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Dine at a Michelin-Star Restaurant in California

Dine at a Michelin-Star Restaurant in California

Choose from dozens of acclaimed restaurants across the Golden State

The Michelin Guide and its coveted stars represent the highest honor for restaurants around the globe—think of them as the Oscars of the culinary world. Only the best of the best can dream of being recognized by the French company. Good news for California travelers: Dozens of those dreamers and achievers operate in the Golden State. As of 2022, California is home to a dazzling 88 Michelin-starred restaurants, including seven three-star restaurants—the most of any state in the U.S.

While Michelin has been around for 130-plus years, the very first Michelin Guide California was published in 2019. After a brief pandemic hiatus, the guide publishes now annually, covering the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles County, San Diego County, Orange County, Santa Barbara, Monterey, Sacramento, Mendocino, and Greater Palm Springs.

From omakase-style sushi from a basketball player-turned-chef in Los Angeles to a painstakingly beautiful meat-free menu sourced from a regenerative farm in San Francisco, here’s a look at where you can find a coveted Michelin-worthy dining experience in the Golden State.

The Elite Three-Star Destinations

Restaurants can be designated with one, two, or three Michelin stars. (Of course, the vast majority receive no stars at all.) Three stars mean a restaurant is nearly perfect, or in Michelin’s words “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.” This restaurant isn’t a vacation stop; it’s the destination. From the quality of the food to the precision of plating, everything served needs to be flawlessly executed.

Addison in Del Mar (just north of San Diego) is the newest restaurant to win this recognition. With a focus on elevated California cuisine, Chef William Bradley crafts whimsical dishes like Kumamoto oysters with green pickled strawberry, served alongside a far-reaching wine list. In Napa Valley, the legendary French Laundry from esteemed Chef Thomas Keller remains the world’s hottest farmhouse. Dominique Crenn, one of the most lauded female chefs of our generation, heads Atelier Crenn which recently nixed meat in favor of a delicious plant-based menu. The full list of three-star California restaurants include:

Addison, San Diego *NEW*

Atelier Crenn, San Francisco

Benu, San Francisco

The French Laundry, Yountville

Quince, San Francisco

SingleThread, Healdsburg

(Note: Manresa, in Los Gatos, also received three stars but closed in December 2022)

The Excellent Two-Star Winners

“Excellent cooking, worth a detour,” according to Michelin, is on the menu at esteemed two-star restaurants. California is home to 12 of them, concentrated largely in Los Angeles County [LH4] and the  San Francisco Bay Area. One notable exception is Harbor House. Perched on a rocky oceanside cliff in Elk, the restaurant is marked by sweeping dining room views thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows and hyper-local cuisine, almost entirely harvested from the Mendocino coast. 

Head south to n/naka in L.A. to sample trailblazing Japanese cuisine from Chef Niki Nakayama (think spaghetti with sliced abalone, pickled cod roe, and black truffle). In Oakland, Commis puts the focus on California-grown ingredients alongside nods to Chef James Syhabout’s Thai and Chinese heritage. The two-star standouts include:

Acquerello, San Francisco

Birdsong, San Francisco

Commis, Oakland

Californios, San Francisco

Harbor House, Elk

Hayato, Los Angeles

Lazy Bear, San Francisco

Mélisse, Santa Monica

n/naka, Los Angeles

Providence, Hollywood

Saison, San Francisco

Sushi Ginza Onodera, West Hollywood

Stunning One-Star Restaurants

Michelin defines its one-star winners as “high quality cooking, worth a stop” But don’t be fooled by this seemingly humble designation. Receiving a single star is an extremely elite honor. Of the hundreds of thousands of restaurants in the world, only a few thousand have ever received a star.

