For the third year in a row, Noma restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark, has been named the best restaurant in the world in 2012 by Restaurant magazine's The World's 50 Best Restaurants. The top North American restaurant went to Per Se, which rated number six.  Other U.S. restaurants included Chicago's Alinea, which was number 7, New York's Eleven Madison Par, which was 10, and Le Bernardin at 19, which is also in New York.

The list, released every year in April, is a selection of 50 of the world's best restaurants chosen by over 800 international restaurant industry experts throughout the course of the year.

The deciding "the best" can be a risky game, knowing that "best" relates to an individual's personal preference. And the magazine is fully aware of how personal taste plays into the selections, in fact, they encourage the judges' personal preference to influence their picks.

There is absolutely no criteria that a restaurant has to meet to make the list. They do not need to have been open a certain number of years and they do not need to have won any other culinary accolades. Restaurants cannot apply to be on the list, and they cannot be nominated. There can be no sponsorship or outside influences on the list.

The free-for-all style of balloting means that every restaurant in the world is eligible to win. As long as the restaurant has an operating kitchen, it's anyone's game.

Here is this year's list of the 50 best restaurants in the world:

  1. Noma: Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. El Celler De Can Roca: Gerona, Spain
  3. Mugaritz: Errenteria, Spain
  4. D.O.M.: Sao Paolo, Brazil
  5. Osteria Francescana: Modena, Italy
  6. Per Se: New York, New York
  7. Alinea: Chicago, Illinois
  8. Arzak: San Sebastian, Spain
  9. Dinner By Heston Blumenthal: London, England
  10. Eleven Madison Park: New York, New York
  11. Steirereck, Austria
  12. L'Atelier De Joel Robuchon, France
  13. The Fat Duck, United Kingdom
  14. The Ledbury, United Kingdom
  15. Le Chateaubriand, France
  16. L'Arpege, France
  17. Pierre Gagnaire, France
  18. L'Astrance, France
  19. Le Bernardin, New York, New York
  20. Frantzén/Lindeberg, Sweden
  21. Oud Sluis, Netherlands
  22. Aqua, Germany
  23. Vendome, Germany
  24. Mirazur, France
  25. Daniel, New York
  26. Iggy's, Singapore: Best Restaurant In Asia
  27. Narisawa, Tokyo, Japan
  28. Nihonryori RyuGin, Japan
  29. Quay, Sydney, Australia
  30. Schloss Schauenstein, Switzerland
  31. Asador Etxebarri, Spain
  32. Le Calandre, Italy
  33. De Librije, Netherlands
  34. Faviken, Sweden
  35. Astrid Y Gaston, Peru
  36. Pujol, Mexico
  37. Momofuku Ssam Bar, New York
  38. Biko, Mexico
  39. Waku Ghin, Singapore
  40. Quique Dacosta, Spain
  41. Mathias Dahlgren, Sweden
  42. Hof Van Cleve, Amsterdam
  43. The French Laundry, California
  44. Amber, China
  45. Villa Joya, Portugal
  46. Il Canto, Italy
  47. Bras, France
  48. Manresa, California
  49. Geranium, Copenhagen
  50. Nahm, Bangkok