Receiving three Michelin stars is no easy task. In fact, there are only a handful of restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area to achieve top honors. One of these standouts hardly needs introduction. The French Laundry, led by the incomparable chef Thomas Keller. Actually, it’s Sir Thomas Keller: in 2011, he received the Insignia of the Chevalier by the French Legion of Honor, similar in spirit to being knighted in the U.K., for his contributions to French cuisine in the United States. Though chef Keller’s presence has gone global, The French Laundry is still his home base, serving California cuisine using French technique with only the most superlative ingredients. The nine-course chef’s tasting menu changes daily but look for decadent combos, like caviar paired with smoked sturgeon, hen egg mousse, Persian cucumbers, garden dill, and horseradish crème fraiche. Many of these ingredients are sourced from the garden across the street.
Insider’s tip: Call to reserve reservations as soon as you know your travel dates, and be flexible about days and times. For more availability, consider lunch reservations.
Another noteworthy destination is The Restaurant at Meadowood, located 20 minutes north of Yountville, in the well-heeled wine country town of Saint Helena. In flawlessly elegant and leafy surroundings, chef Christopher Kostow takes the reigns, meticulously plating ingredients that are sourced directly from the surrounding land and onsite garden for an experience “steeped in a sense of place.” For a you-only-live-once splurge, consider spending the night in one of the ultra-luxurious bungalows at the 250-acre private estate.