Introductory Guide to the Michelin World

True food connoisseurs know the significance of a Michelin award when given to a restaurant. It is regarded as the highest honor any food establishment is going to get for the entirety of its operation. Everyone who has heard about it feels that there is somehow a sense of mystery to how a star is awarded to a restaurant. The process of inspecting restaurants still remains a secret, but through the years, there have been some tell-tale clues on how a restaurant gains or loses a star.

Some may ask, how did a tire manufacturer get involved with awarding restaurants? When Michelin published its very first guide back in the 1900s, it was meant to be an atlas containing information regarding restaurants that existed on a specific route. Back then, if a restaurant had one star on the guide, it meant it was worth stopping at if you were passing along the route. If two stars were awarded, it meant, the restaurant was worth a visit even if it was out of your way and you had to make a detour. Lastly, three stars meant that the restaurant itself should be your destination.

This remains the same in today’s restaurant scene. However, having a Michelin star propels a restaurant to a prestigious status. Thanks to a society that is highly connected through information. Nevertheless, no one can argue with the importance of gaining a Michelin star. Most restaurants aspire to be in the same prestigious position as those who have one, two, or three stars under their name. Having said that, where can you find the best Michelin starred restaurants around the country? Here are top picks from two of the major food destinations in the country.

San Francisco

To date, restaurants with three Michelin stars in SF outnumber any other city in the country. There are seven restaurants with three Michelin stars, seven with two, and 47 with one. Here is a list of the very best of them:

  • Benu Restaurant. This restaurant is run by Chef Corey Lee who uses Cantonese and Korean influences to create a unique fusion of American cuisine. He was trained by no other than Thomas Keller of French Laundry fame. The restaurant, with its Asian influences, has minimalist décor and offers a tasting menu which includes 19 dishes.
  • Coi Restaurant. If there is anything more quintessentially San Francisco, it is the fusion of Asian and French cuisine in this three Michelin starred restaurant. The award was given to the restaurant in 2017. Even if the restaurant is fairly new to the Michelin world, it holds up its reputation through the quality of service and dishes which can be considered by themselves as masterpieces.
  • Manresa Restaurant. Aside from being awarded three Michelin stars, Forbes magazine also recognized and hailed Manresa as the best restaurant in the country. Another celebrity chef, David Kinch is behind all the creations in this restaurant which offers a tasting menu. They are reputed for focusing on farm-to-table dining with innovative American cuisine.
  • Quince. This restaurant focuses on contemporary California dishes using local produce. It was awarded its first star in 2007 and its third in 2017. This restaurant is run by husband and wife team Michael and Lindsey Tusk.
  • Saison. This restaurant is unique, and it centers around cooking food on an open wood fire. The restaurant is owned and operated by Joshua Skenes.
  • The French Laundry. The fame of this restaurant precedes itself. In fact, for many years, chefs and restaurateurs regarded this restaurant as the best in the country. This restaurant is owned and operated by no other than Thomas Keller.

New York

By sheer number of restaurants with Michelin stars, New York wins hands down, but San Francisco still has the most number of restaurants with three stars. For this favorite tourist destination, you can visit any of these restaurants that are surely worth the trip:

  • Le Bernardin. This is a restaurant that specializes in seafood. Famous celebrity chef and television host Anthony Bourdain used to work in this very establishment. The restaurant has maintained its three Michelin star status since it was awarded in 2005.
  • Per Se. This is another one of Thomas Keller’s famous restaurants. Classic French cuisine is the specialty here and it is located where you can see a stunning view of Central Park. Like his other restaurant, the French Laundry, this restaurant also features tasting menus where diners can eat leisurely for several hours.
  • Chef’s Table. The dining experience here is more intimate as there are only 18 people that can be accommodated at the counter. Diners can see how the food is being prepared which makes it more fun. Be aware though that because of limited capacity, you’ll need to book a reservation at least six weeks in advance.
  • Masa. This destination is perfect for sushi lovers who are looking for a decadent experience. The New York Time’s even called it “the city’s greatest sushi restaurant”.
  • Jean Georges. This restaurant offers some of the best modern French cuisines in the world. It has also been consistently regarded as a must-visit food destination in New York.

When you dine at any of these Michelin starred restaurants, you have to be prepared to pay a hefty price tag. But not all Michelin starred restaurants are considered high-end. Some one-starred restaurants have more affordable menus that cater to a more inclusive clientele. In fact, Michelin has started recognizing dining destinations for the quality of service they offer regardless of the location. This is true for a food hawker in Singapore that has been awarded one-star and a dumpling restaurant in Hong Kong that has been given the same recognition.

Yes, it is true that dining can become a destination if you go to a restaurant where cooking has been elevated to an art form. If you can visit a three-starred restaurant at least once in your lifetime, you’ll understand why Michelin gives importance to its craft and exclusivity in giving awards.