9 Must-Visit California Restaurants With New Michelin Stars

Michelin has published a guide for the entire state of California for the first time ever (and it’s available online in Chinese and Spanish too) with dozens of newly starred restaurants from San Diego to Sacramento. Previously, the guide only covered the San Francisco Bay Area and Wine Country. If you’re chomping through Michelin stars like Pac-Man, that’s a lot of new ones to chase. Here are a few highlights to get you started.

Addison (1 star)

The pomp and circumstance of dining at Addison begins the second you step through the double oak doors into the grand dining room. Perfectly choreographed service is matched by precise plating and decadent flavors — smoked potato agnolotti in oxtail consommé with Perigord black truffles and Coquilles Saint-Jacques in buttery noisette sauce. Chef William Bradley is a chef’s chef, a master of traditional French technique. His five-course tasting menu is $165 per person with a 10-course option for $265.

Angler (1 star)

Chef Joshua Skenes’ new seafood-focused restaurant at San Francisco’s Embarcadero is decidedly more casual and affordable than Saison, but with the same careful sourcing of ingredients. Angler is open for lunch and dinner, with a great raw bar including private label caviar, salads, and fire-kissed vegetables for lighter appetites. Fish and meat, including California king crab, giant octopus, whole Petrale sole, and bone-in porterhouse, is simply roasted over the embers and meant to be shared.

The Harbor House Inn (1 star)

California Michelin Restaurants: The Harbor House Inn
Photo courtesy of The Harbor House Inn.

Sleepy Mendocino County has a stunning tasting menu option at The Harbor House Inn, set amidst the redwood forest on the rocky Pacific shoreline. The 25-seat dining room serves just one tasting menu each evening, changing daily to showcase the best local, seasonal ingredients. Chef Matthew Kammerer cooked at Saison for three years, and Skenes’ influence in shaping his cooking ethos is apparent. Dinner is $180 per person with a $100 beverage pairing or $75 non-alcoholic beverage pairing available.

n/naka (2 stars)

California Michelin Restaurants: n/naka
n/naka’s Oyster (Photo by Zen Sekizawa.)

Ever since Niki Nakayama was featured in the first season of “Chef’s Table” in 2015, reservations at her 26-seat restaurant n/naka have become nearly impossible to book. Just as she was the only woman featured that first season for the Netflix documentary series, she was the only woman among California’s new two-star Michelin chefs this year. Her 13-course modern kaiseki menu is $225 with an optional wine and sake pairing for an addition $125. There’s also a vegetarian tasting menu available for $200. Reservations are available online every Sunday at 10 a.m. PST for three months out.

Nozawa Bar (1 star)

Quite a few sushi restaurants were bestowed with stars in this guide, as Michelin tends to do. The 10-seat hidden sushi bar behind Sugarfish in Beverly Hills is one of those winners and Nozawa Bar deserves the recognition for its 20-course omakase menu, a parade of nigiri pieces, sashimi, and handrolls served by chef Osamu Fujita. Seafood includes local abalone and sea urchin, but most pieces come straight from Japan, and seafood connoisseurs will appreciate the fresh simplicity. Dinner reservations are $175 per person.

Osteria Mozza (1 star)

It’s no surprise that Nancy Silverton’s Osteria Mozza received a star; it’s become one of the most beloved restaurants in Los Angeles with locals and industry colleagues since opening in 2007. Silverton pioneered the national popularity of mozzarella and burrata as antipasti with her mozzarella bar, and her ribollita “da delfina” is arguably life-changing. Housemade pasta is always a good idea, followed by hearty grilled beef tagliata and butterscotch budino.

Providence (2 stars)

California Michelin Restaurants: Providence
Providence’s Santa Barbara Spot Prawn with Spring Vegetables (Photo by Jakob Layman.)

This has been a big year for Chef Michael Cimarusti at Providence. He finally won a James Beard Award for Best Chef: West after eight nominations and then followed that up less than a month later by retaining the two Michelin stars he earned back when Michelin last produced a guide in Los Angeles — in 2009. Providence has been open for 14 years and Cimarusti’s consistency in cooking exquisite seafood, much of it locally sourced like Santa Barbara spot prawns, sea urchin, and troll-caught king salmon, is rare and commendable. The four-course prix fixe menu begins at $105 plus an optional $55 wine pairing, exclusive of tax and gratuity.

Somni (2 stars)

California Michelin Restaurants: Somni
Somni’s Oyster Agua Chile (Photo by Jill Paider.)

José Andrés teams up with the talented chef Aitor Zabala for the most interactive and fun fine dining experience in Los Angeles at Somni, located in the SLS Beverly Hills. Zabala has worked in many Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe, but this is his first time leading a kitchen at this level. “It is a big honor for us to receive this accolade after only being open for 15 months,” he says. There are no servers here; instead, the chefs serve you more than 20 courses at a 10-seat chefs counter that puts you front and center for dinner and a show. Feel free to ask as many questions as you like, about ingredients, sourcing, cooking techniques, and the stories behind each dish. Several dishes are inspired by Zabala’s childhood growing up in Spain. You’ll want to reserve well in advance — tickets are released at 10 a.m. PST on the first Monday of the month for the following month on Tock. The menu is $265 per guest with wine pairings beginning at $175. Consider booking The Somni Experience at the SLS for exclusive advance access to seating and an overnight stay at SLS Beverly Hills.

Taco María (1 star)

The only Mexican restaurant to receive a star, Taco María in Costa Mesa is known for its elevated approach to familiar Mexican fare. Chef Carlos Salgado puts humble corn on a pedestal, sourcing GMO-free, heirloom corn varietals from small family farms in Mexico and nixtamalizing and processing masa himself for tamales and tortillas. The four-course prix fixe menu is $79, with $39 wine pairings and an a la carte menu also available.

Amber Gibson spends 340 nights a year in hotels searching for the latest and greatest in the travel industry. Her writing and photographs have appeared in print, online, and on the radio for outlets including Four Seasons Magazine, NPR, Saveur, Departures, Rhapsody, Hemispheres, American Way, Private Air, Wine Folly, Plate, Chicago Magazine, Tasting Table, and Serious Eats. She graduated as valedictorian from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and received a fellowship to attend the 2017 Wine Writers Symposium at Meadowood Napa Valley. Champagne, dark chocolate, and gelato are her biggest weaknesses. She also admires and supports CAASE in Chicago. Follow her adventures on Instagram and Twitter. 


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