Publication date December 8, 2023

15 Of The Michelin Star Restaurants That You Must Hit Around The US

If you look past the fact that a Paris-based tire company rates restaurants with stars, you can actually have a few fantabulous meals in those restaurants. But for those curious minds - here is how it started. In 1936, the Michelin guide started as a three-star system. One star and the restaurant are very good for their category. Two stars and it has excellent cooking and is worth a detour. Three stars mean that a restaurant has exceptional cuisine and is worth a special journey. 

With all the hype that Michelin restaurants get from the tire company, they did encourage people to travel all the way from one end of the country to the other end to enjoy 3-Michelin-star hotels. And what do people need to travel? Cars. And what do cars need? Tires. And which tires are Michelin hoping you would use? Theirs. Talk about indirect marketing, huh? 

But their Michelin star team has put together an honest team of reviewers who visit restaurants in surprise and add or remove any of their stars. Thanks to them, we have a collection of Michelin-star restaurants across the country. If you are the adventurous type and want to go on a road trip, do check these 15 out.

Alinea, Chicago

Alinea restaurant

Source: Wikipedia

Alinea is one of the newest entrants in Michelin’s 3-star restaurants - it joined the list only in 2021. Chef Grant Achatz’s temple of molecular gastronomy has modernist roots and involves the wildest experiments in food. Taking inspiration from a wide range of countries, you could be served a rare Japanese fish that has been fed an edible balloon or simply a chicken thigh with Mexican seasoning. You can find the restaurant rated as one of the best options for rooftop fine dining in Chicago.

Eleven Madison Park, New York City

Eleven Madison Park

Source: Viewing NYC

Apart from the prestigious Michelin stars, Eleven Madison Park in New York City was also the former No. 1 restaurant in the World’s Best guide. While the head chef had his doubts about reopening the restaurant post the pandemic, he has successfully managed to pull it off. In fact, most of the menu is currently vegan and is one the best destinations for vegetarians in the New York City area. He attributed this change in the menu to the unsustainability of meat consumption and said that the switch to vegan options would do better for the environment.

The Inn at Little Washington, Washington


Source: Facebook

Ever since Michelin stars were a thing in the USA, it took three years for them to recognise a restaurant in the DC area worthy of three stars. And it wasn’t a surprise for most of us when it was given to Patrick O'Connell’s The Inn at Little Washington. It is a cute Instagram-worthy inn located near the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia in a town with a population of 300 people. The restaurant works on a farm-to-table concept with an emphasis on French cuisine.  If you are in the mood for a winter break, you know where to head to now.

Atelier Crenn, San Franciso

Another French cuisine restaurant on the list is Atelier Crenn in San Francisco. Chef Dominique Crenn has a soulful take on the cuisine and creates an artistic and modern French fair. After several years with 2 Michelin stars, the restaurant was awarded the 3rd one this year. Michelin credited the star to the current menu which ‘displays a wonderful balance of grace, artistry, technical ability and taste’. And, just like that, chef Dominique became the first woman in the USA to run a Michelin 3-star restaurant.

Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, New York City

While the name of this restaurant has Brooklyn Fare in it, it is actually located in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan. Chef Cesar Ramirez has created an open kitchen-type area in which diners sit around live counters where their food is prepared in full view by the chefs. It is also a French-Japanese fusion restaurant that serves multiple courses of both cuisines. 

French Laundry, Yountville, CA

Hmm, at this point, do you think that Michelin, a Paris-based company, is slightly biased toward French-based restaurants? Shhh. Let’s keep it to us. French Laundry was completely transformed into a fine-dining hotspot by chef Thomas Keller in 1994. If you are into the cuisine, this 9-course extravaganza is sure to tickle your taste buds into ecstasy. From cauliflower velouté to creamed trumpet mushrooms, this place has everything you need for the best French experience.

Le Bernardin, New York City

If you are into food that looks like it’s straight out of MasterChef, then this one is for you. Another fine dining affair, this one is helmed by chef Eric Ripert and is regarded as one of the best seafood restaurants in America. The team at Le Bernardin takes immense pleasure exploring the bounties of the sea and presenting them to diners in a fine-dining format. Once the lockdowns were eased in the USA, this was the first Michelin 3-star restaurant to open its door to diners.

Benu, San Francisco

Benu, San Francisco

Source: Foodetective

Benu is the brainchild of chef Corey Lee, who is highly acclaimed in his field. While he did work at the French Laundry as the chef de cuisine, he soon started Benu in San Francisco. The restaurant is a celebration of his Korean roots and gives diners in America the best versions of Korea’s favorites. He then expanded it to include dishes from China and Japan as well. With dishes like an oyster with pork belly and kimchi and smoked quail, you are guaranteed the best flavours of Asia. 