In California, you can find 70 Michelin one-star restaurants. This year, Localis joined The Kitchen as the second restaurant in Sacramento to be awarded a star—placing the capital city firmly on the map as a leading dining destination. Other newly awarded winners include Camphor (classic French-meets-Southeast Asia in Los Angeles), San Ho Won (contemporary Korean in San Francisco) and The Restaurant at Justin (locally focused California cuisine in Paso Robles). Here’s the full list:

715, Los Angeles *NEW*

Adega, San Jose

Angler, San Francisco

Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford

Aubergine, Carmel-by-the-Sea

Avery, San Francisco

Barndiva, Healdsburg

Bell’s, Los Alamos

Camphor, Los Angeles *NEW*

Caruso’s, Montecito *NEW*

Chez TJ, Mountain View

Citrin, Santa Monica *NEW*

Cyrus, Geyserville *NEW*

Gary Danko, San Francisco

Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura, Los Angeles

Gwen, Los Angeles *NEW*

Hana re, Costa Mesa

Hatchet Hall, Los Angeles *NEW*

Jeune et Jolie, Carlsbad

Kali, Los Angeles

Kato, Los Angeles *NEW*

Kenzo, Napa

Kin Khao, San Francisco

The Kitchen, Sacramento

Knife Pleat, Costa Mesa

Le Comptoir Crenn, San Francisco

Localis, Sacramento *NEW*

Madcap, Marin

Manzke, Los Angeles *NEW*

Marlena, San Francisco

Maude, Los Angeles

Mister Jiu’s, San Francisco

Morihiro, Los Angeles

Niku Steakhouse, San Francisco

Nisei, San Francisco *NEW*

Nozawa Bar, Los Angeles

O’ by Claude le Tohic, San Francisco

Omakase, San Francisco

Orsa & Winston, Los Angeles

Osito, San Francisco *NEW*

Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles

Pasta Bar, Los Angeles

Phenakite, Los Angeles

Plumed Horse, Saratoga

Press, Santa Helena *NEW*

The Progress, San Francisco

Protégé, Palo Alto

Q Sushi, Los Angeles

The Restaurant at Justin, Paso Robles *NEW*

San Ho Won, San Francisco *NEW*

Selby’s, Redwood City

Shibumi, Los Angeles

Shin Sushi, Los Angeles

The Shota, San Francisco

Six Test Kitchen, Paso Robles

Soichi, San Diego

Sons & Daughters, San Francisco

Sorrel, San Francisco

Spruce, San Francisco

Ssal, San Francisco *NEW*

State Bird Provisions, San Francisco

Sushi by Scratch Restaurants, Montecito

Sushi lnaba, Los Angeles

Sushi Kaneyoshi, Los Angeles *NEW*

Sushi Shin, Redwood City

Sushi Tadokoro, San Diego

Sushi Yoshizumi, San Mateo

Taco María, Costa Mesa

The Village Pub, Woodside

Wakuriya, San Mateo

Green Stars & Bib Gourmands

Alongside the classic one-, two-, and three-star ratings, Michelin has a few other honors as well. Awarded for the first time in 2021, Green Stars recognize restaurants leading the way in sustainable gastronomy. California leads the way in eco-friendly cuisine, boasting more Green Stars than any other state in the country. What does it take to earn a Green Star? Caruso’s in Montecito, for instance, procures honey from its own beekeepers and has an enzyme-eater grease program to reduce the impact of cooking oil. California now has 11 total green stars:

Atelier Crenn, San Francisco

Caruso’s, Montecito *NEW*

Chez Panisse, Berkeley

Chi Spacca, Los Angeles

Le Comptoir Crenn, San Francisco

The French Laundry, Yountville

Harbor House, Elk

Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles

The Restaurant at Justin, Paso Robles *NEW*

Quince, San Francisco

SingleThread, Healdsburg

Also noteworthy, Michelin’s Bib Gourmand recognition puts the spotlight on restaurants where guests can enjoy an excellent meal at a reasonable price. To qualify for a Bib Gourmand, diners must be able to order two courses plus a dessert or glass of wine for $49 or less. The 2022 edition of the Michelin Guide California includes 140 Bib Gourmands with new mentions like Flavors from Afar in Los Angeles, which serves cuisine crafted from refugees and asylum seekers around the world, and the sandwich-driven peasants FEAST in Solvang. Browse all the mentions here.

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