These California Restaurants Just Earned Michelin Stars

Six eateries earned a single star and four restaurants were given a “Green star” for their sustainability efforts in Michelin’s 2023 guide.

A colorful serving of fish accented with small purple flowers at Chez Noir in Carmel

Chez Noir, a contemporary culinary destination in Carmel-by-the-Sea, won a Michelin star in 2023.

Courtesy of Joseph Weaver

Michelin, which recognizes some of the most outstanding restaurants in the world, just released its list of the top restaurants in California for 2023, giving a handful of new eateries one of the coveted Michelin stars and taking away stars from nine others.

Here’s what you need to know about Michelin’s 2023 California restaurant guide, including all the current one-, two-, and three-starred restaurants in the Golden State.

How are Michelin Stars determined?

According to Michelin, the criteria it uses to determine which restaurants will earn stars are:

  • The quality of the ingredients
  • The harmony of flavors
  • The mastery of techniques
  • The personality of the chef as expressed through their cuisine and consistency both across the entire menu and over time

Per Michelin, one star is “worth a stop,” two stars is “worth a detour,” and three stars, the most a restaurant can receive, is “worth a special journey.”

Which California restaurants earned Michelin stars in 2023?

Originally, the California Michelin Guide, which launched in 2007, focused only on San Francisco, but it has since expanded (in 2019) to include restaurants statewide. This year’s new Michelin-star restaurants in California are:

  • Aphotic, a seafood restaurant in San Francisco
  • Auro, a New American eatery in Calistoga’s Four Seasons Resort Napa Valley
  • Chez Noir, a contemporary cuisine destination in Carmel-by-the-Sea
  • Heritage, which focuses on California cuisine in Long Beach
  • Nari, a Thai restaurant in San Francisco
  • Valle, a modern Mexican kitchen in Oceanside

Each of the guide’s new entries earned one Michelin star. The winning restaurants are always determined by anonymous testers who visit myriad times throughout the year and decide on the awards as a group. While little is known about the inspectors (other than they eat out as many as 350 times a year), some tidbits on the thought process were shared during the ceremony.

Of Heritage, one inspector wrote: “Brother-and-sister duo Philip and Lauren Pretty run the kitchen and front of house, respectively, curating an experience that’s relaxed, but gets the details just right. On offer is a single multicourse tasting (priced quite reasonably) that highlights top-notch ingredients, including produce sourced from their nearby farm.” And Valle was described as having dishes that “strike a winning balance between tradition and creativity, as in a tetela made with heirloom corn masa and hoja santa, filled with juicy chanterelle mushrooms and creamy goat cheese, and paired with a complex salsa of morita chiles—at once earthy and bright.”

Including the six new entrants, there are now 87 Michelin-starred restaurants in California (the most of any state in the country). However, that number is actually down from the prior year—while six venues were added this year, nine restaurants were removed from the guide. Some, like Manresa in San Francisco, were removed because they closed. Others, like Vespertine in Los Angeles, were cut out due to allegations of toxic kitchen environments. The other restaurants that lost stars are Adega (closed, San Jose); Hatchet Hall (Los Angeles); Marlena (closed, San Francisco); Omakase (San Francisco); Phenakite (closed, Los Angeles); Spruce (San Francisco); and Sushi by Scratch Restaurants: Montecito (Santa Barbara).

California’s other 2023 Michelin awards

A dish presented on a hexagonal wooden plate at Aphotic

A dish from Aphotic, a seafood restaurant in San Francisco that just earned a Michelin star.

Courtesy of Kelly Puleio

Four dining destinations were also recognized with a Green star, a new category created in 2020 to recognize restaurants with commitments to sustainable and environmentally friendly practices.

Two of the new Green star restaurants include Pomet, a California cuisine eatery in Oakland that works with “regenerative ranchers for [its] beef, lamb, pork, chicken,” and Providence, a seafood place in Los Angeles that commits to only using wild-caught, sustainable products, sources vegetables from its rooftop garden, and operates a zero-waste bean-to-dessert chocolate program. Aphotic and Heritage also earned Green stars in addition to their one Michelin star.

Of the 17 Green-starred restaurants in North America, 15 are in California.

“In California, gourmets and travelers can find sustainable and inspiring cuisine by land or by sea, showcasing the best of what lands and seasons can offer,” Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides, said at the July 18 ceremony at the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland, California. “These establishments—and the Golden State as a whole—are truly role models of environmentally conscious gastronomy.”

