. She loves cross country skiing, the New York Rangers, reading, travel and discovering new brands.

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