The 2023 Michelin Guide Ceremony took place on a thrilling evening, July 18, to honor California’s culinary luminaries and bestow well-deserved recognition. Despite being one among many available guides, the Michelin Guide remains an elusive and highly esteemed accolade for restaurants. This year’s event showcased the acknowledgment of six new restaurants and the awarding of four additional Green Stars, adding to the state’s culinary prestige.
Known as the ‘Golden State,’ California sets the gold standard for culinary excellence in the United States, boasting more Michelin stars than any other state. It consolidated its separate Guides for San Francisco and Los Angeles into one California Michelin Guide in 2019.
Gwendal Poullennec, the international director of the Michelin Guides, expressed excitement about presenting the 2023 edition during the summer. He proudly announced the inclusion of six newcomers to the family of Michelin-starred restaurants, all renowned for their world-class cuisine.
For those eager to explore California’s culinary delights, the Wine Country offers not only famous vineyards and luxury resorts but also exceptional dining experiences. Among the latest additions to the Michelin-starred list is Auro at the Four Seasons resort. Led by Chef Rogelio Garcia, who brings experience from several Michelin-starred restaurants, Auro presents a French and contemporary culinary style, using locally-sourced ingredients to create dishes with a distinctly Californian touch.
Drawing inspiration from the depths of the ocean, Aphotic offers a ten-course tasting menu, with each dish incorporating elements from the sea, promising a unique and tantalizing dining experience. The restaurant’s dedication to sourcing the freshest seafood directly from local fishermen and aquaculture partners has earned it a Green Star.
For a more intimate setting, diners can visit Chez Noir, the brainchild of husband-and-wife chef duo Jonny and Monique Black. Nestled on the second floor of their home, this restaurant offers a menu influenced by both French cuisine and the beauty of Carmel-by-the-Sea. The dishes not only delight the palate but also captivate the eye with their exquisite presentation.
Heritage, situated in a quiet Long Beach neighborhood, surprises diners with its unassuming exterior and extraordinary dishes. Run by sibling duo Philip and Lauren Pretty, the restaurant emphasizes seasonal ingredients and sustainable sourcing, even cultivating produce on their farm. For its commitment to sustainability, Heritage has been awarded a Michelin Green Star.
On a more global note, Nari presents contemporary twists on traditional Thai family-style dishes. Located in Japantown’s Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco, Nari offers an elegant ambiance and dishes that leave patrons craving for more.
Valle opened in 2021, fulfilling chef Roberto Alcocer’s dream of earning a Michelin star. Blending tradition and creativity, the restaurant’s eight-course tasting menu pays homage to its Mexican roots, offering a refined and modern expression of Mexican cuisine.
California cuisine stands out for its dedication to eco-friendly fine dining, with four more restaurants receiving Michelin Green Stars. This brings the total count to 15 out of 17 Green Michelin Star restaurants in the US. Providence, with two stars since 2009, has been recognized for its rooftop garden initiatives and zero-waste chocolate. Pomet, though yet to receive a star, earns appreciation for its extraordinary use of locally-grown fruits and vegetables.
While the 2023 Michelin Guide California saw the loss of eight restaurants, reducing the list to 87 from the previous year’s 89, it remains a testament to the guide’s meticulous standards. Some establishments fell short, but there’s hope for their resurgence under new head chefs in the future.