World-class dining costs a lot, but there are some bargains to be had. I collected tasting menu prices for the The World’s Best 50 Restaurants 2015 and plotted the data. The best bang for your buck comes from making a tour of Latin America and Bangkok, Thailand.
- Mexico City, Mexico (#16 Pujol, #35 Quintonil, #37 Biko)
- Lima, Peru (#4 Central, #14 Astrid Y Gaston, #44 Maido )
- Sao Paulo, Brazil (#9 D.O.M., #41 Mani)
- Santiago, Chile (#42 Borago)
- Bangkok, Thailand (#10 Gaggan, #22 Nahm)
Feel free to skip directly to the charts below. I wrote a python script that parsed the restaurant list, looked up each country’s currency code, and exported the results to CSV. I then manually searched for the cost of the longest tasting menu at each restaurant. At this level of fine dining, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you choose a shorter menu based on marginal cost. Tasting menus were for food only because not every restaurant offered a wine pairing. Local currency prices were collected on March 4, 2016 – if prices were not listed on the restaurant’s website, then the prices were collected from secondary sources such as online reviews (not linked in the Google Sheets document). All currencies were converted to USD.
I usually do my data analysis in R, but I decided to test out Google Sheets for this simple project. Google sheets has some really convenient features: automatic currency conversion using the GoogleFinance function, easy GeoCharts based only on a city or country name, and interactive charts that can be quickly shared on the web. However, it also has some limitations that made me wish for greater flexibility – the embedded spreadsheet table columns are not sortable, the bar chart has wonky whitespace padding that I couldn’t adjust, and GeoCharts are very slow to populate the live data points.
The bar chart below shows restaurants sorted by the price of their tasting menu. The cost spans an order of magnitude – from $62 for Biko to $613 for Ultraviolet. I would have liked to have shown another bar chart with the restaurants sorted by rank to show that rank and price are not correlated, but the charts in Google Sheets are tied to the data so I can only show one version at a time.
The map below provides a nice visual representation of costs around the world. It averages the cost of restaurants in each city, color codes them according to cost (green is most affordable, yellow is moderate, red is least affordable), and scales the bubble size by cost. Here we can see that Latin America and Southeast Asia offer the best bargains. It may take a while to load – it’s not finished loading until you see the big red dot in Shanghai for Ultraviolet.
I’ve embedded the Google Sheet with the raw data below. You can access the full spreadsheet here. Unfortunately, the columns aren’t sortable in this embedded version to reorder this by rank.
Fine Dining at Home
Fine dining is expensive because it takes an incredible amount of creativity and labor to produce such intricate dishes. If you’ve ever tried recreating a dish from one of these restaurants at home, then you’ll understand how much equipment, ingredients, and time it takes to make just one course.
I explore modernist cuisine and recreate unique dishes on my other blog, Gratuitous Foodity. You can’t always go on a world tour, but you can always bring the world to you.