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If you can’t resist the urge to book a table at one of the Michelin-starred restaurants in California, don’t say we didn't warn you.
7 min read
December 14, 2023
The Michelin stars are perhaps the best-known awards in the dining scene today. A hallmark of culinary excellence, this coveted award is reserved for the best of the best and even has a hierarchy of its own. One, two, or three stars are awarded to restaurants. The more stars a restaurant has, the higher it’s ranked by the Michelin inspectors.
While around 600 restaurants in California have received some kind of an accolade by Michelin such as a bib gourmand or a Michelin green star, only 80 have received an actual star (or two, maybe even three). Most of the Michelin-starred restaurants in California are in the Bay Area, but there are many more scattered across the state.
Next time you want to feel extra fancy, treat yourself to dinner at one of these coveted spots. If you can’t resist the urge to book a table several times a month at one of the Michelin-starred restaurants in California, don’t say we didn’t give you a fair warning.
Southern California is home to many of the state’s iconic foods, so it’s no surprise you’ll come across a number of fine dining establishments. The diversity of the cuisines is apparent upon first glance at the Michelin guide in California.
The number of Michelin restaurants in Los Angeles is in second place right after the Bay Area. If you’re a true SoCal foodie, you probably already know many of the restaurants that have been awarded a Michelin star in L.A. And, if you make a new discovery through this list, bon appetit!
Many of the restaurants awarded a Michelin star in Los Angeles are Japanese eateries and sushi places. However, you’ll find plenty of other cuisines such as American and contemporary on the list as well.
Learn more about our selection criteria and vetting process.
Sushi Ginza Onodera
Orsa and Winston
Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura
Pasta | Bar
Cento Pasta Bar
If you’ve spent a significant amount of time living in SoCal, then you’ve probably already heard about these Michelin star restaurants in Santa Monica. With true Californian cuisine and farm-to-table dining without all the pretension, Rustic Canyon is a must-try among the Michelin restaurants in California. Newly added two-star restaurant Mélisse Restaurant is also a fine-dining experience you can’t miss. Considering the buzz around the restaurant with its two brand new Michelin stars, you might have to reserve well in advance to score a seat.
San Diego’s hottest restaurants not only have exceptional menus, but they also boast oceanfront views, prime entertainment, and an authentic dining experience. While there are currently only a handful of restaurants with Michelin stars in San Diego, there are many other fine dining spots you should check out. After all, the city does hold significant leverage in the California dining scene, so we reckon it’s only time until there are more Michelin star restaurants in San Diego. Besides, is there anything better than discovering something before it’s big?
Jeune et Jolie
Artifact at Mingei
With a vibrant culture like no other, it’s not surprising that the dining scene is just as lively in the O.C. There are currently three Michelin star restaurants in Orange County, both located in Costa Mesa. In any case, finding a good spot to eat here is a non-issue, be it Michelin or no Michelin star.
Poppy & Seed
Taira Sushi & Sake
Central California is the Golden State’s agricultural hub and a mecca for those seeking to incorporate healthy and organic practices into their lifestyles. Therefore, it only makes sense that Michelin restaurants on California’s Central Coast reflect that as well.
Santa Barbara is an entirely new addition to the list of Michelin-starred restaurants in California with not one, but two entries! The amazing Sushi | Bar Montecito and the wonderfully rustic Bell’s are the two restaurants that put Santa Barbara on the Michelin star map—they’re as delicious as you expect them to be.
Sushi | Bar Montecito
Along with Santa Barbara, Paso Robles also enters the list of California cities with Michelin-starred restaurants with its first-ever spot. The contemporary eatery Six Test Kitchen has come a long way since its starting days in a garage many years ago. Today, the swanky restaurant offers a multiple-course tasting menu inspired by the seasons of the Central Coast, and we’re obsessed.
Six test Kitchen
There’s currently one only restaurant rewarded with a Michelin star in Central California, and that’s in Carmel-by-the-Sea. This Michelin star restaurant in Monterey County is luxurious yet simple—it only has a dozen or so tables and offers an elevated take on contemporary California cuisine.
At this point, Northern California is practically synonymous with fine dining and tasty eateries. NorCal’s reputation as a big player on the dining scene is undeniable—it has such a high concentration of Michelin star restaurants, and plenty of others make the list almost every year. From Michelin-starred ramen to the best food in the Bay, these are the restaurants that represent Northern California in the Michelin league.
The Bay Area cities also host an impressive number of spots you won’t want to miss. From Palo Alto to Santa Clara, these are Michelin-starred restaurants in the bustling Bay Area to have on your radar.
The Village Pub
The Greater San Francisco area reigns supreme with the most number of Michelin restaurants in the Golden State. Whether you’re into traditional dining or experimental menus, you’ll find an incredible dish at one of the many Michelin restaurants in San Francisco. On top of having the highest concentration, the City by the Bay is the only city with not one, not two, but three Michelin star restaurants in California.
Sons & Daughter
State Bird Provisions
O' by Claude Le Tohic
HK Lounge Bistro
Noodle in a Haystack
Rosemary & Pine
While the cuisine is described as being contemporary at the two Michelin-starred Commis, the menu is definitely heavily influenced by chef and owner James Syhabout’s Thai and Chinese heritage. Excellent food and a comfortable setting make this Michelin star restaurant in Oakland stand out and puts Piedmont Avenue on the sought-after culinary map.
Lion Dance Cafe
The Kitchen is the only restaurant with a Michelin star in Sacramento boasting contemporary Californian cuisine. This place invites guests to practically feel at home while dining here. Feel free to get up and walk around, chat with the chefs, ask for a second round, and, most importantly, have fun.
The dreamy Mendocino looks even more enchanting from the terrace overlooking the ocean at Harbour House in Elk. Not only does this delightful restaurant have two Michelin stars, but it also has a green star for its commitment to sustainability.
The Napa and Sonoma Valleys are known for their exceptional vinos, but the coveted NorCal vacation spot’s dining scene is just as impressive. Find a range of cuisines to choose from among the Michelin-starred restaurants in Wine Country and book a table well in advance to try your new favorite dish.
The French Laundry
Auberge Du Soleil
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