Why should we care what the San Pellegrino company thinks are the world's 50 best restaurants? And yet, as with Michelin, Zagat, and every other ranking, we always do. San Pellegrino's angle is that they rank the top restaurants worldwide, thus awaking nationalist fury in every slighted country. (The list is determined by a global poll of chefs, restaurateurs, and food writers.) Which, as usual, means every country other than Spain, since again El Bulli has come out on top, followed by England's the Fat Duck, France's Pierre Gagnaire, and another Spanish entry, Mugaritz. But — a consolation to the U.S. — next on the list come back-to-back Americans: the French Laundry and Per Se. After that, the U.S. falls off the list until Jean Georges at 17, Le Bernardin at 18, and Chicago's Alinea at 21. No doubt the list has a major snob appeal and will make a fine to-do list for international bons vivants.
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