The world’s top-rated ‘must visit’ Mediterranean restaurants of 2019


There are few things in life better than a holiday in the Mediterranean, when you have myriad events to pack your stay, access to the best beaches, opportunities to get up close with the local wildlife and to immerse yourself in historic locations with history spanning thousands of years… or to just unwind in the sunshine while a professional chef takes care of all your meals.

The dining experience can be one of the most memorable aspects of a holiday and since The World’s 50 Best Restaurants announced this year’s winners in Singapore, why not see if you can fit in the best of the Mediterranean before the 2020 winners are revealed next July?

It’s possible to cruise along the coastline of just two countries on a Mediterranean luxury yacht charter to take in most of these five establishments that have all made it into the top 10.

Mirazur, Menton, France

Lying on the border between France and Italy, the town of Menton is often overshadowed by the glamour of its neighbour Monaco but has kept its characteristic charm and visitors can expect to find well-kept public beaches, myriad gardens home to rare plants and several museums dedicated to the works of Jean Cocteau.

Near the Maria Serena Garden at the opposite end of town is a serene setting for first-place restaurant Mirazur, which opened in 2006, is run by Argentinian chef Mauro Colagreco and boasts three Michelin stars. One of the menu’s highlights is smoked eel and hazelnuts, and a brioche of potatoes with melting egg and white truffle.

According to the award’s website, critics were impressed by the “unrivalled views of the French Riviera, three levels of cascading vegetable gardens churning out the sweetest produce and a team of outrageously talented cooks and front-of-house staff”.

Mirazur and Menton are an excellent addition to any luxury yacht charter taking place in the French Rivera, or cruising on to the Italian Riviera and such sights as the colourful Cinque Terre National Park.

Asador Etxebarri, Axpe, Spain

Restaurant Asador Etxebarri is to be found in the northern part of Spain: Hidden within the hills of Axpe, it is well worth the effort for the sultry summer landscape alone.

From these fields comes the produce that fills diners’ plates with an explosion of flavours and simple-looking ingredients such as the crunchy corn and sea urchin are turned into delectable dishes when they are cooked on an open hearth or smoked using specially chosen types of wood to complement the flavours. As might be expected from locally grown produce, the menu is dependent on the seasons so a visit in late Autumn will be a whole different experience to one in early summer.

Mugaritz, San Sebastian, Spain

Just a short journey east and closer to the coast is another top 10 restaurant serving the distinctive Basque cuisine of the province: Muragitz. Set within the countryside a short drive outside of San Sebastian, the restaurant is a modern building that fits seamlessly into its surroundings and the region’s heritage. As you dine on twenty courses of inspired creations from Chef Andoni Luis Aduriz, the showmanship from the front-of-house staff is just as impressive and will delight on any special occasion.

After your meal – of which signature dishes might include oyster and young garlic omelette as well as dried hydrangea of cocoa – journey up the coast to the magnificent Bay of Biscay golden sand beaches for a tranquil night under the stars encompassed by stunning scenery.

Arpège, Paris, France

Situated in the heart of Paris and just a stone’s throw away from the Rodin Museum and Army Museum, Arpège earned its three Michelin stars back in 1996 and has retained them now for more than 23 years. Chef and Owner Alain Passard removed red meat from his menu back in 2001 and has a vegetarian menu that will be very much appreciated by vegans as well as astounding meat-loving diners, who may be tempted away from the outstanding Chausey Lobster Aiguillettes with Côtes du Jura wine to try some of the new Contemporary French creations.

Disfrutar, Barcelona, Spain

Chef trio Oriol Castro, Mateu Casañas and Eduard Xatruch once worked at the renowned El Bulli before it closed its doors back in 2011 and have kept the avant-garde style alive in their own creations, of which the Panchino filled with beluga caviar is a particular favourite with critics and diners. There is a choice of a short menu and a long menu – for which there are over 30 dishes – and each one a tantalising surprise within a serene contemporary restaurant that appears deceptively small from the outside.

Barcelona is also a great destination to begin or end a luxury yacht charter amongst the Balearic Islands: The city has some of the most impressive examples of art noveau architecture to be found anywhere within the Mediterranean as well as the artwork of Picasso, a 17th Century fortress and the port Vell Marina which hosts some of the Mediterranean’s most spectacular regattas.

