The World’s 50 Best Restaurants has announced that its 2018 awards and event program will take place in the Basque region of Spain, with its flagship ceremony hosted in the city of Bilbao.

The 2018 location marks a return to Europe for the annual program, after editions in Australia this year and in New York in 2016. The move to Spain is part of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ global tour, which it kicked off in 2016 following 13 years of the awards being held in the UK. 

William Drew, group editor of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, said “We are delighted to be moving to the Basque region of Spain, and to be working with the government of Biscay, on our 2018 edition of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. As a country, Spain has long been at the forefront of gastronomy and the Basque region, in particular, has an incredibly rich culinary culture. The area around Bilbao and San Sebastian is famous for its concentration of outstanding restaurants – ranging from internationally acclaimed destinations to its renowned pintxos bars – making it one of the world’s great food destinations.”


Asier Alea, Director of Economic Development and Tourism, Government of Biscay, said “Biscay is a food territory leading a new generation of Basque cuisine with strong traditional roots and a modern global perspective, so we feel it is a perfect fit for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. It is a privilege for us to host these prestigious international culinary awards in 2018, and we will ensure all visitors are made to feel at home in Biscay and the Basque country.”


The region currently boasts four restaurants on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017 list: Asador Etxebarri in Axpe (number six), Mugaritz near San Sebastian (number nine), Arzak in San Sebastian (number 30) and Azurmendi near Bilbao (number 38). Furthermore, Nerua – located within the Guggenheim in Bilbao – appears on the 51-100 list at number 56, while Martin Berasategui in nearby Lasarte-Oria is ranked number 77.


In the 15 year history of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, Spain as a whole has been very strongly represented with both El Bulli and El Celler de Can Roca topping the list to be named The World’s Best Restaurant on a number of occasions. Both Mugaritz and Arzak have featured in the top 50 for over a decade.


The list is created from the votes of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, a group of over 1,000 international leaders in the restaurant community. The panel in each region is made up of food writers and critics, chefs, restaurateurs and ‘gastronomes’. Members list their choices in order of preference, based on their best restaurant experiences of the previous 18 months. There is no pre-determined check-list of criteria, but there are strict voting rules.

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