The Short List is a personal side project, an endeavor that I initially started as a means of recording and sharing restaurants I visited and enjoyed around the world. Over time, as I sought to explore and understand cultures around the globe through their food, this endeavor expanded into trusted lists for friends, family, and fellow culinary-driven travelers. Now, 15 years, over 100 countries, hundreds of trips, and thousands of restaurants later, these lists have evolved into fully-fledged and meticulously curated travel guides that I regularly prune and update. Each guide is the result of numerous trips—for instance, the Japan, Hong Kong, and Italy guides stem from at least 30 separate visits to each—and are unique as they are single-handedly curated, meaning that I have personally dined at virtually all of the restaurants that appear in our guides, with few exceptions, as well as many others that did not make the cut. I go to great lengths to keep apprised of recommendations, openings, closings, and quality changes from local experts, chefs, and critics; respected gastronomists and authors; and leading food publications—including the Michelin Guide, World's 50 Best, OAD, Slow Food, Gault&Millau, Gambero Rosso, Guía Repsol, the James Beard Foundation, and Eater to name a few, in addition to numerous local publications and newspapers. I then aggregate and personally vet all of these places in order to bring the best recommendations together in one easy to navigate list, hence theshortli.st.
I am not a social media personality or a blogger. I have no sponsors or biases other than my palate. I do not post reviews. I am merely a lifelong student of cuisine—keenly interested in its details, history, and significance—exploring places, traditions, and cultures one meal at a time. My enjoyment is derived from learning about food, tasting all that the world has to offer, and sharing my accumulated knowledge with others.
- Our guides are designed for visitors who want to experience the best examples of local cuisine in countries with deeply-rooted food cultures. For that reason, you will not, for example, find Chinese restaurants in Rome or Ethiopian restaurants in Paris in our guides. We strive to focus on unique local cuisine, but make exceptions for truly exceptional restaurants of any genre.
- In places with less ingrained domestic food cultures—such as London, New York, Los Angeles, Zurich, and Sydney—our focus shifts to excellent restaurants regardless of cuisine.
- While we include the very best of haute cuisine, our guides are not centered around fine dining.
- We update our guides regularly and include the revision date on the bottom of the first page. We also regularly scan our guides for closures.
- Although our written guides contain numbered lists, they are more often a grouping rather than a ranking.
- The Best: In most cases, there does not exist a single ‘best’ place or dish. Rather, there are generally several outlets executing a given dish or cuisine at the highest level in their own way—be it cōng yóubǐng in Shanghai, croissants in Paris, ramen in Fukuoka, bún chả in Hanoi, or pasta alla gricia in Rome.
- Scale: There is a distinct difference between the best and the best that one has had. Just because someone has tried and enjoyed a place does not necessarily make it a “must-try.” Such a claim is only meaningful if the person has tried a multitude of establishments within the same category, from which they can draw meaningful comparisons.
- Expertise: In accordance with the previous point, we seek advice from people who are knowledgeable enough to appreciate the most minute differences between outlets of the same category—a skill honed by the most fervent of connoisseurs who visit dozens of establishments serving the same dish.
- Notoriety: Fame, history, or age do not necessarily equate to good food. Just because a restaurant is famous does not mean it is the best in its category or class. In fact, fame can often negatively impact the quality of a restaurant.
- Experience: To quote the respected epicurean Margaret Lam, “people change, nature changes, supply chains change—restaurants evolve and devolve. Just because it once was, does not mean it still is. This prevents using common or past knowledge to write about restaurants.” Use your own palate as the ultimate measure of quality, and be wary of articles, particularly from major publications, by writers who have only visited a given city a handful of times or less and possess, at best, an incomplete knowledge of local cuisine.
- Service: Hospitality and service standards can vary greatly between cultures. Avoid making judgements of a restaurant based on foreign hospitality standards or preconceived notions of what an experience should be. Rather, evaluate the service based on the standards within that particular culture.