Michelin announced its California restaurant ratings on Monday night, tied to the release of the French company’s first statewide guide, and no new restaurants received its top rating of three stars.
Los Angeles was left out of that category, with only restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area and the wine country receiving the highest honor.
The list of three-star restaurants remained at the seven featured in the 2019 San Francisco guide published in November. They are Atelier Crenn, Benu and Quince in the city; Manresa in Los Gatos, near San Jose; and the French Laundry, the Restaurant at Meadowood and SingleThread in the wine country.
Michelin published a guide to Los Angeles and Las Vegas in 2008 and 2009, then dropped it. In recent years, the company has rated restaurants for only San Francisco and the surrounding area. In March, when the new statewide guide was announced, it was revealed by Family Meal, a trade publication, that Visit California, the state’s tourism board, had paid Michelin $600,000 to publish it.
At the ceremony on Monday, Gwendal Poullennec, the director of the guides, said this new guide gave “full credit to California and its leading role as a culinary powerhouse.” Michelin’s inspectors visit restaurants anonymously and pay for their meals, a system that has been in place ever since the company began publishing guides more than 100 years ago.
California now has 90 starred restaurants in all. Los Angeles did well among the two-star rankings, with six restaurants in that category. They are n/naka, Providence, Somni, Sushi Ginza Onodera, Urasawa and Vespertine. San Francisco added two two-star restaurants, Campton Place and Saison, also for a total of six in that category. Commis in Oakland and Baumé in Palo Alto also have two stars.
The list of one-star restaurants increased by 27 to 69, with most of the additions coming from Los Angeles. They included restaurants from several long-established chefs, like Cut by Wolfgang Puck, whose venerable Spago did not earn any stars, and Osteria Mozza from Nancy Silverton.
A sister restaurant, Pizzeria Mozza, also in Los Angeles, made the Bib Gourmand list, a category of restaurants offering good value, which the company calls the “Inspector Favorites.”
There are 151 Bib Gourmand restaurants in the guide, including Majordomo from David Chang and Sqirl from Jessica Koslow, both of which are highly regarded in Los Angeles and beyond.
The new ratings came under plenty of criticism from California food media. Los Angeles was “shut out of three stars,” The Los Angeles Times reported, citing n/naka and Vespertine as deserving of the highest rating. The Los Angeles edition of Eater, the online restaurant platform, complained that no Thai or Korean restaurants had received stars and that Taco María in Orange County was the only Mexican restaurant to do so. (Another Mexican restaurant, Californios in San Francisco, has two stars.)
The 2019 Michelin Guide California is available in English, Spanish and Chinese at guide.michelin.com, and in book form as of Thursday for $19.95.