Additionally, John Haffey of Aubergine in Carmel-by-the-Sea accepted this year’s Sommelier Award, and Austin Hennelly of Los Angeles’s Kato received the Exceptional Cocktails Award. Harrison Cheney, executive chef of San Francisco’s Sons & Daughters, took home the Young Chef Award, an accolade announced in 2020, given to “a young starred chef with exceptional talent and great potential.”

Michelin Guide also added 10 restaurants to its Bib Gourmand list, which it considers “eateries for great food at a great value.”

California’s new Bib Gourmand restaurants are:

All Michelin-starred restaurants in California in 2023

A salad in a silver bowl at Pomet

Pomet, a California cuisine eatery in Oakland, won a Michelin green star.

Courtesy of Alan Hsu

Three Michelin-starred restaurants

  • Addison (San Diego)
  • Atelier Crenn (San Francisco)
  • Benu (San Francisco)
  • Quince (San Francisco)
  • Single Thread (Healdsburg)
  • The French Laundry (Yountville)

Two Michelin-starred restaurants

  • Acquerello (San Francisco)
  • Birdsong (San Francisco)
  • Californios (San Francisco)
  • Commis (Oakland)
  • Harbor House (Elk)
  • Hayato (Los Angeles)
  • Lazy Bear (San Francisco)
  • Mélisse (Santa Monica)
  • n/naka (Los Angeles)
  • Providence (Hollywood)
  • Saison (San Francisco)
  • Sushi Ginza Onodera (West Hollywood)

One Michelin-starred restaurants

  • 715 (Los Angeles)
  • Angler SF (San Francisco)
  • Aphotic (San Francisco
  • Auberge du Soleil (Rutherford)
  • Aubergine (Carmel-by-the-Sea)
  • Auro (Calistoga)
  • Avery (San Francisco)
  • Barndiva (Healdsburg)
  • Bell’s (Los Alamos)
  • Camphor (Los Angeles)
  • Caruso’s (Montecito)
  • Chez Noir (Monterey)
  • Chez TJ (Mountain View)
  • Citrin (Santa Monica)
  • Cyrus (Geyserville)
  • Gary Danko (San Francisco)
  • Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura (Beverly Hills)
  • Gwen (Los Angeles)
  • Hana re (Costa Mesa)
  • Heritage (Los Angeles)
  • Jeune et Jolie (Carlsbad)
  • Kali (Hollywood)
  • Kato (Los Angeles)
  • Kenzo (Napa)
  • Kin Khao (San Francisco)
  • Knife Pleat (Costa Mesa)
  • Le Comptoir at Bar Crenn (San Francisco)
  • Localis (Sacramaneto)
  • Madcap (San Anselmo)
  • Manzke (Los Angeles)
  • Maude (Beverly Hills)
  • Mister Jiu’s (San Francisco)
  • Morihiro (Los Angeles)
  • Nari (San Francisco)
  • Niku Steakhouse (San Francisco)
  • Nisei (San Francisco)
  • Nozawa Bar (Beverly Hills)
  • O’ by Claude Le Tohic (San Francisco)
  • Orsa & Winston (Los Angeles)
  • Osito (San Francisco)
  • Osteria Mozza (Los Angeles)
  • Pasta | Bar (Encino)
  • Plumed Horse (Saratoga)
  • Press (Saint Helena)
  • Protégé (Palo Alto)
  • Q Sushi (Los Angeles)
  • San Ho Won (San Francisco)
  • Selby’s (Atherton)
  • Shibumi (Los Angeles)
  • Shin Sushi (Encino)
  • Six Test Kitchen (Paso Robles)
  • Soichi (San Diego)
  • Sons & Daughters (San Francisco)
  • Sorrel (San Francisco)
  • Ssal (San Francisco)
  • State Bird Provisions (San Francisco)
  • Sushi I-NABA (Torrance)
  • Sushi Kaneyoshi (Los Angeles)
  • Sushi Shin (Redwood City)
  • Sushi Tadokoro (San Diego)
  • Sushi Yoshizumi (San Mateo)
  • Taco María (Costa Mesa)
  • The Kitchen (Sacramento)
  • The Progress (San Francisco)
  • The Restaurant at Justin (Paso Robles)
  • The Shota (San Francisco)
  • The VIllage Pub (Woodside)
  • Wakuriya (San Mateo)
    Bailey Berg is a freelance travel writer and editor, who covers breaking news, trends, tips, transportation, sustainability, the outdoors, and more. She was formerly the associate travel news editor at AFAR. Her work can also be found in the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, the Points Guy, Atlas Obscura, Vice, Thrillist, Men’s Journal, Architectural Digest, Forbes, Lonely Planet, and beyond.
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