The 2020 Legend Awards are meant to serve as inspiration for future travel—when it is safe to do so. Learn more about this year's awards on our methodology page.
The meals that stick with us while traveling are not simply the ones with the most lavish menus (not that we ever turn down caviar on pillowy, freshmade blinis). It’s the meals that explore a culture through a multi-course innovative spread, and the meals that curate an entire experience, to an almost theatrical degree, that stick with us. When we say these meals are the best we've had all year, we’re not exaggerating. Each restaurant on this list has introduced new and noteworthy programming in the last 10 months. They are featuring new guest chefs, creating multi-sensory experiences heightened by the addition of modern art or architecture, and sourcing produce from their backyards and seafood from the waters their restaurants overlook.
Here, the 2020 Legend Awards honorees for the best meal of the year.
Alchemist 2.0 opened in July 2019 and is easily the hardest reservation to lock down in Copenhagen, for good reason. Alchemist is the brainchild of Chef Rasmus Munk, the 29-year-old devising this grandiose meal broken into five acts and 47 "impressions," and served in various rooms around the restaurant featuring modern, high-concept art. To say Alchemist is the height of culture and dining in Copenhagen right now wouldn’t be an overstatement.
Sesamo, Royal Mansour Marrakech
The brand-new Italian restaurant at Royal Mansour Marrakech, Sesamo, is by the ALAJMO brothers, in their first Middle Eastern venture. The culinary team works closely with Domaines Agricoles to produce exceptional quality olive oil and cheeses that are crucial to bringing authentic Italian flavors to the Royal Mansour.
Reef House, Rosewood Little Dix Bay
Rosewood Little Dix Bay is newly reopened as of January 2020, debuting their “farm-to-fork” restaurant Reef House. The restaurant has a stunning view of Little Dix Bay and a kitchen producing flavors that overtake the senses. The aromatic herbs Reef House uses are grown in their on-property garden, and all the seafood and meat is sourced locally.
La Dame de Pic, Raffles Hotel, Singapore
The most sought-after French food in Singapore is found, of course, at the Raffles Hotel restaurant La Dame de Pic. New as part of the Raffles Hotel restoration, La Dame de Pic shows off the culinary prowess of Chef Anne-Sophie Pic; she brings her Berlingots (a kind of filled pasta) with her to the restaurant, infusing them with Singaporean flavors that meld seamlessly with the French ingredients.
Les Petites Canailles, Paso Robles, California
A story of “the winemaker’s son and the butcher’s daughter,” Julien and Courtney Asseo bring high-end rustic French cuisine to central California wine country in Paso Robles. Nothing will make you feel as though you’re in the French countryside more than Les Petites Canailles' classic Tarte Flambe—c’est parfait.
Nan Bei, Rosewood Bangkok
On the 19th floor of Rosewood Bangkok, Nan Bei serves elevated and authentic Chinese cuisine in full view of the city skyline. A commingling of northern Chinese flavors (Peking duck, for example) and flavorful seafood dishes done in the southern Chinese style, Nan Bei actually means “South” and “North” in Mandarin.
Davies and Brook, Claridge’s
Daniel Humm, who started his career at Claridge’s, returned triumphantly to the Mayfair hotel to open Davies and Brook. Davies and Brook is lightly reminiscent of Humm's Eleven Madison Park, and it brings modernity to the forefront of high-end London dining. Davies and Brook is fine-dining with pizazz, from their exceptional duck with honey and lavender to the melt-in-your-mouth buttermilk fried chicken.
ATLA, New York City
Chef Daniela Soto-Innes opened ATLA in 2019, the year she turned 28, with culinary partner Enrique Olvera, of Cosme NYC fame. The James Beard-nominated chef has turned ultra-fresh Mexican cuisine into a must-get reservation at her NoHo restaurant. Chef Soto-Innes and Olvera prove with ATLA that you don’t need to wildly dress up Mexican food for it to be fine-dining. If you’re making the best Mexican food with the freshest ingredients and serving it all beside a truly enviable mezcal selection, New Yorkers will fight for a 10:30 p.m. reservation.
Brasserie Louis, Rosewood Phnom Penh
Brasserie Louis is serving a marriage of Cambodian and French fare on the 35th floor of Rosewood Phnom Penh. Through an exclusive partnership with Chef Rotanak Ros—who goes by Chef Nak—they’ve brought more authentic Cambodian fare to a predominantly French-influenced menu by highlighting her signature Khumer dishes. The partnership between Chef Nak and Brasserie Louis began in November 2019 and is ongoing, giving guests plenty of future opportunity to sample the dynamic, surprising flavors of Chef Nak's menu.
