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The Bay Area Michelin-Starred Restaurants Everyone Should Try

The Bay Area Michelin-Starred Restaurants Everyone Should Try

Looking for a splurge-worthy dinner to celebrate a special occasion or date night? Reserve a table at one of these Michelin-starred eateries Team


7 min read

June 09, 2023

It’s official: Northern California is the nation’s fine-dining hub. The esteemed Michelin Guide awarded stars to 57 Bay Area restaurants—the most the region has ever seen, making 2019 a record-breaking year. The number of Bay Area Michelin-star restaurants currently stands at around 50, and the region remains one of the prime places for restaurants with Michelin stars in the entire country. 

Moreover, the whole Golden State has made a real name for itself as a major gourmet hub around the world, and that is even more true in 2022 when the Michelin Guide recognized 89 California Michelin Guide restaurants. There are so many good restaurants in the region that it can prove challenging for a foodie to figure out where they want to go for a luxuriant night out on the town. Fortunately, the Michelin Guide is here to provide you with the best of the best in Bay Area Michelin Star restaurants.  

With three three-star Michelin restaurants in 2023, San Francisco itself falls slightly short of New York City, which has five. Nevertheless, Bay Area as a whole remains a highly dynamic region in American cuisine that shows a lot of promise for growth with both newcomers and some of California’s oldest restaurants making the list. 

In recent years the Bay Area has been graced with some of the best restaurants on the Michelin Guide.

The Bay Area’s Michelin Star Restaurants

Bay Area's culinary scene shone brightly in 2022, with several San Francisco dining jewels like Benu and Quince maintaining their illustrious three-star rankings. Notably, Atelier Crenn stood out, contributing significantly to San Francisco's moment of glory when it surpassed New York City in the number of three-star establishments. The spotlight also shone on Dominique Crenn, the visionary behind Atelier Crenn, as she broke new ground by being the first woman in the U.S. to lead a three-star kitchen, marking an inspiring milestone in the culinary world.

The honor bears particular significance, as it highlights historic gender disparities in both professional kitchens and trusted international culinary guides. Though Crenn garnered her first Michelin star in 2012 and then her second the following year, it took eight years for her to achieve three-star status. In the meantime, her French eatery was ranked in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants and earned her a James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef in the West. 

But it’s not just San Francisco’s gourmet scene that has put Bay Area Michelin-Star restaurants on the culinary map. Out in the NorCal wine country, SingleThread’s journey to three Michelin stars took much less time than Atelier Crenn’s as the restaurant made the jump from two to three stars within just two years of opening. Designed around the concept of omotenashi, meaning the “spirit of selfless hospitality, anticipating needs without having to be asked”, this elegant and highly instagrammable restaurant founded by Kyle and Katina Connaughton serves an 11-course kaiseki menu that often features fresh produce straight from the restaurant’s vegetable gardens.

What Is the Michelin Guide and How Does It Work? 

Enjoy a Bay Area brunch or a delectable dinner on the seaside at one of the many Michelin Guide star restaurants in the Bay Area.

The Michelin Guide is meant as a driver’s guide for which restaurants are worth stopping on a road trip. As such, restaurants with Michelin stars are ranked according to how worthwhile they are to go out of your way and visit. A three-star restaurant, according to the Michelin Guide, is a restaurant that is so good it’s worth a road trip itself to get to it. For the following tier, two Michelin stars indicate “excellent cooking, worth a detour.” 

Finally, the Michelin Guide defines one-star restaurants as “high-quality cooking, worth a stop”, and in the Bay Area, there are a growing number of restaurants that fit this category. There are also other ratings, such as the Michelin Green Star, which restaurants can earn on top of the regular Michelin stars. This distinction is meant to highlight restaurants that are industry leaders in sustainable, eco-friendly practices. 

There are currently a handful of restaurants in the Bay Area with this distinction and two San Francisco restaurants that sport the green star, and we will indicate which stared restaurants earned it by putting “green star” in parentheses next to the restaurant’s name. The Michelin Guide also has a Bib Gourmand award for the restaurants that are the best value for money, and there is a wide range of San Francisco restaurants with this award for you to explore if you prefer gourmet dining on a budget. 

The Bay Area’s Michelin-starred restaurants offer a range of delicious cuisines from Japanese to New American.

As you might have guessed, these lauded Bay Area Michelin Star restaurants tend to be expensive, with the most expensive venues featuring multi-course tasting menus that soar into the $300 per person range.  Naturally, this does not include wine pairings, tax, or tip. But if you are looking for a splurge-worthy dinner to celebrate a special occasion or date night, there are few better places to do it than at a Bay Area Michelin-star restaurant.

