12/28/2012 07:09 am ET Updated Feb 27, 2013

15 Best Restaurants In Europe (PHOTOS)

It would have been easy to name 101 really good restaurants in France alone, or Italy, or Spain, or the U.K. -- but we wanted to represent as wide a geographical reach as possible, not just recognizing the best in more familiar places, but discovering lesser-known gems in other corners of the continent. Thus our inaugural list includes restaurants in 26 countries: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland

Restaurants in 70 cities made the list. While capital cities like London, Moscow, Paris, and Tallinn are well represented, more than half of the restaurants are in smaller cities and far-flung locales like Alexander on Muhu Island off Estonia's northeast coast, Die Schwarzwaldstube in Baiersbronn, Germany, and Fäviken Magasinet in Järpen, Sweden. France claims the most spots on the list with 15 restaurants, of which 11 are in Paris.

The Daily Meal's list of the 101 Best Restaurants in Europe was carefully curated through a seven-month-long nomination process; we consulted the Michelin Guide and other trusted sources and gathered hundreds of recommendations from The Daily Meal's editors, who have traveled and dined extensively around the world.

Once we compiled a preliminary list of more than 1,450 restaurants, we reached out to a panel of more than 200 knowledgeable judges, comprised of restaurant critics, food and lifestyle writers, and bloggers with wide restaurant-going experience. We curated separate panels by region so only experts on the U.K. voted for U.K. restaurants, Italy experts voted for Italy, and so on.

The Panelists
From there, an esteemed panel of 33 experts, along with The Daily Meal's editorial staff, evaluated the selection and voted for their favorites region-by-region (meet The Daily Meal's panelists).

Voting Criteria
To narrow this list down to 101, panelists voted by region in two categories: cuisine and style/décor/service. From innovative menu options to plating and presentation to freshness, quality, and taste, panelists evaluated each restaurant's cuisine and only voted for the restaurants which they believe are extraordinary. For the second category, panelists evaluated the dining experience, from the restaurant's interior and dining room ambiance to the service, voting for the restaurants which they believe offer an unrivaled experience. A second round of voting took place to whittle the list down from 215 to 101, allowing each of the finalists to be compared not only among their regional peers but with finalists across the entire continent. Each restaurant had the chance to be voted on twice during the survey. Finally, the percentage scores from each category were averaged to arrive at the final ranking.

The 101 Best Restaurants in Europe List
With dozens of restaurants to choose from, it was a culinary challenge to whittle the list down to a select 101. Restaurants offering a variety of cuisines, from classic French to fusion, were considered. We did not discriminate according to location; no town, island, or enclave was off the table. Price was not considered, though many of these impressive restaurants have equally impressive tabs. Although we took guidance from the Michelin Guide and other reputable restaurant guides in making up our initial list of nominees, we weren't slaves to their rankings, and many excellent Michelin-starred restaurants have been omitted, while a number of places not singled out for recognition by the Michelin Guide have been included.

You will note that our panelists in many cases gave high rankings to traditional restaurants like Mavrikos in Lindos, Rhodes over the new and trendy, perhaps because they felt that these places had proven themselves over the long haul and were more consistent.

While many of the restaurants on our list are gastronomic palaces, there are also a number of more casual places that reflect the local character, ingredients and culinary traditions.

-- Lauren Mack, The Daily Meal

15 Best Restaurants in Europe

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