Trina Howes is a Director of CharterWorld America. CharterWorld is a luxury private yacht charter company that creates outstanding vacations with excellent yachts at amazing prices – worldwide.

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Comments (9)

  1. Rob says:

    San Sebastian has always been a gastronomic powerhouse in Spain representing the best of Basque cuisine. I remember calling into a very quiet restaurant, sometime back in the 1990s. Although the restaurant was very empty there was a huge room next door where a local Dining Society was enjoying a riotous occasion. Eventually using my very limited Spanish. I persuaded the waiter to just bring along whatever the society were having with a few dregs of their wine. Although due to the circumstances the service was quite slow, four hours and many courses later I had enjoyed one of the best meals of my life. Also he charged us few very little for it too.

  2. Karen Morris says:

    I know that these five restaurants have been picked to make up a dream coastal cruise but is the score line of 3 Spanish and 2 French an indicator of the balance of culinary power between these two great foodie nations? And what about other European countries how do they fare in the TopTen?

    • Jeff G says:

      The fact that so many of the world’s great restaurants are by the coast just leads to more questions. Why is it that we like our restaurants with a sea view? Or is it that these restaurants are able to serve really fresh seafood that is important to us? Do we have to have seafood on the menu to make it a great restaurant?

      Though to sneak an answer in for my last question I’ve been just as happy at some superb restaurants overlooking lakes and rivers where there’s been freshwater fish on the menu.

  3. Tim says:

    This selection of 5 European restaurants reflects a list that is still largely dominated by Europe and North America. There’s only one African restaurant in the 2019 listing and that is in Cape Town with its strong European pedigree. Maybe the voters for the award need to start travelling a little more extensively. It’s hard to believe that there’s only one contender in the whole of the vast continent of Africa worthy of inclusion.

    Though it is interesting that the number one Menton restaurant is very close to the French border with Italy. Is it wowing those voters with the best of flavours from both France and Italy?

    And at number 2? It’s the return of Noma, now relaunched as New Noma in Copenhagen.

  4. Jen says:

    It is clever how with the truly great restaurants the menu keeps on developing with the seasons, so no two visits are alike. Not only does the food on your plate change but with restaurants with fabulous panoramic views you are also getting a different scene as the seasons change too. I think this constant evolving is something that keeps pulling the diners in – though I do know some guests who would be very upset if their favourites were suddenly taken off the menu and who would be horrified if they weren’t sat at their regular table!

  5. Diana Presley says:

    Food has come along way since cavemen tried to club the nearest passing hog and then thought about gathering a few berries for pud.

    I often see top restaurants in the same way that I see Paris fashion shows. Most of us are not going to wear the creations shown on the catwalk but some of the ideas filter down to the High Street stores.

    Equally I doubt that I’m going to create oyster and young garlic omelette as well as dried hydrangea of cocoa in my kitchen but it’s important that we have chefs working on the cutting edge of food. We don’t want to go back to pork followed by blackberries.

  6. Beth says:

    I think that it’s a sign of the times that Arpège is doing so well without red meat on its menu for so long. You’ve got to take your hat off to the chefs for being so creative and holding on to their three Michelin stars for so many years. I’d love to have a meal there. Very happy to go for one of the vegan options.

  7. Lisa Shaw says:

    Seeing the top 50 Best Restaurants the world has to offer all in one list must be like a challenge for big foodie fans to see how many they can check out before the year is over! I must admit I’m not really one for fancy pants food. Sometimes it can look quite pretty when they focus on making it aesthetically pleasing in how it’s displayed, but it can be incredibly expensive and the portion size is more for a squirrel than a human. That said, I can see the draw for a lot of these places in France and Spain when you add in the gorgeous views and local produce, along with changing menus depending on the season.

  8. Ted says:

    I feel a gastronomic tour of the Med’s culinary hotspots coming on. Hard to say whether I’m more attracted by the quality of the food or the stunning locations. Though I mustn’t forget the fine wine on offer. I’m not a great sailor so it might be a very leisurely drive for us.

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