The five most innovative restaurants around the world
When it comes to food, innovative restaurants are leading the way in culinary. We’ve put together our list of the most unique restaurant concepts around the world, including places in Spain, the United States, Denmark, Peru and Switzerland, that are leading the way in areas including creative cuisine, sustainability and philanthropy.
1 Schloss Schauenstein, Switzerland
Andreas Caminada’s three-Michelin-starred restaurant was winner of the Sustainable Restaurant Award at the World's 50 Best Restaurants awards this year as a result of its impressive 94 percent score in the Food Made Good Global 2019 assessment, which recognises and rewards a restaurant within the list that demonstrates the highest levels environmental and social responsibility. The whole project is dedicated to proving that the price of fine dining shouldn’t have to be the future of the planet, and it achieves this using food from the grounds of the castle it occupies, as well as produce from local organic farmers in the Domleschg valley and surrounding area, as well as running on renewable energy.
2 Mil, Peru
Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez has long dedicated himself to using native Peruvian ingredients at his world-renowned restaurant Central, in Lima, where the team collects and uses indigenous ingredients from each elevation of Peru in the 17-course fine dining menu. Now, at Mil – which he opened in 2018 next to the archaeological site, Moray, in Peru’s Sacred Valley – he has extended that philosophy, this time focusing on the ingredients of the Andes. Through his ground-breaking approach to cuisine, Martinez has used a revolutionary approach that actually serves to preserve the traditional cooking of his country and bring little-known native Peruvian ingredients to the global culinary scene.
3 Minibar, United States
Washington, DC, may not be known as a culinary trendsetter, but it is home to a Spanish chef who is pushing the boundaries of contemporary cuisine as well as culinary philanthropy. At Minibar, José Andrés’ otherworldly concoctions include frozen salad and dessert served on a ‘confection tree’. His mission over many years to make classic Spanish ingredients available in the States has earned him a reputation as “the man who introduced tapas to America”. As well as founding Minibar – his two-Michelin-starred 12-seat counter-within-a-kitchen – Andrés has pioneered combining charity and cuisine with World Central Kitchen, his non-profit organisation that fights hunger and poverty – its team served more than 3.6 million meals to the victims of Hurricane Maria in 2017.
4 Noma, 10 minutes from Copenhagen, Denmark
René Redzepi, the Danish chef who was responsible for arguably the most innovative restaurant of its generation, caused a stir in the culinary world when he closed his ground-breaking restaurant in 2017. But in 2018, he started again from scratch, opening the new Noma on Denmark’s Refshalevej Island. He continues to champion obscure products – which he and his team forage from the restaurant’s surroundings – as well as his focus on fermentation, which has come to typify the New Nordic cookery. The restaurant offers three tasting menus per year, reflecting the best produce of the season. Seafood Season runs from 9 January to 1 June; Vegetable Season is 25 June to 21 September; and Game and Forest Season finishes the year from 15 October to 21 December.
5 Mugaritz, 15 minutes from San Sebastián, Spain
Mugaritz closes every year for four months from January, so that chef Andoni Luis Aduriz and his team can focus on work in their R&D lab, ready to return with an entirely new menu in April. Aduriz says only some of his plates are designed to be enjoyed. But with names such as How Long a Kiss Lasts, and Depends On How I Look At It, it’s clear the creations at Mugaritz are intended to provoke a reaction, even if not always a pleasant one. Innovations In 2019 included ‘crab upon a frozen tongue’, ‘raw pork heart’ and ‘bellota ham plated on musical dishware’. For enthusiasts who want to sample the new offering, Mugaritz holds a lottery in April to invite ten diners to go behind the scenes of the latest menu.
6 El Chato, Bogota
After having trained at prestigious restaurants in Barcelona, Paris, New York and Copenhagen, Chef Álvaro Clavijo returned to Colombia to open his own project in the Chapinero Alto district in Bogota. El Chato – which celebrates its fifth anniversary in 2022 – is described as a contemporary bistro. Clavijo’s vision includes a very high level of commitment to the region, which translates into using local ingredients and work closely with local suppliers. The innovative techniques that he uses to create variations on traditional Colombian recipes have drawn international attention, and El Chato is situated among Latin America's most recognised names.