The resilience of Bay Area Michelin Star restaurants, especially during tough times, is truly commendable. While we bid farewell to some, the recognition of others is a cause for excitement. Don't wait for the new Michelin Guide; show your support by dining at these celebrated Bay Area spots.

Michelin Restaurants in the Bay Area

The Bay Area continues to have the highest concentration of three Michelin-star restaurants in the Golden State. Regarding having the most Michelin-approved restaurants, San Francisco is the leader of the pack. Other Bay Area cities have recently followed suit with their first two or three-starred Michelin restaurants. Here is a list of Bay Area Michelin Star restaurants in various towns outside of San Francisco that are perfect for a Bay Area brunch or a delectable dinner on the seaside.  

Three Stars

The French Laundry, Yountville (green star)

SingleThread, Healdsburg (green star) 

Two Stars

Harbor House, Elk (green star)

One Star

Adega, San Jose  

Aubergine, Carmel-by-the-Sea

Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford 

Barndiva, Healdsburg

Chez TJ, Mountain View 

Cyrus, Geyserville

Kenzo, Napa  

Localis, Sacramento

Madcap, San Anselmo 

Protégé, Palo Alto 

Plumed Horse, Saratoga

The Kitchen Restaurant, Sacramento 

The Village Pub, Woodside 

Press, St. Helena 

Sushi Shin, Redwood City 

Selby’s, Atherton 

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Michelin Restaurants in Oakland

Oakland is fast evolving into an East Bay foodie destination well worth it. Its first Michelin-star restaurant is a true testament to that. Located on Piedmont Avenue, Commis, and its hard-working crew make dining a delight. Visit the two Michelin-star restaurants and enjoy a sophisticated nightly menu in a cool and contemporary setting. We are excited to see which restaurants in the Oakland scene rise to the top in the coming years to join Commis. When it comes to gourmet cuisine of the highest quality, the future is bright for this East Bay city. 

Two Stars

Commis, Oakland 

Michelin Restaurants in San Mateo

Head to San Mateo for the best no-nonsense traditional Japanese sushi paired with sake or fine tea.

Another Bay Area city making waves in the foodie scene is none other than San Mateo. While it only has two one-starred restaurants, San Mateo offers some of the most acclaimed fine dining in the area. We know we can’t say no to these top-notch Japanese restaurants, particularly since they offer some of the best sushi omakase on this side of the Pacific. 

If you’re looking for a no-nonsense sushi place that uses only the finest in rice, fresh fish, and glorious wasabi, San Mateo is the place to be. At these restaurants, it’s a lot about the experience and not just about filling up. These Edomae sushi bars made the list because they offer the authentic Japanese experience of enjoying a variety of small bites of delicious sushi interspersed with sips of fine tea or sake. 

One Star

Sushi Yoshizumi, San Mateo

Wakuriya, San Mateo

Michelin Restaurants in San Francisco

San Francisco is the center of NorCal’s gourmet scene, and it's jam-packed with Michelin Guide starred restaurants of all kinds.

Spanning numerous cuisines, the best Michelin-star restaurants in San Francisco are the real deal. Whether you’re into traditional dining or experimental menus, you’ll find an exquisite dish to munch on in S.F. Truly, San Franciscans are privileged to live in a city with such a sheer number of tasty choices all within easy reach. The San Francisco area is truly the prime place for all manner of haut cuisine. 

Whatever your taste, be it English pub grub, Korean, pizza, or just classic American fare, you’ll find it in Golden Gate city. With an impressive list of Michelin-approved eating establishments, making a choice can seem almost overwhelming, but worry not because we’ve created an easy guide to help you navigate this delicious culinary landscape. Here are the Michelin Guide San Francisco restaurants you need to know about for your next-day trip to San Fran.

Three Stars

Atelier Crenn, San Francisco (green star) 

Benu, San Francisco 

Quince, San Francisco (green star) 

Two Stars

Acquerello, San Francisco 

Birdsong, San Francisco 

Californios, San Francisco  

Lazy Bear, San Francisco 

Saison, San Francisco 

One Star

Angler SF, San Francisco 

Avery, San Francisco 

Le Comptoir at Bar Crenn, San Francisco (green star)

Gary Danko, San Francisco 

Kin Khao, San Francisco 

Marlena, San Francisco 

Mister Jiu’s, San Francisco 

Niku Steakhouse, San Francisco 

Nisei, San Francisco

O’ by Claude le Tohic, San Francisco 

Omakase, San Francisco 

Osito, San Francisco 

The Progress, San Francisco  

The Shota, San Francisco  

San Ho Won, San Francisco  

Sons & Daughters, San Francisco 

Sorrel, San Francisco  

Spruce, San Francisco 

Ssal, San Francisco 

State Bird Provisions, San Francisco

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