Masa, New York City

There is fine dining. Then there is Masa in New York City. The menu is on the expensive side of the financial spectrum but chef Masa Takayama’s omakase sushi experience is completely worth it. It is located close to Central Park and is the go-to destination for sushi lovers. The fish used in the restaurant is directly flown in from the Tsujiki Fish in Japan to retain the dish’s authenticity.

SingleThread, Healdsburg, CA

When Kyle and Katina Connaughton, husband and wife duo, opened SingleThread, little did they know that they would rake in 3 Michelin Stars? They started SingleThread as an inn and scaled it to an 11-course tasting menu on a farm to create an ‘immersive and comprehensive’ experience. The cuisine is Japanese and was crafted by Kyle who worked as a chef for multiple Japanese restaurants around the world. Apart from this, the restaurant has also partnered with the non-profit Sonoma Family Meal to prepare meals for those in need.

11. Per Se, New York City

Another best Michelin star restaurant, as Thomas Keller prepared to bring his french cooking to New York after much success with the French Laundry out in Napa, he was asked how his new restaurant would compare to the one that had made him as an iconic American chef. He said, “It’s not the French Laundry, Per Se.” The name stuck like the French Laundry, Per Se offers a nine-course menu, replete with his take on modern French.

12. Quince, San Francisco

Started in 2003, Quince earned its third Michelin star in the 2017 guide. The Chef Michael Tusk has mixed his love of Nothern Italian cuisines with his surroundings in Northern California to evolve classics like tortellini into modern American fare. 

The restaurant, as with fellow pillars of contemporary California cuisine in the Bar Area, is devoted to sourcing the best product. The Chef has partnerned with Fresh Run Farm, an early adopter of organic farming to after six straight nominations, Micheal won the James Beard Award for Best Chef, for his work at Quince and his rustic Italina restaurant Cotogna. Additionally earlier in 2019, Tik and his wife Lindsay also began their French inspired casual wine bar Verjus, unfortunately which closed during the pandemic but they’re looking to revive the space with a unique concept in 2023. 

13. Addison, San Diego

Addison received one star when Michelin expanded to cover all of California in 2019 for its outstandingly executed French influenced fare, but chef William Bradley had higher ambitions. So he and his team decided to remake to menu and find a voice more distinctly their own, focusing on the produce, flavors, and culture surrounding them. 

They call it “California Gastronomy” the nine-course tasting menu includes dishes like the Thai coconut soup tom kha gai and Regiis Ova caviar perched atop creamy koshihikari rice with a smoked sabayon and sesame seeds. Then Michelin noticed it and gave two stars in the 2021 California guide before handing the restaurant its third this past December. 

14. Hayato,  Los Angeles 

Hayato,  Los Angeles

Source: Gastronomy Blog

If you ever wanted to see how the sausage is made or the miso glazed black cod in this case, this place if for you.  Hayato, based in Los Angeles only offeres one seating per night, so reservations are usually difficult to get, but if you get the chance, you’ll find that the food, and the show are worth the effort. Aside from their delicious food, the most interesting part of this restaurant is that you’ll be able to watch raw ingredients get turned into a full and complete dish, bursting with flavor. And in case you get confused along the way, don’t woory as chef Brandon Hayato Go will explain and guide you throughout the experience. 

15. Gramercy Tavern, New York 

Gramercy Tavern, New York

Source: The Infatuation

Gramercy Traven in located in New York, a city that already boasts quite a few restaurants that can claim that title. It is owned by Danny Meyer, along with Chef Michael Anthony. Chef Michael Anthony's ever-evolving seasonal menu of New American cuisine represents the restaurant's relationships with local farms and purveyors. 

One of the most exciting part of this restaurant is its building, a historic landmark.  Another is its staying power, as it is running from 1994. Want more reason? The atmosphere, it can suit almost any event or preference from casual lunch to fancy dinner and everything in between. But, for food lovers, the most important component remains the food, which you can enjoy in the upscale dining room or more casual tavern. 

If you are not drooling by now, I will be questioning my career choice as a writer. But, in the meantime, if there are any restaurants in your locality that need Michelin’s attention, let us know in the comments section. No, we’re not going to tell them about it. We’re just going to come there and eat.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q. Who is the number 1 chef in America?

Thomas Keller is the number 1 chef in America, with a current total of seven Michelin stars as well as he is the the first American male chef to be designated a Chevalier of The French Legion of Honor.

Q. How many Michelin star restaurants are in the USA?

There are nearly 200 Michelin Star restaurants in the US. 

Q. Which US state has the most Michelin star restaurants?

As October 2023, The California has 90 Michelin star restaurants, making it the US state with most Michelin star restaurants.

Q. What is the highest Michelin star?

Three Michelin stars is the highest star, given for the superlative cooking of chefs at the peak of their profession; their cooking is elevated to an art form and some of their dishes are destined to become classics.

Q. What is the benefit of Michelin stars?

One of the biggest benefits of Michelin star is that it works like signals to diners that they are offering a top-notch dining experience, and it is also a prestigious award that chefs and restaurateurs strive to earn.

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