The Farmhouse, Ojai Valley Inn
James Beard award winner Nancy Silverton is serving as the 2020 culinary ambassador at Ojai Valley Inn, after completing a successful run in 2019. Specifically, she serves as culinary ambassador at the property’s gorgeous event space, The Farmhouse, unveiled in 2019. Silverton’s 2020 pop-up events at The Farmhouse have thus far included Silverton’s curated Taste of Baja, a coursed-out dinner and wine pairing delving into the flavors of Valle de Guadalupe, Tijuana, and the Baja peninsula.
Mads Refslund Pop-ups, Auberge Resorts Collection
Chef Mads Refslund, one of the original partners in celebrated Copenhagen restaurant Noma, is partnering with Auberge Resorts Collection for 2020. He spent time early in the year at Hotel Jerome, an Auberge Resort in Aspen, as the featured chef at Prospect, where he shared his highly sustainable zero-waste techniques in the kitchen, cooking solely with produce and meat sourced from Colorado ranches and farms.
The Saloon, Dunton Hot Springs
The Saloon at Dunton Hot Springs—once an old mining town, and now a luxury enclave in the Colorado mountains—has been open as long as the property itself. As of early this year, Chef Theo Adley took over culinary programming at The Saloon and across the Dunton Hot Springs brand. The Saloon—which, true to its name, was a proper saloon in the 1800s—serves a set farm-to-table menu for lunch and dinner made from fresh, in-season produce and meat all sourced locally.
Attica Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
From Chef Ben Shewry, who was featured prominently on "Chef’s Table," Attica Melbourne is largely known for using out-there ingredients (think: green ants) to create food that delights and overwhelms the senses. Over the last year, Shewry has deepened his exploration of Indigenous Australian food as he seeks to revive the country's culinary roots.
Francescana, Casa Maria Luigia
In the hills of the Italian countryside sits Chef Massimo Bottura’s country home, which has now been renovated into Casa Maria Luigia, a brand-new luxury hotel concept. The intimate restaurant at Casa Maria Luigia, Francescana, is curated by Chef Bottura himself. They serve a nine-course tasting menu that changes with each season and is inspired by Bottura’s Modena restaurant, Osteria Francescana.
Mercado Little Spain, Hudson Yards
A multi-kiosk concept at Hudson Yards orchestrated by none other than José Andrés, Mercado Little Spain is “a veritable love letter to Spain.” Under the Little Spain umbrella, you’ll find Leña and Mar, the two higher-end restaurants (Mar focuses on seafood while Leña cooks the bulk of their menu on hot embers). Then, you’ve got the Spanish Diner, and finally, The Mercado, filled with kiosks serving every imaginable Spanish delicacy. Whether you’re after imported jamon, churros, empanadas, or paella, this is where you’ll find the most authentic version in NYC.
Elio, Encore at Wynn Las Vegas
Michelin-starred restaurant powerhouses Daniela Soto-Innes, Enrique Olvera, and Santiago Perez collaborated for a third time with the opening of Elio this year at Encore at Wynn Las Vegas. Elio is one of the most anticipated restaurants to open in Las Vegas and delves into the concept of high-end, ultra-modern Mexican food in a sultry lounge setting.
Marcus Terrace + Restaurant, Four Seasons Montreal
A new, elevated take on the atmospheric Québecois brasserie, Marcus Terrace + Restaurant is on the third-floor terrace of the brand-new Four Seasons Hotel Montreal. The culinary concept, executed by Chef Marcus Samuelsson, may seem French-adjacent but is in fact, classically Québec—though with a modern twist. The perfect views of Mont Royal don’t hurt this restaurant’s case either—especially when experienced at sunset, cocktail in hand.
Peak, Hudson Yards
Arguably the best view in Hudson Yards—and one of the best in the city—is now found at the newly opened restaurant Peak, on the 101th floor overlooking New York City. Working with only local suppliers, the menu changes seasonally and can be enjoyed in a private dining room, the main restaurant, or at Peak Lounge with a glass of champagne.
In Lima’s Miraflores neighborhood, Central serves a signature tasting menu arranged by the elevation foods are sourced from and inspired by. An exploration into the biodiversity of Peru, each course, executed by chef Virgilio Martínez, is an edible artistic feat.
1 Kitchen, 1 Hotel West Hollywood
1 Kitchen, by executive chef Chris Crary, opened at the 1 Hotel West Hollywood at the end of May 2019. Crary curates an exceptionally fresh, Southern California-inspired menu, heavily incorporating the fresh produce and herbs grown in their on-site organic garden. The 1 Hotel West Hollywood garden conserves water and boasts a closed-loop ecosystem; they even tend bees to pollinate the gardens' flowers—and use the bees' honey in the kitchen.